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Let???s Hear it for the Ever Faithful Barn Dog!

No barn is complete without a canine companion or two. Tell us your favorite barn dog stories.


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Barn dog SkippyIf you have a horse or ride a horse, chances are you also have a dog. It seems like horses and dogs have been coupled together for centuries. Stroll through any art museum and there in the portraits of patriots and kings, heirs and huntsmen, you’ll see not only depictions of glorious steeds but also images of the owner’s noble canine companion. Dogs have also been workmates on ranches and farms, right alongside draft horses and cowponies. That’s why any horse person can point to the critter in the front seat of their pickup truck and say, “Oh, that’s my barn dog,” and everyone will understand the connotation. 

Certainly, some breeds are more amenable to fulfilling the role of barn dog. No one can deny the innate herding abilities of an Australian Shepherd, a Queensland Heeler, or a Border collie. Want some help coaxing a recalcitrant colt up the ramp and into the horse trailer? Any of these breeds would be more than happy to oblige. If rodents are threatening to overrun your feedroom, any of several terrier types are eager to ferret out the furry vermin. And when you simply need a good larp of a pink tongue to lift your spirits, the ubiquitous Labrador retriever makes a great barn dog.

Of course, some so-called “off breeds” end up in the role of barn dog, regardless of whether they’re actually suitable for the job. If you want to read about one particular un-barn dog, visit Cindy Hale's Life with Horses blog to read one shaggy dog story: Barn Dogs Can be Oodles of Fun.

Want to share your own doggie tale? We’d like to hear about your barn dog. Maybe you had a perfect pooch who traveled with you to shows or trail rides, and listened intently as you recounted the day’s adventure all the way home. Perhaps you once owned a benevolent bowser who was more of a tackroom ornament than a working canine. Or maybe your current barn dog deserves some honorable mention, simply because your horsey life wouldn’t be complete without your dog. Just click on Submit a Comment below, and howl about your barn dog. Some of your tales may appear in a future issue of Horse Illustrated.

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Let???s Hear it for the Ever Faithful Barn Dog!

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Reader Comments

Nicole    Arab, AL

1/23/2015 6:19:08 PM

The greatest breed for a barn dog is a Great Pyrenees. They love all animals and are natural born guardians. Mine treed a bobcat in the barn.

Laura    Doylestown, PA

7/30/2011 10:35:10 AM

Every time the farrier comes, he brings his cute little Welsh Corgie, Bailey. She will do anything to play fetch! You could throw a stick as far and high as you could and she'll do a run and jump and catch it almost every time! Sadly you have to limit her play because she has hip issues.

Reece    Kirkland, WA

5/15/2011 7:28:09 PM

My barn dog is ellie! ellie is a 8 year old yellow lab who destroies every toy we get her. we sooned discovered that her in the horses get along wonderafully, and horse toys are nearly indesructable for her!

Lila    somewere, NV

4/9/2011 2:09:45 PM

Oh my... Barn Dog... My barn's Barn dog is Mo. Mo is a great-dane and alot of other breeds mix. Hes such a mess. My favorite story of him took place last summer. It was a very hot day and me and my trainer were sitting under a tree, watching a girl ride. There was a bucket full of water for the horse. Mo walkes over, takes a lick from the bucket and puts all for of his legs in! You can imagine a big puppy, in a small 18 gallon bucket!! I fell back in my chair i was laughing so hard!

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