is the act of bringing individual animals together into a group,
maintaining the group and moving the group from place to place—or
any combination of those. While the layperson uses the term "herding",
most individuals involved in the process will call it "working stock"
or "moving" and not herding.
Herding can be performed by people
or trained animals such as herding dogs. Some animals instinctively
gather together as a herd while some predators, such as wolves and
dogs have instinctive herding abilities. Herding can also be done
using wire through which electricity is sent.
Herding is used in agriculture
to manage domesticated animals. The people whose occupation it is
to herd or control animals often have herd added to the name of
the animal they are herding to describe their occupation (shepherd,
goatherd, cowherd). These -herds may use dogs to assist them and
a competitive sport has developed in some countries where the combined
skill of man and dog is tested and judged in a Trial.
A herding dog or pastoral breed is a dog that either
has been trained in herding or that is a member of a breed developed
for herding. Some herding breeds work well with any kinds of animals;
others have been bred for generations to work with specific kinds
of animals and have developed physical characteristics or styles
of working that enhance their ability to handle these animals. Commonly
herded animals include cattle, sheep, and reindeer, although it
is not unusual for poultry to be handled by dogs.
Herding dog is also sometimes
used to refer to dogs whose primary job is to guard the herd from
predators and to be sure that it does not go astray. A Maremma Sheepdog
is an example. For more information about dogs of this type, see
Livestock guardian dog.
In general terms when categorizing
dog breeds, herding dogs are considered a subcategory of working
dogs, but for conformation shows they usually form a separate group.
Dogs can herd other animals in a variety of ways. Some breeds, such
as the Australian Cattle Dog, typically nip at the animals' heels
(for this reason they are called heelers). Others, notably the Border
Collie, get in front of the animals and use what is called eye to
stare down the animals; they are known as headers. The Koolie has
been observed to use both these methods and to jump on the backs
of their charges. Koolies are therefore said to 'head', 'heel',
All herding behavior is modified
Most herding breeds have physical
characteristics that help them with their work, including speed
and endurance. Shorter breeds, such as Welsh Corgis, were bred so
that they would be out of the way when cattle, their primary charges,
kicked at them.
What is a Herding Trial?
These are yard trials with a
small number of livestock in a confined area. The dog is required
to complete a certain number of tasks during the trial including
maneuvering the livestock through obstacles and into a pen at the
competition of tasks. The dog commences the trial with 100 points
and points are deducted for non-completion of tasks or general deductions.
For a dog to have a qualifying score it can not loose more than
half the points allotted to any compulsory task or element of the
trial. E.g. penning stock is worth 10 points if the dog didn’t pen
any stock it would loose all 100 points and not receive a qualifying
score event if it did the rest of the course perfectly.
HTD 1 Started - Herding Trial Dog
HTD2 Intermediate - Herding Trial Dog
HTD3 Advanced - Herding Trial Dog
HTDX Champion – Herding Trial Dog
of the General Regulations
(for a copy of these regulations in full please contact
The purpose of non competitive herding tests is to offer herding
breed owners a standardise gauge by which a dog's basic instinct
and trainability are measured.
The purpose of the competitive
herding trial program is to preserve and develop the herding skills
inherent in the herding breeds and to demonstrate that they can
perform the useful function for which they were originally bred.
Although herding trials are artificial simulations of pastoral or
farm situations, they are standardised tests to measure and develop
the characteristics of the herding breeds.
Dogs must have training and prior
exposure to livestock before being entered in tests or trials. This
should be obtained through a recognised herding trainer or club.
A dog is not required to work
in a particular breed style according to its breed. A dog may compete
on whichever course its handler chooses.
Herding tests and trials are sports
and all participants should be guided by the principles of good
sportsmanship both in and outside of the test and trial arenas.
2. Herding Tests and Herding Trials.
A Member Herding Test is a test at which qualifying scores toward
awards are awarded, given by a club or associate which is a member
of The Australian National Kennel Council.
A Member Herding Trial is a herding
test at which qualifying scores and championship points toward titles
are awarded, given by a club or association which is a member of
the Australian National Kennel Council.
A Licensed Herding Test is a herding
test at which qualifying scores toward Herding Trials are awarded
by a club or association which is not a member of The Australian
National Kennel Council, but which has been licensed by The Australian
National Kennel Council to give the specific herding test designated
in the license.
Sanctioned Herding Tests and Trials
are informal herding events at which dogs may participate, but not
for championship points or qualifying scores toward titles, held
by a club or association by obtaining the sanction of The Australian
National Kennel Council.
3 Eligibility of Dogs.
All dogs six (6) months of age or older that are registered with
their state affiliated body of The Australian National Kennel Council
and are classified as Working Breeds (Group Five) or an associate
registered working breed dog are eligible to participate in herding
tests and trials.
ALL The Australian National Kennel
Council Rules and Regulations applying to Registration, Discipline
and the Rules applying to Dog Shows where applicable, shall Govern
the Conduct of Herding Tests and Trials, and shall apply to ALL
Persons and Dogs participating in them except as The Herding Regulations
May Provide otherwise.
There is no prerequisite for
entry in a Pre-Trial Test. But a dog must gain two passes in a (Herding
Instinct Test) to qualify for a Trial entry. If a dog is entered
in a Herding Started Trial class and then a Herding Intermediate
Trial class at the same event and runs in the Intermediate Trial
class it may run in Started Class at the Handlers option, but the
entry fee shall not be refunded if it is scratched from the Started
Class. If a dog qualifies in a Intermediate Class and attains the
second pass towards it's Herding Intermediate certificate, a trial
certificate and title will be issued provided the dog is otherwise
eligible, but the dog is no longer eligible for entry in a Started
Class as the result of qualifying in the Intermediate Class.
9. Breeds eligible for Herding Test Program.
Australian Cattle dog, Australian
Kelpie, Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collie, Belgium Shepherds (All
Varieties), Border Collie, Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, Collie
Rough and Smooth, German Shepherd Dog, Finnish Laphund, Norwegian
Buhund, Old English Sheepdog, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Puli, Pumi,
Shetland Sheepdog, Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog, Swedish Vallhund, Welsh
Corgi Cardigan, Welsh Corgi Pembroke
Other Herding Breeds
Bernese Mountain Dog, Canaan , Keeshond, Kerry Blue Terrier, Norwegian
Elkhound, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Tibetan Terrier
MIXED BREEDS mixed breeds may
be accepted provided they are a mix or apparent mix of herding breeds
These must be Associate Registered dogs.
What is a sheep/cattle Trial?
A Sheepdog trial is a competitive
dog sport in which herding dog breeds move sheep or cattle around
a field, fences, gates, or enclosures as directed by their handlers.
Rules of 3 sheep/cattle trialing
15 minutes (maximum)
Starts when the judge is satisfied with the release of the sheep/cattle
3 new sheep/cattle per dog. Sheep/cattle only used once
Maximum score possible of 100 points if all obstacles completed.
Must remain at starting peg or obstacle ring until sheep/cattle
are clear of balance peg.
Must move between obstacles at an even pace.
Must not obstruct sheep/cattle or assist dog.
Must never cross between sheep/cattle and worker.
Must not bite.
For best points and advantage the sheep/cattle are to remain in
a 10 metre line on pull to worker.
Sheep/cattle must go around worker's left and then remain on worker's
right for the remainder of the course.
Deviation from 10 metre line on the pull.
Deviation from 10 metre line on worker's right for remainder of
1 point for any part of the Sheep/cattle past the obstacle.
2 points for any part of the Sheep/cattle past the middle of the
3 points for the Sheep/cattle passing the obstacle.
What is a Yard Trial?
A yard trial is a competitive
dog sport in which herding dog breeds move sheep around the sheep
yards or enclosures as directed by their handlers.
16 sheep are used in the competition
2. 8 sheep in a portable yard
3. 8 sheep let out on to arena
where dog will bring them to the yards
4. They will then be joined
with the 8 in the yards, forced into a drenching race then through
a drafting race where 8 sheep will be drafted off. 4,8,4
5. 8 sheep will be returned
to the let go pen via a gate on the side of the arena.
allotted: 10 minutes.
2. Dogs will lose 5 points if
wearing a muzzle.
3. Dog and worker mistreating
sheep liable to disqualification at judges discretion.
4. Dogs breaking bell and can't
be called back to start will lose points.
5. Dog crossing on the cast
will lose points.
6. Dog biting sheep when working
will lose points.
7. Handler helping dog will
lose points including drafting mistakes.
8. Sticks up to 2 feet long
can be used, but now whips.
9. Worker may stand and walk
anywhere after he has brought his sheep to yard.
10. Worker has to take his sheep
off the grounds to return yard if time runs out before trial completed.
11. No bitches on heat will
be permitted to work.
12. Judge's decision is final.
13. No responsibility taken
for worker and dog on the grounds.
Photo taken by:
Rod Scott - The Petographer
Links to Herding Information
Working Kelpie Council of Australia Inc.
Yard Dog Association - Working Dog Sporting Club in NSW