Dogs in rural areas are very different to their urban counterparts – less of the pampered pooch, more of the hearty hound.
Whether we’re talking collies, spaniels, retrievers or terriers, country canines have different personalities, different habits and different lifestyles. Let’s be honest – they’re basically better.
We wouldn’t be without them and a house simply isn’t a home without one (or often considerably more than one) asleep by the Aga or under the kitchen table.
So here, by way of tribute to man’s best friend, we celebrate everything that’s wonderful about farm dogs in all their shapes and sizes.
1 They love machinery as much as you
In the tractor, in the combine, in the truck – there’s nothing farm dogs like as much as getting hands on (rather, paws on) with the kit.
2 Their security credentials
White van within a mile? Let’s have a look. Nose begins twitching, hackles go up. Cue frantic barking and snarling. That’s my boy.
3 Mud is fine
Forget the manicuring regime of city dogs, they love getting down and dirty.
No need to brush them, either – a swim in a river or a douse with a bucket of warm water will do the job.
4 You can accessorise them
Put hats on them. Put scarves on them. Put glasses on them. Seriously, it’s hilarious.
5 Their athleticism
They will clear any fence or gate better than a professional hurdler.
6 Their kill instinct
If it runs, crawls, burrows, scampers or flies then they’ll want it. They’ll chase it, catch it, shake it and eat it.
Actually, they’ll do the same even if it doesn’t move.
7 Flexible diets
They’ll scoff anything – animal, mineral or vegetable.
Whether it’s dead or alive is irrelevant. Decomposed rat? Or maybe some stale silage, garnished with some sugar beet and fox mess? Yummy.
8 You don’t need a pooper-scooper
A good sheepdog looks after your business, but you don’t need to look after theirs.
9 Their infinite curiosity
It’s a big wide world out there, beyond the farmhouse. Bit scary, too…
10 Their energy
They don’t get “walks” in the traditional sense of the word, because every day is one long walk. Leads are for city dogs.
They have limitless energy. In fact, they can run for longer than Mo Farrah.
11 Fantastically trained
Sheepdogs and gundogs are amazing in this respect – responding to their owner’s every command. Actually, they usually know the command before the owner does.
12 Gloriously untrained
Some demonstrate rather less proficiency than the above.
You might get a “sit” if you’re lucky, but they’re basically free spirits, ignoring instructions and disregarding discipline. It’s part of their charm.
Can you please leave that watering can alone!
13 Local knowledge
The farm and the village – the whole parish, in fact – is imprinted on their brain better than it is any paper map or sat nav.
Typically, their geography is based around where they can find food, friends or romance (by romance, we mean the chance of a quick hump in a hedge).
14 Their sense of balance
On a stone wall, on a round bale, on a trailer. Have you ever known one to fall off even the fastest-moving quadbike?
They spend so much time with their owners – and have such a good life – that their levels of affection are unrivalled.
Farmers are often unappreciated by the public, but never by their dogs. The way they look at you, sometimes – it’s nothing short of adoration.
16 The way they make you laugh
Take this one. It even went as far as re-enacting a scene from Titantic to make its owner smile.
17 The way they smile
They really do.
See also: The Dos and Don’ts of dating a farmer