Shepherds, Sheepdogs, and Sheep


Going back to the early days of, you will find some thoughts and words expressed by some guest authors on the importance of being a “sheepdog” and guarding the “sheep.” Although there was no intent to make a value judgment, many leaders are drawn to the sheepdog when asked to describe themselves and given the choice between the two options.

But what about the shepherd?

Yeah, what about the shepherd? Where does he fit into all of this? My experience in animal husbandry was as a hired hand on a dairy farm back in the late 1970s. I don’t have a lot of experience with sheep. But this much I do know. It is the shepherd that leads the sheep. It is not the sheepdog. The sheepdog serves a vital function. The sheepdog is quick and agile and is able to run so much faster than the shepherd. But note that the sheepdog takes commands and directions from the shepherd and then goes out and performs them with great energy and efficiency.

Sheepdog Strengths

Many times the sheepdog acts without explicit direction from the shepherd. The sheepdog, having been trained by the shepherd, sees that the sheep that are wandering from the rest of the flock and will instinctively go and round them up. The sheepdog will jump into the fray and into the face of danger in order to protect the sheep from wild animals or predators.

Sheepdog Shortcomings

But the sheepdog does not survey the land and choose the path that the flock will take. The sheepdog cannot select the greenest pastures. Because the sheepdog’s diet is not the same as the sheep and therefore it cannot judge the quality of the grazing land. In fact, to be completely honest, the sheepdog could be completely content to eat one of the sheep that it guards. Just let that sink in for a second. These are just several shortcomings of the vaunted sheepdog.

Strengths of the Shepherd

So, what are the strengths of the shepherd? Continue reading “Shepherds, Sheepdogs, and Sheep”