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Good guard dog-livestock and children

 
Denisa Danne
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Hello everyone! I just found this awesome site and wanted to join!
First I will be moving to Naples and I will have some good acreage.
I wanted to know what farm animals are good for starting out?
I already know I want chickens but are goats or sheep better to have when I take the next step?
I was also curious if someone knew of good guard dog breeds that can handle the Florida heat? Not only would he/she be guarding my lives stock but us as well
because I have a 4yr old and we will be living alone till my husband gets stationed in Florida. Thanks a bunch!!
 
John Polk
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Welcome to permies.

Most of the classic guard dogs that I am familiar with have heavy coats.
Probably not ideal for FL heat and humidity.
I'm sure somebody here has experience with guard dogs in that climate, and will respond.

Chickens are a great animal to start with.
They are inexpensive, and have minimal care issues compared to most other livestock.
If you are new to livestock husbandry, I would suggest keeping it just to chickens until you 'get the feel'.
Then, you can expand to others, without sacrificing the chicken's care.
I have seen many people start with too many breeds, and it can become overwhelming trying to learn too much all at once.

Goats are relatively easy except for their fencing requirements. They are escape artists.
It seems as if every waking moment is spent thinking "How can I beat that fence?"

 
Su Ba
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How serious of a guard dog will you need? Some breeds are noted for lots of barking as a form of protection, others are more likely to run down an intruder.

My German Shepherd blend (he's half King Shephard, half working German Shepherd) is a super watchdog and a real pussy cat around at the same time. He is alert to everything, barking whenever something is amiss. He guards the livestock, driving away stray dogs and feral pigs. He's never caught any of them, but he tries to run them down. But he's very docile with the family and out in public.

My neighbor has Australian Cattle Dogs. They seem to take the heat here with no problem. She swears that they are the best protector dogs that she's ever had. She has cattle that need protection.Very friendly with her family but dead serious against intruders.

A number of folks here keep terrier breeds for protectors. They are more like an alarm system, barking whenever there's a problem.

If you want a breed that will run down intruders while protecting livestock, the Akbash is a super dog. Alpaca breeders here use them. But they are serious protectors. Great with the family, but will attack any intruder, be it two or four legged. They have been known to chase would be thieves down the street!

Years ago one of my friends adopted a short haired collie (aka: smooth collie). The dog was a super family pet and a good protector. Maybe just a fluke, but the dog was wonderful. Protected her chickens and rabbits.

...Su Ba
 
Denisa Danne
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Thank you John....haha I did hear they are great escape artists!
And thank you Su Ba...I was thinking german shepard or collie..but I heard they are more of a herder breed.
 
Su Ba
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Denisa, I choose my shepherd because of the dual ability to guard the flock and guard our property. Plus he's reliable and safe around friends and family. He's not a herder. I keep a border collie for that. The Border isn't a watchdog or guard dog though. She just loves to watch sheep all day!

A collie, if it comes from working bloodlines, should have enough instinct to herd if it is trained. Be aware that the dog needs to be trained, otherwise it's herding urge can morph into livestock chasing. Most working collies are also good watchdogs (except for mine. She's a dud.) Border Collies are extremely active and must be provided a job. Left to their own devices they run amuck and develop odd habits. The Bearded Collie is saner but that long hair needs daily attention. The standard Collie has lost most herding instinct and are rather nervous., and of course there is the long coat issue. It's cousin, the Smooth Collie, seems to have better instincts for herding and guarding, but they are difficult to find and are expensive. The Shetland Sheepdog is an active critter and a great watchdog, but the breed is noted for barking. They also are noted to nip. The old farm collie would be my choice. It's called The English Shepherd. Stable. Good instincts. Easy to care for. Not an eye catching looker, but a good solid farm dog. Then there is the German Shepherd. Show lines have all sorts of health and mental issues, but working lines seem better. But many are too aggressive and bite. The King Shepherd is healthier and more stable. So is the Shiloh Shepherd. Both both are hard to find and are expensive. The Belgium Sheepdog and its cousins, Belgium Tervuren, Belgium Malinois, and Belgium Laekinois I'd rule out because they are not all that mentally stable around children. The Canaan Dog is difficult to find and although suppose to be mentally stable, all the ones I've seen tend to be shy.

My friend down the road adopted an Australian Shepherd mx. The first year she had the dog it was a runner and mischief maker. It even killed a couple of sheep. But it finally took to training and is now a great farm dog. Shes claims its the best dog shes ever had. Guards. Warns. Herds. And is safe around people. Not a biter. She just puts on a good watchdog act. So not all dogs come by their jobs via just pure natural instinct. But if the urge is there, it can be molded into the job.
 
Denisa Danne
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Yes, I'm sorry I meant to say that collies are more of a herder breed than a guard dog. I have owned a lab-German Shepard mix and a husky-German Shepard mix and they were so hard to control.
Always wanting to jump and play. They were adopted by my mother in law because we were in the process of moving and she fell in love with them...so I just let her keep them. My father has a German Shepard and he is a wonderful dog. He is older and not trained around farm animals so I don't know if I can trust him with them. Do you recommend getting a puppy German Shepard and training him/her around the farm animals? Is there a type of training program I should do? or just the basics? Sorry I am very new at this. Thanks for you patience.
 
John Polk
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I've mentioned this in other threads, but I'll repeat it here:

If you want a working dog, try to find somebody that has working dogs. If/when their bitch gets pregnant, let them know that you are looking. As the bitch is weaning her litter, she is teaching them working habits, skills, and discipline.

Puppies from 'Puppy Mills' will need to be trained from scratch, and have probably already 'learned' some bad habits. They are raised as pets, not laborers. It is much easier to teach something than it is to 'unteach' bad habits.

I recently saw an ad for LGD puppies. I inquired, and learned: neither parent was a working dog, these were her 3rd litter, they had never been outside the garage (where they were born) except to spend their days in a ~12' x 20' chain link kennel, and the owners wanted $1200 each for them! This is just another puppy mill trying to take advantage of gullible buyers.

If you want working dogs, get them from working families. If you want a pet, it doesn't matter where you get it.

 
Su Ba
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John has a real good point, if you want a working dog, buy it from someone who actually works their dogs. Sellers will claim that the pup comes from working lines, but how do you know unless you're already a breed expert? And if you're an expert, you wouldn't be interested in their litter anyway. Unless both of the parents work, there is no way of knowing if they inherited the instincts.

But Denisa, since you are just starting out and don't have sheep, goats, or cattle, you don't really need a herding dog. True working herding dogs are intense. They don't make good family pets. But on the other hand, a protection dog as a family pet would work for just about any small farm. Small farms need a dog that is good with livestock.

Starting with a puppy can be fun but also very frustrating and infuriating. It takes a whole lot of patience to raise a puppy to two years of age. And they don't become watchdogs until they reach puberty, or older. Since you plan to start a small farm, learn about chickens, and raise a 4 year old ...all without the help of your husband, you may wish to give the idea of getting a puppy some very serious consideration before committing to it. A pup is time consuming and a lot of work, especially since you intend to train it for a farm job. Plus you're never sure what the pup will grow up to be, regardless of training.

With an adult dog , two years of age or older, what you see is what you've got. You'll know right away if the dog likes children, is safe with livestock, is trainable. It may take a few months for it to settle into its new home before it becomes the protection dog you want because it needs to bond and become confident. If you're really hooked on getting a young dog, then one 8-12 months old from a shelter is a good risk. Lots of pups are dropped at shelters about that age because their owners can no longer stand them. The pup has become a teenage juvenile delinquent. But the shock of being throw into a shelter pen with lots of other dogs, then being adopted into a home where it doesn't know the house rules often makes the pup very receptive to learning the rules. You'll have to make a lot of corrections the first few months, but it's a lot easier and faster than trying to raise it from the baby puppy stage.

Hope things work out with your move! It will be quite an adventure.

..Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
Denisa Danne
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Thank you both! I have raised 3 dogs and I know its a ton of work! I do want an adult dog so I won't have to go through the puppy stages again. I just wasn't sure which breed is better for this type of job. I love German shepherds so I think that's what we will be getting. This is all very exciting to me. Thank you again for all the knowledge!

 
Walter Jeffries
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We have heavy predator pressures, a lot of livestock on about 70 acres and a pack of seven to ten livestock guardian herding dogs. They act as a team, patrolling and marking their territory and actively hunting predators and pests. They know where the livestock are supposed to be and keep them there.

Ours are heavy coated northern dogs. See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/animals/dogs/

born and raised to the task. I do actively train and the elders train the younger ones too.

To deal the the much more minor heat we get they sleep in the middle of the day and swim - they love water.

Normally they are silent however they do use vocalization to talk and to mark their territory. Some neighbors might like that howling, others may not. We're a long ways from anyone else so it is a non-issue. They have clearly different vocals they say for different things so that tells us what they see, here and smell. They are our eyes, ears and noses.

 
Carmen Cormier
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Location: Hamilton Ontario
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I have to rep the dogs I breed.

Argentinean Dogo Mastiff for the win!

It's original purpose was to hunt Mountain Lions and Wild Boar. Comes from an extinct fighting dog, the Cordoba, and will guard you and yours with it's very life.
Tougher than a pit bull, stronger than a Rottweiler, and more loyal than a German shepherd. They also have a short white coat that could cope with Florida heat!

Look into this breed, I fell in love instantly when we got our first bitch and now we're breeding these dogs.

By the way, if you're getting a PET QUALITY DOG expect nothing more.
Right now our pet quality dogos go for a minimum of $1200 for a PET QUALITY ANIMAL. One trained and raised to live in a typical urban family home.

A WORK Dog of this breed can cost you up to $3000 but would be trained to run with horses and take down large game.
When we establish our homestead we will be training and breeding working dogs full time.

Always Remember YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR SO DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

And German shepherds are just CUTE. Get a real Dogo if you want protection, they don't bark they bite first ask questions later when it comes to predators. Just don't keep pigs they hunt those

 
Steve Hoskins
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I also vote for Australian cattle dog, unless you hear of something specifically bred to your humid heat.

They have a very high intimidation to feed ratio and seem to be highly available. Maybe you can find one that has been bred in your state.
 
Renate Howard
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We call them heelers. I've got one. He's huge and very intimidating tho I don't think he'd actually bite anyone. He runs off coyotes and stray dogs really well, and adores the livestock, especially baby pigs. He likes the kids very well and is always with them when they're outside and I have no doubt if they got into any sort of trouble he'd do his best to help them out.

Heelers don't bark much. Mine will announce when someone comes down the driveway but for varmints like raccoons or skunks he's as likely to quietly stalk up to them and then just a few barks to chase them off.

They tend to stay around home. They bond very strongly with their owner and tend to just wait for him/her to come back. They usually don't like strange dogs coming over but will be nice to ones they're introduced to. They don't drool, tend to be less parasite-prone, and have very little odor.

You have to teach them not to bite people's heels when they're little, and they can be a little rough on chickens until they learn they're for guarding not for playing with. LOL! Mine breaks up rooster fights too, and is a general peace-keeper among the livestock.

They are scary smart and can understand full sentences.
 
Brittany Vaughn
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John Polk wrote:
I recently saw an ad for LGD puppies. I inquired, and learned: neither parent was a working dog, these were her 3rd litter, they had never been outside the garage (where they were born) except to spend their days in a ~12' x 20' chain link kennel, and the owners wanted $1200 each for them! This is just another puppy mill trying to take advantage of gullible buyers.

If you want working dogs, get them from working families. If you want a pet, it doesn't matter where you get it.



I'd agree except on one point, John. If you want a pet, it certainly does matter where you get it! Aside from encouraging unsustainable and cruel breeding environments, you end up with a pet who has many behavioral issues due to inbreeding, bad conditions, early weaning, etc. I'd never encourage anyone to buy from a backyard breeder or puppy mill under any circumstances (backyard breeder implying someone who breeds for pure profit or without proper knowledge of dog husbandry, genetics, training, etc.) All the more so for a working dog, certainly, but pets should be balanced and well-behaved, as well, and we should not patronize cruel or callous breeding practices.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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