Livestock guardians

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Meg Z, Apr 30, 2006.

  1. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    I have been looking for some time at possibilities for a livestock guardian animal. I thought I had chosen what I wanted, but a recent thread changed my mind.

    I have sheep, goats, and assorted poultry that need guarding. I had ruled out donkeys and llamas, as they won't react well to small predators like possums, that kill my chickens. So, I looked at the dogs. I had pretty much decided to get a Pyr, but a recent thread discussing how they bark as a warning rather than just as an alarm convinced me otherwise. I'm quite happy to react to an alarm, but having a continuously barking dog would make me crazy.

    So, what can you tell me about other guard dog breeds? Do any of them have the same trait, or are they alarm barkers? If this is a common trait to all the LGD's I'm going to have to rethink a lot of things.

    Meg
     
  2. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Meg, it seems as though any number of different breeds could handle the job.

    My personal preference would be a working German Shepard (not one bred for show or as a family pet). Perhaps one of the working GSD breeders and handlers who are members of this forum would care to comment.

    In my experience a good working GSD is very protective of whatever it learns to watch over and will "patrol" regularly for signs of trouble. And, they DON'T depend on barking to "scare away" intruders.
     

  3. okgoatgal2

    okgoatgal2 Well-Known Member

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    it is NOT a constant bark. when they hear something wrong, they bark as a warning until threat is gone. and you do get to know the different barks, if you pay attention to them-within 6 months of getting my first, as a 6week old pup, i knew when something was out there that shouldn't have been-other times, i knew not to bother going out. after several years, i can tell the difference between a human/car stranger bark and a there is a threat bark, most of the time. and the bark isn't one of those yippy lap dog irritant barks. i'd really rather have a dog bark something away than fight and get torn up so i have to stitch him up or pay a vet to do it....the barking isn't bad once you get accustomed to it, like crickets and such other noises.
     
  4. pyrnad

    pyrnad Well-Known Member

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    Meg ALL LGD's bark first ,fight second. The bark is a warning to predators.
    They do not continuously bark!!!!!! If they bark it is for a resason.
    I would rather deal with a warning bark, than dead livestock in the morning.
    I know each bark, and I can tell you which dog is barking,and why. When a certain tone sounds it is time for me to get my but out of bed and see who or what the predator is. Once it was a human trying to steal goats, and another time it was a bear
    Do some research. Great pyrenees, Komondor,Akbash, Pyrnean Mountain Dog,Kuvas, Anatolian Shepherd. All are LGD's and have been bred for centuries to keep their flocks safe. All of them bark first!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  5. RLMS

    RLMS Well-Known Member

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    We have a Pyr-a rescue dog. I swear she can hear a bird passing gas at 30,000 feet. She barks when she has a reason-or-when I first walk outside in the morning she takes off running and barking. I think she is trying to show me she is on the job.

    I also have a Great Dane-Doesn't bark much-killed a coyote last month. The Pyr makes sure nothing gets close-The Great Dane handles the hard stuff.

    400+ free range chickens, calves, cattle, foals, grown horses. Three children, two of them Autistic.

    We have not lost anything in three years. In the mountains of New York State. Nearest neighbor 1/2 mile away.

    I took the Pyr to Alaska three years ago. I only have one ear that works and I was going to be out, way out, in the bush. Took the Pyr so she could locate noises, something I can no longer do.

    Physco chick-Gracie-took on a bear that didn't belong there. Her opinion anyway. Bit him on the foot, then ran behind him and bit him again. Bear decided he needed to be somewheres else.

    Give the Pyr's a chance. We did-rescue-and would do it again.
     
  6. flannelberry

    flannelberry Pure mischief

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    We have a pyr and for a while I thought there was something wrong with her because she didn't bark. Turns out she can when she has to. If you get lucky AND do good training you shouldn't have one that sits out in the run barking all day. They're no different than any other dog that way.

    We've had our pyr out with the ducks and other than when they've been ranging out of her area, we haven't lost any for the first time ever.

    And, she hasn't had to kill anything, her marking and warning bark have been enough. We did kill a coon she very thoughtfully treed for us. There are some things I miss about my old dog but I'm not sure I'd ever have livestock again without a flock/herd guardian.

    While I can't say enough good about them there are two things to keep in mind - they can escape from places a goat would even have trouble with and you really need to look for a good breeder who breeds working dogs.
     
  7. Red Devil TN

    Red Devil TN Well-Known Member

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    And therein lies the secret.
     
  8. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    I certainly understand that dogs should bark first and fight second. It's simply that I was raised with dogs who were taught to bark on alarm, not as a warning to a possible threat. I also understand that this warn barking works great for a lot of people. What I'm saying is that it will Not work for me, so I need to find an alternative. I'm not trying to change the way the dogs work, convince anyone else of my opinion, or attack the breed. I was simply looking for alternatives. How foolish of me.

    Meg
     
  9. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My Pyrs bark when they need to, definitely not all night long. It's a good feeling with 13 lambs in the pasture knowing that the Pyrs are on the job. We've never lost one to a predator...and we do have some real predators here.
     
  10. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Meg, I've had Great Pyrenees, and a Maremma, and they DO bark quite a bit at night. It may be necessary barking, and it didn't bother me personally, but it did bother neighbors half a mile away. So I completely understand where you are coming from.

    Someone suggested a different type of dog, the German Shepherd. Have you looked into the old-fashioned farm collies? I have one -- he's quite often indoors at night, but if I leave him out, and hear him barking, there's a very good reason for it (usually the only time I hear him is at 2 am when the paper is delivered, LOL!), and I need to be up checking -- except for that 2 am bark. He does bark some during the day, because we are in a neighborhood of one-acre lots and there are a lot of other dogs around. Sometimes they'll all get to barking at something. But thankfully, we all seem to be able to live with it, since nearly everyone has a dog.

    Anyway, take a look at the American Working Farmcollie Association website. They do require training, also (any dog does), but they are the closest thing on this earth to real, live Lassies!

    Kathleen
     
  11. bostonlesley

    bostonlesley Guest

    Yup..I had a Kuvasz and she was certainly an outstanding LGD yet they will bark when they perceive a threat..friends of ours also had a kuvasz..he barked much more than our Sophie and they decided to ignore him..bad move. Their fence didn't permit him to access their big garage..one night he barked continuously for an hour..they were soooooo annoyed.

    They were more annoyed in the morning to find their car stolen, plus all of their farm tools.

    I've had Shepherds and Labs and have been neighbors of barking Aussies,LOUD border collies and GP's..the quietest dogs I've ever owned in my life were Dobermans..never had any when I owned livestock though..but I've owned several over the years and hands down they'd prefer to growl vs bark. For all I know they whack livestock quietly..??
     
  12. thequeensblessing

    thequeensblessing Well-Known Member

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    We have 2 pyrs, and neither of them ever barks all night. I can't stand a dog that barks just to hear itself bark. (we have a neighbor with a german shepherd dog like that.) Our pyrs bark warning barks off and on throughout the night, but they are quiet more often than barking. Of course, they are in the pasture with our animals, not out in our back yard, so we aren't bothered by it too much. We've definitely learned to recognize what barks are what though. None of our neighbors ever complain about our pyrs barking, and we have asked them if the dogs disturb them.
     
  13. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Same here. Our Pyrs bark when needed. Personally I'd rather they bark to warn whatever it is away, than to come to silent grips with a predator every time and possibly be hurt. :shrug: The neighbors insist that it doesn't bother them at all. Of course we do live in the country and everybody has dogs so they are used to it.
    One thing....are you looking for an LGD to STAY WITH THE ANIMALS, or a farm dog to patrol the entire farm/yard area?? If the latter then you might be ok with a German Shepherd or Collie(love Collies), but if you are wanting a LGD to stay with the animals, you need one of the breeds that has been specifically bred for that. Hope you find what you want. :)
     
  14. Judy in IN

    Judy in IN Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Anatolian Shepard Dog. I've had Pyrs, and they are great dogs, but the coats are a LOT of work in the spring. Also, my Anatolian could make it across the road without meeting up with a vehicle. Pyrs, for some reason, have a blind spot about cars. The Anatolian (female) had my total trust for guardianship. Check them out!
     
  15. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    I'll second that suggestion. We have an English Shepherd (aka farm collie) and she has turned out to be a pretty decent guard dog as well. She doesn't bark a lot, but when she does, it's because something is up. We also have a larger shepherd-type dog who can back her up. But Lucy (the ES) is the primary watch dog. We actually were supposed to go look at an adult Pyr yesterday, but the lady got flakey on us, so we didn't get the dog. But, I was having some doubts because of the barking issue too. Then I realized that our ES is doing a pretty good job of alerting us to problems, and she's still a pup.

    The other nice thing about ESes is they're VERY intelligent. Think border collie without the typical neurosis. lol. They'll help you move your animals. They pick up on work very easily just by watching what you do. They're also very nice with our kids and are more like pets then a Pyr would be (for us, I mean, not everyone).

    We will probably get another dog, something larger, that can back the ES up, because our bigger dog is 12 and it's getting harder for her to get around. But now I'm thinking it doesn't need to be a Pyr. Maybe a GSD??? Hmmmmmmmmm.
     
  16. steff bugielski

    steff bugielski Well-Known Member

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    I almost brought home a great pry yesterday. It was adoption day at our tractor supply. She was beautiful- 18 months old- and so sweet. The only stopping me, besides that i already have a great dog is that they wanted $425 adoption fee. She did have papers though.
    Steff
    ps her name was Bella
     
  17. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Thanks for the suggestions on breeds. I'll look into some of them.

    I was thinking of a dog that stayed with the livestock. Our place is perimeter fenced and cross-fenced with field fence, so it wouldn't have the option of patrolling the entire property.

    Now, next summer we are getting one, and possibly two, English Mastiffs. They are intended to be pets, not working dogs, but they may make good backup for whatever we get anyway. And they'll certainly be a visual deterrant for people.

    And I do want to make clear, because some people still do not understand what I'm saying. I do not expect a guard dog to not bark. I do not want a dog who silently trys to kill predators. That's ridiculous, and would mean a dead dog real quick. But I also don't want a dog who barks at strange cars, or whatever is happening at the neighbors, or every rustle in the woods, or deer crossing the road. My whole life, every dog I have ever owned only barked with true reason. If we heard our dog bark at night, we hit the door running with a gun in hand, because we knew we were wanted. So, I'm conditioned to react to a dog bark at night. I do not intend to lie there all night wide awake, deciding what 'kind' of bark I'm hearing, and if I need to react to it, or attempt to go back to sleep. I have enough trouble sleeping as it is!

    And of course, since I would obviously make a poor pyr owner at this point, trying to convince me would be detrimental to a dog. :baby04:

    I'll check out the farm collies and anatolians, though. I believe I've read on the anatolians that they are very strong willed dogs who need a very firm hand. That may make them too much for me. I'll double check, though.

    Thanks much, everyone.

    And amongst all this hoo-rah, I had what appears to be a couple of foxes visit last night. A dog would have been handy. And I'd still have this morning what I had last night.

    Meg
     
  18. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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  19. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Actually, the old-fashioned working farm collies do just fine staying with their livestock. I've used my male that way. Dunno about AKC collies, though, as they haven't been bred to work for many generations.

    And, the LGD's we've had WERE hard to keep fenced. If that weren't true, there wouldn't be so many of them getting hit on the roads. They were bred for milennia to protect large territories, and few people in this country have enough land for them. That's another reason why the English Shepherds/old-fashioned farm collies work better on small properties (by small I mean anything less than a large ranch) -- you can teach them your property lines and they'll stay in.

    I have to add, I love Great Pyrenees -- I think they are probaby the most beautiful breed of dog there is, and the puppies are adorable little polar bears. But they aren't for everyone, and it's doing a disservice to both the dogs and the potential owners to pretend they are.

    Kathleen
     
  20. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Well-Known Member

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    We got a Pyr. He was a rescue. I been working with him. He was beat I guess. He lays down and urninates and when you go to pet him. He is getting better, I can play with him and get loud with my voice now and he dosen't go to pieces. He is the chicken gaurdian he gets mad that they won't herd up. He is only about two or three months old. I guess or hope he'll get better. He seems like he just needs time and friends. He's got that.