Livestock Protection Dogs

There's a way to deter livestock predators that's as old as the sheep-grazing hills of Europe, including pyrnees, planinetz, maremma, kuvasz, komondor, Anatolian shepherd, mastiff.


| January/February 1982



073-127-01

Anatolian Shepherds are courageous and were once used as war dogs.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Predatory animals are a source of continual frustration to most homesteaders who raise livestock. A quietly foraging flock of sheep or hens will too often provide an easy meal to such animals as coyotes and foxes. Worse yet, wild dog packs — which often include tame canines that are allowed to run, and which have been known to attack people — have become almost commonplace in many areas. However, farmers frequently have little choice but to write off herd or flock losses rather than try to cope with the various marauders, because they've found that attempting to control the varmints by shooting or trapping them is time consuming, poisons often endanger innocent species and physical barriers are just too costly.

How to Fend Off Wild Animals

 

Fortunately, there is an old-time natural remedy that can be effective in solving the dilemma. Livestock raisers in Europe and Asia have, for thousands of years, employed various breeds of dogs to deter both two-and four-legged predators. Several of these canine varieties have come down through the centuries unspoiled by irresponsible breeders or dog show fanciers (who have bred defects into many types). The guard dogs are often referred to as "shepherds," but they don't actually herd livestock in the manner of Border collies or Belgian sheepdogs. Instead, these animals have more "maternal" and protective instincts and will allow their charges to wander freely — as long as they remain in sight and out of trouble.

In fact, protection dogs are actually followers: they meander behind their flocks quietly, almost lethargically. If you were to spend a long period of time observing an assembly of livestock with a good guard dog in its midst, you'd probably be amazed at the total lack of action in the field. No stock disappear, no predators set foot inside the pasture and no strangers are allowed entrance in the dog's territory.

Evidently the mere presence of such a canine is enough to discourage most predators. If a coyote, another dog or an unknown human should intrude upon the scene, though, the attitude of the dog will change drastically. It will first sound a barking challenge. If that doesn't repel the intruder, the canine will "rush" the stranger with tail upraised. The dog will always carefully position itself between its charges and the trespasser, and — if necessary — can become quite aggressive. However, once a predator has been driven off the premises, the dog generally returns to the flock, knowing that its place is alongside the grass-grazers, not out chasing after a fight.

Obviously, you won't be finding many of these very specialized animals at your neighborhood pet shop. In fact, only a few are readily available in the United States. They are offeredmostly through special breeders and associations. Here are brief descriptions of some of the working dogs being bred in the U.S. today.

rob
7/11/2013 3:10:58 AM

Good article (even if it is  from 1982!).  I only have one bone to pick here.  Namely, the editor's note following the article.  I have to wonder if the editor's note is from '82 or just added when the piece was added to this website.

Many, many folks, including some nationally renowned breeders have been coming out in recent years to say that some of the LGD crosses are often the best Livestock Guardian Dogs working today.

Of course, I agree with them.  That's why I started intentionally crossing Anatolian Shepherds with Great Pyrenees.  It's a real winner if you breed for dispositon and guarding instinct.

If anyone would like a peek, you can see us at:

LivestockDogs.net

Don't get me wrong.  Getting a registered and papered LGD is a great idea, provided you're completely convinced that a purebred is the best way to go.  I definitely suggest you research it well before going purebred.  There are a lot of pure lines out there which don't have the greatest guarding instinct.

Whatever you choose, I wish you the best!  These livestock dogs are a lifestyle.  Get a real LGD, and you'll understand what I mean!


rob
7/11/2013 3:09:47 AM

Good article (even if it is  from 1982!).  I only have one bone to pick here.  Namely, the editor's note following the article.  I have to wonder if the editor's note is from '82 or just added when the piece was added to this website.

Many, many folks, including some nationally renowned breeders have been coming out in recent years to say that some of the LGD crosses are often the best Livestock Guardian Dogs working today.

Of course, I agree with them.  That's why I started intentionally crossing Anatolian Shepherds with Great Pyrenees.  It's a real winner if you breed for dispositon and guarding instinct.

If anyone would like a peek, you can see us at:

LivestockDogs.net

Don't get me wrong.  Getting a registered and papered LGD is a great idea, provided you're completely convinced that a purebred is the best way to go.  I definitely suggest you research it well before going purebred.  There are a lot of pure lines out there which don't have the greatest guarding instinct.

Whatever you choose, I wish you the best!  These livestock dogs are a lifestyle.  Get a real LGD, and you'll understand what I mean!






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