Humans have been domesticating dogs for a very long time now since they make incredibly loyal companions and have a really great set of instincts that come in handy. There is a wide variety of dogs out there, every type has its own unique traits and characteristics, there are some dogs that make great family pets due to their friendly and lovable nature, and some types have a naturally strong urge to protect and defend. Today we are going to be taking a look at several of the guard dog breeds for farms and livestock protection, dog breeds that have been selectively bred to enhance their already sharp senses to make them incredibly reliable guardians.
Many people have begun keeping guard dogs to keep their property safe, and if we take a look at dog breeding history we can tell that many of the top guard dogs that exist today come from carefully developed lineages. In fact, many modern-day guard dogs have been bred to help livestock farmers control their herds and keep them safe from predators, farmers prefer having a loyal guard dog by their side due to the fact (as stated by W.F Andelt in “Livestock Guard Dogs, Llamas and Donkeys”) that these guard dogs have an advanced level of intelligence that makes them capable enough of watching over an entire herd without a farmer having to be present.
Having a guard dog on your farm can significantly boost your property’s security, keeping it safe from wild animals and trespassers as well, but before we begin taking a look at different guard dog breeds, we should take a brief look at how you should train a guard dog.
Training Your Guard Dog
When purchasing a guard dog, you will have two options; either adopt an adult dog or get a puppy and raise it yourself, getting an adult dog will obviously provide you with faster results, however, if you really want a strong bond of loyalty and companionship then it is better to go for a puppy.
When buying a puppy, you should make sure to check for its lineage, purchase from a knowledgeable breeder who can provide you with all the details about the puppy’s lineage. Once you have found yourself a well-bred puppy, you must begin training your dog immediately to ensure discipline. Remember, when it comes to training your dog, you need to work on their manners, their obedience, and most of all, their sociability. Guard dogs are suspicious and protective by nature, so they tend to become hostile towards strangers and new things quickly.
A guard dog that only has its instincts to go on will try to attack anything that is not their owner, however, if they are frequently exposed to new things and people then they quickly learn to tell apart good and bad things.
An interesting thing to note is that farm guard dogs are not always big and bulky, you can find dogs of all shapes and sizes serving as protectors on various farms. This is because of the fact that strength alone is not enough to determine the effectiveness of a guard dog, one must also take into account a dog’s ability to meld in with the livestock, attentively watch over the farm throughout the day and carry out its duties without being a burden for their owner.
We can break down farm guard dog breeds into four categories:
- Livestock protectors
- Animal herders
- Pest controllers
- Multipurpose dogs
There are a number of dog breeds that are great for watching over your livestock, these dogs do not necessarily need to be big, but they are expected to have a loud bark that can scare away wild animals and alert the owner, and have a high attention span that allows them to stay vigilant day and night. Some breeds that are popular for livestock protection include the Great Pyrenees and the Tibetan Mastiff.
There has been plenty of research on the effectiveness of guard dogs that proves just how much of a difference they can make, a study by Maximiliano A. Sepúlveda, Randall S. Singer, Eduardo Silva-Rodríguez, Paulina Stowhas, and Katharine Pelican states that 60% of farms in rural areas depend on dogs as a primary means of protection from wildlife.
Animal herding is a hands-on job that requires attentiveness and the ability to lead animals from their pens to pastures and back again. Dog breeds that are effective at herding tend to be highly trainable, capable of learning a variety of commands and following them with absolute obedience. German Shepherd are perhaps one of the most well-known herding dogs in the world and believe it or not, corgis were bred for herding as well, their small size and active nature makes them perfect for guiding larger livestock.
Predators and trespassers are not the only source of trouble for a farm, pests pose an equally dangerous threat as they are capable of destroying a farm from the inside. A minor infestation can quickly grow to become a nuisance that destroys crops and causes trouble for your livestock. This is why farms also employ dogs for pest control, these kind of jobs are handled well by dog breeds that have great tracking ability and are preferably smaller in size so that they can explore nooks and crannies better.
For people who do not feel up to the challenge of training and keeping multiple dogs on their farms, there are dog breeds that are kind of like all-rounders, capable of guarding your livestock while also hunting down pests and keeping them from infesting your farm.
Now that we know all that there is to know about farm guard dogs, let’s take a look at some great dog breeds to have.
The Best Guard Dogs For Farms
- The Great Pyrenees
- Maremma Sheepdog
- Pyrenean Mastiff
- Polish Tatra Sheepdog
- Anatolian Shepherd
- Tibetan Mastiff
The Great Pyrenees
This dog breed comes from the Pyrenees Mountains where it was primarily used as a herding dog, however, thanks to their patient and calm nature, they also make great livestock guardians. In fact, nowadays the Great Pyrenees is a popular farm guard dog that works great with smaller animals and becomes very aggressive towards predators and trespassers. Apart from being alert, calm, and defensive, this dog breed has a nocturnal nature which allows it to watch over livestock night and day.
These dogs can be quite friendly with their owner and are recommended for people who live in colder regions since they have a thick fur coat.
An ideal herding dog from Italy, the Maremma is a rather large animal that can look intimidating at first, however, it has a very gentle and loving nature that makes it not only a great pet but also a great guard for your livestock. Farmers with sheep will find this dog particularly useful since they have great herding ability, a strong territorial nature which makes them a force to be reckoned with by animals and trespassers.
A Turkish dog breed that can weigh as much as 140 pounds and reach a shoulder height of 35 inches, it is an alert dog with an intimidating presence and a calm nature. The Akbash has incredibly sharp senses that quickly alert it to any unusual noises or activity in its vicinity. It can act as a very reliable guard dog for small and large animals, as well as a formidable herding dog that can take on even the largest predators that one might encounter while herding.
This muscly and elegant dog breed hails from Hungary and was primarily bred to act as a pack hunting dog, it is a popular choice amongst people who want a hardy livestock guard as well as a reliable guard dog for their homes. We have already covered this dog in another article about guard dogs, you can learn more about the Kuvasz here.
A pretty big dog breed, the Pyrenean Mastiff’s heavy and shaggy coat is its most distinguishing factor. These dogs are known for being incredibly calm, patient, and highly dependable, their large frame makes them powerful and intimidating to look at, making them suitable for home and farm guard duty. Pyrenean Mastiffs are generally gentle towards their owner and flock, and there is hardly anything out there that can scare this dog. Due to their independent nature, these dogs need to be trained with a firm hand and must be socialized religiously, otherwise, they can become disobedient.
The Komondor is one of the biggest dogs out there, it is related to the Hungarian Kuvasz and has a very unique look thanks to its shaggy, dreadlock type fur coat. Its shaggy coat and short legs can be deceptive as they make the dog seem smaller and hide its well-built body, however, both of these traits make it a great herding dog since it can easily blend in with the herd, especially if it is herding sheep.
These dogs are usually calm and laid back, however, it becomes aggressive when met with something unfamiliar and readily fights to the death. Its independent nature makes it rather hard to train, but with enough discipline and socializing, Komondors can become incredibly capable herding dogs.
Polish Tatra Sheepdog
This dog breed is an all-rounder, capable of defending your livestock, watching over your herd as it moves around and also keep your farm free of pests and invasive animals. Tatras are territorial and will immediately alert their owner if they sense something is wrong, their intelligent and cautious nature keeps them from blindly jumping into fights, however, they will fearlessly attack threats if left with no other choice.
This is a breed that prefers to work alone, which makes them hard to train and not the best pets, however, their combination of high intelligence, strength, and dedication to do their job makes them great livestock guards. You can leave these dogs all on their own without having to worry at all, their independent nature makes them a great choice for farmers who would prefer to not fuss over their guard dog.
These gentle dogs do not make the best herders, but their loving yet alert nature makes them a great choice for protecting your home and your farm. The Kangal can easily provide protection against larger predators and it is very agile as well, these dogs can run as fast as fifty kilometers per hour.
Tibetan Mastiffs look cuddly due to their fluffy fur coat, however, they are quite hardy dogs that can easily function in harsh climates and can go against predators of all shapes and sizes. These giant dogs are good at guarding during night time as well, but they are hard to train due to their primitive nature.
Tibetan Mastiff requires strict obedience training and a firm owner in order to make them well-mannered and disciplined.
Now that we have gone through all the best farm guard dog breeds out there, you will have an easier time figuring out what sort of dog you need to go for. Keep in mind that even the best dog breeds out there will not be able to do much if you do not train them, their instincts and natural traits must be refined in order to make a guard dog productive and effective.