Golden Retrievers Good Herding Dogs

Are Golden Retrievers Good Herding Dogs?

Introduction: Golden retrievers are one of the most lovable and friendly breeds. While they excel in various roles, such as therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, and family pets, many people wonder if they are also good herding dogs. In this article, we will explore the characteristics and abilities of Golden Retrievers to determine if they are suitable for herding tasks.


Golden Retrievers, known for their friendly and versatile nature, are not typically considered specialized herding dogs like Border Collies or Australian Shepherds. However, they can exhibit some herding instincts and perform basic herding tasks with proper training and guidance.

Herding instructions

When it comes to herding with Golden Retrievers, it’s important to start with basic obedience training. Teach your Golden Retriever essential commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” before introducing herding-specific instructions. Once they have a solid foundation in obedience, you can begin to introduce herding commands such as “come by” (go clockwise around the livestock) and “away to me” (go counterclockwise around the livestock). Consistency, positive reinforcement, and patience are key when training your Golden Retriever for herding tasks.

Types of herding 

• Border collies
• Australian shepherd
• English shepherd 

1. Border Collies: Border Collies are widely regarded as one of the best herding breeds. They are highly intelligent, agile, and have an intense focus on their work. Border Collies are known for their ability to control livestock with precision and make quick decisions in herding situations. 

2. Australian Shepherds: Australian Shepherds, despite their name, actually originated in the United States. These dogs are renowned for their versatility and adaptability. They possess the intelligence, agility, and energy required for herding various types of livestock. Australian Shepherds have a strong work drive and excel at tasks such as gathering, driving, and keeping livestock in a desired area.

3. English Shepherds: English Shepherds are a lesser-known but highly capable herding breed. They have a long history of working alongside farmers and are valued for their versatility in herding different types of livestock. English Shepherds are known for their intelligence, problem-solving abilities, and strong herding instincts.

Important factors 

Several important factors should be taken into account:

1. Temperament and Instincts: While Golden Retrievers may not possess the same level of natural herding instincts as specialized herding breeds, their temperament plays a crucial role. Golden Retrievers are typically friendly, patient, and eager to please, which can make them adaptable and trainable for herding tasks.
2. Training and Socialization: Proper training is essential for any herding dog, including Golden Retrievers. They should undergo obedience training to learn basic commands and develop good listening skills. Socialization is also crucial to expose them to various environments, people, and animals, preparing them for the potential challenges of herding tasks.
3. Physicality and Size: The physical build of a Golden Retriever can pose challenges in herding situations. Their medium to large size, while advantageous in some aspects, may make it more difficult to maneuver and control livestock compared to smaller herding breeds.
4. Guidance and Supervision: Providing proper guidance, maintain behavior and supervision during herding activities is vital for the safety of both the dog and the livestock. Ensure that the Golden Retriever is working under controlled conditions and is not putting themselves or the animals at risk.

Pet dogs on farm with others

Pet dogs on farm with others

Here are some important points to keep in mind:

1. Companionship and Security: Pet dogs can provide companionship to farmers and other workers on the farm. They can also serve as an added layer of security by alerting you to any potential intruders or disturbances.
2. Supervision and Boundaries: It’s crucial to establish boundaries and supervise your pet dogs when they are interacting with farm animals. While some dogs have natural herding instincts and may assist in managing livestock, others may be prone to chasing or harassing them.
3. Health and Vaccinations: Keep your pet dogs up to date on their vaccinations to protect them from diseases that may be present on the farm. Regular veterinary check-ups and preventive measures, such as flea and tick control, are also important to maintain their overall health.
4. Training for Farm Tasks: Depending on their breed and temperament, some pet dogs can be trained to assist with specific farm tasks. For example, certain breeds are adept at herding or guarding livestock. Proper training and guidance are essential to develop their skills and ensure they perform tasks effectively and safely.
5. Consideration for Other Animals: While pet dogs can be valuable additions to a farm, it’s important to consider the needs and well-being of other animals. Ensure that the presence of dogs does not cause unnecessary stress or harm to livestock, poultry, or wildlife on the farm.

Avoid some points 

there are certain points to consider when it comes to herding with Golden Retrievers:

1. Limited Herding Skills: Golden Retrievers lack the specialized skills and instincts that are characteristic of herding breeds specifically bred for this purpose. They may not have the same level of natural ability to control and move livestock efficiently.
2. Size and Physicality: Golden Retrievers are medium to large-sized dogs, and their physical build is more suited for tasks like retrieving and swimming rather than maneuvering livestock. Their size and strength may pose limitations when working with larger or more stubborn animals.
3. Distraction and Social Tendencies: Golden Retrievers are highly sociable dogs that thrive on human companionship. While this trait makes them excellent family pets, it can also be a hindrance in herding situations. Their desire to interact with people and other animals may distract them from focusing on herding tasks.


1. Can Golden Retrievers be trained to herd? 

Yes, Golden Retrievers can be trained to perform basic herding tasks. While they may not possess the same level of natural herding instincts as specialized herding breeds, their intelligence and eagerness to please make them trainable for basic herding commands.

2. Are Golden Retrievers as efficient at herding as Border Collies?

 No, Golden Retrievers are not as efficient at herding as Border Collies, which are considered one of the best herding breeds. 

3. Do Golden Retrievers enjoy herding?

 Some Golden Retrievers may enjoy herding activities, while others may not have a strong inclination for it. Each dog has its own personality and preferences.

4. Can Golden Retrievers herd different types of livestock? 

Golden Retrievers can potentially herd different types of livestock, but their success may vary depending on individual temperament and training.

5. What kind of training is required to prepare a Golden Retriever for herding? 

Training a Golden Retriever for herding involves basic obedience training, socialization, and gradually introducing them to livestock under controlled conditions. Teaching them specific herding commands and providing consistent practice is essential.


In conclusion, while Golden Retrievers may not be the ideal choice for intense herding tasks, they can still be trained to perform basic herding commands and contribute in smaller-scale herding activities. However, their size and physicality should be considered when working with livestock. It’s important to set realistic expectations, provide proper training and supervision, and prioritize the well-being of both the Golden Retriever and the animals on the farm. With the right approach, a Golden Retriever can become a valuable and versatile companion on the farm.

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