Pastoral dogs describes those whose current or original purpose was used in the management of livestock, such as mustering, guarding and herding.
Pastoral dogs are divided into three subsections: herding dogs: which work under the direction of a handler; drovers, used to drive animals over a large area of terrain; and guardian dogs, which would live with a herd and protect them from predators such as foxes. They are very intelligent and require a large amount of exercise. They were bred to work for hours rounding up livestock, so they have excellent endurance. They have loads of extra energy to burn and need a lot of exercise off the lead.
Pastoral dogs also require a large amount of mental stimulation to keep them happy. This is because they have to use their intelligence to successfully herd and guard cattle.
Usually, they are very good at dog sports such as Agility and Flyball. If you own a dog that belongs to the Pastoral group they will probably enjoy getting involved in one of these activities.
Many of these breeds have weatherproof double coats to protect them from the elements when working in severe conditions. Consequently, they require constant grooming to keep their coats in good condition.
Pastoral dogs make fantastic pets for active outdoorsy families. They are full of energy and willing to accompany you wherever you want to go. They do not tend to be overly pushy with other people/animals. This can be very beneficial if you are not looking for a dog who will want to greet everyone he sees when out on a walk.
This breed is very loyal, but the downside of this is that it can cause misplaced hostility to strangers. Their guarding tendencies are innate, and without proper socialisation can prove troublesome.
The other potential shorter-term issue that can arise with a Pastoral dog as a family pet is related to their herding instincts. Pastoral dogs have been known to express their herding instincts around children circling them and gently nipping to try and manipulate them like they would livestock.
However, with proper early socialisation and correct attention to positive training, a correctly managed Pastoral dog will prove a welcome and loyal addition to a family.