LGD Breed Selection

Discussion of the training, use, and management of guard dogs, guard llamas, guard donkeys, guard goldfish, etc.

LGD Breed Selection

Postby Tully Creek » Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:24 pm

I've been studying LGDs figuring I'd get one (or two) some day and now that coyotes have claimed an ewe it is time to do something about it. I know there is no guarantee a particular individual will work a certain way, and environment is extremely variable from one setup to another, but I want to try and start in the right direction.

I'm looking for a close working dog that won't leave its sheep. I have 25 sheep on 11 acres that is divided into two parts. I'm in a remote area with one close neighbor whom I'm on excellent terms with. My main predators are coyotes, but there is a small possibility of bears and cougars. I have border collies that I want the LGD to get along with. I have cats and chickens too and figure any issue there would be more of a training problem than a inborn problem. I'm probably looking at getting a pup as they are easier to find, less expensive, and I enjoy doing the pup thing. I know that means I can't count on it before it's at least two. I should have started earlier.

So what breed (or mix) sounds best? I know I want the parents working in a way I want my dog to work, but is there a starting point? In the information I've seen, I think I'm leaning toward a Maremma. They seem to fit the bill. A Pyr is also a thought, but I believe they tend to want to roam more. Also it seems to be a bit harder to find a working Pyr and not a show bred dog. I'm also not fond of a lot of coat, living as I do in the land of foxtails and burrs.

I'm looking for peoples thoughts and experience. If you know of anyone with something available, that would be good too!
Jennifer Stewart
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Postby Janet McNally » Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:10 pm

Hi Jennifer,

The Maremma is a very close working dog, but lately it seems that purebred Maremmas have a lot of chase in them. So I'd prefer to breed the Maremma to a more mellow dog like the Pyr or a Spanish Mastiff (close cousin to the Pyr but with a short hair coat). Be aware the working Spanish Mastiff (the farmer's dog) is not quite the same as the purebred show/pet dogs, so be sure to check the source of the Spanish genetics.

Each breed has individuals that stand out as being close working or more trustworthy, and there are a few Maremmas I've heard about that sound like trustworthy dogs, and Pyrs that are close working, so do not overlook simply checking out what is available near to you. If the parents are doing the job the way you want it done, and in similar conditions, their pups should be worth your consideration.

Janet
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Re: LGD Breed Selection

Postby Von Dykstra » Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:08 am

Tully Creek wrote:. I'm also not fond of a lot of coat, living as I do in the land of foxtails and burrs.

I'm looking for peoples thoughts and experience. If you know of anyone with something available, that would be good too!


Well I was just about to tell you about the great job both of our "Great Pyrneese" do when I got to this last line above. They have quite coat of protection on them. I got both of mine from rescues as pups. One was aprox 8 weeks old and the other was 7 months old. Every night we hear coyotes screaming and yet we have never had a predator loss. Quite a testament.

There is a vet in a town called Parsons very close to me that raises "Anatonian Shepherds". (20 percent chance of correct spelling at best) But they are known to be a more agressive guard dog and their coat is probably more what your looking for. I have never owned one...this vet and I talk pretty often and always compare notes on the guard dogs.

Rescues can be great places and can also be nut cases. And I am not talking about the dogs. They seem to have the instincts built in.
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Re: LGD Breed Selection

Postby Janet McNally » Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:34 am

Von Dykstra wrote:Rescues can be great places and can also be nut cases. And I am not talking about the dogs. They seem to have the instincts built in.


I have not had good luck with rescue dogs. The dogs that failed me, failed because although they had good built in instincts alright.... they did not have the proper socialization as pups (reared in town) to understand who was to be guarded and who was to be killed. The result was one rescue that would kill a sheep from the neighboring pasture as it crept through the fence to join the sheep on the LGD's side of the fence. Or another dog that thought 'we' needed to be protected from the wooly monsters. and yet another dog could not be made to stay where she was needed. When I realized these rescue dogs were costing me more in damage or hassel than what a properly socialized pup cost me, I gave up on the idea of accepting rescued dogs.

Having said that, I HAVE heard of rescue dogs that worked for people. My speculation is that these may have been by nature more mellow dogs with a lower guarding instinct to begin with. I am not aware of anyone who keeps sheep in a remote location that was able to get a town raised rescue to stay with the sheep. So I also suspect that flock owners who's sheep are adjacent to the farm yard will be more succesful than those who's sheep move far from the homestead.

Ray Coppinger once said something that stuck with me. He was speaking about the window of socialization, and how important it is that a dog be socialized with its charges between 4 weeks and 4 months of age. He compared this window to children learning a foriegn language. evidently if a person learns a foreign language before puberty, they will speak it well without an accent. But if they learn the new language after puberty, they will be able to speak, but always with a noticeable accent. Introducing dogs to sheep after 4 months is comperable to a human learning a language after puberty...they might be able to do their job, but will always do it with an accent.

Having good instincts is only part of what makes a dog succeed...early puppyhood socialization is very important too.

Janet
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Postby Von Dykstra » Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:19 pm

Sorry to hear your having troubles with LGDs.
Thats the best thing about this forum. The exchange of ideas and what works and what dont work. One thing may work for some that wont work for others too.

There are not a lot of sheep grown here where I live mainly due to flocks killed by dogs or coyotes. If one farmer loses his flock to coyotes, then 10 others wont even try. The LGD was the answer to the problem.

With the male Great Pyreneese, I have had 100% sucess. And all came from rescues. Here are my tips that i have learned:
1- Do NOT and I repeat do NOT just throw the GP into the sheep. It has to be a get to know the sheep type of thing. A creep gate for a young one. A come and go type thing for a older one.
2- never ever feed or take the GP to the house.
3-Only feed, pet or give treats to the GP in the attendance of sheep.
4-GP more then any other dog I have known wants to "check" things out. If they wander to your house (see #2) they will eventually wander back up.
5- They bond to the sheep more and more each day. My rescue that is in with the sheep now, gets nervous if he is not in with the sheep. Sleeps with them. Walks with them...always positions him self where he can see them all.
Its pure art work to watch him or his instincts work. he can even handle my biggest ram. If the Ram trys to butt him, he places a paw on the rams head.
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Postby Tully Creek » Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:39 pm

I've considered rescue, but since I need something specific, I'd rather have the better odds one gets from a good breeder. I don't have enough resources to chance a 100+ pound dog that doesn't work.

I have heard of both close working and more territory oriented Pyrs. There seem to be quite a few show bred dogs as well, and I'm not going there. All in all, it seems Pyrs are too variable, at least around here. Then there's all that coat. I can always shave it, and would probably have too, but sure would like to avoid it if possible.

I have pretty much rejected an Anatolian. They (so I hear) tend to be more territory oriented, and it can be a large territory at that. I have heard of more problems with them than any other breed used around here. They also make up the most popular breed. Probably because of the short coat. I don't think they would fit my needs.

I have never seen a working Spanish Mastiff. They sound very good.
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Postby Von Dykstra » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:05 pm

Tully Creek wrote: I don't have enough resources to chance a 100+ pound dog that doesn't work. .


This is one problem you would not have to worry about if you use a creditable rescue no matter what breed as they have a return policy. Meaning not only will they take the dog back. They are required to take it back.

Good luck and looking forward to hearing the breed you choose and how they do.
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Postby Von Dykstra » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:26 pm

Image

Learning how to post Pictures and since were on the topic. The one one the left is my Chief of Security. The one one Right is a female we got in shape for another flock.

The sheep were drinking so they had a break. Sealed the door. You can see the back of one sheep towards the bottom of the picture
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Postby Janet McNally » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:29 pm

Hi Von,

I have not had 'bad luck' with LGDs. just bad luck with rescue LGDs. I have a team of 9 hardworking LGDs working for me now. you can meet them at www.tamaracksheep.com click on guardians.

Janet
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Postby DeltaBluez Tess » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:30 pm

My two Great Pyr came fomr working lines


Kodiak- was from a working breeder who had the grandsire, sire and early litter siblings on her place and they were all working dogs. She guarantees them too. Kodiak is outstanding with his sheep, saved them from a burning barn and got burned in the process

Then I needed a second dog but Kerry did not have any litters so I got one from Eric. Taro's parents work with 1000 plus sheep. Taro is a success.....very protective.

Both dogs are awesome.

Diane
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Postby DeltaBluez Tess » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:39 pm

Image

Victoria and Kodiak. They grew up together. Kodi was 3 month old and Victoria was 5 months old when they first met. They sleep together and he lets her lambs crawl all over him and sleep on top of him


~diane
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