Thanks For The Compliment, But I was a Cop, not a Sheepdog. What’s the difference? Is the Sheepdog reference for Police, Military and other First Responders Fair and Accurate? The following article has been written by John J Wiley, host of the Nationally Syndicated Law Enforcement Today Radio Show and Podcast. It includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.
First, the term “Sheepdog” for police officers, military and other first responders is a big compliment. But, I think there is a huge difference, which I will point out in a moment.
I can’t help but recall the Warner Bros. cartoons in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies featuring Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog. Highly entertaining and one of the most prominent scenes is when Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog would clock in or out for work.
Many people use the term “Sheepdogs” in reference to Police, Military and other First Responders. It is meant as a compliment, but I sometimes beg to differ from the popularity of this term of endearment.
Do Sheepdogs Make Great Companions? Yes, they often do and are phenomenal members of the family. Are Sheepdogs great protectors of their flocks? Yes, many are. Do all sheepdogs fit into the category of great protectors? No, in my experience they do not.
Does all of society take the time and effort required to understand the temperament and needs of Sheepdogs? Absolutely, 100% No. But we will get to that a little later on.
From Wikipedia, “A sheep dog or sheepdog is generally a dog or breed of dogs historically used in connection with the raising of sheep. These include livestock guardian dogs used to guard sheep and other livestock and herding dogs used to move, manage and control sheep and other livestock.”
Some of the Sheepdog breeds across the World are divided into several groups. Separated primarily by there use.
Herding breeds Include these Breeds.
Australian Cattle Dog
Basque Shepherd Dog
Belgian Shepherds (4 Varities including the Malinois)
Berger Blanc Suisse
Bouvier des Flandres
Can de Chira
Can de Palleiro
Cão da Serra de Aires
Carea Castellano Manchego
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Collies (Made up of 6 varieties)
Magellan sheep dog
Miniature American Shepherd
New Zealand Heading Dog
Old English Sheepdog
Pastore della Lessinia e del Lagorai
Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Polish Tatra Sheepdog
Welsh Corgis (2 Varieties)
Livestock guardian dog breeds.
Azerbaijani Shepherd Dog
Cane di Mannara
Cão de Castro Laboreiro
Cão de Gado Transmontano
Carpathian Shepherd Dog
Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Central Asian Shepherd Dog
Estrela Mountain Dog
Polish Tatra Sheepdog
Rafeiro do Alentejo
Romanian Raven Shepherd Dog
Sardinian Shepherd Dog
Tibetan kyi apso
The American Kennel Club divides breeds of Dogs into 7 Groups. Most of the Sheepdogs are in the working group or herding group.
I actually prefer dogs that come from the herding or working groups. They seem to mesh well with our personalities and lifestyles. Protection, companionship, intelligence and an eagerness to please all fit well with us. In particular Rottweilers, which we have shared our lives with for almost 25 years. All those traits remind me of the characteristics of good police officers.
My main complaint about referring to our Law Enforcement Officers, Military and other First Responders is choice. You see, Sheepdogs, for example the breeds listed above, are the end result of years, and at time centuries of selective breeding. A practice where humans bred certain dogs that displayed the desired traits that the breeders wanted. Is that wrong? Do I have a problem with that? No.
So, the Sheepdogs have no idea why they are doing what they do. They have no choice in the matter, you could say that their protective instincts are the result of years and years of selective breeding.
Our Police, Military and other First Responders had to choose to do these jobs. All of them are faced at times with situations where they must decide to put themselves in harms way to protect their flock. In other words, they are very much aware of the choices they have to make.
And that is the primary difference. Many of our Police, Military and other First Responders, and their families pay a huge price as a result of their service. With their lives, their physical health and mental health as well.
Which brings me to my final question. If you believe that our Police, Military and other First Responders are Sheepdogs, will you take the time and effort to understand the temperament and needs of Sheepdogs? How about when they are wounded, either physically, mentally, and, or emotionally while protecting their flocks? Remember, these people had to choose to protect, unlike the Sheepdogs that had it bred into them.