I didn’t have a dog growing up. My mom hated them, and thought them messy and expensive. Dad didn’t care too much for them, either, and I guess I can’t blame them. Sure, we lived in the country and with several acres it was ideal for a pooch, but alas, my forays into the woods went unaccompanied by man’s best friend.
When I was a farmhand we had a few dogs on the property and I began to realize the importance of a dog on the farm or in the country. They guarded our livestock and warned us of approaching visitors, and made a day in the woods not so lonely. When I met my wife, I was shocked when I found out her parents had not one or two but nine canines. And so, since then, my life has had plenty of four-legged buddies.
If you live in the country, hunt, farm or just want some additional security, I have narrowed down a few breeds that are great for country living. Of course, there are many different opinions out there, but these are my choices.
Before you purchase, consider three things: First, do you require a hunting dog or additional help on the farm? Both avenues require training. Some training you can do yourself, as in the case with a waterfowl dog. However, you throw the idea of cattle school into the equation, the cost can increase dramatically. Also, if you buy a certified puppy you can pay north of $1000 for the pooch.
1. Labrador retriever. These are great dogs if you have a family. Very gentle in nature, relatively easy to train, the Lab is a great dog for anyone who hunts upland birds and waterfowl. They are also a great dog to have around the farm.
They do have a tendency to gain weight and develop hip and joint problems, but a healthy animal can live as long as 14 years.
2. Weimaraner. Another good family dog. Weimaraners are very popular with bird hunters across North America. They make a good family pet as well, and are gentle in nature similar to a Lab.
In my humble experience, Weimaraners are better as solitary dogs and I have developed the opinion that they don’t get along with too many other canines.
3. Beagle. Beagles are an excellent breed of scent hounds, and excel at chasing rabbits and can even be used for upland game. They do best when in a pack, and so it is recommended you own at least a few of these dogs together as they are highly social animals.
Kids love them, and often their first experience with a hunting dog will be a beagle circling a rabbits or treeing a raccoon.
4. German shepherd. Known in the U.S. for their work with police and security, German shepherds are prevalent on homesteads in Germany and all through Europe. The German shepherd will protect your children, especially if raised with them from a puppy. It also will protect your livestock if you train them right. Coyotes are no match for a German shepherd or two, although these dogs are vulnerable to wolves and cougars. Though a bit intimidating, a German shepherd can make a very good family dog, and will lay down its life for your kids.
5. Border Collie. Considered the most intelligent of all the domestic dog breeds. One of my personal favorite breeds of dog. The Border Collie is great around children and will quickly become one of the family.
Border Collies do great herding sheep and even cattle. They are the perfect farm hand for the rancher or the farmer with a dozen sheep or a few Black Angus.
What breeds would you add to this list? Share your own list in the section below: