Sheep Herding

By Kathy Cooper
Coultrain Rottweilers — Surrey Herding Facility

I have been successfully breeding and showing Rottweilers under the kennel name "Coultrain" for 20 years. After 15 years in the conformation show ring our Rottweilers needed a change. As the Rottweiler originated as a drover dog in Europe, we wanted to see if the inherent instinct to work cattle or sheep was still there.

On a whim, a friend and I decided to enter 5 Coultrain Rottweilers in a Herding Instinct Test. Neither the dogs or we had ever been involved with sheep, but it sounded interesting.

Exciting! Yes, it was, as we watched each individual dog go into a round pen with an instructor and three very "dog broke" sheep. As each dog was introduced to the sheep and allowed to "feel its way," the instructor then guided the dog around the sheep, keeping him at a short distance, and we were able to watch herding instinct take over.

With comments such as "Awesome fetching and herding instinct" I was hooked and was soon discussing the upcoming herding trial six weeks away.

Rottweiler Herding Sheep

Knowing that obedience and control plays a very important role in the partnership of herding, "Murphy" was my first choice to try sheep herding. Can. Ch. Coultrains Miss Murphy Brown CGC TT HIC PT HT HS JHD CD BH

Murphy is my High In Class obedience dog as well as earning her BH title. Murphy has sheep herding instinct, and with the help of a very qualified instructor we learned together. One week before the trial, we were lucky enough to participate in a herding clinic with a trainer from the US. She helped us work through some problem areas. I entered our first Herding Tested CKC herding trial in 1997. To qualify, you must pass under 2 judges. Just to be sure, I entered all 3 trials for the weekend. I was nervous as Murphy and I walked out to the sheep and I unsnapped the leash from Murphy's collar.

Murphy remembered everything, keeping the sheep together, never allowing them to move too fast or to stop. I just had to remember to keep walking. We passed our Herding Tested in two trials, so we moved up to the second level of Herding Started. This is the first CKC competitive title. There was a whole lot more to remember as we had not done much training for this level, but "Murphy" pulled it off, earning us our first Reserve High In Trial ribbon. That memorable weekend Murphy became the first Canadian bred and owned Rottweiler to obtain CKC herding titles!

Since that date, Murphy has finished her Herding Started with a 98/100 High In Trial and a second reserve. She also passed her AKC PT and her AHBA Junior Herd Dog.

I am also working my male Rottweiler, Stablemates Dilon V Coultrain CGC TT HIC HT HS JHD. Dilon has a whole lot more energy and drive and his enthusiasm towards sheep herding is quite different than Murphy.

Coultrains Casual Affair CGC TT HIC HT HS ASCAstd HRD1, a 4 year old female Rottweiler has tons of natural instinct and is very similar in style to Murphy. "ShyAnn" plans on working ducks in next year's trials.

I am also starting a young daughter of ShyAnn and Dilon's who also has that natural herding instinct.

We have added our own herding facility, making training easier for our Coultrain Rottweilers. I also train and work several different breeds and will be taking them into the herding arena next year.

I never realized before that exciting day in 1997 how awesome the true natural instinct in a herding dog can be to watch.


Originally published in Dog Review Magazine.
Reprinted with permission from the Author, Kathy Cooper, Coultrain Rottweilers