livestock guardian dogs

Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGD, are a group of breeds that have been selectively

bred for 1000s of years to excel at bonding with livestock, and protecting that stock

against predators such as wolves, bears, big cats, and any other predator they perceive

to pose a threat to their flocks and herds (including raptors/birds of prey,  strange

domestic dogs and strange/unknown humans).

 

Breeds originated in Europe and Asia where they are still used today as shepherds leave villages with large flocks and herds of sheep and goats and go out into the mountainous countryside for summer grazing. A pack of LGD will accompany the group into areas where apex predators await. 

LGD breeds have a very low prey drive and a very high protective drive. To clarify, prey drive is exemplified by the activity one sees in a Border Collie or cattle dog that is moving stock. LGD should NEVER be moving stock, rather LGD should be putting themselves between the stock and whatever threat is present, and neutralizing that threat. LGD is not a job that can be trained into any other breed. It is the result of genetic hard wiring. Just because a dog doesn't harm the stock and defends a territory (eg a farm dog role), doesn't mean it is bonded to that stock and protective of it. 

There are a various breeds of LGD, the most familiar being The Big White Dog...this includes the prolific Great Pyrenees that is most populous across North America and can be found on couches in suburban homes as often as it is found guarding stock. Pyrs tend to be the softest of the LGD breeds, meaning they are not as reactive and quick to engage directly with threats. All LGD will bark at a threat as their first line of defense, working to send the predator away. Where as a Pyr will bark and bark, other breeds are more likely to bark as they are running to engage the predator. We say these breeds, such as the Sarplaninac, Central Asian Shepherd, and Ovcharka, are sharper. They are very reactive to threats and will not hesitate to engage and neutralize. On the spectrum of reactivity, there are more than a few other breeds of LGD, none of which are very common in North America.

meet our team

Providence Farm is staffed by a team of 5 livestock guardian dogs representing 3 different breeds. Structuring our team with the traits of the various breeds gives us the ability to most effectively address a variety of predator issues. Our pack is staggered by age and gender, the younger dogs learning from the older, experienced dogs.

 

The youngest member of our team is Sam, a Karakachan.  Sam just

turned 2 years old and has zero tolerance for strange anything.

Specifically selected by his breeder to work this farm, he was the

most serious and confident pup in the litter. He is wicked smart

and intuitive about everything with an independence and decisive-

ness that is well beyond the independence and decisiveness of the

other dogs. As he continues to mature, these traits will intensify. 

 

Our most well known team member is probably Hazel,

a Great Pyrenees. She is an outstanding poultry guardian and

recently added goat security to her resume. She doesn't prefer

the sheep and doesn't like a mixed flock/herd, but she's young

yet and spent the first 7 months of her life living in an apartment

so she's still learning aspects of The Job. She is kind and bene-

volent and LOVES children, but is highly reactive towards ALL

predators, and she guards UP (against birds of prey) with

extreme prejudice and intensity. 

The matriarch of our pack is an Anatolian Shepherd Dog, 

Petra. She is the brains behind the whole team with the

wisdom and experience of many years. She is versatile, 

guarding whatever needs to be watched but absolutely

prefers the lambs and ewes. Petra mentored both Hazel 

and Sam for when they were younger. She prefers to

work with Big Joe. 

 

Big Joe...Petra's main man and the muscle behind the brains

of the Petra-Big Joe team. Joe arrived here as the runt of 

the litter, a tiny little guy. No one ever expected much

from him but boy did he prove everyone so very wrong.

Joe just kept growing and growing and developed into an

outstanding guardian that's very versatile, intensely guarding

any of the livestock or poultry on the farm (even the pigs,

of whom he is not a fan). A sharper dog, he is quick to react

to whatever threat presents itself, including birds of prey.

Stella is a Great Pyrenees whose current duties have her

working close to the barn. She is a sweet girl but her soft

temperament means she necessarily needs to work with

a more confident dog to do a good job if she's in with 

livestock. She's a team player but prefers to stay alongside

the livestock and let the other dogs do the heavy lifting of

neutralizing threats. Here's hoping someday she and Petra

will set aside their differences and she can join that team;

for now, she is on barn security. 

sam spring 2022.jpg
hazel.jpg
petra.jpg
big joe.jpg
stella.jpg
lgd pic stitch.jpg