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Backyard LGD

 
C Wilkes
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Can anyone recommend a good guard dog for a small backyard operation? The yard itself is maybe 1/2 an acre so a big dog that likes to roam won't be content. I currently have rabbits and will be adding quail in a month. The main predators in suburban SC are hawks, snakes, rats, raccoons, opossums, and coyotes. In the 2 years I have had my rabbits, I have never been troubled with predators even though my neighborhood has lost most of its cats and one poodle to coyotes. But now that my operation is expanding and I plan to make a profit, I want to assure the safety of my animals.

Mainly, I want a guard dog to deter smaller predators and alert me to bigger ones. Guarding the house itself would be a plus.

Do certain breeds fit this criteria or am I looking for almost any dog that barks?

Thanks
 
Miranda Converse
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If you will be keeping both the rabbits and quail in pens, I would imagine just about any dog would try to protect it's territory. If the rabbits and quail won't be in predator-proof pens, you might want to be a bit more choosy about what type of dog you get because then the dog may become the predator. There are several types of dogs that are bred to protect livestock, one being the Great Pyrenees. If you are willing to pay a pretty penny for a LGD, a lot of times people will raise them around chickens to make sure they won't go after the smaller livestock.

You could also look into guinea fowl. They are known as 'guard dogs' and will sound an alert if there are any intruders and will even kill smaller animals like snakes. Although some people don't like them because they will alert to anything that moves and can be loud. I've been on the fence about getting some for a while now...

Right now, my best guardian is my peacock. He will chase anything out of my yard that isn't supposed to be there. I just got a new goat the other day and he jumped on her back because she was an outsider. Once he realized we wanted her there, he let her be. Peafowl probably aren't the best for 1/2 an acre though, they wander quite a bit. Not terribly helpful, but I just wanted to point out that an LGD doesn't necessarily have to be a dog.

 
John Polk
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From everybody I have talked to, Great Pyrenees are not a good dog for small holdings.
I have heard people say that even 5 acres is too small for a GP.
They love to roam their territory.

 
Miranda Converse
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Oh yea, I guess I should have clarified. I do not have a Great Pyrenees and have no experience with their needs. I just know I have seen them advertised around here as "raised with poultry" and that was the one breed that stuck out to me as an example of a breed raised specifically to be an LGD. There are plenty of other breeds and a lot of dog breeds not even meant to be LGDs are trained to be LGDs.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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In my experience Sheep Dogs- if trained from a young age- have no problem adopting all sorts of critters as part of their family to be protected.

Granted my only experience is with Shelties and Collies, neither of which is qualified to deal with a coyote on its own. A German shepherd would likely be good deterrent to a single coyote, but I wouldn't exactly count on him being able to kill it either, unless explicitly trained to fight to kill.

That being said! My family had a 'pack' of three shelties while I was growing up, and the story as my uncle told it is that they used pack tactics to harass a coyote into giving up and running off.

Take this with a grain of salt, I didn't witness it first hand but I have no reason to disbelieve my source.
 
Juniper Zen
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Location: Oakland, California
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Mainly, I want a guard dog to deter smaller predators and alert me to bigger ones. Guarding the house itself would be a plus.

Do certain breeds fit this criteria or am I looking for almost any dog that barks?


A terrier would likely be a good choice for small predator and pest control, IF your chickens and rabbits are in secure pens. Consider also the energy and typical noise level of the breed. Terriers are very high energy, even when running around 1/2 an acre. Shelties, as mentioned above, have long coats and are known for being major barkers - perhaps not the best dog to live outdoors with neighbors around.

If you want a typical LGD, there's a Facebook group for finding them called "LGD Locator": https://www.facebook.com/groups/LGDLocator/
You'll want one that was raised around small livestock.

I know there are guarding breeds that tend to just hang with their charges rather than roaming (like Great Pyrs tend to do), but don't know which they are off hand. But individual personality and a particular breeder's lines can vary wildly from the "norm" for each breed, so I'd cast a wide net, looking at typical behavior for a particular breeder's lines rather than just breed stereotypes. Or get an adult with proven abilities.
 
C Wilkes
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I like the idea about guard birds! If I lived a little farther from nosey neighbors I could probably get away with it. But I doubt that I can convince them that the sounds in my yard are from native birds....
 
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