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Garden guarding dogs

 
Posts: 33
Location: North Idaho
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I'm curious to know which breed of dog would best for protecting a garden against deer.

From what I've read there seems to be a few different breed related behaviors towards deer.

First you have breeds like huskies that have a very strong prey drive and will not only chase away deer but they will try to attack them. I definitely don't want that.

Next you have livestock guarding dogs like pyrenees that will chase and kill predators like coyotes but don't seem to mind deer since they don't see them as a threat. These dogs also seem to need a "herd" to protect too and I do not have any livestock, at least not yet, just a garden/food forest area that I want protected from the deer.

Then there are herding dogs like sheepdogs which I've read mixed things about. Some chase deer away or try to herd them like livestock and some completely ignore them.

I need a breed of dog that will bark at and approach any deer near my garden, but will not pursue them once they are scared off and run away. This will need to be an outdoors dog that is comfortable with varying weather conditions of both hot summers and cold winters. I obviously will provide them with an outdoors shelter and regular food and water. Does anybody have any experience with a dog breed that you think would be a good fit for what I'm looking for?
 
pollinator
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Sounds like you need a dog who can understand its perimeter and is a homebody type.

I have 2 farm dogs who are pretty much just that. They are both livestock safe, never attacking our sheep, goats, or chickens. But they will both bark at any feral pig that attempts to enter the farm, thus driving them away. After a bit of training, neither dog will chase after the pigs. After spotting a pig and barking, they are both conditioned to run to us for their rewards.

One dog is a mix that looks like a black Labrador Retriever type. The other is a labradoodle. Both are large, one being 65 lbs, the other 75 lbs.
 
pollinator
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Location: Saskatchewan
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What I understand is that you want a dog with the energy to chase deer for fun. The size needed to make a deer run. A proper coat to be comfortable in summer and winter. It also needs to understand where home is and not run away.

A neighbor has a couple of pitbull mixes that do this, and have also guarded chickens. I know a lot of people who have had labs. A friend of mine found a puppy in a ditch a couple years ago, it does exactly what you are looking for.

Finding a dog that will chase deer and stick around home is not asking for much. I would suggest checking with a humane society or spca. Most of the dogs that will likely work for you will be labelled as a "lab mix" or a "sheperd mix" depending on colour. There is a high likelihood that these dogs will have no actual labs or sheperds in their back ground. The labels come from the colouring and size.

Ask if you can take rescue dogs for a walk to evaluate their personality. They should be friendly and playful to both people and other dogs. It should come when called, immediately when you have treats with you.

The other place to look is at local advertising. Someone nearby may have a litter of puppies to place. If the parents are large, energetic and friendly. Then the puppies will probably work for you.
 
pioneer
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Most LGDs will do just what you want.  No deer is going to enter an area where LGDs live, and many LGD breeds have very low prey drive.  In my experience, if you don't have a "herd" to protect, you and your family will work just fine.  That's actually true whether you have animals or not.  LGDs protect their "family".  That means you, your kids, your animals, ...  I have had Central Asian Shepherds, Boz, Anatolian Shepherds, and mixed breed LGDs, and they won't really chase predators to kill them so much as they will kill the ones that get too close and don't make a run for it.  The great thing about having dogs with low prey drive is that they won't go chasing after things.  Most of them are very adaptable to heat and cold and have been bred for centuries to withstand harsh elements. With good shelter, they can withstand really brutal weather.  They are very hardy dogs, so they have less issues that require veterinary care.  
 
Posts: 1982
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Huh. My LGD's see antelope and deer as the most amazing thing to chase in the entire world. If I don't bring it on our property, they chase it.
 
Trace Oswald
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elle sagenev wrote:Huh. My LGD's see antelope and deer as the most amazing thing to chase in the entire world. If I don't bring it on our property, they chase it.



Mine don't really chase anything far.  Anything that runs more than 100 yards or so is ignored.  I have two right now that will run things off but won't pursue them for any distance.  
 
Travis Campbell
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I'm single and I work a regular job. Would a LGD guard an empty property when it's "family", aka myself, is not around? I will eventually get chickens but that might be a little ways off. So yeah basically a dog that will protect it's territory which will be my property including garden and food forest from deer.
 
Trace Oswald
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LGD will absolutely do that.  You will need a good fence because they will sometimes decide their area is bigger than you might own though.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1982
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Trace Oswald wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:Huh. My LGD's see antelope and deer as the most amazing thing to chase in the entire world. If I don't bring it on our property, they chase it.



Mine don't really chase anything far.  Anything that runs more than 100 yards or so is ignored.  I have two right now that will run things off but won't pursue them for any distance.  



My akbash is like that. He will only go so far before coming back. My Pyr, however, will run until he drops after things. He's a runner in general though. We have to keep him contained or he disappears.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1982
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Travis Campbell wrote:I'm single and I work a regular job. Would a LGD guard an empty property when it's "family", aka myself, is not around? I will eventually get chickens but that might be a little ways off. So yeah basically a dog that will protect it's territory which will be my property including garden and food forest from deer.



Yes and no. We have one who we can let loose and he will stay right next to the house. In fact he always looks a little upset when we leave him out. He's really big, and that frightens people, which is good because he's a sissy. Then we have another one who jumps the 6ft fence to run. So personality probably has a lot to do with it. Get an akbash. We have 2 and they are both reliable at leaving home. The pyr, nope.

We did get an LGD and THEN got livestock. He's ok with bigger animals but we can't trust him with the poultry at all. The ones we got after already having poultry are reliable with them. So consider that as well.
 
Trace Oswald
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I have heard that Pyr's bark much more than some breeds as well.  I haven't had one, so I can't say if it's true, and the difference between individuals is probably pretty large.  My dogs rarely bark and if they do, there is a reason.
 
elle sagenev
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Trace Oswald wrote:I have heard that Pyr's bark much more than some breeds as well.  I haven't had one, so I can't say if it's true, and the difference between individuals is probably pretty large.  My dogs rarely bark and if they do, there is a reason.



In our house the akbash will bark at his reflection and if anything bumps at all. We ignore him. If the pyr barks, there is a reason. Our 1 year old pup doesn't bark pretty much at all. He's an akbash
 
Posts: 649
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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I found out that the deer were the least of my problems.  Rabbits, voles (they climb trees), gophers, mice and birds pecking fruit and greens all need to be controlled, which a dog can't do.

Cats and dogs in the garden discourage the bug-eating birds that can come in groups of 20+, they are invaluable for pest control.

A fence is the best defense, with the bottom edge of chicken wire turned out 6"-8", allowing the weeds to grow through and hold it down.  Mowing to the outside of this band leaves a clear area, and if anything it still getting through there will be a little trail of smashed weeds at the fence edge.

Covering fruit or vulnerable crops with sheer white curtains (they last longer than ag fabric, and netting catches bats and snakes, which is really tragic) works well, and is temporary.  

A deer fence can be made with two parallel strips of chicken wire, 6" turned out at the bottom, poles every 10-15 feet, gives 7 1/2 feet of height, then run a string of colored construction string around the very top at 8 feet (pole tops at 8 feet) that warn Quail and other birds at dusk and dawn that there's something in the way.  I always hate it when quail #9 smacks into the chicken wire.   Where the two parallel strips of chicken wire meet at the 4-foot level, sew wire loosely, every 10 holes or so.  The deer find those gaps and go right through, teach their young to go right through!

If some animal that's big, mountain lion, bear, elk, even an angry raccoon, something aggressive, can really hurt a dog.

 
Cristo Balete
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If dogs are fed outside, that brings in other aggressive animals that will fight for the food.
 
Trace Oswald
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Cristo Balete wrote:I found out that the deer were the least of my problems.  Rabbits, voles (they climb trees), gophers, mice and birds pecking fruit and greens all need to be controlled, which a dog can't do.

Cats and dogs in the garden discourage the bug-eating birds that can come in groups of 20+, they are invaluable for pest control.

A fence is the best defense, with the bottom edge of chicken wire turned out 6"-8", allowing the weeds to grow through and hold it down.  Mowing to the outside of this band leaves a clear area, and if anything it still getting through there will be a little trail of smashed weeds at the fence edge.

Covering fruit or vulnerable crops with sheer white curtains (they last longer than ag fabric, and netting catches bats and snakes, which is really tragic) works well, and is temporary.  

A deer fence can be made with two parallel strips of chicken wire, 6" turned out at the bottom, poles every 10-15 feet, gives 7 1/2 feet of height, then run a string of colored construction string around the very top at 8 feet (pole tops at 8 feet) that warn Quail and other birds at dusk and dawn that there's something in the way.  I always hate it when quail #9 smacks into the chicken wire.   Where the two parallel strips of chicken wire meet at the 4-foot level, sew wire loosely, every 10 holes or so.  The deer find those gaps and go right through, teach their young to go right through!

If some animal that's big, mountain lion, bear, elk, even an angry raccoon, something aggressive, can really hurt a dog.

.........

If dogs are fed outside, that brings in other aggressive animals that will fight for the food.



Cristo, I can only say that your experience has been different than mine.  My dogs kill rabbits, voles, gophers, mice, raccoons, possums, and coyotes.  Larger predators generally won't go into an area where dogs are.  I haven't noticed a reduction in small birds around my area, they seem to know the dogs can't get them.  Since the OP was asking about dogs to keep deer away, in the dog forum, I didn't go into fences :)  I agree with you that a fence is as good a way as any to deal with deer, but dogs have many other advantages that a fence doesn't have.  Peace of mind, and companionship are two of them.

As far as dog food bringing other animals that will fight for the food, I pity the animal that thinks eating out of my dog dishes is a good idea.
 
Travis Campbell
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Thanks for the info everyone. This will help me narrow down my search.
 
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