Livestock Guarding Dogs

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by CountryGoalie, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. CountryGoalie

    CountryGoalie Well-Known Member

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    Hello everyone!

    I was just wondering if any of the homesteaders here use livestock guarding dogs, such as Great Pyreness, Kuvasz, Italian Maremmas, Anatolian Sheepdogs, etc? My mother and I used to raise and actively show Kuvasz, and we had a couple of puppies go to people who were looking for livestock guarding dogs, so I was just wondering if anyone here uses them with their livestock.

    Toodles for now,
    --Hannah
     
  2. practical-cat

    practical-cat Member

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    I have 3 male Great Pyrenees to watch over our sheep, horses and goats. They also watch over my children, when they go in the woods to play.
     

  3. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    We have a great pyr and a mutt that nobody can figure out what his heritage is. We just got rid of a german shepard that moved in from the neighbors.

    The two remaining dogs do a damn good job.
     
  4. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

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    A great Pyrenees is probably going to be the cheapest to buy. Even good quality, working stock dogs are less than $200 here in central Alabama. We love our Sam.
     
  5. idahocurs

    idahocurs Well-Known Member

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    I posted this before but do pyrenees eat a ton of food? I would think that a dog weighing over 100 lb would cost a fortune to maintain.
     
  6. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    My GP is among the best dog I've ever owned, I wouldn't sell her. But KUVASC? from what I've read, I'd be afraid to consider them.
     
  7. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    I use Anatolian Shepherds with my sheep & poultry - have a couple working, a couple of old retired dogs down by the house, & a couple of young dogs I'm training & showing right now. I've used ASDs as flockguards for over 20 years now, can't imagine raising livestock without them. LGDs don't eat as much as you'd think for their size, my 100 lb bitches eat the same as my DH's 50 lb terrier (about 2 cups of premium chow daily, plus whatever gophers they catch :) ). I figure it all averages out to about a pound of kibble per day per dog, plus a few extras like a tablespoon of yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, table scraps, etc.
    Here's my puppy, Ruh, in the pasture:
    [​IMG]

    And his aunt Yildiz, one of my working pair:
    [​IMG]
     
  8. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

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    We researched breeds for over two years. We wanted a great, big, huge dog that would intimidate other people, stand up to predators (coyotes) and would be great with all our animals and our boys. I had originally wanted an Anatolian Shepherd Dog but the few that are locally available are so high in price that I had to look elsewhere. I think that I wanted an Anatolian because they have shorter hair. I had thought that in Alabama the longer hair would have been a problem. I manage a petstore and have great contacts with vets and breeders. My birds' vet has both a Great Pyrenees and a Komondor. Another vet that I like has a Swiss Mountain Dog. He suggested a Great Pyrenees. Reportedly, Newfoundlands were too closely related to labs and liked to harrass birds. St. Bernards have a short lifespan and eat more than the others. It was suggested that the longer white hair of most of these breeds actually act as insulation against the sun, reflecting most of the heat. I've been told that if you shave them, their skin will burn.

    From what I've read and have been told, the Great Pyrenees has one of the longest lifespans of all of the 'giant' breeds. They're supposed to eat less than others. Sam, our GP, eats so very little. I had at first fed him one of the large breed puppy foods that has always worked great for lab-sized dogs. We're afraid that this has actually stunted his growth. We don't think that he'll ever be as large as either of his parents. We use Bil-Jac food for him. I like the way it's processed more so than the other foods and it seems to be the most palatable for him. The 30 pound bag lasts him all month.

    If I could, I would get an Anatolian Sheperd Dog to keep him company.
    Shabazin, Do they have a thick undercoat that they 'blow' like th GPs?
    The wild birds anxiously await Sam's 'moult' every spring so they can begin lining their nests.
     
  9. CountryGoalie

    CountryGoalie Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like Pyrs are the most "popular" amongst the homesteaders around here. A friend of ours who breeds and rescues Kuvasz was convinced to take in a rescue Pyr ... needless to say, he never left. He's the odd one out, though, being the only BWD with markings, since Kuvasz are always pure white.


    GeorgeK - just a quick question. Why would you be afraid to consider them? What have you read that makes you veer away from them, and where? I'd be interested in reading any articles that make a stance against the Kuvasz.

    My mother got our first Kuvasz when I was three months old - the puppy was two months old. It all snowballed from their. ;) She actively showed and bred until ... well, I believe our last litter was in 2000, if the math in my head is right. We still go to the occasional show with our Kuvies, but mostly they just lounge around and keep watch on family and farm.

    As for feeding the lgd's -- as Shahbazin said, they eat less than you would think. We recently switched over to a raw diet for our house dogs, and they love it. We're in the process of switching the kenneled dogs over to it - they get raw in the morning and kibble at night.


    Also, Shahbazin -- your Anatolians are beautiful. I was going to ask if you had a website and then I noticed in the properties of the picture that the image is from your website! Silly me.


    Good day to all,
    -Hannah
     
  10. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    Yes, ASDs do blow coat - profusely. I actually have a whole lawn trash bag full of it I'm planning to spin up into yarn someday.....
    I don't think large breed pup food makes them any smaller, they just grow more gradually. Males aren't really full size until 3-4 years, anyhow. My current pup, Ruh, (who is lying on my feet as I type, worn out after having massacred a rope chewy toy), is about 30" & 100 lbs or so, at 8 months old; he gets mostly Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy (mixed with some adult food).
    I fully expect him to be the same size as his sire when fully grown (32" & 145 lbs.) - this is Ruh's sire, who's the same size as one of my males:
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the comment, CountryGoalie :) I need good working dogs, but try to produce pups that are also fine breed examples. Show dogs get a lot more house socialization than strictly working dogs, so if used as flockguards have a different working style, but one that is still effective. The other half of my working pair - Ch. Shahbazin Ayi Sim CGC, TT, HIT.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    A sheep farm across the valley from us has had to go out of business due to coyote kills, and to say this has us in a bit of a panic is an understatement. Unfortunately, we are Golden Retriever Rescue for the state of Vermont, which boils down to 5 of the useless things flaked out on the carpet right now... and others that come in and go on to new homes on a regular basis.

    Now, I love goldens. We decided to work with goldens because we live in a tourist area. Our first choice was German Shepherds (much smarter!) but if someone panics when a pack of goldens charges at them across our field (and you went past the no tresspassing signs why?) with balls hanging out of their mouths and tails wagging... imagine what would happen with a pack of shepherds! So... goldens. Who really are useless where the sheep are concerned.

    Can you keep a working dog with the sheep and blonde nutcases as pets on the same property? Or does everyone get confused in their roles?

    T
     
  12. CountryGoalie

    CountryGoalie Well-Known Member

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    Shahbazin - this might sound like a really odd question, but it's one that struck me a while ago. Alright, you have livestock guarding dogs, and you breed them. Do you have your unspayed females guarding the livestock? And if so, what are the chances of her getting bred by a dog other than your stud dog? It's just something that I've always wondered... just curious. :)

    MorrisonCorner - I was just re-reading a book that we have last night called "Livestock Protection Dogs: Selection, Care and Training" by David E. Sims and Orysia Dawydiak, and it mentioned something about other dogs on the farm and your livestock protection dogs. As long as the livestock protection dog is reared with them around and grows accustomed to them, I don't -think- it would be a problem, although I wouldn't think letting the Goldens romp among the sheep at free will would be too grand of an idea with a lgd around. However, I'm just going by some of the things the book said - Shahbazin, do you have any "just pet" dogs? And how are the guardians around them?

    Also, MorrisonCorner, I recommend picking up a copy of that book - it covers most of the livestock protection dog breeds, and also talks about their training, etc. I believe we got our copy at a dog show, but it's probably available online. Perhaps Amazon.com?

    -Hannah
     
  13. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    I looked up kuvasc a few years ago and at the time there were a lot of articles, that I never bookmarked, so I am not sure where they are, but basically the Pyrs and the kuvasc are decended from the same mountain dog. Their differences are basically their personalities and the number of dewclaws (kuvasc have usually 5 toes on each hind foot, whereas Pyrs have 6). The kuvasc were decended from the alphas, and the pyrs were decended from the betas. As such Pyrs are almost universally subserviant to their owners, whereas kuvasc are known to want to exert their dominance over their owners. It takes a certain very strong and consistent personality to keep a kuvasc in control. Kuvasc are far more intolerant of changes in the environment and have been reported to jump through closed windows to attack people at the front door, and often attack family members, other than the one dominant personality. What I got out of my research was that they were like a 150 pound pit bull / rottweiller cross with even more attitude



     
  14. ksbrooke

    ksbrooke Well-Known Member

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    <<<Kuvasc... often attack family members>>>

    Yes, I had a beautiful Kuvasz that I got when he was a mere pup. Unfortunately I didn't research the breed as I should have so I could socialize him and train him from a young, young age. When he was little he was very aggressive and as he got older, his aggression was more contained, but he became more dangerous for everyone but me. He ended up biting just about everyone in my family, my husband, my teenaged son and heaven help any stranger that dared to come around. The day we I knew I had to put this beautful creature down was the day he jumped on a nine year old neighbor boy who had come over to play. He didn't bite the boy, but when I went to get him down (he had jumped up on him and was very aggressively in his face) he turned and ferociously snarled at me and I literally couldn't touch him. I loved this dog and did him no favors by bringing him into an environement he wasn't suited for. I would only have a Kuvasz if I lived way out in the boonies and wanted no company. Such a sad situation, I still cry over the loss of him and the mistake I made.
    Brooke
     
  15. Tracy in Idaho

    Tracy in Idaho Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have had Anatolians for about 15 years now.

    My stud dog is closing on 13 now, and his spayed daughter is coming up on 10. Neither one shows any sign of slowing down, but We'll have to find another pup soon....we've found it's a lot easier to let the older dogs do the "training"

    I just looked out the window to see Bertha laying down with about 6 doelings piled around her :) They are worth their weight in gold.

    Tracy
     
  16. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    If I have an intact female dog working, she's paired with a neutered male, who acts as a sort of "chaperone" to make sure strange males stay away. A lot of working dogs don't like males that aren't part of the home pack, anyhow.
    Alternatively, you can just lock them up for 3 weeks - some of my bitches only cycle once a year, anyhow.

    Excellent book :) It's in the 2nd ed. now, so it's back in print. Yes, we have the terrier dog mentioned before, & as the flock guards have always seen him around, they don't bother him, as long as he doesn't pester the stock. A lot of times, if you have a herding dog, you may need to pen the LGDs while you round animals up. Being a member of the home pack, as well as the other dog behaving itself, seem to be the big issues. I had an ASD I took to college - Turkish import, later used him as a full-time flockguard, just died recently at age 15 - didn't like other dogs, but would absolutely ignore dogs that were doing purposeful work & minding their own business (didn't like other students' off leash dogs, but always completely ignored a guide dog).
     
  17. CountryGoalie

    CountryGoalie Well-Known Member

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    It's sad to see the misconceptions about Kuvasz. First of all, there are two things that factor in largely with Kuvasz - or any dog with a livestock guarding dog ancestry - and those factors are the breeder, and the amount of socializing the owner does.

    Admittedly, yes, there were times when the Kuvasz were billed as not so nice, perhaps, but nowadays, temperament is a large factor among breeders. Responsible breeders won't breed a nasty dog. Then, there are some breeders who just don't care. They don't do health checks, they do little to no socializing (often enough to cart their dogs around to podunk shows, hauling enough of their own dogs to make enough points to declare their dogs "champions"), and will sell to anyone with enough money. I know of a few.

    Another factor is the owner. They need to do research. They need to do obedience classes. They need to socialize. I can't stress those points enough. It's true for any companion dog of a livestock protection breed ancestry.

    As for the "descending from the same mountain dog" theory. Almost every country in mainland Europe has its own livestock protection breed. Most bear a large resemblance to each other - long coat, often white, same size range, etc. This does not mean that they descended from the same dog. They were bred for a specific purpose - those who worked the best in the fields were the ones that carried forth.

    In all that I've read, I have never heard of the idea that the Kuvasz descended from the alphas and the Pyrs from the betas. The idea, to me, is preposterous. The Great Pyrenees has been bred longer for the companion role here in the States than has the Kuvasz.

    On a final note, it saddens me when a breed gets a bad rap due to the lack of responsible behavior on the part of both breeder and owner. It's seen so often in so many breeds these days. :waa:

    On a different and okay-so-the-previous-point-wasn't-the-final point,
    Shahbazin - I like the "chaperone" idea .. hadn't thought of that. Thanks for answering my question. :)

    EDIT:
    [​IMG]
    I found this photo while surfing around some kuvasz sites, and thought I'd share it with you.

    [​IMG]
    Me, a long time ago, being sat upon. Apparently, I was a good pillow. :rolleyes:

    Also, I found this excellent page ... those of you who have negative misconceptions about Kuvasz ... this is a good page for you.

    The Kuvasz Reputation

    Have a good evening,
    -Hannah
     
  18. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    The fact that there even is ANY breed of ANY animal means it has its fans. That doesn't mean that animal is suited for all situations. Kuvasc, when raised appropriately will make a good livestock guardian, and maybe even a good pet. I'm sure Siegried and Roy said the same about tigers. The average person is not going to take their animals to a trainer/handler and is not going to have the time to do the constant training. Great Pyranes are much more docile as a breed, and can do everything a kuvasc can. If I was to get a kuvasc, which I think I never would, I would get a female runt of the litter. The reason a runt is a runt, is it's the least willing to fight for food, and in my experience has always had a gentler dispostion towards its family (me). Males of most mammalian species tend to be more aggressive.
     
  19. CountryGoalie

    CountryGoalie Well-Known Member

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    No, not everyone is willing to take their dog to a trainer. A few people are able to handle training a tougher dog on its own - many are not. And no, a Kuvasz is not a dog for every situation. Neither is a Pyr. Training and socialization are a must for a Kuvasz.

    By the way, the spelling is Kuvasz. Not Kuvasc. Thank you.
     
  20. Qvrfullmidwife

    Qvrfullmidwife Well-Known Member

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    "As such Pyrs are almost universally subserviant to their owners, whereas kuvasc are known to want to exert their dominance over their owners."

    Years ago, before we ever considered homesteading we were looking for a dog for strictly a pet for us and our (then) seven children. I was taken with the appearance of Pyrs and called a few breeders. We wanted (1)good with children (2)easy to train (3)big. We were told almost universally that while a Pyrs woudl be wonderful with our chidlren they (like any dog originally bred to be a LGD) would be territorial and that shoudl a circumstance ever arise where a neighbor child might wander unattended into the house or be wrestling with one of our children that we could end up with a lawsuit on our hands. We were also told that due to the fact that they are bred to work independently, that they might not be the easiest to train, that they worked well at what they were bred for...ie protecting property and flock, but not nec. obedience type stuff. This may or may not be true, I suspect that it is true in essence but that each dog with be different, with diff environment and training, but the bottom line was that this one pyrs breeder told me that subservient was the LAST thing that a pyrs was likely to be.

    We then looked into Newfoundlands...

    "Reportedly, Newfoundlands were too closely related to labs and liked to harrass birds." Most newfs that Iknow are far too busy being a couch potato to do anything other than look at birds while they drool in the grass (or on the couch :haha:) Ours has only been interested in one bird, one time...that is when we brought our cockatoo home. Our newf was actually interested in seeing if the bird had dumped anything yummy when he tipped out his bowl of food. One interaction with the beak of the cockatoo and the newf is more than happy to go back to watching birds with mild amusement.

    Our newf is actually 3/4 landseer newf and 1/4 great pyrs. He is great but aging. How long do pyrs live, anyway? We were told 10 is average for newf, with 8 being not unusual and 12 being ancient. Now that we are homesteading, all of the things that originally attracted us to pyrs are still there while all of the things that dissuaded us are more attractive!