🐶CHOOSING A DOG 🐶| Panhandle Animal Shelter
How to Find A Dog or Animal to Protect Your Sheep or Livestock
Animals that protect sheep and livestock are commonly known as livestock guardian animals. Used for centuries in Asia and Europe, guardian animals are now becoming popular in the United States. Dogs, donkeys and llamas are most commonly chosen to protect livestock. Each species differs in its relationships to herds and its response to various predators. All of them can live happily wherever your sheep or livestock live, but all guardian animals depend on you too meet their unique needs. Before looking for an animal to protect your livestock, it is important to do some research.
Dogs as Livestock Guardian Animals
Understand the role of a livestock guardian dog.
- Although many herding dogs will attempt to protect the herd from predators, their primary job is to keep the herd together and move it.
- Livestock protection dogs have been bred not to chase and intimidate a herd, but rather live quietly among it. A livestock protection dog must view the livestock as family, as the dog's relationship with the herd fuels its desire to protect it. It is much like house dog's drive to protect its family and home.
- A good livestock guardian dog must have an advanced ability to make the right decisions on its own. That includes using aggression only when necessary, and only to protect the lives of its family.
Use dogs as your sheep or livestock protectors in remote fields as well as in fenced or contained areas.They are a good choice when bears and mountain lions are a potential herd predator.
Decide on a livestock guardian dog breed.Although some people feel that a wide range of dog breeds can be raised to protect livestock, the most commonly used breeds include:
- Great Pyrenees
- Anatolian Shepherds
Go to a reputable breeder or breed rescue group after you have chosen the breed you are looking for.
- Local veterinarian offices, animal shelters, dog rescue groups and animal associations may be able to provide you with contact information for locating your chosen breed of livestock guard dog.
- Get your livestock guardian dog as a puppy and let it grow up with the herd that you want it to protect. If getting your puppy from a breeder, be sure to check into its bloodlines and look for herd-work lineage.
- Alternatively, if getting an older dog, make sure you get one that was properly raised and trained for livestock protection.
Follow breeders' and trainers' instructions for training your herd guardian dog and integrating it into the herd.
Donkeys as Livestock Guardian Animals
Choose a donkey if you need an aggressive guardian animal to watch your livestock.
- Donkeys seem to innately dislike coyotes, dogs and foxes, which are known predators of livestock in many areas. Donkeys also make good herd protectors because they tend to be aggressive towards intruders.
- Female donkeys are best for the job of sheep or livestock protecting. Male donkeys of all ages, both intact jacks and fixed geldings, have been known to injure and sometimes kill livestock either in over-zealous play or aggression.
- Mules, which are half-breeds of donkeys and horses, should never be used as guardian animals. A mule is even worse than a male donkey and could stomp and kill the herd with no notice.
Visit a reputable breeding farm or donkey rescue to find donkeys.
- Donkeys exist in three sizes: miniature, standard and mammoth. Miniature donkeys are under 36-inches tall and are too small to protect against many predators. Standard donkeys range from 36 to 54 inches (91.4 to 137.2 cm) and are most commonly used as guardian animals. Mammoth donkeys, which often stand much taller than the 54 inches (137.2 cm), are expensive, as well as on the rare and endangered species list.
- Donkeys do not necessarily need to be raised with their herd to function well as herd protector. Gentle female donkeys of any age, adopted from a reputable donkey rescue group, often make wonderful guardian animals.
Put the donkey in the field with the herd and watch for any signs of aggression.
Llamas as Livestock Guardian Animals
Find out if llamas have the characteristics you need in a herd animal.
- Llamas are naturally territorial and tend to be wary of dogs.
- Llamas make good guardian animals for goats, sheep, alpacas, miniature donkeys and horses, and sometimes even standard-size horses or cows in need of protection from coyotes, wild dogs, and the occasional single domestic dog.
- Some guard llamas bond with the herd and consider the members its charges. A llama will herd the flock away from danger and stand guard when a herd member is giving birth or is ill or injured.
- Other llamas remain present but detached from the herd, living among the livestock harmoniously but independently. These llamas protect the territory rather than the herd members.
Visit a local llama farm or contact area rescues to find llamas to use as livestock guardians.
- Ask to see female llamas that are at least 1-1/2 years old and not pregnant.
- Intact male llamas have been known to injure livestock in heat trying to mate with them. Unfortunately, gelded male llamas also sometimes retain their desire to mate, so male llamas should not be trusted as livestock guardian animals.
Look for the necessary traits in the llamas that are required to be a good protector.Not all female llamas have what it takes to be a good livestock guardian. Llamas that tend to do well have the following characteristics:
- Demonstrate respect for humans.
- Accept halters and leads.
- Allow you to examine and groom their body and feet.
- Appear alert and confident.
QuestionWhen you put a dog in the field with a herd, do you tie or stake them nearby?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou wouldn't want to tie the dog up. The dog will need to be able to move freely around the area in order to protect your herd. Well-trained protection dogs will stay with the herd.Thanks!
QuestionWhat breed of dog will keep other dogs off my property?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost dogs that are protective over their property will do their best at keeping other dogs away. If you have a smaller dog, he might not be so successful if the other dog is larger than him. There are many different breeds of guard dogs that would be great at defending their property, like Rottweilers, Great Pyrenees, German shepherds, etc.Thanks!
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