Livestock Guardian Dogs? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 09-09-2012, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Livestock Guardian Dogs?

I'll be getting my own horse property soon and moving my horses there. However, I want to know at all times my horses (and family!) are safe. There are cougars in the area, so I want something that will be able to alert me and stand up to them and any other predators, as well as let me know if the horses are "off" - i.e. injured or sick. In addition, I'm a trail/endurance rider, so I want a dog I can bring with me and know we're safe. Preferably, I'd like something that can go down the trail with me off-leash if needed.

The Great Pyrenees seems to be the perfect dog for us, except for the off leash part. I got my info from this website: The Great Pyrenees Temperament

What I like about them especially are these things:
- Confident
- Gentle and easily managed (we need a dog patient with kids)
- Affectionate and loyal, but not attention-seekers or needy dogs (I plan for it to live in the pasture/barn and don't want it to get excited about new people)
- Not a one-man-dog
- Protective, but only agressive when necessary
- Laid-back and tolerant, particularly of small things like children and of strangers petting them
- Independent - I need a dog that can think for itself and make decisions; I also liked how the dogs evaluate each new person or animal to decide if they're welcome
- Attentive and fearless
and of course, they were bred specifically for the purpose I need one for.

Is there another breed that has most of these characteristics that would do better off leash? I understand that staying nearby off-leash can directly contradict some of the traits I value more, such as independence and ability to make their own decisions when guarding my horses and family, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Worst case scenario, I guess we could do something with an invisible fence or limit his territory with goatwire fencing. I plan to have his territory include the pasture and barn areas as I wouldn't want him in the front yard if someone needed to come to the door. Any suggestions for other breeds? Or anybody with experiences with Great Pyrenees?
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post #2 of 34 Old 09-09-2012, 11:15 PM
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One of my work colleagues has one, and he says that it is the best dog he ever had. He protects the chickens and the grandchildren and the cats and is a great pet. Any dog would have to be socialized with all the species you wanted him to get along with from early puppyhood. I would never get an adult dog of one of these breeds unless I knew that he considered children, cats, horses, and chickens as part of the family.
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post #3 of 34 Old 09-10-2012, 08:13 AM
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I have one! Great, great dog. Amazing. Also, some of my friends and family have some. You see, I have one to protect our barn ALSO. We have wolves in the area. Anyways, if you get him to love you, he will go off leash with you. Get a puppy though, those puppies will do ANYTHING. So if you start him off with the trail young, thats your dog. Good luck! :)
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post #4 of 34 Old 09-10-2012, 12:27 PM
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Not a dog to accompany you on trail rides, not built for that. On of the speed breeds would be good for that.
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post #5 of 34 Old 09-10-2012, 01:50 PM
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They would do fine on my trail rides because we don't go that far or that fast. If you were a long distant rider, that is certainly something to think about. These dogs have long hair and are really heavy. They could tire and overheat.
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post #6 of 34 Old 09-10-2012, 02:30 PM
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I could talk for days on livestock guardian dogs. I've had Great Pyrenees, a GP cross, and mastiffs.

I think you really have to do your homework with LGDs. My advice would be to pick a dog from a farm/predator situation similar to your own. Try to get a look at the parents while they are working. I truly believe good guarding traits are imprinted earlier than we can imagine. Also, keep in mind that most LGDs work predators in pairs. If you have an active predator situation, a pair of older, trained LGDs might be a better answer.

Having had a LGD with fence and boundary problems, I would never recommend any guardian breed for off-leash or off property situations. IMO, it goes totally against their training. You are almost telling them that it's OK to "expand" their territory. You give the wrong one that signal and you'll have fence issues like you wouldn't believe and you may or may not be able to resolve them.

Have you looked at working dogs that are not as commonly used as livestock guardians? Bernese Mountain, German Shepherd or the Wolf hounds?
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post #7 of 34 Old 09-10-2012, 03:27 PM
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I almost bought a Great Pyrenees last year. I talked myself out of it because I was concerned about liability issues. Our neighbors have two small children. Another neighbor had a dog that bit one of the kids. There was talk of a law suit; I think they settled out of court.

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post #8 of 34 Old 09-10-2012, 04:09 PM
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Great Pyrenees or perhaps an Akbash. It is very similar to the GP, only built a bit leaner and more for running. Similar temperament, though. My aunt's ex owned two of them as well as a GP. He bought them as livestock guardians for his horses, the only thing is they like space to move. Definitely not a small town or acreage dog.
They're also not highly recommended for obedience classes lol
They do go after coyotes, however. My aunt's used to go nuts when they heard the coyotes howling nearby and killed one together at just six months. Oddly enough they were very good with other dogs, children and animals.
Here's a link with a general desciption Akbash Dog - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
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post #9 of 34 Old 09-11-2012, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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I've decided I wouldn't be looking to take one on trail rides, especially because I don't think it'd be fair to ask any dog to go the distance or speed I'd be riding. However, I would like to have a dog with me in the mountains at camp to warn me if a bear or cougar, etc, is coming. I'm actually semi-allergic to dogs in general, but the article said GP's lack the oil in their coats that usually cause people to react. In addition, I'm intending the dog to be out on their own most of the time and not to need me to love on them all the time due to my allergies.

What do you guys think about having a goat-wire 4-ft fence with hot-wire to keep a GP in the pasture/barn area? Do you think it'd get out?
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post #10 of 34 Old 09-11-2012, 10:06 AM
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I think the goats will get out.
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