Shepherds Mouth Whistles: Herding Dog Whistle Review

By Photographic Collection from Australia
 Droving sheep, near Armidale  Uploaded by Oxyman 
 via Wikimedia Commons
Dog whistles have been used since the late 1850’s for long distance control of dogs for obedience, hunting and retrieval as well as the herding of stock.  Whistle commands are used when working dogs outdoors over long distances, where verbal and visual commands are impractical.  

Typically these whistle commands are taught after the dog has mastered the related visual or voice commands in close proximity to their trainer. 

A variety of styles of whistles are in production, and each has its advantages based on the type of work the dog is performing and environmental conditions.  In this review we will discuss which model whistles are appropriate for herding dog training along with video tutorials of whistle training basics for this venue.

Herding Dog Whistles

If you are adept at whistling, scroll on down for the video on traditional herding whistle commands. For those of us that have a hard time making any sound through pursed lips, Acme makes two models of whistle that, with a little practice, should suit you nicely. 

Keep in mind you will need to practice with the shepherd's whistle to get the hang of it, and you will want to do that out of earshot of your dog.

The Shepherd’s Whistle also known as the Shepherd’s Mouth Whistle is used to give directional commands to the sheep dog over long distances, often when the stock and the dog are out of site of the handler.  There are two types of shepherds whistles, the metal and the plastic models.

Nickel Whistle:on sale now 
at Wags and Whiskers for $6.99

The metal or nickel shepherd’s whistle has a clearer tone and carries over greater distances.  It also has a classic, retro design that ties the 19th century shepherd to the 21st century shepherd.  

This model is the most popular seller, however, some purchasers were sensitive to the taste of the metal. It is made of nickel and can taste like having a penny in your mouth. 


Others complained that the machined edges were rough and required a little sanding to make it comfortable.





Plastic Shepherd's Whistles On Sale for $4.99
The advantage of the plastic model is that it is less expensive and preferable in cold winter months when temperatures drop to freezing.  Metal whistles can get stuck to the lips when temperatures drop below freezing.  Both whistles require some practice before they can be used effectively.


Typical herding whistle commands include: down, stay, walk up, come by and away to me (see below for a comprehensive list of commands).

Once you have mastered the calls on the mouth whistle, you may want to invest in a high-end whistle to impress and psych-out your competition at the next herding trail. These whistles are beautifully hand crafted and produce clear, clean tones.


Buffalo Horn Shepherds Whistle
Hand Crafted Mouth Whistle Made of Buffalo Horn

The Buffalo Horn Shepherds Whistle is hand crafted in Wales.  This is ideal for those shepherds who find that they dislike the taste of metal in their mouths or for those working in colder regions where metal sticks to the lips.

This model is thicker than most herding whistles, and takes a little time to get used to having a thicker whistle in the mouth. However once you get used to it, you will find it is easy to hold and even easier to find various notes for your calls.


The Corine Wyoming Whistle is another
Corian shepherds mouth whistle
Corine Wyoming Whistle
option for those who dislike the taste of metal in their mouths, but want a colorful whistle that makes a fashion statement.


Made from Corian these whistles come in a variety of colors and are available at several online outlets. These pictured to the right can be found at Border Collies in Action.  

Stock Dog Gems also offers a wide variety of colors, including cilantro, hazelnut, elderberry and hot pink.
Engraved Sterling Silver Shepherds Whistle
Hand Engraved Sterling Silver Whistle


If money is no object, consider the Engraved Sterling Silver Shepherds Mouth Whistle

The silver model runs $175.00.  However, there is also an engraved brass whistle available for the more reasonable price of $60.00.  These whistles are had engraved by master engravers in the USA.

Both the brass "sounder" and the sterling silver whistles produce clear tones that travel long distances.

Images for the Engraved, buffalo and Corine Wyoming Whistles are courtesy of and can be purchased at Border Collies in Action.

How to Use The Shepherd's Mouth Whistle


  1. Place shepherd’s whistle in your mouth with the curved, open edge facing outwards; allow it to  rest on your tongue. If you place your tongue against the lower hole you will silence the whistle.
  2. Hold the whistle in your mouth so that it creates a gap underneath the whistle. The back of the whistle will sit on the back of your tongue.
  3. It doesn't matter which way up the whistle is placed. However, it requires a few practice blows before you will get a sound.
  4. Blow into the whistle and by varying the blow, and you can create different sounds.
  5. For an even wider range of sounds, move your tongue up and down to reduce or  widen the gap beneath the whistle.

Sheep Dog Training Video Tutorials


This video demonstrates a border collie responding to the given whistle commands.



Hubert Bailey and Mack demonstrate working sheep at a distance using whistle commands




Hubert Bailey works 4 dogs on stock at once with whistle commands


Frequently Used Stock Dog Herding Commands

  • Down or Lie Down, Stand or Stop: Any of these can be used to stop or slow his approach the dog. Stopping the dog with a “Stand,” may help prevent stock from startling when the dog resumes motion.
  • Come By or Go By: The dog’s left flank, sends the dog in a clockwise circle around the stock
  • Away to Me or Way to Me: The dog’s right flank, sends the dog in motion counter clockwise around the stock.
  • There: Pauses the dog before changing directions, or commands the dog to stop going around and to turn in facing towards the stock.
  • Walk-up or Walk On: The dog walks straight onto the stock
  • Here: Calls the dog to come toward you ("Here" is used instead of "Come", to avoid confusion with Come By).
  • Get Out, Get Off of that, or Get Back: Used to push the dog further away from the stock (creating more distance between stock and the dog).
  • Look Back: Orders the dog to turn back, and find and fetch stock left behind
  • Stay: Commands the dog to stay put until further commanded
  • Steady: Slows the dog down and commands him to straighten up behind the stock (to stop weaving back and forth)
  • Take Time or Easy: Command for the dog to slow down, and move at a slow pace
  • That’ll Do: The dreaded command, calls the dog off of stock and signals that work is finished



Shepherds Mouth Whistles: Herding Dog Whistle Review Shepherds Mouth Whistles: Herding Dog Whistle Review Reviewed by Solaras on August 16, 2013 Rating: 5
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