Last updated: April 8, 2023
Dogs are an essential part of life on a horse farm. They can provide companionship and protection for both owners and their horses. There are many different breeds of dogs 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:
|Calm but responsive, willing learners, smart
|Jack Russell Terriers
|Energetic, Intelligent, loving
|Active, protective, and smart
|Smart, affectionate, and willing to please
|Bernese Mountain Dog
|Intelligent, loyal, protective
|Friendly, smart, and active
|Confident, obedient, Intelligent
Elizabeth Taylor once famously said: “Some of my best leading men have been horses and dogs!” 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’ll benefit by having a dog to look after it.
7 Best Dog Breeds for Horse Farms
Horse farms are a great place for dogs. There’s plenty of room to run and explore, and the horse farm environment provides ample opportunities for canine socialization. But not all dog breeds are well-suited to horse farms. Some breeds are prone to chasing horses, while others lack the necessary traits you need in a farm dog.
Here are seven of the 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 who 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 and 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 not to yap at anything and everything. Many Jack Russell terriers are even known to outsmart their owners with their intelligence!
3. Australian Shepherd
Only a few dogs can be described as intelligent, industrious, adaptable, and loyal throughout the world, 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.
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, trustworthy, and excellent dogs around horses. Since they were originally bred to work around humans, they are eager to please and highly trainable.
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.
Below is a YouTube video showing dogs and horses playing together.
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.
Benefits of Having Dogs on Horse Farms
Dogs are loyal, loving pets that also provide a valuable service on the farm. They can be useful for trapping rodents or even guarding a farm against intruders. Dogs will never leave your side when you need them most and are essential to any farming operation!
Before we discuss the 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!
Some say they have two friends they can count on: their horse and their dog. With a horse farm, you have the perfect place to keep both. But 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 integral to farms and help guard you and your horses.
Dogs are the perfect companions for a hard-working farmer. When you’re busy around your barn, they’ll let you know when visitors arrive – whether it be friends coming over or an intruder looking to take advantage of your farm life!
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 extra farmhands and jack of all trades.
We use young horses and dogs to work cows. It’s a great way to get them comfortable with each other, learn how they can help one another on the job, and build a bond.
After two or three sessions working together, I find these animals develop such an affinity that before long, your dog is going all out trying its best; getting animals used to being around each other early on gives many benefits later down the line.
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 on their farms. 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
Some dogs are born with a natural affinity for working on horse farms, while others may take some time to adjust. Before you choose the breed of dog that will live on your farm, it’s important to consider what exactly you expect from them.
In addition to assessing your specific needs, consider how the dog will 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 can 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 a positive work ethic and must be keen to learn something new while being highly trainable.
- Mentally Sound Temperament– You certainly don’t want temperamental, unpredictable, and aggressive dogs. 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.
The seven dog breeds mentioned above have traditionally and historically fulfilled the roles of horse farm dogs. They have repeatedly 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 on them while you’re away.
Are dogs and horses related?
While it may seem that horses and dogs are very different, a deep dive into their family tree shows them to be related. They had a common ancestor about 55 million years ago.
Meet Miles Henry
An avid equestrian and seasoned racehorse owner, Miles Henry brings his extensive experience to the equine world, proudly associating with the AQHA, The Jockey Club, and various other equine organizations. Beyond the racetrack, Miles is an accomplished author, having published various books about horses, and is a recognized authority in the field, with his work cited in multiple publications.
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