The American Kennel Club, or AKC, lists 29 separate dogs breeds classified as sheepdogs. The most well-known breeds include border collies, Shetland sheepdogs, German shepherds, standard collies and Australian shepherds.
Lesser-known sheepdog breeds include the Entlebucher mountain dog, Belgian tervuren, bearded collie, Australian cattle dog, Belgian sheepdog, Bouvier des Flandres, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Canaan dog, Briard, Finnish lapphund, Norwegian buhund, Pyrenean shepherd, Polish lowland sheepdog, Swedish vallhund, Puli, Cardigan Welsh corgi and of course, the lovably classic Old English Sheepdog.
To be considered for membership in the AKC's Herding Group, a breed must posses several distinct characteristics. They must actively herd sheep and cattle using eye contact, barking and running. The herding instinct has been bred into these breeds for centuries, and although very few of these dogs are still used in sheep herding, the drive to herd is still extremely strong in them. They often attempt to herd humans, as well as other household pets.
All breeds included in the herding group can make good family pets provided at least one member of the family has good animal handling skills. These are intelligent breeds that require intelligent owners, and they also need to run, after all, they were bred to spend from dawn to dusk running behind and around herds of sheep and cattle. Sheepdogs are not good candidates for city apartments, and a long run at least once per day helps keep them happy and healthy.