Tending, the art of dogs acting like live fences, maybe something you have never heard about before, but it's interesting discovering more about this herding style in dogs.
There are herding styles and herding styles in the dog world. In other words, not all herding dog breeds herd equally. Sure, they all share the fact of controlling herd animals, often maneuvering them around, but different herding styles were needed based on individual factors such as the type of animal herded, the type of environment and local needs.
What is Tending?
Tending, also known as boundary work, is a herding style that involved keeping herd animals in a designated area. This contrasts deeply with the popular “fetching” style of the herding dogs in Great Britain.
Dogs used for tending were basically acting as "live fences."
Dog breeds involved in tending include several French and Beljain breeds such as the Berger Picard, Bouvier de Flandres, Briards and Beauceron. The German shepherd has a history of being used for tending too.
Tending was often used in France. In France, sheep often grazed in open pastures bordering land planted with crops. Of course, nobody wanted sheep ruining the crops and this where a niche opened up for the above mentioned breeds.
Herds were kept in these open areas during the day and were returned to a stable or enclosure pasture in the evening.
Being that in France, there were more predators than in Great Britain, it was important having dogs with some strong protective instincts, very vigilant and capable of performing independent work.
Did you know? According to the United Kennel Club, in the late 19th century a clear distinction was made between two related French dog breeds: the Briard and the Beauceron. The Briard is basically the long-haired variety, while the Beauceron is the short-haired variety.