The 7 Best Dog Breeds for Horse Farms

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Dogs are a very important part of life on a horse farm. They can provide companionship for people and protection for horses. There are many different breeds of dog that thrive in this environment, but there are also some that do not do so well. Here is my list of 7 best dog breeds for horse farms:

Mountain CurMediumCalm but responsive, willing learners, smart
Jack Russell TerriersSmallEnergetic, Intelligent, loving
Australian ShepherdMediumActive, protective, and smart
Border CollieMediumSmart, affectionate, and willing to please
Bernese Mountain DogLargeIntelligent, loyal, protective
Golden RetrieversMediumFriendly, smart, and active
German ShepherdMediumConfident, obedient, Intelligent

Elizabeth Taylor once famously said: “Some of my best leading men have been horses and dogs!” It is true, isn’t it!! Horse hair, dog slobber, and dirt are just so good for the soul! A canine friend is an essential member of any large farm. So if you own a horse farm, the chances are that you also need dogs to look after it.

Picture of a dog sitting next to a horse,

Benefits of Having Dogs on Horse Farms

There is indeed something special between horses, dogs, and their owners. Dogs can be essential assets on horse farms: they trap and kill vermin and rodents, guard the property against intruders, and are reliable farmhands. Not to forget that they relieve stress and provide love and affection to the people and animals.

Before we discuss 7 top dog breeds for horse farms, here’s a quick question for you: Q: Did you hear about the dog who couldn’t stop talking like a horse? A: It was a dog and pony show!

They say, ‘you have two friends you can count on… your horse and your dog! With a horse farm, you have the perfect place to keep your pet, and they will be happy doing their job. Before choosing a dog for your property, there are some qualities to look for that may help in this decision-making process.

Guarding and protection

Visit any farm, and the first thing you will experience is dogs running up to you to greet you and alert their owners of your arrival. Dogs are an integral part of farms and help guard you and your horses.

You get a reliable companion in them because they will never fail you. You might be busy in your activities around the barn or outside of it, but you can depend on your dogs to alert you to predators and intruders.

If you’re just getting started with horses, I wrote an article all about choosing a barn design and where it should be located on your farm, and I encourage you to read it.

Reliable farm hands

Working horse farm dogs can herd, drive, and work with livestock, pull carts, and other small conveyances and serve as an extra farmhand and jack of all trades.

We use young horses and dogs to work cows. It’s a great way to get horses comfortable around other animals and train them. After a couple of time working your dog and horse together a bond develops between the animals, and before long they learn they are on the same team.

Pest control!

Keep those toxic chemical-based rat poisons away – you won’t need them if you have dogs. Dog breeds like terriers can flush out vermin and rodents from your livestock and horse feed, and these smart dogs will make sure that these pests stay away.

You know how pesky rodents can spread diseases and destroy livestock? With dogs around, you won’t have to worry about that–our Jack Russell was the best hunting dog for ridding of rats. It outperformed all the cats we had!


Many horse owners spend a lot of time in their farm. They work from before the sun comes up to when it goes down. . With loving dogs by their side, they never feel lonely.

Most dog breeds that are great for horse farms not only love you and your horses unconditionally; they also provide entertainment, make people and horses happier, and also relieve stress. Seabiscuit is a good example of a racehorse that needed a companion to avoid depression and perform his best.

Characteristics to Look for When Choosing a Dog for a Horse Farm

Certain dog breeds are more suited to a horse farm life than others. Some adapt very fast and become one with their surroundings.

Before you choose your horse farm dog breed, you need to be clear about your needs and your expectations from your chosen dog/s.

In addition to assessing your specific needs, consider how the dog will also fit in with your family, your horses, the weather, and the overall farm environment.

Remember: many working dogs – small and large – are very strong-willed compared to regular companion dog breeds. So be sure you are able to handle the dog’s needs as well.

In general, here are the characteristics to look for when choosing a dog for a horse farm:

  • Sharp and Independent-Select a dog that is smart, independent, and quick-thinking. It should ideally have very little need for human interaction.
  • Properly Channeled Dominance– You certainly don’t want a shy or submissive dog. That is why assertiveness and a strong will with properly channeled dominance are vital traits to look for in your horse farm dogs. With proper guidance and leadership of skilled handlers, such dogs become excellent workers.
  • Energy and High-trainability– Ensure that the dogs come from good parentage and bloodlines and can work from morning to night without tiring. The breed should also show positive work ethics and must be keen to learn something new while being highly trainable.
  • Mentally Sound Temperament– You certainly don’t want dogs that are temperamental, unpredictable, and aggressive. Horses would not want aggressive or mentally unsound dogs barking loudly around them, and neither would you.
  • Affectionate and Loyal– Finally, select a dog breed that is affectionate, loyal, and lovable and quickly becomes an integral part of your farm.

Based on these traits, here are the top 7 dog breeds perfect for horse farms:

Picture of a cur dog
Mountain Cur Dog

7 Best Dog Breeds for Horse Farms

1.  Mountain Cur

The Mountain Cur dogs are typically bred to hunt small animals, like squirrels and raccoons. But because they are so versatile they are great all-purpose farm dogs.

Mountain Curs are brave and smart animals, and they can be trained to do what you want. They are also good to have as a friend. They enjoy human contact and are brave and make good watchdogs.

We’ve had different types of cur dogs on our farms for years and find they bond with people and horses, plus they are easily trained for hunting.

2. Jack Russell Terriers

Have you watched the movie – Adventures of Dally and Spanky? It brings out the beauty of the friendship between a horse and a Jack Russell Terrier!!

We’ve had Jack Russell Terriers for years, some short legged ones and others a little larger. They make great companions and are easy to train. I found that most have a strong desire to please and love being trained.

Neither too small nor too large, the Jack Russell is the perfect, sturdy, ‘jack-of-all-trades’ on horse farms. This is a dog that is always ready for a hunt, so you will never have to worry about vermin and rodents on your farm ever again. Alert, confident, and extremely intelligent, they are a delight to watch and be around.

However, you will need to invest time and energy in training them to not yap at anything and everything. Many Jack Russell terriers are even known to outsmart their owners with their intelligence!

3. Australian Shepherd

Throughout the world, there are only a few dogs that can be described as intelligent, industrious, adaptable, and loyal, and one of them is the Australian Shepherd.  This remarkably versatile breed takes on different roles on horse farms and can work in extreme temperatures and rugged environments.

It is also a well-balanced and highly adaptable breed that is generally good around horses. They can maintain large herds with ease and are easy to train.

Picture of a border collie riding a horse,

4. Border Collie

A Border collie named Hekan has become quite the sensation because of the invaluable assistance he provides at his owner’s horse-training company. From taking horses on walks, to keeping a hold of them or even wrangling them when needed, Hekan does it all!

Border Collies are considered the most intelligent dogs in the world. They are attentive, quick to respond, and enthusiastic. They also have high energy. Border collies gladly protect their property without showing undue aggression.

They have an innate sense of duty and responsibility and need lots of room to run and play due to their high energy. At the same time, their gentle and affectionate natures make them ideal companions to horses. All these qualities make Collies one of the best dog breeds for horse farms.

5. Bernese Mountain Dog

This lumbering hulk of a dog is sheer magic to watch in motion. Bernese Mountain Dogs (or BMDs as they are fondly known) has endearing brown eyes, loving personalities, and a non-stop wagging tail that will win your hearts and those of your horses too.

They are confident, trusting, and loyal dogs – reasonably easy to train and highly responsive. Their gentle nature and calm demeanor are suitable for horses too.

Their gentle nature and calm demeanor are suitable for horses too. On the downside, they could be a bit shy or timid and tend to be aloof with strangers.

6. Golden Retrievers

The Golden Retriever ranks very high in AKC’s popularity rating for a reason: they are friendly, reliable, and trustworthy, and excellent dogs around horses. Since they were originally bred to work around humans, they are eager to please and highly trainable too.

When properly trained and socialized, it will get along well with everyone. Goldens love children, strangers, the elderly, cats, horses, and other dogs. They have high energy levels and can work all day.
On the downside, they may be too friendly and might not make the best guard dogs.

On the downside, they may be too friendly and might not make the best guard dogs.

7. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a loyal and obedient dog, possessing sound character and temperament. The breed’s intelligence and ability to learn are remarkable.

A well-trained and socialized German Shepherd can provide excellent companionship to horses and humans. They are also sensitive and instinctively know how and when to guard lives and property.

Bonus: Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is a large white dog with the ability to conform to many situations by adapting its inborn traits. They are caregivers, guardians, and alarms and will willingly stay on duty at night while napping during the day.

The Great Pyrenees is friendly and loyal and will willingly work with horses and other farm animals. It may seem aloof with strangers, but that is mainly due to its protective tendencies.


The seven dog breeds mentioned above have traditionally and historically fulfilled the roles of horse farm dogs and have, time and again, proven themselves as family dogs, true working partners, and ideal companions for rural living.

  Still, it is vital to remember that temperaments tend to vary from dog to dog, and you still need to train them.

Whether you are a working farmer or a rancher with horses or simply need a dog with the brains, devotion, and self-reliance to do a useful job, we hope this guide helps you pick your horse farm dog. Good luck!


What is a barn dog?

Barn dogs are primarily kept in and near your horse barn and are instinctively good around horses. They know not to scare them, yet they are protective and will keep an eye over them while you’re away.

Miles Henry

I love animals! Especially horses, I've been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others. I have bought, sold, and broke racehorse yearlings. I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn't make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines. Miles Henry

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