Border Collie (c) Jane - Flickr
Life on the homestead can get hard, especially if you’re on your own. So have you ever considered getting a working dog to help you? Chances are you want animals that can provide some worth but can also be a pet.
In this article I discuss 4 different dog breeds which make the perfect homestead dog.
German Shepherd Lab Mix
First on my list is the German Shepherd Lab Mix. As their name suggests they are a crossbred dog, with a German Shepherd and Labrador as its parent. German Shepherds were originally bred to be used as working dogs with high levels of intelligence. Their temperament is best described as ‘protective’ and they will guard anything they regard as their own. As for Labradors, they were originally bred for gun dogs, so they would retrieve anything their master had shot. Because they were bred to retrieve their temperament is very obedient.
When you combine these two breeds it means you get an intelligent, obedient guard dog that is very active. This is what makes them perfect for a homestead. Due to their level of intelligence they can easily be taught basic commands such as stay and recall. Also due to the German Shepherds protective instinct, they will also help to keep any livestock or chickens safe from predators.
Not only are they ideal as working dogs (when outside roaming around your homestead) but they also make fantastic pets. So if you have a young family they will be even better suited to you. They get on very well with children and will turn into a loving, loyal family member.
Border Collies were initially bred as herding dogs to manage flocks on the Scottish highlands. They are incredibly intelligent, loyal and very hard working. If you lead a busy outdoor life, the Border Collie will have more than enough energy to keep up with you.
You can expect your Collie to be inquisitive, alert and agile. In terms of size your Border Collie will grow up to 22 inches tall and weigh up to 45 pounds. Females will be slightly smaller at 20 inches and up to 40 lbs.
In terms of life on the homestead, they make the perfect companion. They will happily roam outside all day, in all weather conditions. Their thick double coat, will keep them warm in all weather conditions, so they are ideal for those of you in the northern US with more rain.
What makes them ideal for the homestead is their high level of intelligence. They can very quickly learn advanced commands such as guard and go to a specific location. They would be the ideal companion for larger homesteads.
As their name suggests the King Shepherd is the king of all shepherds. It is a crossbreed between the Shiloh Shepherd and a German Shepherd; meaning you get a large, intelligent dog who is extremely loyal. Many people are attracted to them because they are eager to please their owners, which means they have even been used as service dogs.
Fully grown you can expect males to reach up to 29 inches and 150lbs and females to reach 27 inches and 110 lbs. This makes for a large, intimidating presence on your property. They are ideal for your homestead if you’re mainly worried about security and want a working dog who can also be kept as a loving family member.
The Kangal is perhaps the ultimate homestead dog. They were bred and developed on Turkish mountains to defend the large packs of sheep from wolves. In fact just 2 Kangal dogs can protect a flock of up to 200 sheep! They are even being used to protect flocks of chickens now and replacing roosters.
You shouldn’t bring this dog inside; they are a true working dog and have yet to be domesticated. If you’re looking for a dog to help out around the homestead and become a part of the family; the Kangal isn’t the dog for you.
Where Kangals excel is at perimeter control. They will happy patrol the perimeter of your homestead and keep predators away. This is perfect if you have free ranging chickens. They are extremely low maintenance, and for a large dog require a surprisingly little amount of food. This makes them ideal if you’re on a tight budget yet want a large intimidating dog’s presence.
I hope that one of these dogs meets the specific needs of your homestead. They can become an invaluable tool to keep your homestead safe from predators; some breeds can even become a loving family member. Remember though not all breeds should be integrated indoors and live with you; especially the Kangal.
David Woods is a carpenter, outdoorsman, and author with more than 30 years of professional woodworking experience. He is the author of best-seller How to Build a Log Home and has educated more than half a million people on how to build a log cabin via his blog, Log Cabin Hub. Connect with him on Facebook, and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.