Before You Buy a Livestock Guardian Dog or Puppy

| 9/3/2015 11:26:00 AM

Tags: livestock guardians, pets, dogs, Jan Dohner, Michigan,


Border Collie puppies

With the increasing use of livestock guardian dogs, we are seeing more inappropriate breeds or crossbred dogs being offered for sale as livestock guardian dogs. If you are not familiar with the recognized breeds of LGDs, you can find the names of the breeds here.

Choosing a pup or a dog from one of these breeds or a cross of these breeds, gives you the very best chance of success. LGD breeds were developed through centuries to be perfectly suited to this work and they inherit a set of genetic behaviors and traits. You cannot train another breed to be a LGD. It is important to remember that LGDs are a specific group of breeds, like herding or hunting breed groups — not a job.

Other breeds do not possess the specific combination of inherited behaviors and traits that make a dog a LGD, including: a longer period of bonding; low prey drive; nurturing and protective instincts toward their charges; sufficient size to deal with large predators; a coat adapted to living outside; and the independence, self-thinking, and defensive aggression to respond to predators or threats.

Guidelines for Selecting a LGD Pup or Adult

9/6/2015 9:29:20 PM

I'm inclined to believe those who have run siblings successfully, they have the proof right there before your eyes, not some sponsored study put out in books:

9/6/2015 8:06:57 PM

With the success I have had, I would have to disagree with your advice and suggest that siblings actually make it easier. I do agree it is important to buy good lgd bloodlines from a reputable breeder. Would love to provide more recent data that can be added to your writings.

9/6/2015 8:01:44 PM

I am new to LGDs but have had great success with the siblings that I have raised. Not sure where your research came from but would love to share with you my experience raising siblings. I know that it is often difficult to get real statistical data, but I can offer input. I have two 1.5 year working siblings on a small farm. I am also currently raising two more.

9/6/2015 5:25:59 PM

Absolutely, everyone should research various sides of any important issue and evaluate the credibility of the sources.

9/6/2015 4:26:23 PM

I strongly disagree with much of the information in this article. In the LGD world, there is far too much inaccurate information and it is being viewed as gospel to those who do not know any better. If any readers are new to LGDs. Please research additional articles and opinions before following this advice! I want to specifically address the idea of Littermate Syndrome. I've raised dogs both ways. Sibling LGDs are the ONLY way to go! *My dogs matured more quickly to handle the job at a younger age. *They never played with the stock. They had each other. *They never destroyed anything. They occupied each other when they got bored. *They matured into a formidable team. *There was ZERO downside. ZERO!!! Experienced ranchers who run siblings have the same success that I have had. These are not armchair experts. These are TRUE experts! They are real people working stock with fewer losses of stock and guardians.

9/6/2015 3:44:08 PM

"….The problems associated with raising sibling puppies are so well known that it is called Littermate Syndrome." Not in my world, Jan: I must strongly disagree with you over your comments about litter mates and the purported "litter mate syndrome" hyped by Dunbar and McConnell, which has been disputed by many other dog behaviorists, trainers and EXPERIENCED LGD breeders, owners, and trainers (such as myself) who run huge packs of LGDs. If what the "anti-sibling" people promote was really true, then they'd be hard pressed to "explain away" the multiple success stories I and my clients have had owning, training and working sibling LGD pairs and trios, all over the country, for years. It really is not hard to do at all, if a person knows what they are doing, and takes the time to respect and understand dogs, not just treat them like disposable tools, and respects and understands pack dynamics. With my siblings and my support, my customers also achieve success with siblings. They swear by them, and go on to buy more sibling pairs from me because they work so well.

9/6/2015 3:34:52 PM

great advice!!! novices would benefit by following this advise!! obvious by comment, some need to do some real serious research. or real life with yrs of experience as well. with internet at our fingertips, one only has to look at videos, research, etc. to see that shepherds in these countries of origin of these dogs, while they do use packs. multiple ages. but rarely even siblings. however, if they do, the fact that the shepherds LIVE with their stock & dogs part of the yr, and there are multiple ages of dogs helping train pups. siblings are much more of a problem. they bond to each other, yet can also have inner pack conflicts vying for top position. any dog trainer knows this.

9/6/2015 2:29:42 PM

This post is absolutely NOT about guessing breeds in a potential LGD puppy - it is about the pitfalls of buying or adopting a dog without knowing what breed or breeds the parents are. The suggestions about appearance are additional warning signs for potential buyers, to alert them to possible outcrosses with non LGD breeds such as herding dogs. The problems associated with raising sibling puppies are so well known that it is called Littermate Syndrome. Most dog behaviorists and trainers, as well as national breed clubs and dog organizations, advise against this practice. If readers are looking for more information on Littermate Syndrome, Dr Ian Dunbar and Dr Patricia McConnell, two of the leading dog behaviorists, have written extensively about the issues owners face with sibling pups. Livestock raisers who are facing serious and large predator pressure do use packs of LGDs as protection. In the homelands of these breeds, young dogs are introduced and mentored by older working dogs. A new owner with two sibling pups and no mentor adults is facing a very challenging situation. This post is aimed at the new or inexperienced LGD owner.

9/4/2015 1:56:34 PM

Worst advice ever! This should be named "What Not to do When Buying an LGD"! First, it has been proven over and over that you CANNOT identify specific breeds within a mix by simply looking at it, the success rates are abysmal! Second LGD’s are meant to be run in pairs and packs, NOT alone and siblings have been proven to be most effective at this, especially when they have been born and raised responsibly within a pack environment. Running two or more siblings provides more coverage sooner and more effectively, and is way more beneficial to the dog’s health and wellbeing. Put it like this……if you were going to play football and the other team had 5 guys (think coyotes, wolves, feral dogs) would you want to have a team of five or play against them alone? As for the interaction with livestock; LGD puppies are more likely to play together and less likely to want to play with the stock, and obviously supervision is needed regardless of how many puppies you are training. This is common sense not rocket science. Finally, seeing a pedigree is great, seeing mom, dad, and if possible grandparents out working is priceless, and registration isn’t worth the paper it’s written on in terms of working ability! She doesn’t even bother addressing the many breeds that are not registerable in the US, I believe they may outnumber those who are at this point. Seriously, please stop posting her blogs, she consistently gives out misinformation on which the rest of us have to do damage control!

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