Chickens are one of the most common livestock animals for families and small farms to own.
They are relatively simple to keep and can provide you with delicious eggs straight out of the backyard.
However, one of the hardest challenges with owning these animals is keeping them safe and away from predators. From birds of prey to coyotes and foxes, it’s hard for your average human to be able to stand by their flock and watch them at all hours of the day.
That’s where livestock guardian dogs come in! These dogs are specifically bred to manage and protect livestock from the wee hours of the morning long into the night.
Finding the right breed for you will take some time and thought, and the possibilities may seem endless. However, the end product of having a helping hand around to keep your flock in check is entirely worth it.
If you want to know why you should own a livestock guardian dog and the best breeds for the job, keep on reading!
Why own a livestock guardian dog?
Livestock guardian dogs, aka LGDs, are essential for individuals who own domesticated livestock such as chickens. This is because small, domesticated animals are easier for predators to prey on and are highly susceptible to wandering off and getting hurt or killed.
LGDs are amazing at reducing the number of potential attacks by using three essential methods: establishing the land as their territory, disrupting attacks, and confronting perpetrators head-on.
Livestock guardian dogs serve many purposes and act as not only workers and guardians but also lifelong family members.
These methods are the most effective ways to ward off and address potential predators before and during an attack. They can also make amazing companion animals who vary in temperament and personality. Essentially, they serve many purposes and act as not only workers and guardians but also lifelong family members.
Even though LGDs tend to have an innate instinct to defend, protect or herd livestock, they still have to be taught how to do it correctly and effectively. Don’t expect them to know how to do it automatically. It’ll take a bit of time but will be extremely worth it in the end!
Now that you know why LGDs are so commonly used in protecting livestock, here are three of the most effective breeds to add to your household.
This incredibly powerful, large Turkish breed is one of the most ancient livestock guardian breeds, with roots dating back to the 12th century! Their primary purpose is to defend livestock as opposed to herding them, and they’ve been known to defend against animals as powerful as wolves, jackals, and bears. Their dense double coat protects them from potential puncture wounds and allows them to tolerate extreme heat and cold.
Interestingly, these dogs prefer to sleep during the day and work throughout the night when predators typically decide to strike, making them generally nocturnal.
Besides being amazing protectors, they are also amazing family pets who have a huge love for women and children. They tend to love working in pairs and love building long-lasting bonds.
● Lifespan: 10-13 years.
● Trainability: They’re intelligent and very trainable. However, they require a patient trainer, and conventional training will not do.
● Price: $1,000 to $4,000.
● Size: 28 to 33″ and 90-146 lbs.
The Great Pyrenees is another large, powerful livestock guardian dog breed that never fails to disappoint. Known for their Zen-like calm and mellow behavior, these adorable livestock-protecting dogs’ purpose was to herd and protect sheep from wolves in the snowy mountains centuries ago. To this day, they continue to do that for several different livestock animals, including poultry, springing into action the moment a threat is detected.
Outside of being amazing livestock protectors, the Great Pyrenees also make amazing family companions and are extremely affectionate and good with young children.
● Lifespan: 10-12 years.
● Trainability: Moderately easy to train. They are intelligent and typically work without guidance to protect and watch their flock. However, basic obedience training is required.
● Price: $1,000 to $2,500
● Size: 25 to 32″ and 85 to 120 lbs.
Anatolian Shepherds are a rugged, domineering breed bred to protect their flocks and keep predators away. They are descended from an ancient lineage that spans all the way back to the bronze age.
This breed is extremely loyal, protective, intelligent and adaptable. They’re loving and calm yet dominating and demanding, and therefore they require a strong leader as an owner to correctly handle them.
These dogs are muscular in build yet extremely nimble on their feet, a trait they had to use when keeping predators at bay in the harsh conditions of their native homeland of Turkey.
They’ll watch anything from livestock and children to their fellow family dogs and cats with intensity and precision. They make decent family companions and are good with children.
● Lifespan: 11-13 years
● Trainability: These dogs can be strong-willed and require an owner who’s a strong leader.
● Price: $800 to $2,000. However, prices can be even more than this.
● Size: 27 to 29″ and 80 to 150 lbs.
Finding the right breed
If you are the owner of chickens, whether it be a small family operation or something bigger, you should consider owning a livestock guardian dog or two. These dogs are amazing at their job and will work nonstop to keep their flock safe from any predators that may try to prey on them.
The Kangal, Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd are amazing options to consider and work as phenomenal livestock guardians and good family companions. If you’re considering adding a guardian dog to your household, give them a chance and find the right breed for you!
Want to learn more about protecting your chickens? Visit our collection of wood and recycled plastic chicken coops.