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Best Small Livestock Guard Dog

                      


Joined: Dec 19, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: TN
Looking for opinions on the best small LSGD. It needs to be under 20 pounds.

I only need the animal to live with the chickens/goats and bark at intruders like foxes and snakes.

Huge dogs are out, unless they have small breed feeding habits! LOL

Thanks!


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Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
I agree.

My boss has a small mutt that is a mix of a sheep dog and I can't remember what, but is very small, seems to have little to no herding instinct and spends all night running around, barking and attacking varmints. I would just look for a breed known for barking and not too much herding or hunting instinct as you need your animal to be with the herd/flock and these animals must often be well trained not to bite the animals they are herding. I think a puppy raised up with the animals would be the best bet.

But really I wish I knew what breed I should get...
                      


Joined: Dec 19, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: TN
I'll keep searching around. I have few ideas. Right now my poodle will be with them. She barks a lot and loves "her" animals, lol. I may just find a good dog to breed to her. I'll post back when I come up with more.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
SilentTala wrote:Huge dogs are out, unless they have small breed feeding habits! LOL


Our LGHD's eat small dogs. Does that make them qualify? (Actually they do eat small canines, like foxes and coyotes for example.)

Two real thoughts:

1) There is no 'best', must many good options.

2) 20 lbs is tiny. Most predators will consider it a snack.
                      


Joined: Dec 19, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: TN
Thanks for the response!

The only predators that would pose much of a threat to a 20 pound dog here are the coyotes and fishers. The fishers were only just reintroduced to the area so we seldom ever see them. The pens are going to be covered. We are using that 2x4 inch welded fence wire as the fencing, so the coyotes and fishers probably won't get in. The problem we'll have are the small predators like mink, snakes and crafty foxes. I have a family that dens on at our bluff every year. I don't want to eradicate them, just keep them away from the pens.

We have several redbones on the property that "usually" keep the coyotes away. My foxes are smarter and know the dogs cannot get loose, lol. 

I used to have (and love) GP's but cannot remember their average feed costs.

Honestly, I forgot about the goats. I won't be covering their pens. That means I'll probably need a large dog for protection. Crap.

I forgot about the panther too. There's one around here and defenseless goats would probably bring it out.

Nevermind on the small dog. Sigh. Would still be a good thing to research though.

Back to researching!

Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
I wonder if a Terrier might be good? Good for getting small pests and makes a lot of noise at the bigger ones to bring you out to deal with them.
                      


Joined: Dec 19, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: TN
I had actually thought of terriers. Some are pretty stout animals that love killing rats and such. My BIL has a very nice stud Jack Russel. He's nice and boxy with a muscular body/mouth. He's small too!

I could get a pup from him and test him out with a small cull flock I guess. If it attacks them I could just figure something else out. The dam would be a large Chihuahua, LOL. They throw nice pups, just not sure how chicken-friendly they'd be, hehe.

The chicken pens will be inside a large fenced area so the dog won't actually be able to touch them. My pom-poo is a good pup trainer when it comes to the other animals.

Would be worth looking into to maybe breed a good miniature chicken guard dog!

I think I need a GP though. I had forgotten about our large predators. Then again, I may just get a Catahoula or some other cur dog. Hmmm I really like a Catahoula though.



Shawn Bell


Joined: Dec 06, 2010
Posts: 156
We had to cage our Jack Russell, apparently they are bred for hunting.  She took out two of our laying hens.

We are looking at herding type dogs as a replacement.  Maybe a Lancashire Heeler (14lb), Sheltie (20lb), or a Sweedish Vallhund (28lb).

Of course that all depends on low cost.  A small mutt that looks like one may have to suffice, hopefully it would carry some of the instincts as well.

Hope this helps.
                      


Joined: Dec 19, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: TN
Yea, many dog breeds were bred to hunt something; predators or game.

Oh, I don't mind spending money on the "dog" as long as it can be bred to replace itself. I'm looking for an animal that has a smaller feed bill. I think I am going to purchase a couple Catahoulas from a breeder friend of mine. He has nice stock that are good with livestock and at killing predators. He lives in my hometown so I can pick them up when we go to visit my mum.

Thanks for your help guys!

                                


Joined: Dec 27, 2010
Posts: 15
Location: Inland North Atlantic
We have a blue tick beagle. She's loud and postures aggressively. Reasonably smart for training them up right and close enough to twenty pounds.
Only draw back I can think of is they like to follow their noses so allow them to free range can mean not seeing them around for a few days.


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Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
What ever you find LGD won't be the right name for it. LGD's are big. What you want is a small watch dog, not a guard dog.
                          


Joined: Apr 24, 2010
Posts: 25
Location: Marble City OK
We have one great Pyrenee guard dog ,and eats like a medium size dog ,because they have a slow metabolism.dores great with all of our critters  including the cat and older dogs ,and shares her food with the chickens.And she is a rescue dog.You should look them up ordo some research about them.Its a wonderfull breed.
                      


Joined: Dec 19, 2010
Posts: 18
Location: TN
If it is a dog and it is guarding my livestock--its a livestock guard dog, lol.

Beagles are good dogs but I'm afraid my husband might "just borrow" it to "see if it will hunt a rabbit", LOL!

Someone told me that about GPs and their food intake.

How many pounds (or cups) of dog food do you feed daily? What brand?

I'm getting back into feeding raw so really want something with a smaller appetite until my food stocks are up and going strong.

We have a ton of GPs in my area--goats are a big thing here. It would be easy to get a well bred dog.

I'm really interested in the Catahoulas because of the whole no grooming thing and their temperament.

                      


Joined: Dec 26, 2010
Posts: 32
We had a Catahoula when I was a kid.  She was the best dog I've ever had.  She made a great pet for us kiddos (very protective) AND a fantastic small critter gurdian dog.  She was fluent in English and American sign language. lol  All this and she only had 3 working legs.  (She was a stray.)  We never knew what happened to her 4th leg, neither did the vet, but it sure didn't slow her down.  (Her name was "Swifty".)

I would love to find one up here in the PNW.



Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 969
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
I've got a 75 lb. dog -- 3/4 English Shepherd and 1/4 Collie -- who eats three cups of dog food a day and is fat.  I've used him for a LGD before and he did well, but you have to have a dog with no prey drive or herding instinct (basically the same thing; herding instinct is a controlled prey drive).

The 'real' LGD's are not usually very active -- they find a place to park themselves and watch their charges.  That's why they don't eat as much as you'd think for their size.

Terriers are nearly impossible to train to leave small animals alone.  They were bred to hunt, and to be very persistent about it (hard to discourage) because some of their prey are real fighters.

Kathleen
Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 160
Location: North Carolina
We have a crossbred Border Collie/Australian shepherd male rescue dog who is the best guardian and herding dog I've ever had.  His wild instincts are strong, he goes out and hunts for rabbits and kills raccoons.  Once he knew I wanted the goats and chickens protected, he took to it like a champ.  When very young baby goats stray too from their dam he rounds them up and brings them back to her.  He lies on a hill overlooking our herd and watches them, alert for danger.  He will take on a bear, but very carefully so as to stay out of reach.  Just enough to antagonize them and get them to move on.  When the goats accidentally get out a gate and into the garden or orchard and I'm trying to get them out, he rushes over to help me.  It took a while for him to get the hang of it, exactly where I wanted them to go and such, but once he figured it out, he does that too.  All of this with no training whatsoever other than my telling him "good boy" or "enough", which is his signal to stop whatever he is doing.  He learned quickly. 

He was bitten by a copperhead a few years ago, but would not leave his charges.  I saw him half sliding down the hill, unable to hold up his head and carried him to the house.  I gave him Vit. C, 5000 units in two divided doses 30 minutes apart, (ascorbic acid in water), dribbled onto the bite on his mouth and also into his mouth and I put crushed plantain on the bite.  He totally recovered in about two to three hours and ran back to his job guarding the goats.  The swelling even went down.  He was bitten to protect the goats from being bitten.  Normally he would not have been that near a snake, especially with a bite to the mouth, which indicated to me he was trying to kill the snake. 

He's one of those dogs you hope lives forever, and since he was a rescue animal they neutered him at adoption, so no chance of getting any more like him.


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Dwayne Houlett


Joined: Nov 27, 2011
Posts: 1
You might be able to find a australian shepherd mix at the shelter, that may work for you, which would be ideal. I wonder how hard it is to get a Puli? I don't think there is that many breeders in the US, but they don't get that big, and they're livestock guardians.
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Silent Tala wrote:Huge dogs are out, unless they have small breed feeding habits! LOL


As others have said, LGDs don't eat that much due to slow metabolism. My Australian Shepherd eats as much as my LGDs that are 2 and 3x the size. If you want the dog to live with the livestock, an LGD is the proper breed. because that's what they were bred to do. Over thousands of years of breeding.


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Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2470
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  60
So, if you're considering a full-sized LGD, have you read through livestock guardian dogs: llams vs great pyr?

Also see the thread on the Northwest Farm Terriers, which are a smaller breed. I'll be posting some additional blurbs I found online that are consistent with our visit to the creators of this breed per podcast 25 animal harvest bees lgd.

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Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Also see the thread on the Northwest Farm Terriers, which are a smaller breed. I'll be posting some additional blurbs I found online that are consistent with our visit to the creators of this breed per podcast 25 animal harvest bees lgd.


Terriers seem like an odd choice for an LGD. They were bred for hunting, how could they bond with livestock? Do they "have the eye?" Could they gain the trust of a lamb by being submissive to it?
The big white dogs have been in use for thousands of years. I'll take advantage of all that work people did before me.
Matt Walker


Joined: Nov 27, 2011
Posts: 136
Location: North Olympic Peninsula
    
    4
I'm someone who has both a Great Pyr, and NWFT. Very different dogs, and they have very different uses. I don't think any NWFT I've ever met would stand being left alone with livestock for very long. They are terriers, and want to do whatever you are doing. Very much people dogs. That said, when I go to the barn to feed the sheep, cows, chickens, and seasonally, pigs, she gets along famously with all of them and does "protect" them when a raven flies by or she sees a coyote. However, she spends most of her time trying to figure out what I'm doing and how to get me to do what she wants to do. I've always said their best function is "manipulate the human." Very, very smart dogs.

The Pyr on the other hand...she has the same access to the dog door and food inside the house. Could lay by the fire all night and day if she wanted. Nope, she comes in once or twice a day, says Hi, eats a bit, and goes right back out to lay in the pasture with the sheep. She takes laps around the perimeter of the property barking her head off regularly, and doesn't like to be where she can't see the pastures. She has completely stopped a serious predation problem I had for years. She is a wonderful, wonderful creature.


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Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Matt Walker wrote:I don't think any NWFT I've ever met would stand being left alone with livestock for very long. They are terriers, and want to do whatever you are doing. Very much people dogs.

My Australian shepherd is like that. So may be the NWFT should just be promoted as an all around farm dog. LGDs are totally different.

Does your NWFT try to boss around your Pyr? My Aussie does. I've seen him pull my maremma by the tail across the deck. Of course, the maremma can flip and pin him any time he wants.
Matt Walker


Joined: Nov 27, 2011
Posts: 136
Location: North Olympic Peninsula
    
    4
Oh, yeah, exactly. The little NWFT totally dominates the Pyr, and like you say, that Pyr could crush her. And yep, the NWFT is a GREAT farm dog, she's just no LGD by any stretch.
Gerard Bonneau


Joined: Mar 12, 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Cheyenne Wyoming
Interesting discussion, good thinking all around.

We have a Cairn terrier we just love, but if we didn't fence him in his insatiable curiosity would soon get him in trouble. But he's great gopher, mice and mole medicine, generally can't catch jack rabbits but does run 'em off, and I have no doubt he could take down a fox, weasel or a skunk in a straight-up fight. Unfortunately, he thinks he can take on badgers and coyotes, too, hence the aforementioned fence. He weighs about 15 lbs. very solid, quick on his feet, barks at everything that moves and is utterly fearless. As a bonus, he shows little to no interest in chickens, ground nesting birds, ducks or other poultry, and he and the horse get along well. I think he would be equally indifferent to other larger livestock, but I doubt I could keep him from killing domestic rabbits, so we don't have any. I'm not sure I want to butcher rabbits anyway.

He makes a great foot-warmer in the winter, too. If he were teamed with a larger LGD out in the pasture, I prolly wouldn't need a coyote gun, but I'd have one anyway. But a small suburban homestead or small acreage could get by fine with a Cairn, as a small varmint killer, and large varmint alarm system. They bring a lot of personality to the 'small protector' niche as well. For all his boundless energy and enthusiasm, he doesn't eat much either, less then a cup of good quality dry dog food a day!


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Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
If it is a dog and it is guarding my livestock--its a livestock guard dog, lol.


Amen! I've had that discussion with die hard GP and such owners and about how superior those breeds are for the job and I agree they are very much suited for it....but I've found that pound puppies~free ones, at that~seem to make the best farm dogs. All of mine have been labs or lab mixes and all extremely dependable, loyal and worthy of the title.

My current one is Lab and Border Collie mix...doesn't eat much but isn't above scrounging for his own grub also.





Can't say enough good things about this dog, his ease in training, his effectiveness and warm feelings towards his flocks. Good with all livestock and other pets, loved his sheep and continues that love with his chickens and would often play games with them, worked well with my other old dog until she had outlived her job and her mortal coil.
Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
Had a thought about a smaller LGD...how about a Sheltie or Border Collie? Incredibly sensitive and intelligent breeds with good guard instincts.
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
The difference between a "true" LGD and other breeds is that the LGDs don't have "the eye." A herding dog like a collie uses "the eye" to intimidate the livestock. An LGD almost never looks the livestock in the eye and in that way can gain the trust of even new born lambs.

This is not an issue with chickens but if someone wants to post a non-LGD cuddled up with sheep I'd love to see it.

Here's a pic from last spring (the lamb is one day old):


No way is this happening with my Australian Shepherd! The Aussie eats as much or more than this dog who weighs 137 lbs.
Renate Howard
pollinator

Joined: Jan 10, 2013
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
    
    9
The problem with Pyreneese is they wander all over the neighborhood, barking in other people's yards in the middle of the night. Since some people think them hunting for their own food is a plus, some lines will kill other people's pets or even chickens (some have some thing that they protect what's theirs but will eat other people's).

A lot of good dogs might start out killing chickens but you can teach them not to. My heeler killed 2, we think as a pup but they're safe around him now.

Yappy little dogs might need a safe place to hide from your panther but if they'll holler and raise the alarm you can flip on the lights and scare it away. Any barking dog will often scare off a fox or coyote (tho if they're hungry enough they may try to eat the dog). I read that Pekinese were originally bred as guard dogs - I think one of those, a poodle, or a miniature schnauzer might be a good breed for you. Watch Craigslist, people are always giving dogs away.

Our heeler does chase stuff at night but he's also scared of the dark and as likely to hide from something as investigate (LOL!) but during the day I trust him very well to keep other people's dogs off our property and protect the kids and livestock from all the coyotes in the area. (at night our cocker/chihuahua mix does more guarding, raising the alarm and being the brave one that gets the heeler to go with him to investigate).
Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
I didn't take any pics, but that ugly brown dog with the squirrel in his mouth is a sheep cuddler born and true. He even licked the ewe's butts for them every chance he got and they would just stand there and lift the tail for him. They played tag every evening, first the sheep chased the dog, then the dog would chase the sheep. When a lamb was born, he would sound the alarm and summon me to the event..and this from a dog that rarely ever barks but does a lot of "talking" all the same. He and the lambs were boon companions and slept together, ate together and played together.

My GP/lab mix gal never had the rapport with the sheep that the Lab/BC mix dog did. She tolerated the sheep, she guarded the sheep...but she didn't love the sheep like Ol' Jake loved the sheep. Jake mourned the day they were sold and had much to say about it all, none of it pleasant. Lucy, the GP dog, was barely tolerant of the sheep and all their behaviors.

That blind spot that people have and preconceived notions of breed characteristics vs. individual dog characteristic is amusing to me. I also had three dogs that were high prey, bird dog breeds that never harmed a chicken in their lives. Only one would fetch anything, though they all three had retriever blood in them. The GP/lab mix girl was scared to death of cows and horses...deathly scared. How does a LGD get scared of livestock? Not sure.

The point is, not all LGD breeds are good LGDs and not all mutts are what they are presumed to be. The first pure Lab farm dog I had was an excellent herd dog~more responsive than any herding breed I've seen and with less noise or motion, excellent with all livestock, licked and loved on the meat rabbit kits, good in every way for livestock and home protection.

That LGD elitism is always a source of amusement to me!
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Jay Green wrote: The GP/lab mix girl was scared to death of cows and horses...deathly scared. How does a LGD get scared of livestock? Not sure.


Well, that cross isn't an LGD, that's why it's scared of livestock! The dog in that pic is a Pyr/Kuvatz cross (both true LGDs).

I don't think it's elitism. These dogs have been bred for certain characteristics for 1000 years at least. Other dogs can have some of those characteristics, or be trained but I'd rather let 1000 years of farmer directed genetics give me a hand.
Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
Other dogs can have some of those characteristics, or be trained but I'd rather let 1000 years of farmer directed genetics give me a hand.


Well, that's your prerogative and your welcome to do so...but running down other breeds that do the same job, whether bred for 1000 yrs for it or not, doesn't make those criticisms hold any water. If your dog in your pasture does the same job as my dog in my pasture, what in the heck does 1000 years of breeding have to do with it all? Not a ding diddly ding diddly dang.


Spending $600-$1200 for a LGD breed dog to do the same job a mutt can do just doesn't make any sense to me~ but it seems the more money one spends seems to verify their dog's usefulness over and above those who use farm curs.

How about I keep recycling the dogs that no one wants or feels can do the job and you can continue to spend good money on high bred pups to help you and we will both end up at the same place....except I'll be slightly less light in the pockets at the end of the day. If you're interested, my sister has one of those breeds that have a name you can't pronounce up at her place and he's tied to a stock trailer. Couldn't keep him at home and can't afford to let such an expensive dog run loose, so he's doing his job holding down a small patch of pasture. Just might be able to get him for a bargain!



Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Jay Green wrote:Just might be able to get him for a bargain!


As a matter of fact, I got all my LGDs for a bargain and I am in the market for another one! All 3 LGDs were rescues and so was the Aussie. The biggest just died 2 weeks ago. He was only 7 but had a bad puppyhood. The original owner was going to shoot him because he laid around all day. Amazing that someone could spend so much money & not understand the difference between a herding dog & and LGD.

LGDs can be hard to contain. Maremmas have a territory of about one mile which is good for me (I have 125 acres). Pyrs, OTOH have a natural range 15 miles. The big one who died was a Pyr but was food insecure due to the bad puppyhood so he did not like to go too far from the house (his food).
mick mclaughlin


Joined: Aug 18, 2010
Posts: 190
Location: Augusta,Ks
    
    3
I have mountain curs, and I love them. Average weight is around 40 lbs. They are the original American homesteading dog. I also occasionally use mine for hunting, but they are a true homesteader's dog.

Only 20lb dog that I know of that can handle all predators is the jagd terrier, but they are not for inexperienced dog owners or trainers.
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 969
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
Well, I still have the English Shepherd X Collie that I mentioned in my old post above, but when we moved farther out from town I added a Maremma X Akbash pup (paid $200 for her -- you can generally find pups out of working parents for reasonable prices if you don't need papers). Coyotes and cougars are major issues here, and a small dog doesn't stand much chance against either one. If rescue mutts are working for someone, that's super, but I don't want to take the chance, when for very little more I can get a dog out of working parents. She's now fifteen months old, and doing a good job.

Kathleen
Chris Kott


Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 795
Location: Toronto, Ontario
    
    8
I have no great hopes that my two current dogs (I use that term loosely) will be any kind of livestock guardian, unless they really like pairing up to tackle coons and weasels and stuff around the mobile chicken coop/paddock. They are MinChiMaltiPoos (father is a Min Pin x Chihuahua, mother is a Maltipoo), so good and proper lap mutts with just enough ratter in them to be trouble, and I think that I will have to make sure they can't get at the chickens while they're "guarding" them. But I saw an awesome dog, around 30 lbs, herding like a dozen of this guy's shetland sheep with no bother at all. Turns out it was a SheltiexChihuahua, which made me rethink all my preconceptions. Apparently, the chi's aggression and penchant for darting and snapping at larger animals, coupled with huge voice, and a weaving, zig-zag tactic that must come from the sheltie makes for a hell of a lot of predator deterrent in a small package. I am one to get a few Great Pyrs, or acceptable crosses with other LGDs (Kuvasz, Maremma, there's a big white Polish one whose name I've forgotten, I think its the Polskie Owczarek Podhalanski), and let them doubleteam any predators while a third stands watch, but if I could get only one small farm dog, I think I would look hard at the sheltie.

Oh, and incidentally, there is a smaller Polish breed called the Polish Lowland Sheepdog(Polskie Owczarek Nizinny, or PON), which is a little larger than the target size (30 to 50 lbs) but might suit some needs/tastes. I admit I just remembered it now, and will be looking into them when I need to as well.

-CK
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
The dog mentioned below is more akin to a collie which is not an LGD. There is a Polish version of an LGD though it's the Polish Tatra Sheepdog.

Chris Kott wrote:

Oh, and incidentally, there is a smaller Polish breed called the Polish Lowland Sheepdog(Polskie Owczarek Nizinny, or PON), which is a little larger than the target size (30 to 50 lbs) but might suit some needs/tastes. I admit I just remembered it now, and will be looking into them when I need to as well.

-CK
Chris Kott


Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 795
Location: Toronto, Ontario
    
    8
Thanks! I didn't think that was right when I posted it.

-CK
Philip Green


Joined: Dec 13, 2011
Posts: 45
Location: Southern Ohio (zone 6a)
Jay Green wrote:I didn't take any pics, but that ugly brown dog with the squirrel in his mouth is a sheep cuddler born and true. He even licked the ewe's butts for them every chance he got and they would just stand there and lift the tail for him. They played tag every evening, first the sheep chased the dog, then the dog would chase the sheep. When a lamb was born, he would sound the alarm and summon me to the event..and this from a dog that rarely ever barks but does a lot of "talking" all the same. He and the lambs were boon companions and slept together, ate together and played together.

My GP/lab mix gal never had the rapport with the sheep that the Lab/BC mix dog did. She tolerated the sheep, she guarded the sheep...but she didn't love the sheep like Ol' Jake loved the sheep. Jake mourned the day they were sold and had much to say about it all, none of it pleasant. Lucy, the GP dog, was barely tolerant of the sheep and all their behaviors.

That blind spot that people have and preconceived notions of breed characteristics vs. individual dog characteristic is amusing to me. I also had three dogs that were high prey, bird dog breeds that never harmed a chicken in their lives. Only one would fetch anything, though they all three had retriever blood in them. The GP/lab mix girl was scared to death of cows and horses...deathly scared. How does a LGD get scared of livestock? Not sure.

The point is, not all LGD breeds are good LGDs and not all mutts are what they are presumed to be. The first pure Lab farm dog I had was an excellent herd dog~more responsive than any herding breed I've seen and with less noise or motion, excellent with all livestock, licked and loved on the meat rabbit kits, good in every way for livestock and home protection.

That LGD elitism is always a source of amusement to me!


I second this! I've got a Lab/Malamute mix dog that is great with my goats and guards them quite well. Granted he also plays games of chase with them and will occasionally put his mouth around their neck during play. But he hasn't ever harmed a goat and he spends all nights and most days with them (have had him for about 2 years).

I think dogs are as much (if not more) about training as about breeding (I'm actually more of a fan of mutts than pure bred). If you want a LGD get a puppy and make sure it spends plenty of time around whatever animals it will be guarding. Doing that is probably more important than whatever breed you have. That is not to say that breeding is meaningless, just that it is not as all important as some make it out to be.

The main quality my lab/malamute lacks that many LGD's have is laziness. He likes to run and play at least 6 hours per day, which means he doesn't exactly sit around and watch and guard very well. He does however go on (and sometimes lead) hikes with the goats (the pasture is about 4 acres). And he does take off running to an area when ever he hears a commotion. So he is pretty effective at chasing anything away. Scares hawks away from the chickens (I am convinced he has no clue that he is defending the chickens, he just wants to play with the hawk) and scares anything away from the goats (I think he does understand he is defending the goats) - he is friends with the goats, the chickens are more of an acquaintance (but he doesn't kill them).

So basically I would look for a low-energy breed puppy and train from there. If it's a non-hunting breed all the better. But provided they spend a lot of time with the animals they are supposed to be guarding I think you can train any breed to be a LGD. I think getting a LGD breed may increase your odds (say 99% of LGD breed dogs can be trained - if gotten as a puppy - to be a good LGD and 85% of non-LGD breed dogs can be trained - if gotten as a puppy - to be good LGD's... I just made those numbers up), but you don't have to get a LGD breed.
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2406
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Philip Green wrote:I think getting a LGD breed may increase your odds (say 99% of LGD breed dogs can be trained - if gotten as a puppy - to be a good LGD and 85% of non-LGD breed dogs can be trained - if gotten as a puppy - to be good LGD's... I just made those numbers up), but you don't have to get a LGD breed.


Actually, pure bred LGD only have a 70% success rate! Not sure how much of that is owner related. Just don't want to get peoples hopes up too much.

Some bred/mixes will have a 99% failure rate though. No "bird dog" will be able to resist killing chickens. Don't set yourself up for failure.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6463
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
I think that a good starting point is to only buy a puppy from people who are actually raising livestock.
If the bitch is actively engaged in work, she will be training her pups for you.

Avoid buying from 'puppy mills'.
All the genetics in the world mean nothing if these puppies have spent their lives in chain link kennels.

Good work dogs come from working parents.

 
 
subject: Best Small Livestock Guard Dog
 
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