A pipsqueak Shiba Inu herding pipsqueak Babydoll Southdown Sheep. It’s like a (very small) match made in heaven.
I had wanted at some point to get some Babydoll Sheep. They always seemed very “charming” with their faint little smiles, small size, and gentle nature. Now I can get my fill by visiting them at Ewetopia!
Shiba Inu are not what can be considered a herding breed, as in, they have not been specifically bred to specialize in that task, in contrast to Border Collies. There is no native herding dog in Japan. I like to consider this breed, however, as more of a jack of all trades dog. For me, this describes a dog that is not a specialist, but a generalist, a multipurpose dog who has many potential uses, such as pest control, hunting (baying, pointing, flushing, retrieving), companionship, watch dogging and alerting, and garbage disposal.
The term “proto-collie” seems very apt in describing the behavior I observe in my Shibas, and I have had a lot of opportunity to compare and contrast as my dogs have competed and been successful in traditional Collie/Cattle Dog/Shepherd/Sight Hound events. All the instinct is there for herding, hunting, guarding, etc, but it just has not been heavily selected for and is often buried (in some cases deeply) due to stronger selection for conformation, with more focus on selecting for an “easier” companion temperament.
So, while I can’t title or compete with any of my dogs in Herding Trials, I can certainly give them the chance to explore their primitive instincts in between dog shows, and marvel at how versatile this breed truly is.