Melissa wrote:

 In my mind this would depend on alot of factors, including the type of
 stock and the specific breed of dog, as well as the dog's previous
 training.  Most BCs from working lines would rather herd (anything) than
 breathe.  I personally would never trust my own dogs around stock of any
 kind without  a human handler present.  If they sudenly found themselves
 outside without a human present, there is no doubt in my mind that the
 first thing they'd do is look for stock to herd - mine or anyone else's
 - and would herd it to death.  The intensity with which BCs take to
 herding means they just never quit - they
 would probably "run" livestock to death rather than savage or maul
 stock.  But the end result is the same.  Randi Pike has done a lot to
 educate me to the merits of the modern English Shepherd, a generalist
 type dog which is capable of performing many of the duties of the old
 farm collie.  Hopefully she'll jump in here and answer your question
 as it relates to ESs.  Other breeds of herding dogs are quite variable,
 so our respective breed experts on this list, could speak to this issue
 as it relates to Shelties, Collies, Aussies,etc.

Hi all,
Sorry it's taken me so long to jump in here, I've been quite busy lately and
had so much mail to go through, the discussion on OFA on the ES list has
everyone talking.

My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents all used ES's on the farms
and we still us them on our family farm to this day. They are a practical
working dog, not as intense as a BC as Melissa pointed out. I think every
farmer/rancher has diffrent needs/circumstances and has to choose the working
dog that best fits their needs. For us, the ES has been the best choice.
My grand-parents and great-grandparents had a dairy farm, in those days they
only had a small area fenced, the cows would graze in pastures that were
unfenced, my grandfather had corn in one section that was close to where the
cows would graze, a big temptation to a cow, the ES's job was to keep watch
over the cows and keep them out of the corn. Every now and then a cow would
break and head towards the corn field but under the watchful eyes of these
ES's they never made it. My grandfather had a river that ran through one
section of poperty, he  had grazing land on the other side and the cows would
cross the river and graze there in about 100 acres on the other side, you can
imagine how difficult it would be for a man on foot to cross a river and try
to gather cows up, my grandfather would sit in his truck at the river and
send out his male Danny, Danny would swim across the river and sometimes
travel a number of miles to bring the cows back across. The dogs also knew
the exact time the cows needed to be milked and would go out on their own and
fetch them to the barn and have them lined up waiting to come in and be
I have a million stories about these old dogs, but to get to the dogs we grew
up with and I have presently. After my grandfather sold his dairy cows he got
into raising purebred Angus, my mother shared the same love for cattle and we
had beef cattle growing up, we recently cut our herd down and are raising
more crops.
But our dogs like my grandparents worked on a daily basis, they work about
three times a week now moving cattle to diffrent pastures or when a neighbor
needs a hand. When the dogs are not working, they have never bothered the
My dogs come home with me, I have 5 and we live about 3 miles from the farm,
my yard is fenced. My parents, brothers and sister have their homes on the
farm and they do not keep their ES's total (6) up. They never wander, at
night my sister's are up in the house but my parents stay on their front
porch and during the day stay either in the house or outside with us doing
chores or playing with the children. They will keep out predators and stray
dogs, but we rarely have a problem.
When we have a young pup we take it everywhere with us, it follows us around
doing when we feed livestock, move livestock, fix fence, ect. when the pup is
3-6 months old I gradually start it on young calves or the ducks, I do this
in a stock pen where I can make corrections if needed.
My dogs are never allowed to work the stock unless they are asked and since
this breed does not have the intensity and drive of a BC it is possible for
them to be loose and around livestock all day and will never bother them. Of
course there is training involved, thats a must with any breed.
As far as boundry training goes, I'm sure it can be taught. We have a fenced
in yard where we live but  it would be quite expensive to fence off hundreds
of acres in the kind of fencing required to keep a dog in. At the farm we
have barb wire fencing except for one section that the horses are in.
The dogs could wander, but never have. I guess it's because the  ES has such
a desire to be with his family, no matter where we are they are close at
Sorry this got so long.

 > How could one use the same dog for guarding as well as herding and being a
 > general help and companion to the farmer and his family?  You have raised
 > issues of boundaries and supervision with livestock for a herding
 > you see any other issues raised with this scenario?  Do you think these
 > could be reconciled, and if so, how?
 > There are several breeds whose owners swear that the dog will guard and
herd - the Briard and Bouvier come to my mind first.  Es owners also insist
 the breed can be both a guard and herder.  Since I use two separate
"specialist" breeds to do these two jobs I am not an expert on the dual
purpose or generalist type dog - However the idea really appeals to me!
 Especially since these types of dogs are frequently considered excellent
pets and companions as well. My BCs are less than desirable as pets - just
too intense.  I made this comment to someone not long ago who asked me how I
would describe my relationship with my BCs - the only honest answer I could
think of was "co-dependent".  I've always been interested in the general
working farm dog (I'm on this list for that reason) and although I don't
believe they're common, they apparently do exist.

 The issues I raised re: boundary training vs. confinement behind a fence
 have alot to do with my personal experience no doubt but also have ALOT
 to do with legal issues.  In my state if a dog left it's owners property
 and subsequently caused damage in some way - killing stock, biting
 someone, etc. - the owner would be held liable for all damages unless
 the owner could show "reasonable and responsible attempt" to confine the
 Boundary training is never recognized by the law as reasonable and
 responsible. (in my state anyway).  A fence is.