Are Corgis Good Herding Dogs?

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Written By Dane Michael

MyFavCorgi is a community of corgi fans and owners with advice to buy, raise and care for your corgi.

When you pictures a corgi, an image of their adorable, short-legged stature often comes to mind. Yet, beneath their charming appearance lies a heritage of hard work and tenacity.

In the world of herding, where instinct, intelligence, and agility are paramount, the question arises: are corgis good herding dogs?

As a devoted dog enthusiast myself, I can attest to the astonishing capabilities of these pint-sized herders.

Spending time out on a rural farm as a child, I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand the incredible herding prowess of their beloved corgi. His unwavering dedication to the task and innate ability to control livestock left a strong impression on me.

And while my own corgi may not be ‘quite’ so active, I can tell those herding instincts remain firmly intact.

In this article, I’ll delve into the history and characteristics of corgis as herding dogs, exploring what makes them stand out in the realm of pastoral work.

What are the origins of corgis as herding dogs?

Both the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi have a rich history as herding dogs in the beautiful landscapes of Wales.

The breed’s origins can be traced back to more than 1,000 years ago when they were brought to Wales by Flemish weavers during the 12th century.

These early corgis were bred for their herding abilities on farms, particularly for driving cattle and sheep.

In rural Welsh communities, where large-scale farming was a way of life, corgis played a vital role in managing livestock.

Due to their short stature, they were uniquely suited for herding cattle and sheep, as they could easily nip at the animals’ heels without getting kicked or injured.

​Their low centre of gravity and agile movements allowed them to swiftly manoeuvre through rough terrains and tight spaces, making them invaluable assets to farmers.

How were corgis used in herding livestock?

Corgis were highly versatile herding dogs with various roles on the farm. One of their primary responsibilities was driving cattle and sheep from pasture to pasture or to market.

They would use their natural herding instincts to gather the animals and keep them together in a cohesive group. Their persistent and assertive nature helped them maintain control over even the most unruly livestock.

​Corgis were also adept at guarding and protecting the herd from predators. Their alertness and keen senses made them excellent watchdogs, alerting farmers to any potential threats to the flock.

This guarding aspect was particularly crucial during times of pasture rotation and when grazing in open fields.​

Why are corgis good herders?

Corgis possess several physical attributes that make them well-suited for herding tasks.

Despite their small stature, they are sturdy and muscular, giving them the strength to handle livestock many times their size. Their long, low bodies allowed them to move with agility while maintaining stability, even in uneven and hilly terrains.

Additionally, their keen intelligence and problem-solving abilities allowed them to anticipate the movements of the herd, making them effective at anticipating and responding to the animals’ behaviour.

The breed’s sharp, pointed ears and expressive eyes facilitated clear communication with their human handlers and fellow herding dogs.

What animals can corgis herd?

Corgis, despite their small size, are remarkably good at herding livestock on both small and large farms. Their herding skills extend to a diverse range of animals, including sheep, cattle, goats, and even poultry.

Their natural herding instincts and intelligence make them remarkably well-suited for this task. Let’s explore the impressive abilities of corgis when it comes to herding different types of animals.

Are corgis good at herding chickens?

Corgis can be taught to herd chickens, but achieving this requires patience and skill from the owner.

Chickens are easily startled creatures, and their scattered movements can trigger a corgi’s strong herding instinct, potentially leading to unintended harm.

​Therefore, it is essential to undergo proper training to ensure that your corgi can work with chickens in a safe and controlled manner.

I vividly recall the first encounter my corgi had with my friend’s chickens in his backyard. He became quite excited and started barking, prompting me to bring him back indoors until he calmed down.

Through dedicated training, corgis can develop the necessary skills to manage chickens in a cohesive group and guide them in the desired direction without causing any harm.

Are corgis good at herding ducks?

Although corgis were not bred to herd ducks, their herding instincts can surprisingly extend to these feathered creatures as well.

Corgis may instinctively attempt to round up ducks and guide them in a particular direction using their natural herding behaviours.

If you intend to introduce a corgi to ducks or any other animals, it is essential to closely supervise their interactions. 

Are corgis good at herding sheep?

Corgis are highly skilled at herding sheep. Their services are frequently employed on farms.

Their strong herding instinct, combined with their remarkable agility and speed, makes them perfectly suited for managing sheep.

​Corgis instinctively use their herding abilities to expertly control the movement of sheep, ensuring they remain in a cohesive and tight group, a crucial aspect of effective herding.

To excel in their herding duties, corgis must undergo training to respond promptly to their owner’s commands.
This training enables them to adapt swiftly to any changes in the sheep’s behaviour, maintaining control over the entire flock.

While this training process demands significant time and patience, the rewards of having a skilled and reliable sheep-herding corgi are undoubtedly worth the effort in the end.

Are corgis good at herding goats?

Corgis can be trained to herd goats on the farm, though it requires dedicated training.

Corgis possess a natural herding instinct. Their ability to round up goats can be surprisingly efficient. However, herding goats is more challenging compared to sheep due to goats’ independent nature and agility.

To manage goats effectively, corgis may use a combination of barking, nipping at the heels, and circling to guide the animals in the desired direction.

Initially, goats might be startled by the corgi’s herding behaviour, but with time, they often adapt and may even come to see the corgi as a reliable herding companion.

While corgis may not match the speed of some other herding breeds due to their short legs, they compensate for it with their agility and intelligence.

Their strong herding instinct can be harnessed effectively through proper training, allowing them to become skilled herders capable of managing goats with confidence and precision. 

Are corgis good at herding cows?

Corgis can to be trained to herd cows on farms, but it is a challenge.

Cows are significantly larger and more formidable than other livestock such as sheep and goats, making them more difficult for modern corgis to control during herding tasks.

Training a corgi to effectively herd cows necessitates a considerable amount of patience and skill.

It is crucial to seek the guidance of a professional dog trainer with experience in herding to ensure proper techniques are used and to ensure the safety of both the corgi and the cows.

Corgis are small dogs, and herding large cattle can pose a risk of injury to them.

Not all corgis may be suitable for herding cows, so careful evaluation and consideration should be taken before embarking on such training.

Are corgis good at herding horses?

Corgis are not used for herding horses (as they were originally bred for herding cattle). But individual dogs may display the herding instincts needed to herd horses.

Corgis find herding horses more challenging than some other animals because horses are much bigger and stronger than sheep, similar to cows. Due to the size and power difference, it’s harder for corgis to control horses like they would with smaller animals.

However, if corgis are trained or exposed to horses from a young age, they may try to herd them. Even though they may not be as effective as larger herding breeds such as Border Collies or Australian Shepherds, corgis can still show their herding instincts when given the chance.

If you have a corgi and want to introduce them to horses, make sure to do it in a controlled and supervised environment.

How can I train my corgi to herd?​

To train your corgi to herd, start with basic obedience commands, introduce them to herding-specific cues, use positive reinforcement, and expose them to herding tasks in a controlled space.

Herding instincts typically start to show in corgis at a young age, around 4 to 6 months. Begin training when your corgi is a puppy, but be careful not to overexert them due to their developing joints.

To teach your corgi how to herd livestock, start with basic obedience commands. Make sure your dog learns the essential commands like “sit” and “stay.

Introduce your corgi to livestock gradually. Start with calm and well-behaved animals in a safe location. This can include farm animals like sheep or ducks. Begin training on a leash to maintain control. Allow your corgi to observe the livestock from a distance, rewarding them when they are calm.

Once your corgi masters these basics, you can move on to more specific herding commands. Train your corgi to pay attention to you with the ‘look’ command. Use treats or toys to get their focus and reward them for making eye contact.

Next move to basic herding commands such as “Away” (go counterclockwise) and “Come By” (go clockwise). Use these commands consistently during training sessions.

Reward them with treats or praise when they do well. This helps them associate good behaviour with positive outcomes and encourages them to repeat those actions.

Herding training takes time. Be patient and consistent in your approach. Regular, short training sessions are more effective than infrequent, long sessions.

What are the hardest parts of training a corgi to herd?

Training a corgi to be a herding dog on the farm is a challenging task. Not all corgis are cut out for herding work, so it’s essential to be understanding and see if your dog enjoys it.

A significant challenge in this process is the need for consistency during training. Herding is a skill that takes time and dedication to master, so it’s crucial to remember that progress may be gradual.

Another challenge comes from the corgi’s small size, which could make them vulnerable when working with larger livestock. Close supervision and precautionary measures are necessary to ensure the safety of both the corgi and the farm animals.

Effective communication with your corgi is vital for successful herding work. They need to understand and obey commands well. Seeking advice from a professional dog trainer can be beneficial to ensure your corgi is trained effectively and safely.

Safety is a top priority when working with a corgi on the farm. Training and socialisation, as well as using appropriate equipment like a harness and lead, are essential precautions. Keep a close eye on your corgi at all times, watching for signs of stress or fatigue.

Lastly, familiarise your corgi with the farm’s boundaries and layout to prevent them from wandering off and getting lost. The last thing you want is your furry friend disappearing into the dusk.

Do corgis need to socialise with livestock to herd?

Corgis need to be socialised with livestock before starting herding training.

As a herding breed, corgis have a natural instinct to control and chase livestock, which can lead to unwanted behaviour if not properly socialised.

By introducing your corgi to livestock at a young age, they learn how to interact appropriately, reducing the risk of aggressive or fearful behaviour.

Some animals may need more attention and guidance during the process. For example, introducing your corgi to chickens requires extra caution because their flighty behaviour can easily scare and harm the pup. Similarly, larger livestock, like cattle, can accidentally harm your corgi.

If you have a small mixed farm, it’s best to expose your corgi to all aspects of farm life, including equipment operation and interactions with different animals and situations.

Using lead training can be beneficial during this phase. It allows you to keep your corgi on a lead or long lead while they adapt to the environment and learn boundaries between different types of animals.

Why does my corgi try to herd me?

Corgis have a natural herding instinct that stems from their history as working dogs.

When a corgi herds you, it’s a manifestation of their innate herding instinct. They might nip at your heels or attempt to guide you in a certain direction, similar to how they would manage a herd of animals. This behaviour can vary between individual dogs.

Possible reasons for your corgi herding you include their natural instincts, excess energy and excitement, seeking attention, and a lack of proper training. Without addressing this behaviour, it may persist and become problematic.

How do I stop my corgi from herding? 9 tricks to try right now

To help stop your corgi from herding, here are some techniques you can try.

  1. Basic obedience training: Start with teaching your corgi basic obedience commands like sitstaycome, and leave it. Training helps establish you as the leader and gives you better control over their behaviour.
  2. Redirect their attention: Whenever your corgi starts herding, distract them with an alternative activity or command. For example, ask them to sit or fetch a toy. Redirecting their focus will help break the herding behaviour.
  3. Socialisation: You need to socialise your corgi from an early age. Expose them to different people, places, and animals so they become accustomed to various environments and learn appropriate behaviours.
  4. Exercise and mental stimulation: Ensure your corgi gets enough physical exercise and mental stimulation to reduce excess energy. Regular walks, playtime, and puzzle toys can keep them engaged and prevent boredom-related behaviours.
  5. Positive reinforcement: When your corgi displays calm and non-herding behaviour, reward them with praise, treats, or affection. Positive reinforcement encourages them to repeat desirable actions.
  6. Avoid unintentional reinforcement: Be mindful not to unintentionally reinforce herding behaviour by reacting with excitement or fear. Stay calm and composed when addressing the behaviour.
  7. Train a “stop” or “no herding” cue: Teach your corgi a specific command like “stop” or “no herding.” Use this command whenever they start herding, and reward them when they respond appropriately.
  8. Use deterrents: If your corgi herds certain objects or people, you can use baby gates or barriers to restrict access to those areas temporarily.
  9. Avoid rough play: Discourage any rough play that might trigger herding behaviour. Playtime should be gentle and not mimic herding actions.

Remember, stopping herding behaviour in corgis requires a consistent pattern of training with patience and positive reinforcement. You must be proactive in managing the behaviour and giving them with appropriate outlets for their energy.

How to train your corgi not to bark? This corgi puppy is learning how not to bark in his backyard.

Final thoughts on whether corgis are good herding dogs

Corgis have a historical background as skilled herding dogs in Wales, where they were valued for their natural instincts and unique physical attributes that aided them in managing livestock.

While they might not be as commonly used for herding today due to changes in farming practices, corgis’ herding instincts still remain.

Their intelligence, agility, and work ethic make them eager learners and dedicated workers in herding tasks.

While corgis can be trained to herd sheep, goats, and other livestock, it requires patience, skill, and careful supervision.

As with any herding breed, corgis have specific limitations, especially when dealing with larger livestock. Their small size can put them at risk of injury, requiring cautious management during herding activities.

While they might not be the go-to herding breed for large-scale farming today, corgis can still excel as versatile working dogs and cherished family companions.

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