Herding Dog Breeds

Energetic, agile, and intelligent, these are exactly what herding dog breeds are. But they’re not just for farm work – they are also amazing companion pets. Get to know them more as we round up the top herder dogs you’d love to own!

If what you like is a smart and highly trainable herding dog, then the Border Collie is your best bet. They’re brainy and brawny with a lot of love to give! The German Shepherd is another sweet pal – always ready for corralling livestock. Aussie Shepherds are not far behind our top picks as they’re just as adorable as can be.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve got over 50 herding dog breeds for you that we’re sure you’d want to welcome to your home soon. Just an FYI, though, they’re better off with active folks who can give them lots of exercises every day.

51. Australian Cattle Dog

Image from Instagram:@dusty.daisy_theblueheelers

They may be small and compact but Australian Cattle Dogs are most certainly hardy animals. These pups can run and herd cattle without any problem. In fact, they’re one of the mainstays in many Australian ranches.

Also known as the Blue Heeler, the Aussie Cattle Dogs do well on the farm but they’re also amazing family dogs. These sweeties get easily attached to their families and will do anything to please them.

50. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Image from Instagram:@dodge_thecorgi

With their unique features and irresistible charm, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi can never be mistaken for any other breed. These low and long pups may have stumpy legs but they could surely run fast enough to round up livestock!

One thing to note about these canines, though. They tend to be quite vocal. So, expect a lot from these conversationalist cuties, in addition to their funny and silly antics.

49. Sheltie

Image from Instagram:@todthesheltie

At first glance, you may think of the Sheltie as a miniature version of the Rough Collie. With a long snout, tall ears, and beady eyes, they’re definitely look-alikes. But they could most certainly hold their own and most importantly, herd cattle – despite their rather diminutive bodies.

Cuddly, affectionate, and intelligent, that’s the Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie for you. They are also rather energetic, which means more playtime is warranted to keep them happy, healthy, and beat the boredom away.

48. Old English Sheepdog

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A fluffy pooch with a tremendous amount of coat, the Old English Sheepdog is a massive, yet gentle giant. They’ve got a significant shaggy fur that often hides their eyes – but they do well in keeping an eye on livestock entrusted to their care and round them up!

Adaptable and versatile, these pooches can do well regardless of where you put them. However, they need regular exercise and walks, so be sure to take them out daily if you live in an apartment.

47. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Image from Instagram:@lescorgicardigan

Known for its cardigan-looking coat, this gorgeous breed has been around for decades. Cardigan Welsh Corgis may also be quite small but they have been bred to herd cattle – and they do take their jobs seriously!

Just like their cousin the Pembroke Welsh Corgis, the Cardigans are vocal creatures. Give them ample exercise and keep their diet in check to prevent excessive weight gains that these dogs are prone to.

46. Rough Collie

Image from Instagram:@mycolliepip

Famous for their lush, straight coats and agreeable personality, Rough Collies are a darling – both on-screen and off-screen. If you’ve grown up watching Lassie on TV, you’d easily recognize this breed from the hit TV show and in the movies.

Gentle and well-mannered, these pups are generally friendly creatures that are great at corralling livestock. But do note that they are often wary and aloof towards strangers. They don’t easily trust people outside of their family, but they never act out of aggression.

45. Bearded Collie

Image from Instagram:@wendy_thebeardie

Next up in our list of herding dog breeds is the Bearded Collie. Hailing from Scotland’s rough terrains and farmlands, these canines are quite hardy and adaptable. They have long coats that allow them to adapt to harsh temperatures and herd cattle even when it’s cold outside.

Novice owners looking for a great pet will easily fall in love with a Bearded Collie. These pooches are quite upbeat with a zest for life. Most importantly, they treat everyone as their best friends too quickly!

44. Bouvier des Flandres

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Sturdy and burly, you can easily tell that the Bouvier des Flandres is one tough pooch. They have profuse coats that perfectly match their muscular build. No wonder they are excellent all-purpose working and herding dogs.

In addition to their powerful build, these dogs are simply affectionate with huge hearts. They are ever-loyal to their owners and will do everything to keep them safe.

43. Briard

Image from Instagram:@jacfarrington

This furry pooch comes in different coat colors – black, tawny, or gray – yet Briards are always the same lovable, alert, and good-looking puppy. They’re also known for their peek-a-boo hairstyle that parts in the middle.

Just like other herding dog breeds, the Briard is a brainy fellow. They also have an alert expression in their eyes, making them very dependable creatures for herding and gathering livestock.

42. Puli Dog

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Pulik (plural for Puli) are no ordinary dogs – that’s for sure. They have an unmistakable coat made up of a dense amount of wooly cords. Plus, these coats are waterproof, too, so Pulik can handle all types of weather as they round up cattle in the chilly agricultural fields.

But along with the dreadlocks is the need to keep them well-groomed regularly. The coats demand so much attention, which means these dogs are most certainly not low-maintenance by any means. However, if you like an agile, quick-witted pooch, the Puli is your best bet.

41. Beauceron

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With a robust build and an imposing stature, you can easily tell that the Beauceron is one strong and sturdy fellow. These pups can handle the tough and important job of corralling livestock. They are also smart just like the brainy Border Collie but in a more solid and muscular body.

These pups often come in black coats (the deepest black you can imagine) with some accents of red or tan. Do keep in mind that this pooch tends to be a bit on the dominant side. So, they’re not exactly the best match for novice dog owners but will do fine for farmers.

40. Belgian Tervuren

Image from Instagram:@phoenixtheterv

The Belgian Tervuren is one of the four Belgian sheepdog varieties (more on the rest in a bit). They are elegant and handsome creatures with an agile body and often in a medium build. Need a dependable pooch on the farm? This guy won’t disappoint.

In addition to their good looks, the Tervurens are quite easy to care for. They are obedient and intelligent, which means training them to herd cattle should not be a tough job. But they do get a bit mischievous sometimes, and they can easily outsmart their favorite human!

39. Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

Image from Instagram:@dylan_the_deaf

Just as the name implies, the Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog has a docked tail and is excellent at rounding up cattle or sheep. Their bobtails add to their appeal, along with their leggy features and compact build. They’ve got strong legs and a sturdy body to keep up with herding livestock all day.

However, it’s not uncommon to see some of these pups with longer tails. Docked or not, they are always the same adorable, social, and endearing creatures with a zest for life.

38. Australian Kelpie

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If you need a tireless and responsible four-legged herding pooch for the job, then the Australian Kelpie is always ready to take on any task. These canines come in either small or medium packages and have the same lovable nature.

To the sheep out on the grazing fields, do watch out! These dogs love a good challenge. So, be sure to provide them with lots of exercises – both physically and mentally. With their high energy levels, however, they are better off in a place where they can roam freely as they please.

37. Belgian Laekenois 

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The lively Belgian Laekenois is another Belgian Sheepdog variety on our list. They pretty much have similar features as the other fellows such as the Malinois, Tervuren, and Shepherd but with some differences in coat texture, length, and color.

What’s interesting about the Laekenois is that they are the rarest of the four Sheepdog breeds. These pooches have a rougher coat in shades of fawn or red mixed in with some gray tones. In terms of build, they’re pretty robust and can take on any herding task, like rounding up livestock.

36. Bernese Mountain Dog

Image from Instagram:@kenai_the_bmd

Always ready to tackle a big herding job, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a power pup. They have an enormous build but with that sweet and mellow personality. In fact, they will never pass up an opportunity to cuddle with you, like a giant lap dog!

Among the hallmarks of this breed are the dark eyes with an intelligent expression, and the tricolor wavy coat in rust, white, and jet black colors. These pups have boundless energy, they need plenty of exercise and a big space or an open field to roam around.

35. Polish Lowland Sheepdog

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When there’s the need to work, herd livestock, and run around, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is indeed a happy camper. They thrive on activity, which is perfect for those who rely on a robust pup for help on the farm. 

Also known as PON, these beauties are not the largest dogs but they are quite strong. They also have a profuse coat that keeps them warm even in the harshest climate.

34. Swedish Vallhund

Image from Instagram:@vallhundgosta

Standing low and long – almost like the Corgi – the Swedish Vallhund is simply a sweetheart. They are super sociable and sweet, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with their charms and unique personality.

Vallhunds don’t have all that fancy frills in their looks but they are most certainly good-looking canines. Combined with their sturdy build and sable coats, they depict power and balance with elegance thrown in, as well. Plus, they’re dependable herding pooches, as well.

33. Great Pyrenees

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Another majestic pooch in the list of herding dog breeds is the Great Pyrenees. But don’t be deceived by their enormous bodies – these are actually quite mellow and mild-mannered dogs. Plus, they are quite independent, so it won’t take much to train these pooches for herding tasks or certain commands.

One thing that can make training tricky is how big these dogs are. Just be sure you have enough space in the yard for these fellows and be ready to get lots of smooches from this giant sweetheart!

32. Norwegian Buhund

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A spitz-type Nordic herding dog breed, the Norwegian Buhund is an all-weather pup. They specialize in guarding and herding livestock, as well as being every owner’s BFF!

They have a dense, medium-length coat and a tail that’s curved over the back. Their heads are wedge-shaped and their ears are pointy much like every spitz dog. As for their coat colors, they may either be white or black.

31. Icelandic Sheepdog

Image from Instagram:@sofieelund

And then we have the gorgeous Icelandic Sheepdog. Charming and loyal, these pups are amazing livestock herders in their own rights. Their devotion to owners and herding abilities are impeccable, and they are always ready to protect their humans at all times.

As with other spitzes, the Icelandic Sheepdog has a foxy face combined with pointy ears and a dense coat. They seem to have a perpetual smile to melt your heart.

30. Berger Picard

Image from Instagram:@enzo.bergerpicard

They may be a bit lanky but Berger Picards are quite sturdy and strong. You can easily spot them by their tall ears, wavy brindle or fawn coat, and tapered tail. Their mustache and eyebrows are also bushy, giving them a distinct look.

When you need a good companion dog and a herding pup for livestock, the Berger Picard is a perfect choice. Just make it a point to give them daily exercise out on the grazing fields to ward off destructive behavior typical when you keep them idle.

29. Pyrenean Sheepdog

Image from Instagram:@sam_pyrshep

An excellent livestock herder, the Pyrenean Sheepdog has all the right features for the job. They have strong builds and are rather sinewy, allowing them to take on the task without getting fatigued easily.

Pyr Sheps may either be smooth- or rough-faced. But either way, they are always muscular and lean with a wide range of colors for their coats. These pups can also chase away predators for hours to protect cattle.

28. Miniature American Shepherd

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One look at the Miniature American Shepherd and you can easily see its resemblance to the Australian Shepherd. These are compact-sized pooches but highly motivated to herd and gather livestock in ranches, as you command them to do.

As expected, these are small pups that are under 20 inches tall. But they have every making of a great herding dog – cunning, smart, and energetic. They also come in various shades of coat including blue merle, red merle, black, and red.

27. Finnish Lapphund

Image from Instagram:@lappieaddict

The Finnish Lapphund hails from the frigid Arctic Circle. They have luscious, dense coats and adorable spitz-like facial features. And just like most Nordic canines, their tails are curved over the back.

They are agile creatures that can quickly transition from a mere trot to a gallop – perfect for herding cattle and protecting them from predators. Towards their owners, they are absolutely sweet and affectionate. However, they are more cautious with strangers and take longer to trust those who are not a part of their family.

26. Swedish Lapphund

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Another Lapphund but this time from the land of Sweden, the Swedish Lapphund is an attentive and versatile canine. Historically, they were trained to work in the reindeer trade, yet they are also great at tracking, herding cattle, and obedience training.

When with their owners, these dogs can be quite affectionate as they get attached easily. But do make it a priority to give them lots of exercises to prevent destructive behavior. They are easy to please, though, so training them should not be a tough ordeal.

25. Canaan Dog

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An ancient breed from Israel, the Canaan Dog is a medium-sized and agile canine with a history as a pasture and herding pup. They move briskly and have a rugged build, which enables them to withstand all types of climate.

A little word of advice – they are quite dominant dogs. Hence, they need experienced owners who are well-versed in dealing with this type of behavior. Otherwise, passive owners will have a difficult time training them.

24. Bergamasco Shepherd

Image from Instagram:@sanna_sander

Another canine known for its unique looks, the Bergamasco Shepherd has curly and dreadlocked dense coats. They may be massive and robust creatures, yet they are playful and sweet like a young pup.

Although they have high energy levels, these dogs do not require much exercise. About an hour a day of playtime for the Bergamasco Shepherd should suffice. But give them a job as a livestock herder and they will gladly perform this well.

23. Smooth Collie

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Standing over 20 inches tall and weighing about 60 lbs, Smooth Collies have long bodies and deep chests. Their coats range in a variety of colors such as sable, blue merle, and tricolor. Their coats are straight and harsh on the exterior while their undercoats are soft.

Overall, they are outstanding four-legged cattle herders on the ranches because of their alert and energetic personality. They can be tricky to train because of their playful nature, yet they have a strong desire to please and obey their owners.

22. Pumi Dog

Image from Instagram:@italianstyle_pumi_aurora

Compact and quick, the Pumi is famous for its corded coat and erect ears. Their tails are rather circular and the chest is deep and strong. Clearly, they can handle hours of livestock herding, farm work, and exercise.

Bred to guard cattle in Western Hungary, these dogs are fearless. They are always ready to protect their owners as well as their livestock. This is why they are amazing herding dogs and companion pets at the same time.

21. Pyrenean Mastiff

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A rare herding canine breed from Spain’s Pyrenees Mountains, the large Pyrenean Mastiff is one courageous pooch. They never stand down when faced with wild predators whether these are bears or wolves.

As a family dog, the Pyrenean Mastiff is a delight to be with. They are protective of their owners and cattle, yet they can be rather funny when displaying their goofy side. And just like any Mastiff dog breeds, these pooches tend to drool. A lot!

20. Mudi

Image from Instagram:@enzo.and.the.pack

Whether on the farm, at home, or in the field, the Mudi can easily adapt well. This is why they are all-purpose canines who are loving protectors of cattle and their owners alike. Need an all-day worker on the farm? You can count on this pooch to get it done.

However, this breed is quite rare nowadays. You don’t easily find them in countries outside of Hungary and Finland. But rare as they may be, their stellar features remain – witty, active, and fearless, making them great for tracking and search and rescue.

19. Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Image from Instagram:@annakimas

Rugged and brave, this Swiss dog, or the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, is a determined pooch that herds cattle. They also possess wits, enabling them to solve problems while on the job. Moreover, they have sturdy legs that can run tirelessly in pursuit of a predator attempting to hurt those under this pup’s care.

These canines have strong wills as sturdy as their bodies. With that in mind, the Entles are better off with experienced farmers and owners who can rein them in and keep them from becoming the top dog in the pack.

18. Rottweiler

Image from Instagram:@tank_weiler

No one can mistake a Rottweiler for another breed, thanks to its distinct appearance and build. These robust herding dogs are noted for their superior strength and self-assured nature. They move with confidence, yet never unduly aggressive.

To their families, Rotties are actually silly and playful gentle giants. This makes them endearing creatures who will never hesitate to cuddle up with you like a large lapdog. Do make early training a priority to ward off territorial instincts in these pooches.

17. Dutch Shepherd

Image from Instagram:@duma_the_dutchie

Athletic and lively, the Dutch Shepherd is a well-loved cattle herder and family dog. They have similarities with a wolf in terms of appearance, basically the coat texture and colors. When untrained, they can also be quite dominant and territorial.

The Dutch Shepherd is an intelligent dog that can be trained well by experienced owners. They also do well in other tasks including tracking, herding, dog sports, and obedience.

16. Schipperke

Image from Instagram:@olkkuoliver_prinssialbert

These may be tiny dogs that are a little over a foot tall, yet they are fearless and energetic fellows. In fact, these “Little Captains” from Belgium are highly depended on as a watchdog, ratter, and herder because of their alertness and fearless personality.

Schipperkes often come in a solid black coat and are denser around the legs, shoulders, and neck. This thick coat is what makes them appear thicker than they are. Coupled with a foxy face, this dog breed is considerably adorable and cute.

15. Belgian Shepherd Dog

Image from Instagram:@belgianmicah

Also known as the Belgian Malinois, these canines are typically relied upon for military and police work. In addition, they excel at livestock herding and are known for their dependability as service dogs.

These medium-sized canines are smart and active, making them relatively easy to train. However, their muscular and sturdy bodies may be a bit too much for young children, which is why adult supervision is required to prevent unwarranted situations.

14. Poodle

Image from Instagram:@spoosmoose

Poodles come in three sizes – standard, toy, and miniature. Yet, no matter what size, they are always the same, lovable, elegant, and sturdy pooches. These canines are not at all sissy dogs as they have been presented in movies and TV shows. In fact, they are street-smart dogs that can handle anything!

Whether you engage them in sports, farm work, cattle herding, or athletic activities, Poodles always come out at the top of their class. They are all-around pets and excellent for folks with allergies because of their low shedding coats.

13. Spanish Water Dog

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Quite wooly just like the Poodle and similarly hypoallergenic, the Spanish Water Dog is an amazing family pet. They were originally bred as waterfowl retrievers and herders, but they also do great as a watchdog and companion.

With these adorable pups, there’s never a dull moment. They are a regular charmer that can quickly make anyone fall in love with their cuteness and lovable personality.

12. Portuguese Sheepdog

Image from Instagram:@luna_the_chewy

An exceptionally lively and witty pooch, the Portuguese Sheepdog is highly devoted to its owner but wary and aloof towards strangers. They are amazing cattle herders and watchdogs, but can also do well as a search and rescue pup.

There is a rustic vibe to these dogs, thanks to their long and rough coat with a slight wavy quality. They also have a thick mustache and beard but not long enough to cover their eyes. Their coat colors can vary from black to tan or wolf gray and brown.

11. Catahoula Leopard Dog

Image from Instagram:@frank.thecatahoula.tank

A multi-purpose working pup, the well-muscled Catahoula Leopard Dog is powerful and sturdy. They are agile and quick-witted and really take their job seriously but play just as hard when not busy corralling livestock.

Catahoulas are short-coated pups with varying eye colors and coat patterns. They are gentle dogs that get attached quickly to their owners. Hence, they are ever-loyal companions to those within their family circle.

10. Komondor

Image from Instagram:@dorkaland_

Large and tall, the Komondor appears to be a mop-like dog with its thick white cords that cover their entire bodies and sometimes their faces! These are heavy pooches that can easily weigh more than 100 lbs.

But despite that brawny bod, these canines are actually light-footed and agile. They move with grace and long strides, enabling them to chase after tough predators and to protect livestock they herd and guard

9. Croatian Sheepdog

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Always eager to help, you can absolutely rely on the ever-dependable Croatian Sheepdog. These are agile shepherd dogs that have a strong sense of responsibility to herd cattle and love for their owners.

Croats have come a long way, dating back to the late 1300s. But it was only in 1969 when the FCI formally recognized this breed. Today, they are found in many European countries and are excellent herders and family pets at the same time.

8. Lancashire Heeler

Image from Instagram:@ludo_heeler

Lancashire Heelers have a good amount of energy. This is why they can work for hours on the vast farm. These black-coated pups are sturdy and with a powerful build. Need a pooch to do some cattle herding, ratting, or rabbiting tasks? You can count on this pup to do just that.

Interestingly, these dogs are famous for their so-called “Heeler Smile”. They also emulate the human smile, which is part of their unique appeal.

7. Groenendael

Image from Instagram:@canis_shamanis

Another one of the four Belgian Shepherd dog varieties, the Groenendael is a versatile and fearless cattle herder. They work hard, yet they make it a point to spend quality time with their favorite humans at the end of the day.

These dogs have proportionate bodies with slender necks and an air of confidence with every gait. They have an intelligent expression in their dark, soulful eyes that are part of their appeal.

6. English Shepherd

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Weighing about 65 lbs and about 24 inches tall, the English Shepherd is a muscular and agile herding dog breed. Every movement they make exudes an air of confidence and purpose. And most of all, they do their job of herding very well.

But English Shepherds are not just farm dogs. They are also great at home. As long as you give them a good chunk of your time every day and give them exercise, they will love you deeply and stay devoted to you for years to come!

5. Lapponian Herder

Image from Instagram:@lapponianlauha

A low-maintenance dog, the Lapponian Herder works best for experienced owners. They are diversified pups with a brain of a problem solver and the build of a tireless herder pooch. You can also count on them to watch your home and properties, thanks to their innate alertness.

But just like with most herding dog breeds, this pup needs plenty of mental stimulation. About a couple of hours of exercise every day are vital in keeping them healthy, happy, and free from destructive behavior.

4. Samoyed

Image from Instagram:@saga_the_samoyed

Samoyeds are known for their perpetually adorable smile and perfectly immaculate white fluffy coats. They are without a doubt good-looking canines that can tolerate the coldest locales, being that they hailed from the most frigid parts of Siberia.

Sammies are not just famous for their good looks but also for their functionality. They are powerful and energetic, allowing them to take on livestock herding tasks even in brutal weather conditions. And thanks to their upturned sides of the mouth, icicles hardly ever form there at all

3. Australian Shepherd

Image from Instagram:@aussie.fever

Bred in the United States – despite the name – the Australian Shepherd is an active herder. They are energetic and intelligent, and you can rely on them for any tough herding task there may be on the farm and the field.

They are known for their stunning blue eyes and merle patterned coats. Overall, these dogs are great livestock guardians that are always ready to protect the ones they love no matter what.

2. German Shepherd

Image from Instagram:@canineextremegsd

German Shepherds are commonly found in military work. But in history, they were often seen performing herding jobs in pastures. This is all because of their amazing stamina, alertness, and sense of responsibility, which they still very well possess today.

Fiercely loyal to their owners, they are always ready to protect their families. This is why you can also count on them as reliable watchdogs on the fields or ranches, and any guarding jobs that require a fearless and dependable personality.

1. Border Collie

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The smartest of the bunch, the Border Collie is a true herding dog in every sense of the word – reliable, intelligent, and hardworking. They can learn tricks easily, which makes them a delight to have at home. Any farmer will find this dog breed a joy to have on the cattle ranch.

Because of their brainy nature, it is best to keep them mentally stimulated with puzzle games. Regular exercise is also important to prevent them from developing an unruly behavior that is quite typical among bored and idle dogs.

Are Herding Dogs Good Family Pets? Absolutely, herding dogs are outstanding family pets because of their intelligence, loyalty, and obedient nature. They can be trained easily and get attached to their families even children.

What Makes A Dog A Herding Dog? Herding dog breeds possess important skills to perform the job well, such as alertness and an instinctive skill to control the movement of animals under their care. They are also fearless dogs with a strong desire to protect their family, as well as livestock they are tasked to guard and herd on the ranches.

How Much Does It Cost To Train A Herding Dog? Training herding dogs may be relatively easy when done earlier in the life of the canine. A typical running cost of lessons ranges from $25 to $50 per half hour, or sometimes may go about $80 per hour. Group classes at a training school may also cost about $119 to $165 per session, although one-on-one training proves to be more effective but pricier.

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Pete Decker