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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

I am wanting to add a helper to my small farm. I raise both hogs and cattle (only a few of each). I recently had difficulty loading some hogs on the trailer in which the got out of the pen. I ran them everywhere until we got them back in. Speaking to a local guy he said a good farm dog would have made the task easy. So a light bulb went off in my head. I need a farm dog! Now what type?

After some googling I kinda have it narrowed to an Australian cattle dog (blue heeler) or a Border Collie but open to other options.
My use Likes and dislikes from my research-

Border collie
Pros
-seem a little softer and would be better with more fragile livestock (chickens or goats may be in my future)
-a little more social and more likely to make a better family pet when not working.
-easy to train with their intelligence
-seem to be ranked number 1 in most google searches
Cons
-from all the videos I have watched they go out and bring the cattle/livestock right to the farmer, like almost running the farmer over with the livestock.
-Maybe too small of a farm and not as much work as they would want/require

Blue Heeler
Pros

-protection - I have read stories where they attacked and prevented crazy livestock from threatening the farmer. They want to protect the owner naturally (this may be a con as well)
-tougher to handle the rougher livestock
-drives livestock (from videos drives the livestock away from farmer rather than towards)
-branded, in my mind for all my life, that these are a great farm dog
-cheaper around here than border collies (couple hundred cheaper)
Cons
-possibly a one owner breed and not accepting of my 3 person family
-I don't want to worry about friends or family getting bit
-biting and damaging more fragile livestock


Thoughts? I may be totally wrong about some or all of the pros and cons I listed as I gathered the list from the research I have done so far.

I am open minded to your inputs... For the record, both these breeds are found local with both advertised the parents are working dogs..
 

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If your main stock is cattle and hogs I would be more inclined to look for a cattle dog. As you have observed, many BCs are a bit softer, and not all have the courage to get up close and push stubborn cattle or pigs. Depends on your stock too - are they dog savvy and will move away from a dog? If not, a pushier dog that will (appropriately) grip when necessary may be desired. I don't know what part of the country you are in, but you may also look into the Catahoula cur; they can be very versatile farm dogs, also very loyal family pets/ watchdogs, but often leery of strangers. Finally, don't forget about the corgi... they're small but tough and determined.
 

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I would think for cows and hogs that cattle dog would be the best choice as they are tougher herders that can stand up against an unruly cow. Border Collies herd from a distance and usually use their eyes to push and if a hard headed cow isn't willing to move you might have a stare down.

I would honestly go talk to both local breeders, meet their dogs, and tell them what you are looking for as well as the stock you plan on working. They are going to be the best at determining which dog would be the best fit for you.
 
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Find a Border Collie breeder that breeds "cattle line" Border Collies. They're tougher mentally (not quite as soft) and they tend to have no problem jumping into to grip a cow that won't move. You're right in that they are natural gatherers (keep the group together and tend to bring towards handler) but as with any good dog, they can be trained to do what you want. If you ever go watch a stockdog trial, the dogs are required to demonstrate a lot of skills, including gathering and driving.

(This dog has ZERO issues confronting cows)

I think you'd be surprised by how little herding will satisfy them. Considering a lot of them are being bred just for agility/show ring, a little herding goes a long way for a Border Collie. :) I also find they are much quieter than the ACD.

Also, don't discount their protective traits, I know lots of farmers who have said their BCs have saved them from extremely protective ewes (with lambs), and insanely ornery goats.

Now that I've said my piece for BCs...

Cattle Dogs are great dogs to move cows, they're very confrontational with the stock. (So much so if you ever get softer stock, make sure you train them to stay back a little bit). Every ACD I've met (granted none were stock dogs) are VERY attached to one person. They don't really love the rest of the family like they do one person.

They are SO mouthy as puppies, even worse than GSDs... :p And they bark. A lot. And I find that annoying.


Either way, I would suggest talking to local breeders, going to stockdog trials, and even asking local farmers if you can watch their dog work on the farm to see what kind of style you like! :)
 
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ACDs are great on cattle - but barkers, & many are biters as well.

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Seconding ACD flaws -
crazy-mouthy as pups, harder bites than a BC, & far-more likely to be stranger-intolerant as adults. [Meaning, sequester the dog to invite friends in.] Plus, as noted, barkers.
they can be terrific cattle dogs! - never seen them move hogs, but no doubt they could.
OTOH, working-parent ACDs as pets? - pretty hit & miss, frankly.

I'd look for cow-savvy BCS in the local area, & don't be afraid to take a post-pubertal pup or a young dog, under 3-YO. // If they're already started on stock, so much the better; less training for U. :thumbsup: Well-worth the extra dough, IMO, to get on with the job.
Affection & devotion will come, in a short time. [IME.]

- terry

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