Two Letters Re: Recommended Versatile Dog Breeds for Retreat Security

One of the biggest problems with the largest dog breeds is that they don’t live very long. We have three Irish Wolfhounds, all males, they are great dogs, very friendly and outgoing. Not good guard dogs, I think, but their size will scare most people. One of them would make a great hunter if we let him (we live in the city). However, the average life expectancy of an Irish Wolfhound is 6.5 years, and this is the same for Great Danes, Mastiffs etc. The belief is that their hearts just give out, since they have been bred to large for a dogs heart to support. So one of the problems would be that when you finally got them trained, and they are stubborn, you would only have a couple of years before you would have to start over.

They don’t eat as much as you would expect, no more than a large Shepard or Rottweiler would, because they are not that active. I agree with your comments that a medium size dog is likely a more effective compromise. Thanks, I enjoy reading SurvivalBlog.- I.S.

Hi Jim,
I had opportunity over year ago to visit a place in semi rural Los Altos Hills (next to Stanford University) Seems a mountain lion had been taking chickens from a relatively open pen. The homeowner had a big Rhodesian Ridgeback who she said feared very little and was quite protective of the place from even pedestrians walking by on the road. Anyway, the incident that the homeowner saw was mountain lion (no visual contact, only evidence of the intrusion) somewhere on the property caused the Ridgeback to run to the back patio and whimper to be let in. Maybe this Ridgeback had lost some of his cousins’ bravery in lion fighting from the dark continent. Anyway, point is, no matter the [breed of] dog, anything can happen. – Tim

JWR Replies: As with most of the other mammalian predators, in canines, hunting skills are primarily learned rather than instinctual. Don’t count on breeding alone to be assured that your dog will know how to hunt, or in the case of guard dogs, know how to physically defend against an intruder. Dogs need training, just like we do.