Farm dog facts: What makes the German Shepherd a great herder

on May 30, 2022

When it comes to herding livestock and guarding your farm, the German Shepherd is one of the classic go-to breeds.  

Their loyalty and intelligence make them easy to train. With just a few repetitions, they can learn commands easily. They can also alert farmers to incoming trouble and stay on guard until you arrive at their side. These traits make them among the 6 best dog breeds to work with on the farm.  

The breed’s origin story 

The history of this dog goes back as early as 1899, when German Captain Max von Stephanitz and other breeders first developed the first German Shepherd using shepherding and farm dogs. Later in 1908, the American Kennel Club officially recognized this breed. Though due to anti-German sentiment in World War I and II, the word "German" was dropped from the name and it was known as the shepherd dog or the Alsatian.  

Is the German Shepherd the right breed for you? 

The German Shepherd is a highly active dog for a reason. They were bred as herders and have an abundance of energy. This means they’re great for when you need to herd sheep from one place to another or if you need a companion to patrol your farm with you.  

They also require regular grooming as they can shed in spring and in the fall seasons, thanks to their dense coats. It’s best to brush their fur weekly or even give them scheduled baths to keep them clean.  

When German Shepherds lack rigorous physical and mental exercise, they tend to chew on things to expend their energy. You will need to socialize them properly and give them obedience training to discourage unruly biting or chewing. 

Health issues to take note of  

German Shepherds are likely to suffer from diseases that target large dog breeds. These include: 

  • Hip dysplasia, - This is an inherited condition that causes abnormal growth in the dog’s hip. It can affect any dog, but is more common in larger breeds and can cause limping and pain. 
  • Degenerative myelopathy - This causes degeneration in the white matter of their spinal cords. This can weaken their hind limbs and can cause paralysis if untreated. 
  • Von Willebrand's disease - This prevents the blood from clotting properly. This is due to lack of a specific protein called the von Willebrand factor, responsible for helping the platelets bind and close wounds. It’s best to consult your veterinarian about considering plasma transplants should your dog contract this disease. 

Given that treatment of these diseases will require medical assistance, it’s best to perform regular checkups with your veterinarian. Regular x-rays and blood tests will ensure that your German Shepherd is fit to work in your farm. A healthy diet rich in protein paired with regular exercise are also preferable ways to keep your dog healthy and lessen the chances of illnesses.  


Why get a German Shepherd 

The German Shepherd is one of the most loyal and smartest dog breeds available for farmers. While they are highly active and require a lot of maintenance, the investment and care you will need to put into these dogs are worth the protectiveness and loyalty they will give you in return. 

Feeding your farm dog requires a specialized diet. This means food with quality protein, Taurine and Glucosamine for muscle, heart and joint health respectively.  

These can be found in Wishbone Gold, a dry dog food formula with 100% New Zealand Beef and Lamb rich in protein. Wishbone Gold also gives your dog an immune boost with 8 Superfoods like Mango, Papaya, and Rosemary.  

Give your farm dog the nutrition they need today. Shop here! Plus, get 15% off your order when you subscribe to Wishbone Gold’s monthly delivery service.