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We've just found two female mix (look like bull/Shepard mix) puppies. They are just so cute & obviously have been dumped. I would never think of adopting them but I'm missing my Samson (died 6 months ago).
Frankly have found pure breeds come with so many inherited health problems thus reason I'm seriously contemplating adopting these two pups.
They are young (maybe 6 mos +/-) and of course I'll be training them.
Is it possible to train them to be around chicks, garden, rabbits?
Anyone with good & bad experience, please advise.
 

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I admit I don't have a whole lot of experience training a dog around other animals. But, I have trained quite a few dogs to not 'eat' the cat or love the small child excessively. And I agree a mixed breed dog may have fewer heath problems than a pure breed dog.

Keep them. Be persistent, consistent and gentle.
 

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I hope so! I have a mutt (probably lab/B.collie) and she's fine around animals, she doesn't have the temprament to be a guard dog (scared of her own shaddow) but she's more than happy to do things round the house. She's also bright enough to know the difference between a wanted animal and a unwanted one, here she knows not to chase the barn cats, but will chase the neighbours dog back to his side of the fence. (he looks a bit like a cat to be honest!) Pretty much any dog can do anything.. though I'm not going to try to teach the pug we have to herd.. I think the sheep would laugh at her.
 
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Backyardcreek, of course those pups can be trained!

The best all-around-farm guard dog I have had was a mut (mixed shepherd/lab/chow/??). And she trained a full blood German Shepherd. Take a look at the pics below.

It does require some energy on your part and everyone on your farm need to be in compliance with what you're doing. Your dog (bull/shepherd) will be heavy in prey drive and quite stubborn; however, if you're consistent with your commands, they should turn out real well.

I'd definately start that combination out with the general dog-training 101 lessons, i.e. sit, stay, come, heel. The reason this is important is because you want to set yourself up as the alpha in total control. You want those pups to not only trust you, but definately respect your position. This is a must! After this you can put them on a long leash and train them to respect all your animals...also walk them around the parameter of your property so they will have some respect as to where "their" boundary lines are even when you aren't around.

Just stay calm and assertive as you train them. Make sure they know they get rewarded for actually doing something...not just because they're lovable. :)
 

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Just because they aren’t purebred dogs doesn’t mean they won’t have health issues. ‘hybrid vigor’ is a myth. If one or both parents had an inherited problem there is a good chance the offspring will too. You can’t do anything about DNA, but you can feed them a high quality food to help with their general health.

Train them and watch them. As long as you can train them to not chase your livestock I’m sure they will work out. One of them may even have some herding instinct. You would know this by watching. From what you write, It seems they are fitting right in.
 

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We have a great pyr (Badger), a mixed (Bobbie Sue, she looks like catahoula/aussie), and a pitt (Turbo). We have free range chickens that stay near the house. Without the dogs we'd likely have none. We live in a very remote area of the Ozarks.

Badger is the one who does most of the actual guarding work, but Bobbie Sue has been his companion since he was a puppy and she helps a lot. When Badger goes out to investigate or run something off, she stays closer to the house and works from nearby. She is often the first to alert and Badger will follow up on it. If he's away and she alerts, he comes back to the house. Turbo is about a year old now and it took him longer to start helping, but he does go out on alerts with Badger, but more often stays near the house. He does often alert first, too. It appears that Badger is the "foreman" of the team but they all do work together.

I think the other two would be far less effective at guarding without the pyr, so I'll try to always keep a pyr for the main guard. When Bobbie Sue dies (she's 8 now and her health has declined a lot this year), I'll likely replace her with another rescue puppy, which will likely be mixed, but I will steer clear of breeds that instinctively chase birds, like labs or other bird dog mixes. I the past I've had lots of lab mixes and it never seems to work with chickens.
 

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Hi Madison. This thread is really interesting to me because it sounds like you mostly keep your animals close to home, and I am dealing with smaller property right now. When Badger alerts, does he range out pretty far? As for the other dogs, is Badger their pack leader? If so, do you think the other dogs would support his guarding habits if he were not dominant, or maybe even if he were too dominant? So either they would ignore him, or feel like he can deal with it on his own? Would definitely appreciate your thoughts.
 

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Hi Madison. This thread is really interesting to me because it sounds like you mostly keep your animals close to home, and I am dealing with smaller property right now. When Badger alerts, does he range out pretty far? As for the other dogs, is Badger their pack leader? If so, do you think the other dogs would support his guarding habits if he were not dominant, or maybe even if he were too dominant? So either they would ignore him, or feel like he can deal with it on his own? Would definitely appreciate your thoughts.
Hi wiscto, we do keep the chickens close to the house. They have a henhouse but I don't close the door at night. I guess they're about 25 yds from the house at night. During the day they range but stay within I guess no more than 100 yds. Our property is 160 acres, though, so the dogs could go far if they wanted.

I once had a female pyr and she went too far. She went off after what was probably a bear and never returned. Badger usually maintains a perimeter of 100-200 yds, but doesn't always have to go out that far. He's satisfied if when he barks whatever it was in the distance stays out of his perimeter. He will run out, but doesn't go off into the mountains to chase predators. All of the dogs will follow us down the driveway, which is about 1/4 mi and they snoop around the edge of the property line down there before going back up to the house once we've left.

Badger is the dominant dog, but the pitt is younger, getting stronger, and may become the dominant when it comes to feeding, but I don't think that'll affect anything in terms of guarding. Bobbie Sue hasn't changed her support guard role since Turbo displaced her place in the feeding lineup several months ago. I think Badger will remain the lead dog when it comes to guard work because he's the one with the instinct to bark discriminately, investigate discriminately, and respond with either the intention to run off or kill the intruding predator. The other dogs definitely are there as support and I don't think that would change regardless of his dominance. The dominance issue will matter when it comes to attention from people or feeding, or down-time activity (who gets to occupy the choice spot on top of the hay bales, for example) though.

If your property is small or you live in close proximity to neighbors, I'm not sure how well a pyr would work. Badger barks a LOT. Some nights if he's done a good barking job all along he doesn't have to bark so much. But I think his periodic barking is the way he lets all the predators in the area know he's still here and watchful, even when he's quiet. Our 160 acres is surrounded by many hundreds of other sparsely populated acres, so there's no one to complain.

Hope that helps... and Sorry if this deserves the :hijacked: smiley!
 

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As with all things it is possible to use something for something it was not necessarily made for. I have hauled hay in a suburban, not the best, but it worked. I have used my tractor to clear land, Yes, I broke a few things and a dozer would have been better but it got the job done. What I find when we use something for something it is not really designed for is sometimes the end result is not quite the same or it takes much more effort (time, money, etc.) to accomplish the same thing.

So what does that have to do with the dogs you found?? Well, to answer your question, sure they can be trained to do the job. It may take more time to properly train, as some of the natural guardian instinct may not be there or they may have more prey drive than guardian breeds to try and overcome. In the end you may have a similar result, just with a bit more training, or you may not get the exact result you are wanting, but it may be close enough to work for you? The other thing would be the training aspect itself. Training a dog to do a job it has natural tendencies to do will of course be easier than training a dog who may have a more difficult time learning some things that do not come natural to him. Therefore, your level of skill and confidence as a trainer will come into play also.

Look, dogs are like people for the most part. We have a wide range of possible task we can perform and dogs do as well. That is not to say that we all have equal talents and capabilities. Just because some one can learn to draw or paint, does not mean they will be as good as someone who has a natural born talent in that area. The difference in people and dogs is, people have not been selectively bred to have natural talents in specific areas, dogs have been. To ignore that fact in the face of emotional attachment is just not being honest with ourselves.
 

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The advantage to a purebred is that you are reasonably sure of getting "what you need" in a working dog. If you want a dog that will retrieve ducks, a golden retriever or a lab will be big enough, have a soft mouth, and have a strong desire to fetch. If you want a dog to herd sheep, a border collie or an aussie will likely have the herding instincts and trainability. If you want a dog to guard your property in a lousy inner city neighborhood, a pit bull would be a great choice. Got coyotes eating your goats? Get a LGD.

If you ask a pit bull to retrieve a duck, the dog might be willing enough to go get the duck, but no guarantees on the condition of the carcass when the dog comes back. If you expect a golden retriever to guard a junk yard, you might as well leave the gate open and invite the bad guys in for an open house. A border collie could round goats up, but isn't going to do a very good job at guarding them without supervision.

There are always exceptions to the rules, of course. Dogs are individuals, first and foremost. But for the most part, breeding does matter. (My heeler/aussie cross should not be a good "livestock guardian" but she's proven herself repeatedly to be highly protective of "her" goats. She also mothers baby goats -- I bottle fed the last orphan singleton goat kid we had, but she raised him like he was her own pup.)

For jobs that require specific physical abilities, breeding matters a LOT.

Then you have mixed-breeds ... which may or may not have the physical ability and instincts you want. Sometimes you get lucky, and you get a dog that is physically and mentally able to do a job. Sometimes you get a dog that is a hot mess.

I put a heeler/pit bull cross down a few years ago, after a hard year of working with him. He was NOT a safe dog and I was truly scared that he was going to hurt someone. Physically, he was a very athletic dog. Could have done anything. I kinda wanted to do agility with him, but I never got him to the point where I could trust him off leash around other dogs. Mentally, he was just a mess. He had the heeler hot temper and bullheaded stubborn alpha attitude and the pit willingness to bite and hold on, plus he was possessive to the point of being dangerous about food, toys, and ME. He had a toy (just a rope tug toy) in the yard and a goat got too close to him ... he killed the goat because the goat got too close to his toy. It wasn't predatory behavior, it was the worst resource-guarding behavior I'd ever seen coupled with the instinct to bite down HARD and hold on, and the physical ability to really do some damage. I put him down that day. I was afraid the next time, it might be a neighbor kid retrieving a ball from our yard -- we had a ton of young kids in that neighborhood, and they ran loose and unsupervised. BAD combination.

I also grew up with a pit/corgi mix. Let's just say he was a scary little monster of a dog.

Conversely, one of my favorite crosses are heeler/aussie mixes. Both breeds have fairly similar dispositions, so there's no issue with conflicting instincts. I don't like long aussie coats, and female heelers tend to be around 30-40 pounds. My heeler/aussie mix has a short coat, and is fifty pounds of solid muscle -- she's a little taller than your average female heeler, but more powerful than an aussie. Works great for me. Before we got the heeler/catahoula cross pup we have now, I actively tried to find a heeler/aussie mix pup and couldn't. (I found a few males, but we wanted a female.)
 
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