Collies are great with ducks! Collies are not aggressive, and owing to their impressive working heritage, they are the perfect breed to protect ducks or chickens from any would-be predators. Collies are also fantastic herders and are frequently seen atop duck and chicken herding competition results tables.
Ducks are often used on farms to test the herding instinct of collie puppies. Ducks tend to flock together in a similar manner to sheep, but are much easier to handle and don’t take up as much space.
Are collies good with ducks?
Everyone knows collies are great sheepdogs, but what about other animals like ducks?
Collies are great with ducks because they aren’t aggressive, they have excellent herding instincts, and they are super intelligent which makes them easy to train.
If you keep ducks at home, your collie will be an excellent watch dog, keeping an eye out for any cats, foxes, or other predators and scaring them off if they come near your duck enclosure.
If you keep ducks in a paddock or let them roam in your yard, your collie has another trick up their sleeve. Collies are excellent at duck herding.
Can collies herd ducks?
Yes, collies are excellent at herding ducks. Their strong herding instincts and high intelligence mean they are one of the easiest breeds to train for herding and this is reflected in the results from duck herding competitions where collies regularly place at or around the top.
Collie Duck Herding Competition
Collies are great at duck herding competitions. Almost every competition is won by a collie (usually a Border Collie).
Duck herding used to be a regular feature at the top sheepdog competitions throughout Europe and North America, especially in the UK where most collies originate from however they have fallen out of favor in recent years.
Despite that, duck herding competitions are still found in smaller events.
How to train your collie to herd ducks
For most collies, they will have an instinctual understanding of how to herd ducks and other animals, you just have to teach them exactly what you want them to do.
If you’re interested in training your collie to herd ducks or other fowl, here is the process you should follow.
1: Brush up on basic commands
Before you can even think about herding, you should ensure your collie knows basic commands like lie down, stay, and come.
These commands are all necessary for herding and will make it easier to train your collie to herd ducks.
2: Introduce your collie to the ducks calmly
You don’t want your collie to think the ducks are a plaything, and you need your collie to be calm when herding, so the ducks don’t panic.
Introduce your collie to the ducks, and tell them to stay, lie down, and call them back.
Repeat this training until your collie is comfortable and not excitable around the ducks.
The aim of this is to get your collie used to the ducks and prevent any barking or nipping.
3: Teach your collie the “come by” and “away” commands.
“Come by” and “Away” are the traditional commands used by shepherds to control the direction of sheepdogs (clockwise and anti-clockwise).
The easiest way to train this is with your collie’s favorite ball. Place the ball below your foot and use the command and turn your body to teach your dog which is which.
It will take some time to get the hang of this, but continue step two each day as well, to get your collie used to both the ducks, and the commands.
4: Put it all together
Now that your collie is used to the ducks, has practiced laying down near them calmly and knows the come by and away commands, it’s time to let them loose on their first herding trial.
For the first few times, you will be doing most of the work.
Use the come by and away commands to move your collie in to position, and herd the ducks with a staff or shepherd’s crook to where they need to be.
Once the ducks are in their enclosure, reward your collie so they begin to understand the goal.
This activity is great for collies. They have an innate understanding of herding and strong herding instincts, however it may still take several months of hard training to become proficient.
Don’t be disheartened if your collie can’t get the hang of it right away. Herding is tiresome for dogs and really stretches their minds to their maximum potential.
The improvisation and intelligence required to understand complex flocking behaviors isn’t present in all dogs, and even some farm dogs specifically bred for working sheep don’t get the hang of it and are sold off as family pets instead.
If your dog doesn’t take to duck herding, don’t be too hard on them or yourself. Instead, you might find your dog is an expert at agility or some other sport.
Can collies protect ducks?
Collies aren’t aggressive, so it’s unlikely that they would fight off a predator, however they are very loud and are great for scaring away cats and foxes.
Collies are some of the most intelligent breeds in the world, and they are very good at picking up subtle changes in their environment that other dogs might miss.
For this reason, they are excellent watch dogs. If anything untoward is happening to your ducks, you (and all your neighbors) will be alerted promptly.
Duck breeds for collie duck herding
Collies can handle most duck breeds, so long as the ducks aren’t too aggressive.
The most common breeds used for duck herding are lighter breeds like the Indian Runner, Khaki Campbell, or Common Mallard, which are usually bred for egg-laying, but are more nimble than heavier breeds and tend to flock together more, making them easier for herding.
Heavier breeds like Rouen ducks and common white ducks which are more commonly raised for meat tend to be more aggressive than smaller egg-laying breeds, so don’t lend themselves to herding.
If you’re raising ducks for meat and want to get them used to your collie, the best option is to raise them from ducklings alongside your collie, so they get used to them.
Are ducks afraid of collies?
Wild ducks are likely to be afraid of collies, since they resemble foxes, wolves and other natural predators that a duck may face in the wild. Ducks that have been raised on a farm are generally used to dogs and people, and will not be afraid when they see your collie.
Wild ducks will be more inclined to nip or peck, flap their wings, or fly away which may scare your collie.
If you intend to keep ducks, the best way to ensure they are not afraid is to raise them from ducklings, so that they grow up around your dog and know they aren’t a threat.
Herding Ducks vs Herding Chickens
Chickens tend to be a bit more nervous than ducks, but collies are also great at herding chickens.
If you keep chickens at home, you can train your collie to help you get them back in their coop with plenty of positive reinforcement.
Chicken herding competitions are not very common, they aren’t as common as duck herding competitions, but you may still find them in smaller regional sheepdog trials.