I am very interested how many of us on here use Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD). I don't have any yet but I do have predictors, fox, coyotes, and the other usually but we are going to be moving to about 150 acres and will encounter larger predictors such as black bear and mountain lions. Still in an area that gets pretty darn hot and humid but can be very chilly in winter for the three months we have winter. What breed of dogs do you all have? Did you start with puppies or adult? Any luck with rescues? My animals are of course Pygmy goats, poultry - chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and swans. How did you introduce LGD's to your farm animals. I live in High Point, NC and would love to meet locals who would be willing to converse with me and let me visit and see working dogs, give me pointers.
We have two. One is pure Anatolian & the other has a 1/4 Pyr in him.
They were both raised with goats. It took several weeks for the goats to accept him.
He ate a chicken his first week or two here, then part of one a few months later but has since left them alone.
We added #2 the following spring after a cougar had been spotted down the road.
He was also a pup with a very protective mom. Unlike dog #1, Deputy asserts his authority.
So far no loss from predators.
The first dog is still hard headed as they come. Somehow I taught Dep to not poop in the goat lounging area. All I did was show him a shovel full of his logs one time & growled "NO POOP!" And he took his biz elsewhere. Half the time I chase the other one around yelling the no poop command but he doesnt give a poop.
I run a combination of "White dogs" and Sarplaninacs. One of my White dogs is a full Great Pyr. The others have most likely been a cross between the Pyr, and who knows what other white LGD breeds. I started with the crosses who were already full grown working dogs. Really, I think I got pretty lucky. There was a local goat farmer that was selling his herd and 20+ dogs. I was able to take home some of his best dogs. These dogs were already working, were not being sold because of behavioral problems, and were able to teach me a lot about what to expect from a good guardian.
You can start with either a a pup or a full grown dog. There are pros and cons to either approach, but I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to start with a well trained working dog to do so. Not only will the dog show you how it should work, but it will also train future pups. This is hard to find if you want your LGD to protect birds. I've noticed that a grown dog not previously bonded to birds may have a tendency to snack on the birds.
If you start with pups just remember to give them enough time to grow and mature before they are put into a high threat enviroment. Yes, they should be with the animals they will eventually protect, but steps should be taken to minimize the threat from predators for at least their first year to 18 months. (I.e: pen the livestock indoors or near your house at night). A pup will attempt to protect it's charges from a young age, but if it's put in a situation where it's not physically strong enough to defeat the predators, it's confidence could be shattered.
With 120 acres, you will need at least 2 dogs. If you are in a cougar threat area, I would recommend a minimum of 3 dogs. Personally, I would run 4-5, but that is a lot to start out with. The number 3 for a cougar threat area is based on the way a cougar hunts. For the most part, a cougar will avoid LGDs, however, a motivated cat will hang out and wait until an agitated dog approaches. The cat will then attack the separated dog. A cougar is a formidable adversary that will inflict serious wounds very quickly. The severity of its attack will send most nearby dogs scattering, and this is what the cougar counts on. LGDs are a different dog, they live to give their lives in the defense of their charges and each other. When the cougar attacks the first dog, the other dogs will jump in.
I have seen the results of this first hand. My Pyr tangled with a cougar before I got her (actually she was given to me a month after the attack). During the attack, the cougar nearly skinned her alive. A month later her wounds were healing (she was given no vet care from her previous owner ), but she still had gapping tears over 5 inches deep, and both her canine teeth had been broken off. Had it not been for the other dogs who sustained no major wounds, I don't think this girl would have survived. As it was, she pulled through, no goats were injured, and the cougar that had been actively killing goats, and dogs in the area disappeared (I like to think it crawled away and died).
Breed is always a big question. All of my dogs have long coats. They prefer the winter, but even at 100+ degrees they adjust and do just fine. They enjoy a quick dip in the water trough, and spend most of the day in the shade, but actually seem to do better overall than my short coated house dogs. I recommend doing your research. Different breeds have different guarding styles and different strengths. The dogs that originate from western European countries tend to be a little "softer". I really favor the Pyr as a first LGD for this reason. They are very peaceful dogs by nature that resort to violence as a last resort. The dogs that originate in the east (Turkey, Russia, Armenia, etc...) tend to be a little more forward in their guarding. These dogs can be a challenge for a first time LGD owner, and if you choose one of these breeds you really need to do your homework to understand how these dogs protect and defend. Also, you will want to find a good breeder who has bred the dogs to maintain breed standards (guardian instinct and style), and will be willing to keep in touch with you to provide advise and guidance on raising the pup.
I use a LGD to protect my livestock. We have coyotes an stray dogs. I chose a Akbash b/c they are alil more aggressive then some of your other breeds. I did a lot of research an found a good breeder in my area. The parents guard about 100 sheep on roughly a 100 acres. My Akbash doesn't seem to bark a lot except when the coyotes are moving thur. The thing I really love about the Akbash (not sure about other breeds) if something seems fishy out in the pasture my LGD will herd up the goats an push them to there holding pen. Once the goats are in the pen she goes back out to the pasture to check things out. The goats will stay in the pen till she comes back for them. I have noticed a lot of times that the goats head to the pen as soon as the LGD starts barking.
It boils down to what you need an what kind of protection. You have a big place to guard so do some research an see what breed will fit your needs.
Right now, we are on the small lot of 7 acres and have a large 2 acre pond on that plot. The 150 acres is not ready yet and we still have to build the house. But I did have a loss from coyote or fox last night. Got two turkeys and one chicken, the goats are fine as I think the predators felt the birds were easier prey. I just missed the attack by maybe a half hour. I didn't hear a thing. The birds we already out and about so it was fast to catch the birds. I really need to get started on training a dog. I do have dog train experience as I did do show dogs and field trials so I got the basics down. I even trained my cats not to eat the birds, LOL. I really do appreciate all the advise you have given me. The information is priceless, thank you all so very very much!
They dont train like normal dogs. It took a long time to teach the first one to sit. He just must not have seen the benefit or maybe he was trying t teach me he has a mind of his own.
This dog jumped on me until he was around 9 mos old. The happy greeting.
His sister went to another farm but the owner gave up on her.
Right now I have a Great Pyrenees I have had for awhile. I got her as an adult but I am getting a 50% pyrenees 50% maremma pup in the next few weeks (waiting til 12 weeks old to pick up from current owner). I have been very pleased with my pyrenees but have heard many good things about the maremma's. A local sheep farmer has all fullblooded maremma's and will not use anything else for her herd. Pyrenees and maremma's will not eat as much as a Anatolian will. My husband really wants an Anatolian but I have been so pleased with my pyrenees I feel better just adding a pyrenees/maremma cross at this time. I have heard many good things about Akbash's and almost got one last year but she sold before we were able to confirm our pickup time. Akbash's can be a bit harsh with other dogs, so if you have a current dog that it does not feel like it belongs you may have some training required for them to blend.
I also have a llama that is in with my sheep (use the LGD with the goats at this time) and I am very happy with my llama's skills. He handles the threats very nicely and is more quite then the dogs, but not as handed on the heavily wooded mountains (better in pastures).
I started researching LGDs about 1-1/2 years ago looking for a breed that would fit here. I wanted one that would not bark a lot, would be aggressive when it was needed and could adapt well to goats/chickens/dog/cat. I also wanted one that did not need a real large area to patrol & would not dig under my fencing nor jump over them but, instead, be satisfied with her freedom and charges on a rather small (6 acres) place. I chose a Bulgarian Karakachan; and you can see my experiences with her in this thread:
If I had it to do over again (being a first-time owner of an LGD) I would have waited to get this same pup, giving her "working parents" time to teach her. As it was, I have had to "learn" how to teach her by "watching" how she acts to all here. This has not been an easy task; yet it has been an enjoyable one. I also am making sure it is an enjoyable training time for my little pup. (Her safety was a priority for me as was giving her time to explore and create her own personality "within" the "limits" I set.)