If you have a farm, you probably know how hard it is to protect livestock from predators. To prevent this loss, most farmers and shepherds adopt a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) who will help in protecting your flocks and herds from predators, such as wolves, bears, coyotes, feral dogs, and foxes.
Unlike household pets, LGDs are specially raised and trained to scare off predators, animals or humans, that are lurking on someone’s farm.
However, LGDs are different from sheepdogs. Sheepdogs are trained to herd, while LGDs are trained to protect. You may also see these guardian dogs to be light in color since it helps them to blend more within the flock, thus confusing predators.
Usually, a guard dog is seen walking around the fence line over and over again, looking for possible intruders that may invade his territory.
However, they don’t need to actually be aggressive and instantly fight with a predator, instead, their main purpose is to scare them off with their huge size and intimidating loud bark.
Before we go on and talk about the various types of dog breeds that can protect sheep, let’s discuss first the importance of LGD.
Why Do I Need an LGD?
If you have a farm and a variety of livestock, you probably need someone who will guard it 24/7. You don’t need to hire a person to do the job, instead, a well-trained LGD will do the job for you.
They’ll watch over your flocks and herds overnight. Not only that, but LGDs are also good at assessing the situation. They’ll know when it’s time to attack, or when danger is about to come.
While LGDs are surely to drive away predators, they are actually calm and gentle with their livestock.
So, what dog breeds are good at protecting sheep and other farm animals? Let’s discuss them one by one.
1. The Great Pyrenees
One of the most popular guard dogs out there, the Great Pyrenees are said to be calm around people but are aggressive towards predators. This breed originated from the Pyrenees mountain where they have been used to guard sheep for hundreds of years.
This breed barks a lot, especially at night. They are considered nocturnal and for this reason, they make great guard dogs.
The Great Pyrenees is a threat to many predators, such as feral dogs, coyotes, and foxes. However, they’re not strong enough to fight with bigger predators, such as bears and wolves.
Although they are unfriendly towards strangers, the Great Pyrenees is said to be good with kids and young animals. Today, they are popularly used as companion dogs, as well as guardians for backyard farms.
A healthy and happy Great Pyrenees has a lifespan of 10 to 11 years, which is actually long for a large-sized dog.
A guard dog breed that originated from Turkey, the Akbash is an excellent guard dog for sheep and goats. Like the Great Pyrenees, this breed is said to be not too aggressive towards people, but are ready to face predators, such as wild dogs.
Larger than the Great Pyrenees, the Akbash is usually kept as a livestock guard dog and not as a pet. Although they are less energetic and tend to spend their day quietly, this breed is alert and is also able to think independently.
On average, the Akbash can live for 10 to 11 years.
Coming from Hungary, the Komondor has been considered as one of the country’s national treasures.
Existing as far back as 1544, the Komondor is a huge dog with a white, long, and heavily corded coat that serves as their protection from the wolves and from the weather.
This breed is known to be a fighter, always ready to protect their livestock from predators. Although they are always ready to fight, the Komondor won’t get physical until they know it’s necessary.
While it is said that they are gentle around kids, the Komondor has a loud voice and is considered a barker.
They’re also very protective, which can be dangerous if they’re not trained well since they may suddenly attack a stranger that shows odd behavior.
The national dog of Turkey, the Kangal dog originated from Sivas City in Turkey. Also known as the Anatolian Shepherd, this breed holds the record for the strongest bite force, so you don’t want to mess with one.
The Kangal is used to guard and protect sheep and other livestock from predators, including jackals, bears, and wolves. An agile and speedy dog with a very strong bite, this breed is surely to take down any predator in no time.
When it comes to children and other pets, the Kangal is gentle and calm. However, they must be properly introduced to strangers since they may act wary towards them because of their protectiveness.
Like the Komondor, the Kuvasz also originated from Hungary. Some enthusiasts of this breed believe that the Kuvasz existed even before coming to Hungary, thus considering them as one of the oldest breeds that exists.
Unlike most LGDs, the Kuvasz is known to have a funny and playful personality. For this reason, they became famous family pets in their country of origin.
However, when it comes to their job, this breed is very serious and independent. They prefer working further away from the flock, but they are very fast and agile.
Although wary of strangers, this breed is good with kids, gets along pretty well with other animals, and is loyal to its family. With their great sense of ability to evaluate their environment, this breed can be proactive and work on its own.
6. Tibetan Mastiff
One of the largest LGDs out there, the Tibetan Mastiff is the origin of mastiff breeds.
It existed from the Himalayan mountains for thousands of years, therefore making them suitable for cold areas. The Tibetan Mastiff is known to adapt to harsh environments as well.
Like the Great Pyrenees, the Tibetan Mastiff is also nocturnal and can make excellent guard dogs, especially at night.
This breed is not afraid to face predators of different sizes. However, the Tibetan Mastiff is known to be stubborn, therefore training should come with a lot of patience and firmness.
7. Maremma Sheepdog
Coming from Italy, the Maremma sheepdog is known to be friendly to its family and livestock, but is aloof towards strangers.
Maremmas are happiest when given a job to do, therefore they don’t make good household companions. They’re also intelligent and calm but are always ready to protect their livestock from possible danger.
8. Pyrenean Mastiff
A Spanish dog breed, the Pyrenean Mastiff is a loyal dog that is known for its wonderful attitude towards livestock, pets, and its family.
However, when threatened, this breed will not hesitate to knock down a predator and risk his life just to save what’s important for him.
With proper training and early socialization, the Pyrenean Mastiff will behave well when introduced to visitors. They also tend to bark less compared to other LGDs.
9. Polish Tatra Sheepdog
Another dog that is known to work well with sheep is the Polish Tatra Sheepdog. This dog can both do the job of herding and guarding, but they can also make great personal protectors due to their loyalty and protectiveness.
An athletic and smart dog, this breed won’t attack unless necessary, provided that they are properly trained. However, they do bark very loud, which can be a pretty good thing given their job as guard dogs.
Interestingly, this breed protects by moving between the flock and then alerting the predator through its loud bark, only attacking when the predator initiates.
At home, this breed is affectionate and has a calmer temperament. They also don’t drool, which is preferred by some people.
And that’s our list of nine dog breeds that are good at protecting sheep and other livestock. However, before buying or adopting an LGD, it’s important to consider some factors first.
First, you need a stable and strong fence. LGDs are very protective of their land, and some might even protect the area beyond the fence. For this reason, they may try to dig and slide through the fence.
As mentioned earlier, LGDs are mostly independent, which means they tend to be stubborn and act according to their own will.
For this reason, early socialization and training is essential so make sure to provide that. Otherwise, they can be uncontrollable which is a huge problem.
Overall, training LGDs is very rewarding. With patience and consistency, these dogs are surely to provide you and your livestock with safety, security, happiness, and lots of love.
If you’re up to the challenge, then I see no reason for you not to get one of these beautiful and valuable dog breeds.
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