Selecting a Working Livestock Guard Dog Puppy

| 3/26/2014 9:29:00 AM

Tags: livestock guard dog, predator protection, livestock protection, Jan Dohner, Michigan,

central Asian shepherdYou’ve done your homework – examining your needs, situation, and breed preferences – and now you are ready to select your LGD. This is an expensive, long- term commitment of time and energy. This LGD will be protecting your farm and stock. Please take your time to choose your pup carefully. 

A LGD puppy will be far easier to find than a reliable adult or started adolescent dog. The best guarantees for a good working dog are: good behavioral instincts, careful breeding, good socialization to stock, and the proper reinforcement for appropriate behavior. Start down the right road by selecting a puppy with at least the first two items – good instincts and careful breeding. How do you do this? By your choice of breeder. 

A good breeder of working LGDs chooses dogs to parent a litter for important reasons – good health and sound conformation, good working ability and/or a history of good working dogs in their pedigree, as well as appropriate behaviors and instincts – not just because they happen to own a male and a female. A good breeder will perform necessary health checks, especially for hip dysplasia – not just tell you the parents look good and run around the pasture okay. A good breeder knows about the working abilities and health of the dogs that your pup came from. A good breeder will offer you a guarantee of the dog’s working abilities and basic health. A good breeder will invite you meet the parents and other dogs they have bred. A good breeder will serve as your mentor as you raise your pup. Your choice of a breeder is the foundation for all your efforts to raise a successful LGD. This is especially important if this is your first LGD.

Where do you find a good breeder? If you know people with LGDs, ask them about their experiences and recommendations. One of the best places to locate a breeder is through a breed club. Members of breed clubs are asked to subscribe to a code of ethics in breeding and dealing with customers. Look for breeders who specifically breed or place working dogs. Ask for references. The Internet can also be a source for puppies, but please do your homework carefully because it is very easy to create a flashy website but it is much harder to be a good breeder. Be prepared to have a good breeder ask you questions. You may find yourself on a waiting list and be asked to sign a contract. Be extra careful about everything if you are buying a pup from far away or if you are unable to see the parents yourself. You should ask if the breeder has placed related dogs closer to you so that you might visit them. You may think that registrations and pedigrees are unimportant to you because you do not intend to show dogs or breed puppies, but they are important. They give you knowledge about related dogs you can research and they are a form of insurance against fraudulent breeding. Breeders who invest in good dogs are also demonstrating their desire to produce good puppies.

Great Pyrenees

 There are lots of available puppies that are a result of crossing two or three or more different livestock guard dog breeds together. Yes, there are excellent, working LGDs who are crossbred; however, the same requirements for a good breeder should apply here as well. The breeder should know the working abilities and behaviors of the parents and grandparents. He should perform the needed health checks and guarantee his puppies to have working ability and good health. Crossbreeding does not eliminate hip dysplasia. If one of the parents has it, odds are that a high percentage of the puppies will as well. Speaking bluntly, there is a reason so many crossbred dogs are in rescue situations – they are often bred haphazardly or by accident.

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