Jan Dohner wrote:Hi Nicole
Questions to ask yourself -
Like Cj mentioned what is your location and dog experience? Both of these things influence breed selection, as well as your predator load.
As a very very general rule - remember all dogs are individuals so they vary - the breeds that come from western Europe tend to be more laid back and less reactive. Reactive means how fast they respond to a threat and at what level. A Pyr (and similar breeds from Spain, Portugal, and Italy) tends to give plenty of warning, progressing to bluffing and threatening, and only attacking when the threat doesn't back away. This tends to make them better for owners with less large dog experience, close neighbors, a fewer large predators (bears, wolves, big cats) or groups of coyotes or wolves.
The far eastern breeds from eastern Europe, Russia, and central Asia are at the other end of the spectrum - very fast to react and very aggressive to predators and threats, including strangers. The Turkish breeds - Akbash, Anatolian, and Kangal - are generally someplace between that, somewhat more reactive, yet still measured, and perhaps more aggressive to predators.
Some breeds also do well on large open range - Akbash, Sarplaninac, Anatolian, Kangal, and others. Other breeds do much better where they have lots of human interaction - Maremma, Pyr, Kuvasz, Karakachan, Central Asian Shepherd, Caucasian Ovcharka, Tibetan Mastiff, and others
I am not a big fan of crossbreeding two different breeds to "get something in between" - breeding dogs is not like mixing paint. Blue and yellow don't make green. A litter between a Pyr and an Anatolian will result in some pups like mom, some pups like dad, and some pups a mixture. Some pups will look like mom and act like dad. You lose predictability when crossbreeding - it's basic genetics.
Many folks like the idea of using two or more different breeds, such as a Maremma who tends to stick with stock and a Kangal who patrols more remotely. The big flock owners in the west are starting to do just that - some close work dogs and some more aggressive dogs. Right now the USDA is conducting a log term study placing some of these breeds with ranchers to gauge their better success with the large predators and packs.