15 Dec 10 Best Dog Breeds That Do Well With Horses
Most horse lovers have an affinity for all pets, including dogs. There’s something special about the bond that can form between a horse, a dog, and its owner. From providing companionship on the trail to guarding the barn and killing off rodents, dogs can prove a valuable asset to any horse owner. However, not all dogs are suited for barn life. Because of this, it is important to conduct thorough research before adopting a dog to accompany you on your riding adventures.
What are the 10 best dog breeds that do well with horses? While personalities can vary, even amongst the same litter, certain dog breeds are more known for their compatibility with horses. Ten of the best dog breeds for horses include Golden Retrievers, Welsh Corgis, Australian Shepherds, Jack Russell Terriers, Border Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs, Dalmatians, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Great Pyrenees.
Regardless of the breed of dog that you choose, it is important to train them to behave appropriately around your horses. Through consistent training, you can ensure that both your dog and your horse remain healthy, safe, and happy. In this post, we will share more in-depth information regarding each of these ten breeds. We hope that this information provides you with the ability to make an educated decision regarding a dog breed that is best for your unique situation.
Ten Dog Breeds That Are Good With Horses
There are countless dog breeds known to man today. Some authorities say there are well over 350 known breeds! While certain breeds are more agreeable with horses than others, it is important to note that this list is not comprehensive.
Within each breed, and even each litter, are various personalities and temperaments. Because of this, a dog from a more “aggressive” breed may behave well around horses while another dog from a different breed may cause stress and chaos. As with any new person or animal, it is important to introduce a dog to your horse carefully and cautiously. Through proper exposure and training, you can ensure that the relationship between your horse and your dog is beneficial to all.
While we know that most dog breeds can be trained to exist around horses, several breeds are known for how well they interact with their equine counterparts.
1. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds both in the equine community and the world as a whole. Known for their kind, gentle demeanor, this medium-sized dog does well around kids, animals, and most importantly, horses. Golden Retrievers are willing to please with incredible intelligence. Because of this, they are relatively easy to train and will adapt well to life around the stable.
Golden Retrievers are an excellent size for stable life. They are not large enough to get underfoot. However, they are also not too small, having the ability to hold their own against larger animals. Especially in their early years, Golden Retrievers are abounding in energy and appreciate exercise. This makes them excellent trail riding companions.
As with almost any other breed, Golden Retrievers do have several health problems that may prove to be an issue in later years. Common health conditions such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxations, and other genetic issues may cause discomfort for your Golden Retriever as they age.
2. Welsh Corgi
When you think about dog breeds that are good around horses, a small dog is likely not the first to come to mind. However, Welsh Corgis are actually one of the best dog breeds for horse owners. Initially bred to work with livestock, Corgis are not intimidated by larger animals.
Both Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Cardigan Welsh Corgis are great dogs for life around the stable. While they are small, they are incredibly agile and appreciate exercise. If you are looking for a canine companion for trail rides, this could be a perfect match!
Like Golden Retrievers, Welsh Corgis are known for several health problems that can limit their mobility later in life. Things such as intervertebral disc disease and hip dysplasia may cause discomfort, although they are not common conditions for Corgis that remain active.
3. Australian Shepherd
Many equestrians are wary of Australian Shepherds simply because of their high energy. While this breed may abound with energy, they are well-suited for life around horses. Developed in the western United States, the Australian Shepherd is a great companion for equestrians who are looking for a riding companion.
It is important that you only consider adopting an Australian Shepherd if you can provide them with plenty of opportunities for exercise. Australian Shepherds are known for their intelligence, energy, and endurance. They are not content sitting around the stable and require more activity than many other breeds.
Several genetic conditions can plague Australian Shepherds, most of which are related to their eye color. In some cases, Australian Shepherds may suffer from epilepsy.
Australian Shepherds are stunning. These colorful dogs can have brown eyes, blue eyes, or even multi-colored eyes, something that truly sets them apart. Medium in size, Australian Shepherds are a great choice for active horse owners.
4. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers are one of the smaller dogs on this list. However, they are bold and energetic, making them a great asset to any stable. This breed is highly intelligent and able to adapt to their surroundings. Most Jack Russell Terriers live long, happy lives. Because of this, they are excellent companions for both horse and rider.
While energetic, the smaller size of this breed means they require less exercise than some of the larger breeds. However, they are agile enough to participate in trail rides and other activities around the stable!
5. Border Collie
Border Collies are known for their ability to work with focus. An obedient and intelligent breed, Border Collies are not only incredible companions but also great guard dogs! Border Collies are known for their intense loyalty and a strong desire to please their owners. This makes them reliable and easy to train, traits that are valuable around horses.
Border Collies do possess large amounts of energy. Like other energetic breeds, it is important to provide your Border Collie with plenty of opportunities for both physical and mental stimulation. Without these opportunities, this breed may become restless or problematic. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for exercise when you live alongside horses!
6. Australian Cattle Dog
Oftentimes confused with Australian Shepherds, the Australian Cattle Dog is another excellent canine companion for horses. Much like other dog breeds on this list, the Australian Cattle Dog is quite active and requires daily exercise.
Smaller than many other dog breeds, Australian Cattle Dogs are often short and stout. They do not often bark, making them an excellent choice for stables that house easily-frightened horses.
Some of the health conditions that are common to Australian Cattle Dogs include deafness, hip dysplasia, and arthritis. However, this breed was developed to survive harsh conditions. Because of this, health problems are rare as long as the dog receives proper care and exercise.
If you are looking for a quiet canine companion to accompany you on trail rides, the Australian Cattle Dog could be a perfect choice.
Dalmatians are famous for many reasons. If you think back on their long history in the United States, you will find many instances of the breed being used for their ability to agree with horses. Dalmatians earned the reputation as a “fireman’s dog” due to their ability to interact with the horses that historically pulled fire trucks.
Many equestrians hesitate to adopt a Dalmatian as they do require great attention and care during their early years to ensure proper training. However, this beautiful dog serves as both a companion for your horse and an excellent guard dog for the stable.
Another common hesitation regarding Dalmatians is its wide array of health conditions. Issues such as hip dysplasia, deafness, and other genetic conditions are often found in this breed. However, with proper care and oversight, your Dalmatian will remain healthy and ready to accompany you on all of your riding adventures.
8. German Shepherd
Equestrians often shy away from dog breeds like German Shepherds as they may have a more aggressive personality. However, if properly trained, German Shepherds make a great addition to any stable. They are energetic and require plenty of exercise. However, they are always ready to protect their owners and the animals on the farm.
You must be prepared and equipped to spend time training your German Shepherd. This breed requires plenty of positive reinforcement training and socialization, especially if they are kept around horses or other animals.
9. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds, often mixed with other breeds to achieve unique combinations. Because of this, they can vary widely in their personality and characteristics. However, most Labrador Retrievers are great around people, horses, and other animals, making them a great addition to the stable.
Labrador Retrievers are often easy-going and friendly. Additionally, they are quite energetic and able to keep up on long trail rides when other breeds may tire quickly. Labrador Retrievers are obedient and loyal, making them an excellent choice for a new dog owner or an equestrian without the ability to dedicate long hours to training their new pup.
10. Great Pyrenees
Although they are large and fluffy in appearance, Great Pyrenees makes excellent guard dogs. Often territorial, this breed is quite gentle with people and animals with whom they are acquainted. Great Pyrenees are energetic, requiring significant amounts of activity to keep them entertained. Additionally, Great Pyrenees are not the most easily trained breed. Their owners must possess great amounts of determination and patience to properly train their canine companion. However, once this process is complete, the Great Pyrenees is an excellent addition to a stable of any size.
Because this beautiful breed was initially developed as a guard dog, they do bark a lot. While this is an incredible asset to some, equestrians with easily-spooked horses may consider a different breed. Great Pyrenees can grow to be quite large, something that should be considered if you are planning on traveling with your new pet.
Dog Breeds That May Not Get Along With Horses
Because there can be so much variety in the personalities and characteristics of certain dog breeds, it is nearly impossible to create a list of breeds that do not get along with horses. However, it is important to note that several things may prohibit a dog from becoming a loyal companion to your horses.
Breeds With Strong Herding Instincts
While herding dogs were created to co-exist with livestock, this strong herding instinct can sometimes go too far. If you are considering a herding dog, it is important to realize that they will require large amounts of training and exercise to curb their bad habits. If your dog attempts to herd your horses incessantly, your equine companions may become stressed or forced to act out. This can harm not only the dog but also the horse and potentially the rider!
Breeds That Are Small & Fragile
Several smaller dog breeds are very compatible with horses. However, it is important to exercise caution when introducing your horse to a small, fragile dog. Oftentimes, small dogs are timid around larger animals, making it stressful for them to live in a stable atmosphere. Additionally, dog breeds that are small or fragile are more likely to receive an injury in the busyness of the stable.
Breeds That Are Often Loud or Aggressive
While all dogs can receive proper training, certain breeds are naturally more aggressive than others. Because there are likely many people, animals, and horses around your stable, your dog mustn’t be aggressive towards others. Additionally, dogs that have a bad habit of barking often may cause stress or chaos in the barn, something that should be avoided if possible.
Choosing a Dog That Gets Along With Your Horse
As with any new person, animal, or environment, it is important to choose a dog that is compatible with your horse and riding lifestyle. When choosing a dog, take the time to slowly introduce your new canine companion. Socializing them in a supervised environment until you are sure that they get along with your horse. In doing so, you can ensure the health and safety of all of your four-legged friends.
There’s nothing more enjoyable than taking both your horse and your dog for a trail ride. You get to ride your horse and your dog gets exercise! It’s important that your dog and your horse can get along for the safety of everyone involved. To learn more, check out our article How to Safely Horseback Ride With Dogs.
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I’m a lifelong horse trainer and horseback rider who’s passionate about teaching others about the things I’ve learned. I grew up competing in numerous English horseback riding disciplines and am now a certified equine massage therapist. I currently own three horses.