Livestock Guardian Dog Breeds?

Domestic livestock, such as sheep and goats, are vulnerable to attacks by various wild predators. But livestock guardian dogs, commonly referred to as LGDs, can help protect your animals and reduce the risk of predation.

Well also answer some common questions about livestock guardian dogs to make sure they fit in well on your farm! But livestock guardian dogs, commonly referred to as LGDs, can help protect your animals and reduce the risk of predation .

While Anatolian shepherds are generally calm and loving, they require proper training to ensure that they are effective protectors. The ultra-fluffy Great Pyrenees is known for his gorgeous white coat, confidence, and fearless attitude, making the breed an excellent choice for livestock-protection work. When unprovoked by predators, these big white dogs are calm, gentle, and zen-like making them great for families with children.

These shaggy sheepdogs hail from Hungary and are commonly referred to as mop dogs due to their dreadlock-like appearance. Dont be fooled by their distinctive tendrils though this breed is known for being especially strong with dense bones and lots of muscle under all those dreadlocks! An ancient breed, the Tibetan mastiff was used by nomadic tribes of Nepal and Mongolia to protect property and livestock.

While they are gentle and mellow around the house, they can be pretty territorial so make sure that these dogs are properly socialized with strangers and young kids. This Italian sheepdog is known for its alert instincts and loyal attitude, making the breed an excellent choice for livestock guardian dogs. In fact, this is another LGD breed that is well-suited for guarding a variety of different farm animals, ranging from sheep to chicken to ducks.

Maremma Sheepdogs are a bit smaller than other livestock guardian dogs, with an average weight of 77 to 99 pounds. These dogs have a deep, low bark and alert sensibilities that make them excellent livestock guardian breeds. Spanish mastiffs also posses a muscular, strong build making them intimidating to potential predators.

Its imperative that these dogs are properly trained from a young age due to their sheer size. Even if a mastiff is innocently playing around, his large weight could easily injure a small child if he is not properly trained. However, it is important to note that this breed is very sexually dimorphic, as males reach much larger sizes than their female counterparts.

Before committing to raising a livestock guardian dog, there are a couple of important factors to take into consideration. Livestock guardian dogs are often quick to bark , howl , growl, and emit other vocalizations. LGDs that arent properly stimulated may be inclined to chew on household belongings or get into other mischief out of boredom .

Its imperative that your livestock guardian dog is properly socialized with both the herd and the members of your family from a young age. And this even extends to playtime these wonderful giants may inadvertently injure small people or children during routine play. Below, well answer some of the most common questions concerns livestock guardian dogs to help you determine whether or not they are a good pick for your farm.

Generally, males will roam the perimeter of the farm or enclosure more while females will stay closer to the flock. The number of LGDs will vary greatly on the size of your farm, protection needs, and age of the dogs. Livestock guardian dogs should be properly socialized with all members of your family, including kids , to ensure that they do not perceive anyone as a potential threat.

In order to stay focused on their job, LGDs need to have their lives centered around protecting the farm. Additionally, livestock guardian dogs work to deter predators in a number of ways before engaging in any physical confrontation. Its recommended that long-haired livestock guardian dogs are properly groomed at least once per month to keep their coat as healthy as possible.

What is the best dog to protect livestock?

Great Pyrenees. These noble, independent, highly intelligent dogs are perhaps the most widely used LGD in America. ….Anatolian Shepherd. This breed is muscular, imposing, and reserved in temperament. ….Akbash. ….Maremma Sheepdog.

Can any dog be a livestock guardian?

Livestock guardian dogs can be considered an upgrade to just “any old” farm dog, companion dog, or herding dog. Their specific skill and function (if you haven’t guessed)? Protecting livestock. They become full-time members of whatever flock or herd they’re charged with protecting.

What is the best livestock guardian?

Donkeys are considered to be the most effective livestock guardians. Llamas are most effective when dealing with smaller predators such as foxes or dogs.

If you have any experience with owning livestock, you know there are predators out there who want your livestock for dinner. Depending on the area you live in, there could be coyotes, mountain lions, foxes, wolves, or even bears. A livestock guardian dog could help you keep all your chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, or other small livestock safe and accounted for.

Their nocturnal sleep schedules mean they can stay up and interact with your livestock all evening, so theres no need to worry about them being out to pasture. Image Credit: La Su, Shutterstock Height: 26 30 inches Weight: 77 110 pounds Lifespan: 10 12 years

Image Credit: CharlitoCZ, Shutterstock Height: 28 32 inches Weight: 88 140 pounds Lifespan: 10 13 years Anatolian Shepherds were first brought to the United States as a part of a Department of Agriculture program trying to figure out which dog was the best sheepdog. Image Credit: Marry Kolesnik, Shutterstock Height: 25 31 inches Weight: 90 150 pounds Lifespan: 10 13 years

Even though the Kangal has only been recently heard of in the rest of the world, they have been guardian dogs in Turkey since ancient times. Image Credit: DragoNika, Shutterstock Height: 2.2 2.3 feet Weight: 100 220 pounds Lifespan: 10 12 years These dogs have been sheepdogs in the Caucasus mountains (which include the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) for hundreds of years, known for fighting off wolves, jackals, and even bears.

When you bring a Caucasian Shepherd dog home, be prepared with a lot of training in your back pocket. Image Credit: HellViolet, Pixabay Height: 25 30 inches Weight: 88 110 pounds Lifespan: 10 12 years Image Credit: Julian Popov, Shutterstock Height: 24 30 inches Weight: 66 120 pounds Lifespan: 12 14 years

A dog breed originating from Bulgaria, the Karakachan is still found shepherding in its native country, as well as Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Macedonia. Image Credit: AnjavdR, Shutterstock Height: 25 31 inches Weight: 120 240 pounds Lifespan: 10 13 years After the Spanish Civil War, economic hardships meant that people could no longer feed these massive dogs, and they nearly went extinct.

Due to their giant size and territorial personality, Pyrenean Mastiffs should be properly trained when growing up from puppyhood to avoid accidents and injuries as adults. Image Credit: Neon Lilith Photography, Shutterstock Height: 24 28 inches Weight: 80 130 pounds Lifespan: 10 12 years Image Credit: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock Height: 24 30 inches Weight: 75 160 pounds Lifespan: 12 15 years

Because their ancestors come from the harsh Himalayan mountain conditions, Tibetan Mastiffs are hearty and have a thick coat of fur, so they will do well in cold winters. Image Credit: Simun Ascic, Shutterstock Height: 23 28 inches Weight: 62 110 pounds Lifespan: 12 14 years Before you decide to buy yourself a livestock guardian dog from this list of breeds, lets explore their temperaments a little more and why they may or may not be a good fit for your property and family.

So, if you get an LGD, be prepared to either train him well at a young age or keep him chained or caged up when you have visitors over, just in case. By now youve learned that livestock guardian dogs are big, loyal, and always have a watchful eye out for threats, even through the night. Oliver (Ollie) Jones A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured).

Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his masters degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.

I have to say after over 20 years working with LGD I will disagree on a few points made in the in the comments. Breeds denote dog types that have had reduced genetic diversity. Breeds tend to be bred to a standard and often as pets. I would strongly suggest you chose a dog type that is a landrace and NOT bred to any standard other than its working ability. Mixing breeds might be the best way to add genetic diversity to both lines and if the mixes are within the LGD dog type. Done this way you have nothing Read more

For millennia, humans have relied upon dogs to help them in the fields, on farms, on hunts, and in their homes. One of the most important roles a dog could perform for a farmer or shepherd was that of livestock guardian. Such a dog had to be reliable around livestock like sheep, pigs, goats, and even chickens; have the ability to discriminate between family and potential threats; and have the ability to follow through in deterring true threats to the livestock.

Given this breeds function as a livestock guardian, companion owners should keep in mind that this dog will naturally look for some guarding activity as a source of employment. According to Tamsin Pickerals The Spirit of the Dog, the Hungarians consider the Komondor a national treasure, and the breed has often been referred to as a king among livestock guardians.

The heavy white cords that make up the Komondors unusual coat help the dogs blend in with the sheep they guard and serve to protect against extremes of weather as well as predators.

Common Characteristics of Livestock Guardian Dogs

Domestic livestock, such as sheep and goats, are vulnerable to attacks by various wild predators. ButLGDs have been used all around the world for centuries to fend off predators and protect various farm animals. They typically do so in three primary ways:

Best Livestock Guardian Dogs

There are a bunch of different livestock guardian breeds you can choose from, but the following ones are some of the most popular. Just be sure to think carefully about the characteristics of each breed before making your choice.Anatolian shepherds originated in Turkey and are known for being very strong and rugged.The breed is known for having good sight and hearing which makes them the perfect livestock guardian dogs. They live pretty long lives, occasionally reaching 13 to 15 years of age, and they usually weigh somewhere between 90 and 150 pounds.These dogs require an owner who is capable of handling an assertive, strong-willed dog. While Anatolian shepherds are generally calm and loving, they require proper training to ensure that they are effective protectors.Assuming that you consider the breed distinct from the Anatolian shepherd, the Kangal is a super protective, alert, and independent dog, which is well-suited for a life spent protecting livestock.They reach similar sizes and ages as Anatolian shepherds.The ultra-fluffy Great Pyrenees is known for his gorgeous white coat, confidence, and fearless attitude, making the breed an excellent choice for livestock-protection work.They are usually a breed that is happy living outdoors, although they’re best suited for cooler climates given their thick coats.When unprovoked by predators, these big white dogs are calm, gentle, and zen-like making them great for families with children. But, when predators approach, they become fearless and formidable defenders of their flock.Great Pyrenees dogs live around 10 to 12 years and usually weigh between 80 and 120 pounds.These shaggy sheepdogs hail from Hungary and are commonly referred to as “mop dogs” due to their dreadlock-like appearance. Don’t be fooled by their distinctive tendrils though —These dogs are independent and steady, making them well-suited for livestock-guarding work. But this also makes them a bit challenging for first-time owners; they’re best left to those with a lot of dog-care experience.Komondors live between 10 and 12 years and weigh about 90 to 130 pounds.These huge, fluffy dogs are protective and tenacious making them excellent livestock guardian dogs. An ancient breed, the Tibetan mastiff was used by nomadic tribes of Nepal and Mongolia to protect property and livestock. These huge helpers weigh anywhere between 80 and 160 pounds, and they usually live for 12 to 15 years.While they are gentle and mellow around the house, they can be pretty territorial so make sure that these dogs are properly socialized with strangers and young kids.The Kuvasz is a Hungarian dog breed who is extremely intelligent and loyal. This, in combination with their large size and brave disposition makes them great livestock protectors. However, in recent years, many people have begun keeping these dogs as family pets.This large, white breed usually lives for 10 to 12 years and weighs between 80 to 110 pounds.These sweet, intelligent dogs are huge and generally very gentle with humans and other dogs. They are great at protecting flocks, and their independent nature makes them excellent LGDs, as they often excel at making decisions and solving problems without human help.The large breed usually lives anywhere from ten to thirteen years and weighs anywhere from 120-240 pounds.The Pyrenean mastiff generally does well around children and will only feel the need to protect when provoked by a predator.The sweet-faced akbash is originally from Turkey and has been used as a livestock guardian dog for centuries. Their name comes from the Turkish work akbas, which means “white head.”The breed’s independent and brave nature makes them great protectors for livestock and families, and they often work well with a variety of different livestock species. The akbash lives about 10 years and weighs anywhere from 90 to 140 pounds.Polish Tatra sheepdogs were initially developed to protect livestock of farmers living in the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland. Many years later, they still make excellent LGDs, thanks in part to their loyal and hard-working nature.The breed is known for being very gentle with families and children despite being incredibly independent. They typically live for 10 to 12 years and weigh anywhere between 80 and 130 pounds.This Italian sheepdog is known for its alert instincts and loyal attitude, making the breed an excellent choice for livestock guardian dogs. In fact, this is another LGD breed that is well-suited for guarding a variety of different farm animals, ranging from sheep to chicken to ducks.Maremma Sheepdogs are a bit smaller than other livestock guardian dogs, with an average weight of 77 to 99 pounds. They are typically one of the best LGDs with children, and they usually live for about 13 years.The Spanish mastiff is a huge breed that is known for its kind and intelligent nature.These dogs have a deep, low bark and alert sensibilities that make them excellent livestock guardian breeds. Spanish mastiffs also posses a muscular, strong build making them intimidating to potential predators.It’s imperative that these dogs are properly trained from a young age due to their sheer size. Even if a mastiff is innocently playing around, his large weight could easily injure a small child if he is not properly trained.They usually weigh anywhere from 140 to 200 pounds and live an estimated 10 to 12 years.The Karakachan is a vigilant, independent breed, who is well-suited for protecting livestock. They are extremely alert and known for their acute senses. They bond strongly with their flock and will not hesitate to defend them from threats.The breed usually weighs between 70 to 120 pounds and has an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years.However, it is important to note that this breed is very sexually dimorphic, as males reach much larger sizes than their female counterparts.

Livestock Guardian Dog FAQs

Before committing to raising a livestock guardian dog, there are a couple of important factors to take into consideration.

Do livestock guardian dogs need protective clothing?

Generally speaking, no.Most LGDs have thick double coats, which help protect them from predators and the elements. Some even have mane-like fur to protect their neck and shoulder region from the teeth of predators.Additionally, livestock guardian dogs work to deter predators in a number of ways before engaging in any physical confrontation. Moreover, these dogs are super strong and robust on their own.

Great Pyrenees

Likely the most popular LGD, the Great Pyrenees dog breed has been around since the 15th century. Originally from the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe, the breed first came to the United States in 1931. These dogs are gentle towards livestock and children and fearless towards unwanted predators. Their nocturnal sleep schedules mean they can stay up and interact with your livestock all evening, so there’s no need to worry about them being out to pasture.

Kuvasz

Hailing from Hungary, the Kuvasz is a big dog with a big personality. Believe it or not, these dogs are well known for being humorous. Because of this, they make a great family dog and have been growing in popularity as household pets. Although funny, these dogs are also quite independent and can bark often, and they may not be great to have if you have other small pets around.

Anatolian Shepherd

This Turkish LGD is thought to have been a crossbreed between an Akbash and Kangal dog. Anatolian Shepherds were first brought to the United States as a part of a Department of Agriculture program trying to figure out which dog was the best sheepdog. When the program fell through, the dogs were sold to the general public.Anatolian Shepherds’ personality traits are described as independent, stubborn, agile, and speedy. They are praised for their intelligence, and their sense of hearing is extremely good.

Akbash

The Akbash dog breed is also from Turkey and is rarely seen outside of the country. It’s been around for centuries, keeping close watch over large and small livestock by watching out for any changes in the environment around them. Akbash dogs, when trained well, only attack when they are challenged, which could make them a great dog breed for a family that has many visitors.

Kangal

Even though the Kangal has only been recently heard of in the rest of the world, they have been guardian dogs in Turkey since ancient times. These dogs are fast, reaching speeds of up to 31 miles per hour when they need to. Kangals are the best of both worlds when it comes to LGDs: they are loyal and gentle to their owners while also guarding your livestock with their lives.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd dogs are massive and protective to boot. These dogs have been sheepdogs in the Caucasus mountains (which include the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) for hundreds of years, known for fighting off wolves, jackals, and even bears. When you bring a Caucasian Shepherd dog home, be prepared with a lot of training in your back pocket. Because these dogs have an independent and stubborn streak, it’s not recommended that first-time dog owners take on the task of being responsible for this dog.

Komondor

The Komondor, also known as the Hungarian Shepherd, blends right in with its surroundings; from far away, it looks just like one of the sheep in a herd. This means that an unsuspecting predator would get quite the shock if they tried to carry away one of the livestock. Their hair starts off curly and gradually forms chords over the years. It takes about 2 years for these chords to form. Komondors make excellent guard dogs. To keep them from pinning your visitors down, make sure they are well socialized at a young age.

Karakachan

A dog breed originating from Bulgaria, the Karakachan is still found shepherding in its native country, as well as Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Macedonia. At one time, the breed was used by the Bulgarian military for border patrol, but now they are almost always guardian dogs. Although they can be affectionate and loving to people they call family, they can show aggression to people they do not know. Karakachan owners should keep their dogs trained well to avoid this problem.

Pyrenean Mastiff

Like many dog breeds on this list, Pyrenean Mastiffs are a very old dog breed. They come from Spain originally. After the Spanish Civil War, economic hardships meant that people could no longer feed these massive dogs, and they nearly went extinct. Today they are no longer endangered, but they are still quite rare.Due to their giant size and territorial personality, Pyrenean Mastiffs should be properly trained when growing up from puppyhood to avoid accidents and injuries as adults. As long as you are on their good side, though, they will love and protect you until their last day.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog

The Polish Tatra is a gentle giant. Compared to the other livestock guardian dogs, the Polish Tatra is not as aggressive. By only barking and being there near the livestock, they defend and protect the herds. Just like the Pyrenean Mastiff, this breed was almost extinct if it were not for breeding efforts in Poland.As the saying goes, the Polish Tatra’s bark is bigger than its bite, as it’s known for its loud bark. However, one upside to this breed is that they do not drool, a common trait in large dogs.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiffs may be the most ferocious livestock guardian dogs on the list. These Mastiffs have been known to take on flying predators, coyotes, and bears. Because their ancestors come from the harsh Himalayan mountain conditions, Tibetan Mastiffs are hearty and have a thick coat of fur, so they will do well in cold winters. They will stay up all night with your livestock and sleep during the day. Get them trained when they are young to avoid certain stubborn behaviors.

Tornjak

Our final LGD breed on the list is also the smallest: the Tornjak, also known as the Croatian Mountain dog. Though smaller, the Tornjak is still strong and powerful. It comes from the area formerly known as the Balkans, but today called Croatia, Herzegovina, and Bosnia. This dog breed is calm and steady for its owners and suspicious of strangers. They cannot be bribed and they learn quickly, making them easy to train. Make sure to do so when they are young, though, or they could get aggressive and out of control.Before you decide to buy yourself a livestock guardian dog from this list of breeds, let’s explore their temperaments a little more and why they may or may not be a good fit for your property and family.

Livestock Guardian Dog Characteristics

LGDs have their pros and cons. They are excellent, of course, at guarding things. These dog breeds are independent dogs who think quickly on their feet. There’s no need to tell these dogs to attack; it’s in their DNA to ward off predators with a nasty bark or a charge and attack.

Livestock Dog Temperament: Aggressive or Friendly?

With that being said, some people worry that these dogs may be too aggressive for their families or their small animals. In fact, most of these dogs are usually docile towards livestock and their owners.Many of these dog breeds are considered great family dogs; it’s strangers and other visiting pets that you might have to worry about. That’s because these dog breeds consider anything outside of their inner circle a threat to what they protect. So, if you get an LGD, be prepared to either train him well at a young age or keep him chained or caged up when you have visitors over, just in case.

Do Livestock Dogs Bark a Lot?

Yes, livestock dogs tend to bark a lot. It makes sense: their entire aim is to ward off any threat to the animals they protect, so they are likely to bark at anything they sense is threatening. You can safely assume that if you bring an LGD home, there will be a lot of barking going on at any hour, depending on the activity around your home or property.For this reason, consider your property: is it large or small? Are there neighbors very close that might be bothered by a lot of barking? Do you have people walking along the streets nearby often? By asking yourself these questions, you will better know if a livestock guardian dog will be suitable for your situation.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a breed that can trace its origins back several thousand years to Asia Minor. The breed first served as a hunting dog, then as a livestock guardian for sheep and other animals. Sometimes the dogs would travel across Asia Minor with caravans of nomadic traders, such as the Assyrians or Sumerians. In fact, the British Museum in London houses an Assyrian bas-relief featuring Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.Anatolians are large dogs that are still used today to guard sheep and other livestock, and the breed’s temperament reflects this function. The AKC breed standard states that an Anatolian Shepherd Dog should be “loyal, independent, and reserved.” As noted in the AKC’s 22As territorial guardians, these dogs are not friendly to strangers when alone on their property, and unsocialized Anatolians have been known to become too protective and aggressive toward other dogs, so early socialization is key.

The Great Pyrenees

Recognizable to children everywhere due to the animated seriesSometimes affectionately referred to as the “Pyr” or the “Great Pyr,” these large, white, fluffy dogs are defined not only by their great size and striking appearance, but also by their “smart, patient, calm” temperament, according to the AKC breed standard. Like many livestock guardians, the Great Pyrenees was bred to be an independent thinker, and is thus able to guard livestock without human supervision or direction.Given this breed’s function as a livestock guardian, companion owners should keep in mind that this dog will naturally look for some guarding activity as a source of employment. However, they are known for their gentle nature, especially with their families, and it is not uncommon to see a Pyr working as a therapy dog.This breed does have a unique anatomic feature: the presence of double dewclaws on the rear legs.

The Komondor

With one of the most striking appearances of all dogs, the Komondor is an ancient and relatively rare breed that traces its origins back to Hungary. According to Tamsin Pickeral’sThe AKC breed standard describes the Komondor’s temperament as “loyal, dignified, and brave,” and these qualities serve the breed well in its function to protect flocks and herds (usually sheep) from predators. These dogs are known to be very territorial and form strong bonds with their flock—both animals and humans. They tend not to wander and instead stay close to the livestock and people they are guarding, making them ideal as livestock guardians.The heavy white cords that make up the Komondor’s unusual coat help the dogs blend in with the sheep they guard and serve to protect against extremes of weather as well as predators.