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LGD advice and sources in New England

 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 297
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Hi all - I'm looking for advice on some breeds that might work for my situation and hopefully some pointers toward breeders or other sources in the New England area. We're on ~14 acres and currently have no livestock, but will be bringing in ducks this year and then goats short-term (up to 2 years), eventually bringing in sheep/pigs/chickens/dexter cows over the years. Since we're looking at needing people protection just as much as livestock protection, will be having mainly tasty looking ducks to start with, don't enjoy listening to our dogs bark at mouse farts, and the property is a little small for a wanderer like Great Pyrenees, what breeds would you suggest for us? Also, we don't have many visitors, but would prefer that the dog doesn't attack strangers without good reason and plenty of warning. Our relative lack of experience in raising LGDs is also a concern so a smart dog that easily "gets" what the job entails would be a huge plus.

Oh, being in central Maine and needing this protection year-round, the dog will definitely need to be able to handle chilly temps and inclement weather, so a decent coat is important. There will be protection from the elements provided, along with regular meals and a good amount of love/attention (possibly too much, but that's another thread!), but an LGD doesn't sleep in the house on your feet at night

Two breeds I've been looking at:
Akbash
Should do well with smaller "livestock" like ducks as long as he doesn't go hungry Also generally good about not attacking strangers out of hand. They're said to be fairly quiet unless there's reason to raise alarm. What I don't know about these guys is their tendency on wandering. Are they good about sticking to their assigned handful of acres and not taking casual jaunts to the next town over?

American Eskimo
Smart enough to learn multiple jobs including guarding and herding while not having any birding breed background that might trigger an unexpected overnight duck hunt. They're said to be very loyal dogs that are always looking to please, which is a huge plus in training. There will be plenty of additional jobs we could use a hand (or paw) with including simple, almost silly things like carrying water and/or tools when we're out working. An Eskie will likely become more of a guardian for his people than an Akbash or other true LGD, but that job slot is certainly open around here and filling it would be very welcome.

Any others I'm missing that might work better for our situation and expectations?

I've searched the web a bit, sent out some feelers (emails) and scoped the local classified type listings, but there's definitely a "hidden world" when it comes to these types of dogs (and those being bred for these types of jobs). We're also not rich and looking for show-quality dogs - we only truly care that 1) he keeps the coyotes and foxes away at night, 2) he doesn't eat the ducks and goats when we're not looking, and 3) we don't get a call from 30 miles away that our dog took a nature hike and he wants a ride home. Any tips or suggestions on finding a breeder or other source would be very helpful and welcome.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Tristan Vitali wrote:Hi all - I'm looking for advice on some breeds that might work for my situation and ...don't enjoy listening to our dogs bark at mouse farts


I'd say the big white dogs (true LGDs) are not for you. They bark first and ask questions later. FYI, they don't attack strangers unless provoked.They even barked when I slipped and fell on my deck stairs (it was an out of the ordinary sound!). You might be better off with an all around farm dog and I don't normally suggest that. Just don't get a "bird dog" or you'll be setting both you & the dog up for failure if you keep ducks.
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 297
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Thanks for the honest assessment CJ. I definitely don't mind some barking when it's warranted, but those dogs that just bark and bark all night for no reason, or bark because a car went by, or bark because another dog down the road barked...that's what I'd like to avoid. I enjoy the serene and peaceful sounds - dogs barking is not so serene and peaceful (of course, it's not supposed to be!)

We're unsettled at best on the whole thing as we do want a dog that's going to stick by the people and one that's going to stick by the livestock. Since we don't even have the livestock yet, it makes sense to put that part off for now and focus on an obedient, easy to train, multi-tasking dog that can stick by the people and then "help out" when the livestock do start arriving. If the woman of the house had it her way, we'd have another toy pomeranian... I certainly need to compromise a little, but we also don't want to be feeding the wildlife
 
Quintin Holmberg
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Location: Minnesota
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The only one of the dogs you mention that I know anything about is the Pyr. My Pyr, Maddie, is everything you described ... both good and bad.

She's a great, big, white ball of love. I had to train her not to play with the chickens. She didn't want to attack them, she just wanted to run and play. They did not appreciate that, though.

She will bark, though. Not all the time but, if there is something to bark at out on the other side of the fence, she's gonna bark at it.

This is her kick'n it with one of our cats, Albus.

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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If you do end up wanting a LGD Pat's pastured in Rhode Island is breeding an LGD mix.
 
John Polk
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I had to train her not to play with the chickens. She didn't want to attack them, she just wanted to run and play.

Dogs will be dogs. Was that in her puppy days? Sounds normal.
I've never met a puppy that didn't want to play with everything. LOL

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Here's the link to Pat's Pastured
 
Quintin Holmberg
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Location: Minnesota
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John Polk wrote:Dogs will be dogs. Was that in her puppy days? Sounds normal.
I've never met a puppy that didn't want to play with everything. LOL

Oh yeah ... absolutely normal. She was one year old. So, she did not look much like a puppy but she was one.
 
Cj Sloane
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Quintin Holmberg wrote:...I had to train her not to play with the chickens. She didn't want to attack them, she just wanted to run and play.


My LGDs have all killed a chicken by accident. Even one chicken who did like to play tag with the dog wound up face down in the coop one day (too much fun?). After the 1st death they are much more careful.
 
Amos Burkey
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Tristan, I was in a situation similar to yours. We have about 14 acres and we are slowly building it into a homestead. We had two wolf hybrids, now only one. They are not the best at protecting live stock. I began researching LGD's. There are plenty of good breeds out there. I ended up finding an add on a certain person's list for a great pyrenees puppy. We fell in love with the little white furball. We have had her for about 1 year and we have not regretted it. She does bark more than we were used to. Our previous dogs did not bark much, howled a bit though. She does not wander too much. She does leave the edge of the property to challenge coyotes and other 'bad guys'. Though, mostly, she stays and watches for danger. She is still a little playful, but much easier to live with than our wolf dogs were as puppies. I do not think our LGD is too skilled at protecting our place from strangers. She is pretty friendly to people, which is good and bad. Mostly good I think. She does watch our 3 year old daughter pretty well, but not as good as a wolf dog. Our female wolf dog, who is now deceased, would protect our daughter, and us too, until the end. She was very wolfy and protective. I just don't see that in our great pyrenees. All in all we are very happy with our LGD and as she starts to mature we will add some small animals into her territory.

I am not sure the American Eskimo would be a good choice. I believe they will have too much of the chase and kill instinct. In my experience, instinct is difficult to overcome with training. I am not an expert dog trainer.

Hopefully you find a good dog to add to your farm, no matter the breed. Maybe the right dog will find you.
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 297
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Well, I bit the bullet and bought a pup from far and away. She'll be flying in on Friday night - 3/4 Great Pyrenees and 1/4 Anatolian Shepard. Parents are working dogs

We'll be getting a boy later this year as well, from different parentage and possibly full-blood Gr Py, and will hopefully breed them down the line a ways...and if so, Permies gets a deal on pupsters

Thank you all again for your help
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 297
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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After her long flight from the deep south, Casey wanted to thank you all too

https://vimeo.com/93925568
 
John Polk
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I'll bet she was happy to see people after being caged in a cargo bay.
Hope that all works out well for you (all).
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Resist the urge to treat her like a family dog. LGDs tend to work out better when bonded to stock very early so that'll be tricky with no livestock.

Just remember what you wrote in your first post "an LGD doesn't sleep in the house on your feet at night"
 
Message for you sir! I think it is a tiny ad:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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