Livestock guardian dogs don’t just protect sheep and goats, they can also protect poultry. If you’re considering buying a dog to protect your flock, check out Great Pyrenees. Here’s what two owners of Great Pyrenees had to say about the dogs’ ability as livestock guardians.
Protects Anything in Her Territory
I have not shut my layer hens in the coop at night for years because our Great Pyrenees, Pearl, lives on our three acres with them. We have now added a Border Collie that keeps the squirrels up the trees and the snakes moving on. Pearl considers squirrels and snakes beneath her notice, and she taught the Border Collie not to chase hens.
Pearl was of normal adopting age, about 7 or 8 weeks, when we got her. She had been raised outdoors with parents that lived with goats and chickens — even though they didn't have any kind of training. It took us about a year to get the three acres fenced where she lives with the goats and chickens full time. During that year, as she grew from a puppy to an adult, she came and went with me from inside our house to the chicken yard, gardens and pastures. She doesn't care about the chickens, and wouldn't mind if they all went away, but just because they live in her space, they’re protected. Like my other dogs, she also barks and jumps into the air if a hawk or other large bird flies too low.
We have two Great Pyrenees, now two and three years old. They’re like big teddy bears. I didn't train them; it just comes natural for them to protect and love any animal that we feed. They even take care of our chickens and guineas. Fourteen baby guineas hatched in our pasture last summer, and we still have all 14 of them. We have never lost an animal to prey.
The dogs will bark during the night every hour. They are warning predators to stay away. They work all night walking around, then sleep most of the day. Although sometimes they play with each other. They’re actually afraid of our toy Fox Terriers. If they’re in the backyard together, the Great Pyrenees won't move. They just stand there and let the Fox Terriers jump all over them. And the cats curl up and sleep in the dogs’ coats. I also spin fiber from the dogs. It's like mohair; it’s so pretty.
But beware at night. Great Pyrenees were bred to stand and fight bears to protect the sheep and goats. When I hear the dogs barking at night, I fall right back to sleep. I just smile and know they’re doing their job.
One of the Great Pyrenees walks the outside perimeter of our five acres, watching for predators. The other one stays around the house, the chickens and the barn. So, it seems they work together. (I even think the guineas, with their alert calls, are working with them.)
Our 10 chickens are free 24/7. We've had them for four months and have not lost one. I would say if you get a Great Pyrenees as a pup, they will just know what to do. It's instinct. My Great Pyrenees were about five or six months old (or maybe a little older) before they started guarding — watching over anything I feed.
Our dogs are neutered males, and they love each other. People usually don't suggest keeping two male Great Pyrenees together. But our dogs have grown up together and seem to really love each other. The younger one does not challenge the older one.
— Luann Stovall
Do you have a livestock guardian dog? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.
Photo: iStockPhoto/Rich Phalin