Fur and Fiction asked in PetsDogs · 1 decade ago

A comparison between herding drive and protection drive?

A dog's drive obviously stems from instinct. In a recent question about spaying and neutering working dogs, there was a lot of debate over herding drive and protection drive as an instinct.

My first question is, from what instinct do you believe the herding drive stems from? What instinct does the protection drive stem from?

Looking at the most basic instinct where these drives come from, is it possible to compare the two? If so, what are the comparisons?

How much of a difference is there between the herding drive and the protection drive? Is any one drive more powerful than the other?

Any other thoughts or information on the subject would be very much appreciated!

Please keep it civil!

15 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    First of all, instinct is something that an animal doesn't have to learn, it is hard wired already to do it. So let's talk about herding instinct, shall we? The herding comes from the instinct to hunt prey. So is certainly is an instinct. And then you have drive. That's what really pushes the dog forward and keeps it going. Instinct is sort of like the brains, where drive is the heart.

    You see, it is based off of the instinct of that which the wolf uses as a pack to "herd" and single out and take down it's prey. Have you ever watched a video of wolves hunting on Isle Royal? It is amazing to see and that instinct to hunt like that, to "herd" their prey in order to single out a target, is where current herding comes from. The only difference between that and what we use in breeds like the BC today is that we use less dogs and they don't kill the prey animal, the human does instead.

    Now it has been theorized that we humans did not domesticate animals, but that they actually domesticated themselves. They hung around to scavenge food. Wolves that tolerated human presence more were the ones that survived with humans and went on to produce more that would also tolerate humans. This is basic temperament too. It is believed that this initial domestication occurred over just one human life span as well. Not hundreds and thousands of years, one human life span is all it took for wolves, or a group of them, to domesticate.

    If this indeed is how wolves became domesticated, then it would not be a far cry to guess that, over time, they likely chose to work with humans in taking down prey. Why would they do this? Well, they assist in "herding" the prey to a group of humans and they can take out more animals in one hunt than a whole pack of wolves. Assisting in the hunting, but allowing the humans the killing job assured the wolves that their would not only be food, but plenty of it.

    Now the protection instinct stems from self preservation, defense and fight drive. It is natural for a dog to be protective of its "territory and pack" in general, if there is a perceived threat. All of this is part of self preservation ultimately. Dogs don't have to be taught to be protective as it comes instinctively to many. But I would not suggest someone go out and get a breed known for protection thinking all will be fine and the dog will attack an intruder.

    So both are instincts of some degree. I don't know that you can really compare the two.

    I know my Border Collie puppy, at just 8 weeks was already "turned on" to working stock. He was stalking, crouching, and flanking very nicely at just 8 weeks old. He had that intensity to work the stock in his eyes and demeanor as well. I assure you, that was instinct and I most certainly did not train a puppy, in 2 days I owned him before putting him on stock, how to do it. Instinct, all instinct.

    I'm sorry, but anyone who says that herding is not an actual instinct knows nothing about herding and herding dogs and should really do some research.

  • 1 decade ago

    Herding Drive stems from the wild wolves initial stalking and chasing of prey. When dogs are first brought to stock (sheep,cows) they are TAUGHT not to actually grip or kill the animal, but to restrain themselves....hence bringing out the natural herding ability. Some dogs seem to have more instinct then others do, alot of that can depend on breeding lines.

    Protection drive is different. Show a Doberman Pinscher sheep, and they would probably walk away, chase to play, or chase to kill and thats it. It would be alot more difficult to bring out a "herding" instinct.

    Protection however is natural in ALL breeds, some breeds are just more physically intimidating. A Rottweiller seems much more protective then a yappy toy poodle at the door. I don't think Protection drive should be considered an instinct...maybe just a trait of Canines derived from wolves looking out for their pack.

    The herding group of dogs is considered the most intelligent group in large part because of their herding instinct and need to work and please their master.

    As far as not neutering based on drive....I think thats a myth. I've seen many altered dogs do just as well at herding or protection work as altered ones. Even Police dogs are fixed, here in Canada at least.

  • Becky
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Well we could all write volumes on the different drives, breaking them down into sub-drives and so on. But I'll keep my answer simple.

    Herding 'drive' stems from prey/hunt drive. Selective breeding has allowed us to control/manipulate this basic instinct for our own purposes.

    Protection 'drive' stems from defense or fight drive, which stems from the even more basic fear instinct....that which perceives a threat, and forces the 'fight or flight' response.

    Can the two be compared? Possibly. Both are necessary for the survival of the pack.

    But logically, the transition from predator to guardian is only achieved through selective breeding, rearing and training by man, manipulating both 'drives' in such a way that the flock/ herd becomes an extension of the pack.

    Hope that makes sense.

  • Anna
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    WOW this is neat! And is really interesting to think about!

    I can see herding drive stemming from a pack instinct, and a stalking drive when hunting. But it has been diluted.

    The protection drive may also come from being in a pack, and protection of Pups and subordinate members of the dogs pack.

    See I think that the comparison of the two can be difficult depending on the breeds.

    There are some breeds that are loosely considered "herding breeds" that live with in a flock of sheep as a pup "protect" them as if they were their own.

    There are herders that chase their flock nipping at them.

    I personally think that Herding drive is stronger than Protection drive. In my experiences with mixes, I have found that dogs mixed with herding breeds such as Borders, and Aussies will retain that herding instinct no matter how diluted they are.

    Also in my experience dogs that are mixed with breeds that tend to have a stronger "protection" drive, that drive is easier to dilute out by other traits or drives.

    Source(s): It may not be what you were looking for, but I appreciate the ability to answer a question like this!
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  • Desoto
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I have owned GSDS and currently own and work aussies, collies, and border collies.

    I think it has a lot to do with what the dogs where bred for and what breeds where used to create the breeds we know and love today. Remember herding breeds are not like ancient sight hounds and the like, different breeds where mixed to achieve the traits we hold so dear in our herding dogs.

    Herding drive is a form of predator drive, just look at a border collie stalk a sheep and you can see. Guardian is prey, the the need to watch out for threats for self preservation.

    There is a real difference between them. Just looking at my dogs and I can see.

    The GSDs and aussies meantment to have strong guardian instincts as per standard and can be reserved towards strangers. My aussie patrols the property and is very protective of me. After he is done herding he will sit with the sheep and watch over them, going after offending cats and such that come near his flock. He has actually saved my life when I was attacked by strange dogs that wandered onto the property on more than one occasion.

    The border collies have an insansely high herding drive. She is constantly ON wanting to herd anything that moves she may bark at a car in the drive but I wouldnt count on hre to do much more. She is not content to watch the sheep, she wants to work them non stop. I wouldnt work her on more sensitive breeds of sheep. She is pure herding drive.

    The collie ( sadly he lost his long battle against his illness last winter) Had a balance of the two. He would herd the sheep, do just as I said. Then sleep in the field. If anyone tryed to hurt his flock he would give them a warning bark.

    The only real similarity I find in the two drives is that they are deffinately instinctual and ingrained in the dog. All of my dogs recieved the same level of training and socialization and are extremally different. For each dog there is a dominant drive, it depends on the breed and what traits where bred to be intensified in that particular breed

    Source(s): Own GSDs, border collies, collies, and aussies
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I don't really have any pat answers for your questions. However I have owned Australian shepherds, an amazing herding breed and have owned and currently owned great pyrennes, a wonderful protective breed. My aussie did not need any training. She knew exactly what to do and did it well, whether we were working with goats or cattle or hogs. A pyrennes on the other hand is known for the protective nature. The last one I owned before my current 5 month old pup was adept at her job from day 1. She watched over our goats as well as the neighbirs goats. Since they were within sight she thought it was her job to watch over them as well. Our current girl Lolahe doesn't really herd the goats, but usually leads them. She is looking to be another woinderful example of her breed. I think a collie has both instincts but not really used as much for the herding any more except maybe in the United Kingdom. Same with German Shepherds. Have both drives but usually used more in police work or personal protection than as a herding dog. The rottweiller is another example. It was bred for herding but more of a protection dog now.

  • 1 decade ago

    The herding drive believe it or not comes from the predator instinct, it has just been used to meet our requirements. The protection instinct is derived comes from the way dog packs are run..the alpha is a protector and the boss of everybody. If your dog is allowed to become the alpha in your "pack" he will even use this against you at some time..

    We have a STACD who is used for sheep herding..he stalks them, then he rounds them up then he puts them where we want them..he is happy to do this it is his whole world..he thinks of little else..

    we also have a Great Pyrenees, for guarding the sheep..she will freak out if anything different is in or around the sheep. Sheep will let out one big bark and the sheep run to the barn..then she will let out a horrible sounding wail..I tell you that wail has scared off more coyotes,,

    The only thing I disagree with is when people cross dogs from different instincts..herder X protector, hound X protector..don't get me wrong I love mutts but believe when people do crosses they should alwayus consider the dogs instincts first.

    Source(s): Breeder of ACD
  • 1 decade ago

    Ooo, cool question. I will star for you. I want to see the responses you get.

    I haven't done much research on this subject, yet, as I am just getting into herding dogs. However, I can say that the herding instinct is so ingrained in herding dogs. My aussie comes from strictly show lines, and yet she displays herding instinct all the time. She especially loves to try and herd the poodle, and poodle mixes at the dog park. Very fun to watch.

  • 1 decade ago

    Boy, this is a really good question and not one that is easily answerable! Both pages I read were full of information. Here is what I gathered from reading both pages (over and over again to make sure I was reading it right..LOL) While herding is generally considered to be based on the canine prey drive, protection training is based on defense drive to build on what was learned with prey drive. In this way, prey drive and defense drive work together.

    But the one I found that particularly interested me was one on all around farm dogs.

    Here is a paragraph taken from that page (which I will post the link for in the sources section):

    "They do not require special training in order to become something useful. They are praised above all for incorruptible loyalty, watchfulness and attentiveness. Many develop quite special intelligence in protecting and watching, for example in holding horses, guarding the car, knowing exact property boundaries, protection of children and women. Driving and searching for lost cattle are more or less innate in all. The dog needs only opportunity and examples, no special training. They usually go very well on foot and behind the wagon. They are, if not spoiled when young, gentle with chickens and cats." Dr. H.c. Hans Raeber, Die Schweizer Hunderassen, 1980 (quoting an earlier account of Professor Albert Heim c. 1900).

    So what I am making of all this is.. herding stems from prey drive and protection stems from defense drive combined with prey drive. (Now I am more confused than ever.. LOL)

    But this was still a very good question that required some thought..

    Nice one!

    Source(s): Scroll down to the Old-fashioned All around farm dog section about half way down the page at: http://www.herdingontheweb.com/workingstyles.htm
  • Ty B
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Herding drive and protection drive are very different. In protection training they are most often referred to as prey drive and defense drive.

    Prey drive is the dog's desire to chase, grab, possess, etc.

    Defense drive is the dog's desire to defend himself, his family, his home, etc.

    Good trainers are going to work to keep these drives balanced as best they kind. Herding breeds like the Malinois, GSD, Bouvier, etc. may be worked more in prey drive. Molossers may be worked more in defense drive.

    Finding the right balance is key with any dog and protection training involves moving dogs in and out of each of these drives at different precise moments to help the dog understand the desired goal. In the case of a herder the desired goal may be to train the dog to view the human as a prey object. In a defense driven dog the desired goal may be to train the dog to use aggression as a means of controlling a dicey situation.

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