Livestock Guardian Dogs

Jessica is a homesteading and homeschooling mother of seven living in northwest Ohio.  She has a passion for encouraging other mothers to grow and preserve nutritious food for their families.
 

Jessica may receive commissions for purchases made through links on this post. Thank you for all your support! 

 

Just a week ago my dog, Leela, gave birth to an adorable litter of puppies.  It’s been an exciting and exhausting experience as first-time breeders.  Since canines are occupying a lot of my thought-space right now I thought that this month I would share about the importance of livestock guardians.
 
Every homestead needs a good dog (or two) to guard the property and protect the animals and children from predators.  But it isn’t as simple as just going to the animal shelter and picking out a pet.  A working dog, like a livestock guardian, needs to possess a specific temperament and skill set that make it perfect for this job.
 
There are many breeds of livestock guardians, including but not limited to:

  • Great Pyrenees
  • Komondor
  • The Mastiff Breeds – Tibetan, Spanish, Pyrenean
  • The Turkish Shepherd Breeds – Akbash, Anatolian, Kangal, Boz
  • Central Asian Shepherd Dog
  • Kuvasz
  • Karakachan

These dogs have the correct nature to remain alert to threats and to make the noise necessary to deter them, as well as the size and determination to defend against predator attacks. While some dogs from breeds not classified as livestock guardians can possibly be trained to do these things over time, the breeds mentioned above are born ready to do the work.  Typically they only need a little training in property boundaries and, in my experience, to not view smaller livestock like chickens as toys.
The main job of these animals is to keep predators from getting near the livestock.  A common complaint with livestock guardians is how they bark ALL NIGHT LONG.  While it can be annoying, this is a necessary part of their job.  Dogs have better hearing than us.  All throughout the night they detect the coyotes in the distance and sound the alarm with their loud, protective barks, letting those predators know not to come near unless they want a fight.  This is the primary mode of protection.  If predators are desperate and willing to engage in a fight, then the guardian dog will be ready to defend, even to the death.  They know their job and will do anything to protect their livestock and people. Some breeds, like the turkish shepherd dogs, have been known to be able to single-handedly take down a wolf.
 
But one dog can’t handle a pack of wolves, and this is one of the reasons livestock guardians work best in pairs.  Double the protection means they can back each other up in larger fights.  I also find that my two livestock guardians take turns resting and working.  Since guarding is a full-time job, someone needs to be on alert while the other sleeps.  It is amazing to watch the sleeping dog instantly jump into action when they recognize the warning bark of their partner.
 
Raising any animal is a huge investment.  If you’ve been homesteading long enough, you know the damage a single predator can do to your animals.  I will never forget the year before we got our dogs, walking out to my chicken coop to find half of my flock destroyed by a fox.  Since getting the guardians we have never seen another fox on our property.
 
So, if you have been wanting to get a dog for your homestead and don’t know what breed to get, I would highly recommend looking into one of the many loyal and hard-working guardian breeds.  There is peace of mind in knowing that your livestock are in good hands day and night with your dogs on patrol!
 
 

COMMUNITY

Please join us by sharing, continuing the conversation below, and connecting with Jessica at the following:

Share

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email

MORE Stories

Homesteading for Health

When I was in my early twenties, I began to feel unwell. Having grown up eating the standard American diet, this was no surprise. My menstrual cramps were unbearably painful
and I got colds like I was a magnet for them. Sinus infections and antibiotics were a part of my annual routine….

Read More

New Year, New Goals

The New Year has arrived and for me that means it’s time to buckle down and solidify the goals that I have for our Homestead for the year, as well as the upcoming growing Season.

Read More

Small Things Still Have Big Meanings

I remember when we really started getting into our homestead journey. Ken was starting to outgrow his little garden and I was ready to take on more animals besides chickens. But when I envisioned our homestead growing, I saw acres filled with cows and goats, chickens roaming free, a big barn on the hill, you know…a farm…

Read More

The Slow Season

The bushels of produce that cluttered the kitchen floor are now neatly tucked into a rainbow of jars on the pantry shelves. Days spent weeding and harvesting will now be spent indoors by the woodstove and in the kitchen enjoying the meals we worked so hard for over the growing season…

Read More

Permission to get Messy

Permission to get messy.. My boys are often messy, dirty and even downright filthy!!

But there are times when they know they’re going to get extra dirty and they’ll come and ask for permission to do something that isn’t in their normal play…

Read More

Join In The Conversation

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

A Patchwork of Homestead Mamas

An inspiring & encouraging community of Homestead Mamas. For growers, hunters, foragers, & explorers; with little hands & little hearts alongside.

Join Our Community