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Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) for goats?

 
Jordan Struck
Posts: 65
Location: Oregon (zone 7b), 31.3 inches/yr rainfall
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What are some good dog breeds for being LGDs (other than the traditional Great Pyrenees, Maremma, Kuvasz, etc.)? Wouldn't a herding dog do a decent job (like a border collie)? I'm confused about why herding dogs are never listed as LGDs. Is a giant of a a dog really necessary?

Sorry about all the newb/obvious questions.
 
Peter Smith
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Location: NEPA
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I suppose it depends on your predators. If you have rats, a rat dog would work. Wolves, bears, pack of coyotes, I would want as big as I can get. I have an Akbash, 130lbs. Big and gentle and awesome. If you have large predator pressure, a team of large dogs is recommended.
 
Cj Sloane
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The search function here is horrible but if you type "permies livestock guard dogs" into google you get tons are great hits like:
http://www.permies.com/t/6218/predators/Small-Livestock-Guard-Dog
http://www.permies.com/t/28766/predators/Good-guard-dog-livestock-children
http://www.permies.com/t/3555/predators/LGD
http://www.permies.com/t/19644/dogs-cats/LGD-situation
http://www.permies.com/t/29842/predators/LGD-protection-family-livestock

Herding dogs are totally different from LGDs. They have and use "the eye" and control the stock. LGDs don't control the stock. They protect the stock.

In my experience a 40 lb herding dog eats more than a 140 lb LGD. If you watch them for 15 minutes you'll see why.
 
Jen Simons
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LGDs are meant to be left in with the livestock and have 1000's of years of breeding to establish the protective instinct. As long as the pups are properly bred and raised with the livestock (or even just properly introduced as an adult) they live and care for their flock 24/7.

Herding dogs were bred for 100s of years to herd, which is a variation on using a hunting instinct. Very few herding dogs can be trusted to live in a flock, unsupervised, 24/7.

I own Kuvasz. When I moved to my current property and visited the neighbour's ponies she warned me they are dog killers. There were lots of farm collies and GSDs that tended to "visit" uninvited. The chased the horses for fun, bit and injured them. But the horses immediately loved my Kuvasz. They have a much calmer energy, and mover very quietly around stock so as not to agitate them.

The two types of dogs work very differently and have very different temperaments.
 
David Livingston
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Herding dogs are great but I would not trust them to guard a rock frankly . They need to be worked 24/7 other wise as the old saying goes the devil makes work for idle hands.

David
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Jordan,

Lots of good information here. I'll add that herding and protecting arre two different activities, as someone already said, herding is an off shoot of hunting instincts. herding dogs are high energy too.

I have a Komondor. She weighs more than 100 pounds, doesn't eat a lot. She is a big lover. I think this runs through the LGDs. It is their attachment to their creatures, be they human or livestock, that makes them guard us. My Komondor was supposed to imprint on the chickens. That did not work that well. The chickens were not snuggly. Puppies want to snuggle up and be loved. They are pack animals after all, their life is their group. Now I have goats, and Rags does consider them part of her territory, but she also would like them to run and play chase with her. i think if she had been a puppy with does and kids, or ewes and lambs, the adult animals would have taught her not to do that. At this point, I believe Komondors at least, need to be exposed to the animals as pups, so they bond to the flock, not to the humans, and the adult animals can participate in the dog's training.

I have a lot of walkers on my road, going past my place, and though I was trying to have the dog bond to the animals, and did not let her in the house, the passers by spoiled her. The called her name, they petted her, they encouraged her to jump up. No amount of public education could get people to curtail their activities. Rags could easily go over my 5 foot fence or under it, as the soil is light and sandy, and as i said she is big and powerful, so in the end I let her in so she would bond to me, not go along with whom ever called her name from the road, not go looking for people when ever she felt like it. Now, at last, she has settled in to adult hood, but it was a long hard road. At one point I wanted to give her to a friend who's place is much more isolated, and my friend would say "any day now she is going to lie down and be a really good dog. That was 3 years. She is wonderful. I no longer worry about her going over or under the fence. She is bonded our home. She sleeps outside at night and keeps track of what ever. She interacts regularly with a skunk who lives under the neighbor's barn. And she barks at night. I don't know about the LGD breeds, but barking is a joy to Rags. I can tell her to stop and she does, for a while. There are mountain lions and coyotes in the cliffs and canyons across the street, raccoons in the neighborhood. They all know she lives here. You can tell by her bark that she is huge. I figure the barking is good information for the wildlife in the canyons. Why would they come here to eat my chickens and goats, when they could go to any of the neighbors, and not have to deal with Rags.

Also keep in mind that LGDs are independent thinkers. Their heritage and their history is all about making independent and instantaneous decisions. They are large and powerful, and they work together to protect their charges from large and ferocious predators. They need to know people are alpha for sure, but when they think something is amiss, they act and they act NOW! It is asking a lot of a Komondor to obey someone else's judgement and assessment of a situation and what needs to happen. This has its advantages, and brings challenges.

I love my Rags beyond measure, am very glad to have her, but life with her is not boring or uncomplicated.

T
 
Ray Star
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Location: twin tiers of WNY zone 5A
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Jordan, my great pyrnees wts 68.8lbs, took her to vet friday for check up. Not full grown, but not thinking she's gonna get that much bigger.
I will second the barking. The only time she is quiet is when she's in the house. Which means sweaping up tumble weed size puffs of white hair, on a daily basis. Can't wait for logging rd to our camp to open up, so I can get her and my goats back up to our property. Definitly not a good fit for city/ village life, for that reason, IMO. On the other hand, she did a great job keeping the bears and coyotes away (and the deer, my mate bitched). She probably eats half of what my golden eats. She doesn't like strangers, but usually keeps about a 3ft distance between herself and them, when they come around. HATES 4 wheelers. Those she'll attack, if given a chance. All in all, I think she's just what I needed, for my little 26 acre homestead. I'm taking heart in what Thekla said about her dog calming down, by the time she was three. My Mara, likes to pounce on our golden, just pile drive him to the ground, and I was afraid she might do the same to the goats, if she had the chance. She's put on a runner by their shelter, while they are in an encloser with electrical fencing. As she is only going to be turning 2 this year, I'll wait to let her roam in there with them. Hopefully next year. Even so the goats seemed to know she was there to protect them. I came up the trail, in full face camo, during last yrs hunting season, and the goats ran to the fence and pressed up as close to her as they could get, while she stood ready to challenge me, Till i took my cover off. Made me soo proud.lol
As for birds, was hoping to get some chickens this yr, if I can keep the golden away. Last spring( before we got the goats) Mara kept spending the nights a little ways down the hill. We didn't discover why that was, untill about 2 seconds before Boomer (golden) did. He ripped into a birds ground nest, killing the chicks. The same nest she had been keeping watch over. As we cant keep both dogs off lease at the same time( they take off together), she was unable to stop him. I have no doubts, she'll protect any chickens I bring up, if I set up thier coup close to her run.
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Mara
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Ray Star wrote:She doesn't like strangers, but usually keeps about a 3ft distance between herself and them, when they come around.


My Maremma doesn't like strangers but she will stand between me and a stranger she is unsure about. He's gentle but all the stranger sees is an 80lb+ dog making it's presence known.
 
Jordan Struck
Posts: 65
Location: Oregon (zone 7b), 31.3 inches/yr rainfall
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Do you think LGDs are more likely to bite? Or just take longer to warm up, but are not aggressive per se?
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I hope there are plenty of comments answering this question, as I only know my opinion and don't want it to stand alone.

I don't think it is a matter of readiness to bite or taking awhile to warm up. I think it has to do with the LGDs assessment of the situation. I've heard of dogs who always place themselves between intruder and flock member (human or 4 legged). When I drove to Idaho to get my pup, I had never so much as laid eyes upon a komondor. I had only what I could learn from online research. I read a story of a komondor holding a burglar on the ground with jaws on the intruder's neck. The dog was absolutely certain this individual was up to no good, and was reluctant to let the intruder up with the owner's urging, and the police present. I think you could have an aggressive LGD, but I think it would be rare. Inappropriate aggression would be cause for the other LGDs to intervene, likely kill the inappropriately aggressive dog. For a thousand generations, the ones with an aggressive nature were selected against by their own packmates. During those years, the adult herbivores butted and chastised the LGDs as pups, helped with their training. Aggression was bred out of them. Affection (for the flock) was selected, protectiveness was selected, powerful build, savvy fighter, cooperative with the other LGDs optimized all these many long years.

Most people I know vow their LGDs are affectionate gentle and loving. I always HOPE my LGD would intervene if an intruder came, and I was not safe, but I have not found out, and really guess I'd rather never find out. She did allow herself to be dognapped last summer, went with what appeared to her to be a nice boy, I guess, got in his car and rode away.... I did get her back, but that's another story.

Read everything you can get your hands on about LGDs, and imagine them in the conditions in which their breeds differentiated from the other canine races. They lived in the flock of herbivores, they did independent patrols, worked independently or in teams, without human direction. All canines are pack animals, LGDs pack was associated with a specific flock of herbivores, they bonded to those particular herbivores, they imprinted on a set of conditions of how things ought to be, and the rest of their lives, they maintained that set of conditions or died trying.

The LGD has a sense of responsibility and will be true to how ever the individual LGD perceives her responsibility. They monitor the situation, place themselves strategically, at the ready, will respond with what ever force they deem necessary. I think if they perceive something "off" about a particular individual, they will never warm up to him, might tolerate his presence, but be watchful when ever the individual is present. As long as that 'off" individual human didn't try any funny business, it is unlikely the LGD would attack or bite.

I don't see them as biting. Little yappy dogs bite (I have one of those too). Little dogs are worriers, and it makes sense. They are fragile creatures, an accidental contact with a moving foot could injure them, they yip and snap to keep their way clear. If I step over my little dog, she is alarmed, she jumps up, she runs under where my foot will come down. (staying still would have kept her out of harms way, but she is an alarmist). On the other hand the LGD is large and self assured. It would take a lot to injure her, and she knows it. She is a benevolent giant. You can step over her, lie on her... so what, she doesn't care, she likes the contact. If you fall on her she'll just look up to try to figure out wha'? But she'll forgive you the inconvenience you caused her. They don't bite or nip or snap, they're not trying to bluff you or frighten you. They're quietly capable of stopping you in your tracks, with almost no effort at all, and they know it.

I look forward to reading the opinions of others on this.

Thekla

 
Jordan Struck
Posts: 65
Location: Oregon (zone 7b), 31.3 inches/yr rainfall
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Would 2 goats and some ducks on a half acre be enough for an LGD (or two)? I have a lot more land than that, but the rest is orchard, is not fenced, and obviously not accessible to the goats.
 
Cj Sloane
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Yes.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I'm with CJ. And once your dog knows where home is, you don't have to keep her in the half acre enclosure.

If you don't have a lot of experience with dogs, or with establishing and maintaining your alpha role, I recommend the Cesar Milan DVDs. I got them from my local library. I think that without them I would not understand the dog's need for leadership, and that it was on me to provide that. Without this learning, I believe my dog would not have become a well adjusted adult, and would have been dangerous.

T
 
Cj Sloane
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Thekla McDaniels wrote: And once your dog knows where home is, you don't have to keep her in the half acre enclosure.


I'm going to disagree with that, especially for Great Pyrenees (who have been know to disaPyr). Pyrs have a natural range of 15 miles! Maremmas have a more reasonable 1 mile range.
 
Jordan Struck
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What's the difference in Mareema and Pyrenees attitudes? What about mixes?
 
Cj Sloane
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The range is the only difference I know of.
 
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