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19 Comments

  1. Fascinating topic – totally new information for me.
    Will the dog allow you to harvest your meat animals? How do they react when you are milking the goats? Where do you find out how to properly train the dog so that it accepts you as the boss, but does not look at you as a threat to its’ herd?

  2. I had a pair of Anatolian Shepherds, awesome dogs if socialized. Very good with other animals and even chickens, the female was very protective of our grand child.

    1. I also have a pair of Anatolian Shepherds which patrol patrol about 4 fenced acres around the house and barn; I don’t let them run the back woods without human supervision because they might get shot by one of the cattle ranchers. I got them from the county animal control pound when they were about 12 months old. The next year we were playing catch up teaching them to protect small livestock. They automatically know which animals are predators and how to take care of them. They have kept raccoons, opossums, owls, hawks, buzzards, snakes, foxes and a pack of coyotes from having free dinners. They are 3 years old now and the male weighs about 150 and the female 125. They are outside LGDs but are human friendly for family and one neighbor who comes by.

  3. Great article, as I am a dog lover. The Lord has created several marvelous creatures that were designed to work with man. As I do not have any herd to protect we employ a BBD, Biological Burglar Deterrent. Ours is a well trained German Shepherd with a great disposition that knows her job and does it well. Dogs have a great loyalty factor designed into them that is priceless, thank you Lord.

    1. Missouri Mule, I love your BBD phrase. My BBD was an overweight, buff colored cocker spaniel. When some suspicious-looking strangers pulled into my driveway near nightfall, she raced to their truck and made it plain that she would tear them to pieces if they got out. I have no idea about their real intentions, but they shouted an inane question from INSIDE the truck and then drove away. There’s a reason God is “dog” spelled backwards. This was a great article about a rarely discussed topic.

  4. We have had LGDs for the last 22 years. In that time we have lost one sheep to predators – and that cougar did not get away with the kill.

    Our dogs have run off wolves. black bear, cougar, grizzlies, feral dogs, coyotes, foxes and numerous large raptors.

    I must disagree with the assertion that humans can’t or should not bond with the LGDs. I have an expert opinion to back me up. Brenda Negri has used, bred and raised LGDs for a very long time and has numerous vidoes on her dogs and LGDs in general. She walks her talk.

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=brenda+negri+livestock+guardian+dogs+

    As she says, her dogs have gotten off the couch to go to work. Bonding with the human family allows you to control and handle the dogs more efficiently. There are numerous other reasons to allow the dog to bond with humans and I suggest her videos.

    Thanks to the author for this article. Aside from my one point of disagreement, I find the article to be informative and well written. I have been impressed and touched by the loyalty, courage and devotion of our LGDs for over two decades. I wish I could count on people to this extent.

    1. When I say “bond,” I don’t mean that your dog doesn’t love you or pay attention to you. My dog loves us to death; his primary focus, however, is the stock. He never comes inside the house; in fact, when we NEED to bring him in, whether it be to a vet office or inside the kitchen for some first aid of some kind, we have to carry him because he lays down and goes all dead weight like a toddler in absolute protest against coming in the house. It’s pretty hilarious. I have plenty of photos of him laying NEXT to his shelter, in the snow, asleep.

      That being said, I am aware that there are other owners who have successfully run LGDs as dogs that guard their families primarily, or come in the house sometimes. My experience, however, is that the more he is inside the house, the more focused he will be on his human family, and the less he will care about the stock. Besides, on our property, he can’t really do his job from the couch. Mileage for others, of course, may vary.

      I’m not a breeder, nor am I some self-styled expert. I merely know how my dog’s training has gone, and what we’ve done to both get him spooled up and ensure his success. I have been blessed to work with some of the best breeders in the country and learn from them as we go on our journey. My intent was merely to impart what I’ve learned — when we started, we knew literally nothing and so we read books and blogs from those who have been here doing it much longer. We are simply looking to pass on what we’ve learned from those folks.

      Anna Abney, Natalie Thurman of Northwest Guardians, Justin Michels of Frontier Guardians, and several others have been invaluable to us in our journey. I highly suggest their work as well.

  5. I have owned Kangals / Anatolian Shepherds for many years now. The author is spot on about the nature of LGD breeds. They require much more training and leadership than other dogs and are not for the inexperienced dog owner. But if you are able to understand them and give them what they need, especially a job to do, I believe there is not better dog.

  6. Thanks for the information. We are going to Phoenix today to pick up an Anatolian Shepard that has a return policy so that if the dog does not work out for our small 2 acre property, we can return it and try another one that might fit better. I especially appreciated the statements about not breeding with a non-LGD. Been there, done that and got the T-shirt. I just hope I am up to being able to properly train this dog, as I know they are pretty independent, which of course, is what I want.

  7. Good article. Our neighbors a mile away keep two, Pyrenees and Marema, outdoors at all times with their intensive agriculture operation growing organic ducks, chickens, pigs, geese, rabbits, and goats. The operator is a medical doctor educated in Stuttgart, Ge., and blogs extensively at a scientific level including their LGD process and activity.

    They’ve had eagles, coyotes, and mountain lion attacks in broad daylight within 150 feet of them in the past year, and the Dr wrote at length about their visually lazy, languid, big puppy-like dogs transforming into raging defenders of the farm in their assault on the coyotes and mountain lions, but never directed towards human strangers.

    Thanks again Kit, and please make sure I-90 isn’t blocked this week. I’m coming through.

    God Bless

  8. Like always you have the tendency to hit a specific topic that I am researching. I have a 40acre parcel in NE AZ . Looking for a perimeter guard and stock dog. These animals sound like just what I am looking for. Love the fact that they are independent and self sufficient to some extent. I am sure I will need much more training than they will. On the large parcel of Juniper and scrub that I would like protected I would assume it be best to employ 2 or 3 dogs. Males/females? Any input would be appreciated.

  9. We have Ovcharkas, and have had them for two generations now. They are excellent livestock guardian dogs, and they do bond with the owner but like the article says, are not mindless bimbos and you must establish dominance over them or they will not submit to you (and ours are well over 150 lbs.) They can be upside down snoring outside when it is -20 F, and can process all sorts of sounds in their sleep, but the sound of a stranger walking with a different cadence, the wrong smell, or a predator and they are up and on the attack within a split second.

    You also have to be careful not to have them working around Border Collies, as they can start to mix traits and learn from them, and that can be dangerous. We feed ours meat, milk, egg yellows, not store bought dog food, and they eat like three large and active teenage boys, so expect that.

  10. One thing to keep in mind is local ordinances. We live on almost 3 acres with NM Dahl Sheep and chickens, after my first loss of a couple of ewes we purchased a Pyrenees.
    He was a great dog and learning his job very quickly. But when he got to about 10-12 months old he started doing his routine patrols every night, walking the fence line and sounding off, one or two deep loud barks every 20 min or so. Letting everything within a mile know he was there and alert.
    The problem was my neighbors started to complain about the noise at 2am, they were not interested in my operation or protecting my livestock. After a few weeks we had to sell our dog. Where I am at there are county laws that require you to keep your dogs quiet after 10pm, too many complaints and animal control will fine you, after so many fines they can take your dog away from you.
    So be mindful of the local laws and your neighbors when getting a guardian dog, we learned the hard way.

  11. I have a Great Pyrenees and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. I have not lost an animal to a predator in the 6 years that I’ve had her. I have to say we bonded with her as a pet and it did nothing to her guarding abilities.

  12. How does one LGD do protecting a herd against wolves? Do you nbeed more than one? Or is it pretty much impossible for a dog(s) to fend off wolves?

  13. I have had Kangals for twenty years. They work best alone or at least in separate paddocks. We have black bears, timber wolves, coyotes, mountain lions and smaller predators. They all stay away. On two occasions, I witnessed our male chasing a timber wolf. He came back, the timber didn’t. They will chase crows out of the yard but not bother the black banty chickens. You need very good fences. You need to be able to put up with the barking. You need to put up with the fox holes they dig. You need to understand they aren’t golden retrievers. They don’t care if you’re happy. But they will guard the property 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I sleep well knowing they are out there. Oh, they also wake me up with a special bark when they need me to handle something they can’t. That might be a downed cow or something that just isn’t right.

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