Big Fluffy Dog, Llama, Donkey or Technology?

Legamin

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We have had two breeds of LGDs, guardian llamas, and a mule over the past 35 years of livestock raising. Here is our experience. First let's talk about LGDs.

We currently have Anatolians. We switched from Pyrs 7 years ago due to their roaming behavior. Our neighborhood has changed from rural to suburban. I have a peeve about roaming dogs and it constantly bothered me that my own dogs were roaming! Since keeping our Pyrs inside our boundary fences on our 6 acres had proved impossible, we switched to Anatolians 7 years ago. Anatolians are a wonderful breed, depending on your lifestyle. If you have countless friends, schoolchildren, farm tours, etc. wandering through your property forget Anatolians. They love their families and those they recognize as family, but others are not welcome on the property. We did not start with Anatolians because at that time we had small children who brought friends home, were 4-H leaders who held meetings at our house, in the barn, and entertained al fresco constantly in the summer. We started with Pyrs because the Idaho Sheep Station had found their temperaments to be the best in their LGD breed trials.

Anatolians 30 years ago were much more aggressive. They had a reputation for viciousness. This was partly due to the prevailing belief then that proper LGD training was to dump the dog in the pasture and never pet or socialize it. Some Anatolian ranchers who did this with large flocks found that the dogs would not allow them near their own sheep. Apparently LGDs can't read brands, ear tags, or transport documents, and don't recognize people who show up claiming ownership of the flock. Several ranchers suffered severe attacks from their own dogs when they tried to enter their pastures. Anatolians are one of the more aggressive breeds of LGDs, but a lot of progress has been made in breeding softer temperaments. This can be either good or bad. An LGD with too gentle a temperament is less likely to defend the flock against greater odds, too aggressive and the dog may not always make the correct decision over who to drive away.

Our children are grown now. Our fences are high and the fences and gates bordering the road are wrought iron with dead bolts. We have a very high predator load of coyotes, with the occasional stray dog packs and cougar. Along with the rest of the country our slightly secluded neighborhood is seeing an unprecedented rise in crime. We no longer have any house dogs. Our Anatolians keep the flock and ourselves safe. A word of warning though, Anatolians are the most dominant of the LGD breeds.

If you need a good natured LGD who will allow strangers onto your property, then Pyrs are probably the most common and easily obtained. Be warned that Pyrs have been witnessed climbing 6' chain link fences. Whether their extra toes have anything to do with this gift is debatable. I myself have seen a full grown Pyr squeeze through a piece of stock panel missing one horizontal wire. They are like cats and can compress their bodies. Or maybe it is some magical skill. "Beam me up Scotty." Whatever it is they are escape artists and roamers.

This is because Pyrs have a different guarding style to Anatolians. Where the Anatolian is most happy in close proximity to their sheep, the Pyr sets up their own safety perimeter in their minds. In our case with all 5 of our Pyrs over 25 years, this perimeter included the 100 acres of open land behind us, the half mile of private road, and all the neighbors' properties. During lambing time they stayed close to the barn until the smell of afterbirth dissipated then they were on far patrol again. While we didn't lose any stock, the occasional call to retrieve our dogs from as far away as 2 miles was annoying. And if they were patrolling that far what would happen when a predator snuck in behind them?! Our male Pyr got out and patrolled several miles in each direction in the small hours. He was in the yard in the morning so we thought we finally had a Pyr that remained on the property. This belief was shattered when we received a call from the police one night. Bravo had been hit by a car and killed. The officers said they usually saw him every night walking along the road in the same location.

This difference in guarding style might arise from the original use of these dogs when they followed their masters and flocks over vast distances from grazing location to grazing location. Since the dogs were continually on the move with the flocks, they had to develop a style of guarding that would drive predators out of the advance route of the flock and keep them away as the flock passed through their territory. Once you understand the original lifestyle of the early shepherds that bred these dogs it is easier to understand the guarding styles of the various breeds. The guardian dog will need annual vaccinations, protection from fleas and ticks, and if one of the heavy coated breeds annual grooming when it throws its winter coat.

LLamas have also been touted as good guardians. It is true that they don't like canids and will try to kill them. At one point many years ago, our valley suffered an influx of cougars. No fewer than 5 different cats were identified by Fish and Game coming out if the hills surrounding our valley which measures 30 miles by 15 miles. We decided that we needed other assistance in protecting our herd of dairy goats. A llama rescue was advertising guardian llamas for adoption. We were eager to experience this fascinating animal and adopted 2 llamas. One was a gelded male who had been a 4-H project. The other was a dark brown ungelded male. The 4-H llama was approachable while the other had to be herded into a stall to be caught and haltered. Once haltered they were both tractable. These were to be our cougar protection along with one Pyr and a Pyr puppy.

There were good points and bad points to the llamas. Their coats were in bad shape and I had to hire someone to shear them. They both hated dogs and tried to kill our new LGD puppy by stomping her to death. Our other dogs learned to keep well away from them. LLamas have long sharp claws on their feet - think raptor claws from Jurassic Park. Males also have large canine fangs. Most breeders pull these fangs when the crias are young. If you get a llama make sure this has been done since llamas will also use these fangs when they attack. Llamas also spit nasty smelling cud as a warning. This stuff can be as disgusting and pervading as skunk. LLamas' way of fighting is to rear up and slash with those feet at anything or anyone they don't like. Luckily, they seemed to like us. However, DH's cousin in Kansas who raised exotics for game farms was severely injured when his male llama attacked him. This was odd since he had raised him from a cria.

Another thing we learned several months after bringing our new cougar guardians home was that although they hated dogs and coyotes, llamas are the favored prey of cougar in their native land. Oh good, instead of adding protection to our property we had introduced cougar bait! The final problem to keeping an unaltered llama appeared when the unaltered llama tried to breed the goats. Luckily, I was in the barn and was able to drive him away from the doe he was attacking before she was seriously injured but this was unacceptable. I immediately caught and loaded him into the trailer for the trip to the vet to be neutered. Other than the attempted rape,I never noticed our llamas bonding with the sheep and goats. They kept a solitary lifestyle away from the flock. Eventually, the friendly 4-H llama died of old age and the younger one had no buddy so I rehomed him to a large ranch. If you go the llama route make sure your guardian is gelded and his canines have been removed. Llamas will need vaccinations, annual shearing and occasional claw trims.

Guardian donkeys have been discussed in these forums before. Donkeys do not like dogs or dog like creatures such as coyotes and wolves. Donkeys have a history of doing well with a flock of adult sheep and goats, but also have many disturbing stories of attacking and killing newborn lambs in the field. Whether this is because they don't recognize them as flock members is unclear. The type, size, and number of predators you have will determine the size and number of donkeys you will need. The cute little mini donkeys may not be large enough. You may need something the size of a small horse. Donkeys will also need vaccinations and regular hoof trims although not as often as horses.

We currently have a mule. She is a big mule, 16.3 h.h. and does not like dogs. Our Anatolians have learned to keep an eye on her in the field. When she was younger, she used to try to sneak up in them and bite them while they slept. Watching a large mule tip toe (tip hoof?) up to its quarry was amusing. We stopped keeping our horses in corrals and just tuned them onto our field years ago. Why shovel manure from stalls when the animals would spread it themselves! Josie had a strange cross species platonic love affair with our big ram. The horses had rejected her, but he was content to hang out with her. When the ewes first appeared on the field with their tiny lambs Josie the Mule did try to grab them. We promptly put the ewes back in the barn pen until the lambs were older. Later, when a couple little lambs escaped and ended up on the field Josie again went after them. This time the big ram positioned himself between the lambs and Josie. She tried to get past to grab a lamb, but Rambo kept getting in front of her. Finally, as she continued to go after the lambs Rambo hauled off and butted her in the chest. Surprised, Josie backed up and surveyed the situation. Decidng it must have been a love tap from her buddy she tried again to get past him. This time he was ready for her and having backed up really let her have it. We could hear the thud across the field. Mules are very smart. Josie decided he must mean that the lambs were off limits. She and Rambo turned and strolled away. Since then, Josie has accepted the presence of lambs on the field. I do want to emphasize that we do not let our ewes pasture lamb though so her exposure to lambs younger than 6-8 weeks is minimal.

Hope this helps.
 

Legamin

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Tons of great information! Wow! So Helpful! Donkeys have interested me and I have the space but dogs I know and I’m not sure I want to try to get familiar with yet another species. The Any
We have had two breeds of LGDs, guardian llamas, and a mule over the past 35 years of livestock raising. Here is our experience. First let's talk about LGDs.

We currently have Anatolians. We switched from Pyrs 7 years ago due to their roaming behavior. Our neighborhood has changed from rural to suburban. I have a peeve about roaming dogs and it constantly bothered me that my own dogs were roaming! Since keeping our Pyrs inside our boundary fences on our 6 acres had proved impossible, we switched to Anatolians 7 years ago. Anatolians are a wonderful breed, depending on your lifestyle. If you have countless friends, schoolchildren, farm tours, etc. wandering through your property forget Anatolians. They love their families and those they recognize as family, but others are not welcome on the property. We did not start with Anatolians because at that time we had small children who brought friends home, were 4-H leaders who held meetings at our house, in the barn, and entertained al fresco constantly in the summer. We started with Pyrs because the Idaho Sheep Station had found their temperaments to be the best in their LGD breed trials.

Anatolians 30 years ago were much more aggressive. They had a reputation for viciousness. This was partly due to the prevailing belief then that proper LGD training was to dump the dog in the pasture and never pet or socialize it. Some Anatolian ranchers who did this with large flocks found that the dogs would not allow them near their own sheep. Apparently LGDs can't read brands, ear tags, or transport documents, and don't recognize people who show up claiming ownership of the flock. Several ranchers suffered severe attacks from their own dogs when they tried to enter their pastures. Anatolians are one of the more aggressive breeds of LGDs, but a lot of progress has been made in breeding softer temperaments. This can be either good or bad. An LGD with too gentle a temperament is less likely to defend the flock against greater odds, too aggressive and the dog may not always make the correct decision over who to drive away.

Our children are grown now. Our fences are high and the fences and gates bordering the road are wrought iron with dead bolts. We have a very high predator load of coyotes, with the occasional stray dog packs and cougar. Along with the rest of the country our slightly secluded neighborhood is seeing an unprecedented rise in crime. We no longer have any house dogs. Our Anatolians keep the flock and ourselves safe. A word of warning though, Anatolians are the most dominant of the LGD breeds.

If you need a good natured LGD who will allow strangers onto your property, then Pyrs are probably the most common and easily obtained. Be warned that Pyrs have been witnessed climbing 6' chain link fences. Whether their extra toes have anything to do with this gift is debatable. I myself have seen a full grown Pyr squeeze through a piece of stock panel missing one horizontal wire. They are like cats and can compress their bodies. Or maybe it is some magical skill. "Beam me up Scotty." Whatever it is they are escape artists and roamers.

This is because Pyrs have a different guarding style to Anatolians. Where the Anatolian is most happy in close proximity to their sheep, the Pyr sets up their own safety perimeter in their minds. In our case with all 5 of our Pyrs over 25 years, this perimeter included the 100 acres of open land behind us, the half mile of private road, and all the neighbors' properties. During lambing time they stayed close to the barn until the smell of afterbirth dissipated then they were on far patrol again. While we didn't lose any stock, the occasional call to retrieve our dogs from as far away as 2 miles was annoying. And if they were patrolling that far what would happen when a predator snuck in behind them?! Our male Pyr got out and patrolled several miles in each direction in the small hours. He was in the yard in the morning so we thought we finally had a Pyr that remained on the property. This belief was shattered when we received a call from the police one night. Bravo had been hit by a car and killed. The officers said they usually saw him every night walking along the road in the same location.

This difference in guarding style might arise from the original use of these dogs when they followed their masters and flocks over vast distances from grazing location to grazing location. Since the dogs were continually on the move with the flocks, they had to develop a style of guarding that would drive predators out of the advance route of the flock and keep them away as the flock passed through their territory. Once you understand the original lifestyle of the early shepherds that bred these dogs it is easier to understand the guarding styles of the various breeds. The guardian dog will need annual vaccinations, protection from fleas and ticks, and if one of the heavy coated breeds annual grooming when it throws its winter coat.

LLamas have also been touted as good guardians. It is true that they don't like canids and will try to kill them. At one point many years ago, our valley suffered an influx of cougars. No fewer than 5 different cats were identified by Fish and Game coming out if the hills surrounding our valley which measures 30 miles by 15 miles. We decided that we needed other assistance in protecting our herd of dairy goats. A llama rescue was advertising guardian llamas for adoption. We were eager to experience this fascinating animal and adopted 2 llamas. One was a gelded male who had been a 4-H project. The other was a dark brown ungelded male. The 4-H llama was approachable while the other had to be herded into a stall to be caught and haltered. Once haltered they were both tractable. These were to be our cougar protection along with one Pyr and a Pyr puppy.

There were good points and bad points to the llamas. Their coats were in bad shape and I had to hire someone to shear them. They both hated dogs and tried to kill our new LGD puppy by stomping her to death. Our other dogs learned to keep well away from them. LLamas have long sharp claws on their feet - think raptor claws from Jurassic Park. Males also have large canine fangs. Most breeders pull these fangs when the crias are young. If you get a llama make sure this has been done since llamas will also use these fangs when they attack. Llamas also spit nasty smelling cud as a warning. This stuff can be as disgusting and pervading as skunk. LLamas' way of fighting is to rear up and slash with those feet at anything or anyone they don't like. Luckily, they seemed to like us. However, DH's cousin in Kansas who raised exotics for game farms was severely injured when his male llama attacked him. This was odd since he had raised him from a cria.

Another thing we learned several months after bringing our new cougar guardians home was that although they hated dogs and coyotes, llamas are the favored prey of cougar in their native land. Oh good, instead of adding protection to our property we had introduced cougar bait! The final problem to keeping an unaltered llama appeared when the unaltered llama tried to breed the goats. Luckily, I was in the barn and was able to drive him away from the doe he was attacking before she was seriously injured but this was unacceptable. I immediately caught and loaded him into the trailer for the trip to the vet to be neutered. Other than the attempted rape,I never noticed our llamas bonding with the sheep and goats. They kept a solitary lifestyle away from the flock. Eventually, the friendly 4-H llama died of old age and the younger one had no buddy so I rehomed him to a large ranch. If you go the llama route make sure your guardian is gelded and his canines have been removed. Llamas will need vaccinations, annual shearing and occasional claw trims.

Guardian donkeys have been discussed in these forums before. Donkeys do not like dogs or dog like creatures such as coyotes and wolves. Donkeys have a history of doing well with a flock of adult sheep and goats, but also have many disturbing stories of attacking and killing newborn lambs in the field. Whether this is because they don't recognize them as flock members is unclear. The type, size, and number of predators you have will determine the size and number of donkeys you will need. The cute little mini donkeys may not be large enough. You may need something the size of a small horse. Donkeys will also need vaccinations and regular hoof trims although not as often as horses.

We currently have a mule. She is a big mule, 16.3 h.h. and does not like dogs. Our Anatolians have learned to keep an eye on her in the field. When she was younger, she used to try to sneak up in them and bite them while they slept. Watching a large mule tip toe (tip hoof?) up to its quarry was amusing. We stopped keeping our horses in corrals and just tuned them onto our field years ago. Why shovel manure from stalls when the animals would spread it themselves! Josie had a strange cross species platonic love affair with our big ram. The horses had rejected her, but he was content to hang out with her. When the ewes first appeared on the field with their tiny lambs Josie the Mule did try to grab them. We promptly put the ewes back in the barn pen until the lambs were older. Later, when a couple little lambs escaped and ended up on the field Josie again went after them. This time the big ram positioned himself between the lambs and Josie. She tried to get past to grab a lamb, but Rambo kept getting in front of her. Finally, as she continued to go after the lambs Rambo hauled off and butted her in the chest. Surprised, Josie backed up and surveyed the situation. Decidng it must have been a love tap from her buddy she tried again to get past him. This time he was ready for her and having backed up really let her have it. We could hear the thud across the field. Mules are very smart. Josie decided he must mean that the lambs were off limits. She and Rambo turned and strolled away. Since then, Josie has accepted the presence of lambs on the field. I do want to emphasize that we do not let our ewes pasture lamb though so her exposure to lambs younger than 6-8 weeks is minimal.

Hope this helps.
Wow! So much great information. So many years of experience! It reaffirms that I do not want to add yet another species to my life and vet bills even though I have always had a weird desire to own a mule…I just have to keep reminding myself “It’s NOT for ME!” When I started this enterprise I bought three ‘Craigslist rehome me please’ animals to see what it would be like. I told my wife I would buy two…and showed up with three…there were tears..(mostly mine for breaking my word). Today we have a flock, a lazy hound, barn cats, a Border Collie that may or may not figure out what she is supposed to do…but is currently terrified of sheep…and we are heading into lambing and my wife is EXCITED! She has busily been helping me sit down and figure out how to afford the property next door to more than double our land size! She is really into it! More than I would have ever expected. So there’s that. Recently the LGD discussion began and she said…well, get a good one cuz I don’t want another dog in the house! I fully agree! It seems the Anatolian is going to be the breed after reading all the information from all sides so we need to decide on adult or puppy. My shepherd friend suggested they work best when they are puppies dropped into the herd and grow up with them. I have heard that ‘trained adults’ are a good solution…so this is my next step. The final decision other than how much to afford. After just ordering a large set of handling equipment most everything else is on short term hold.
 

Legamin

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@Legamin wants a GUARDIAN ANIMAL, not a herding animal. He or she has a trained herding dog (even though she does not herd).

First problem is that herding dogs are
not livestock guardian dogs. They will drive off predators if they happen to be with the sheep and shepherd at the time. However their approach to the flock is more like a predator than an LGD. A good herding dog will run up to the flock, pausing a certain distance away, then look to the shepherd for instructions. These instructions are given with a whistle, hand, or voice command. When rounding up sheep or cutting out certain individuals the herding dog approaches low to the ground much like a hunting coyote. The sheep retreat before this approach BECAUSE it is predator like. When sheep that have been separated from the flock try to rejoin it, the herding dog drives them back and holds them in a tight group for the shepherd, or herds them toa gate. Putting the sheep through a narrow gate is one of the tests in herding trials. The herding dog is able to hold the sheep in a tight corner by cutting off the escape of any sheep that tries to leave the selected group. This is done by a dash and occasional nip at the deserter. When driving the flock, the herding dog follows behind the sheep, running from side to side to cut off strays that try to escape. They keep the flock moving by lunges at the rear of any lagging member and nipping when necessary. Sheep and cattle dogs are slightly in that a good sheep herder will be gentle with ewes and lambs, more aggressive with wethers. Cattle dogs on the other hand have been bred to be much more aggressive when working cattle. Cattle will charge on occasion and a good cattle dog must be willing to stop the charge and bite hard to work cattle.

The approach to the sheep of an LGD completely different. The LGD's actions around the flock are slow and cautious. The LGD does not run up to the sheep (young untrained pups excepted). The LGD walks calmly and slowly around and through the flock. Running through the flock is reserved for those times when danger threatens, and it is the fastest way to get to the predators. Some breeds of LGD will also round up the flock and move them to a safe place away from danger ON THEIR OWN. My Anatolians do not do this by running at and nipping at the sheep. Instead, they get their attention by running around the flock with their tails straight up. Once the flock sees the dog with tail straight in the air, they recognize danger and will follow the dog where it leads them. LGDs do not drive the flock, the sheep follow them. This is LGD behavior I have witnessed on numerous occasions.

With respect to Legamin's herding dog - not only does the dog need to learn its commands (which she has done) but the sheep need to be trained to follow those actions by the dog. It is probable that Legamin's sheep have never been trained to follow the actions of a herding dog. Hoof stamping when approached by a threat is normal for sheep. Thus, it is obvious that they see the dog as a threat which is appropriate. If they do not see the herding dog as a threat, sheep will not move in response to her approaches or actions.

Instead of taking Soda to the entire flock, I suggest Legamin bring in a small group of about 5 wethers or younger ewes to a separate corral. The corral cannot be too large, because you don't want the sheep to get too far away. If you can set up an area of about 100 x 100'. If that is too large, start with 50 x 50. Then work with the dog on those few sheep at first. If 5 are too many, use 3 until the dog is actually following your commands with regard to the sheep and the sheep are obeying the dog's herding actions. Soda's perceived attempts to be friends may actually be puzzlement at the sheep's refusing to move away from her as she approaches.

A good herding dog is never allowed unsupervised access to sheep. Nor does the shepherd allow the dog to approach the sheep without a specific command. The good herding dog should remain at heel or in a down stay until a specific command by the shepherd has been given.

Some excellent trained herding dogs, bought and allowed to run with the flock, have actually gone out and worked the sheep on their own. This was not discovered until the sheep had dropped considerable weight through the dog's constant moving of the flock not allowing them to graze. Early in our goat and sheep keeping days we wanted a trained herding dog and a former trial champion who was too old to compete was offered to us. A friend who was a trainer and herding judge advised us not to accept because of our pasture setup. Unless we were willing to kennel the dog except when we were working her, we were cautioned that she would be bored and would find her own work i.e., herding the sheep from place to place on her own.
This is good direction. I recently purchased a training ring about 30’ in diameter and 52: high with large welded steel mesh. The idea is to put a small group of sheep inside (starting with the ram pen and wethers since they are used to each other and stay together) and let ’Soda’ run around the outside doing whatever comes naturally…as this occurs I will call out the commands which match exactly what she is doing at the moment. I will work in the ”liedoon” and “creep up” commands (which she has absolutely down) in as she gets comfortable with direction. She is pretty good at going out and getting behind sheep to bring them back…she has “barn horse syndrome” which is simply ALWAYS anxious to get everyone back to the barn!…This I need to break. I am hoping that with a solid year of work using the ring I can get her on command for directions and pushing out into the field. After another year in a small pasture using the ring as the goal ‘home; location to push the sheep in and keep them there then I will consider her useful. She has been showing slow but sure confidence with the sheep and I have been encouraged. When the snow gets down to manageable we will start the work. Right now we have two feet of snow and the barn is poor training ground.
 

Ridgetop

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We had immediate sheep killing predator problems and our last Pyr had been put down due to advanced cancer the previous year. Our first Anatolian was an adult - 18 months old. We were lucky to find a bitch from someone that all the breeders I spoke to praised highly for his integrity and knowledge. We drove to Texas for her. If you get a puppy, remember that the puppy has to be protected from predators too until it is large enough and old enough not to be attacked, killed and eaten by the predators. LGD puppies also need some training. Dumping a puppy in the field with the sheep doesn't work.

I suggest you go online and look up Lucky Hit Anatolians. Erick has a lot of articles about how Anatolian LGDs work, how puppies should be trained to be with newborn lambs, and different training problem stories from people that have gotten LGDs. The articles are fascinating and will give you more information about LGDs and how they work before you actually invest in one. Once you have decided on getting one, don't forget to ask for proof of hip and elbow xrays, and other genetic testing that the breeder does.

Rescue or free dogs are not a good idea since you have expensive and rare sheep. "LGDs" being given away or coming from rescue often have problems. Nor are cheap dogs always as cheap as they may sound at first. Well trained, experienced LGDs always have people lining up for them and willing to pay. And they are worth every penny.

After reading the articles on Erick's Anatolian pages, you can call him and ask questions about Anatolians. Tell him that Harika's and Bubba's owner told you to call for information. He rarely has puppies for sale and has a long waiting list for his dogs but might know where you can get a good one in your area. Otherwise, there is a lady in Mesa, ID, that has some of his dogs who might have an older puppy or adult trained dog. Our 3rd Anatolian came from her ranch out of one of Erick's bitches. Angel is an excellent working LGD. Before bringing in an adult dog, since you have an adult male and an adult bitch on premises, talk to Erick about the problems of bringing in an adult Anatolian.
 

Legamin

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We had immediate sheep killing predator problems and our last Pyr had been put down due to advanced cancer the previous year. Our first Anatolian was an adult - 18 months old. We were lucky to find a bitch from someone that all the breeders I spoke to praised highly for his integrity and knowledge. We drove to Texas for her. If you get a puppy, remember that the puppy has to be protected from predators too until it is large enough and old enough not to be attacked, killed and eaten by the predators. LGD puppies also need some training. Dumping a puppy in the field with the sheep doesn't work.

I suggest you go online and look up Lucky Hit Anatolians. Erick has a lot of articles about how Anatolian LGDs work, how puppies should be trained to be with newborn lambs, and different training problem stories from people that have gotten LGDs. The articles are fascinating and will give you more information about LGDs and how they work before you actually invest in one. Once you have decided on getting one, don't forget to ask for proof of hip and elbow xrays, and other genetic testing that the breeder does.

Rescue or free dogs are not a good idea since you have expensive and rare sheep. "LGDs" being given away or coming from rescue often have problems. Nor are cheap dogs always as cheap as they may sound at first. Well trained, experienced LGDs always have people lining up for them and willing to pay. And they are worth every penny.

After reading the articles on Erick's Anatolian pages, you can call him and ask questions about Anatolians. Tell him that Harika's and Bubba's owner told you to call for information. He rarely has puppies for sale and has a long waiting list for his dogs but might know where you can get a good one in your area. Otherwise, there is a lady in Mesa, ID, that has some of his dogs who might have an older puppy or adult trained dog. Our 3rd Anatolian came from her ranch out of one of Erick's bitches. Angel is an excellent working LGD. Before bringing in an adult dog, since you have an adult male and an adult bitch on premises, talk to Erick about the problems of bringing in an adult Anatolian.
Again it seems I am in your debt for your wisdom and experience. I appreciate flat footed talk. One of the things I have to balance in my mind when I take local advice is that these farms have been struggling on the edge of extinction since the boom/bust cycle of the 1960’s. My own farm was in such a state of decline the bones of the buildings were the only thing saved. Floors, siding, insulation, wiring, windows, roofs…everything beyond the basic structural frames of the buildings has been replaced or is currently being worked on. There had been no meaningful upgrades or repairs since the 1970’s. This once was the central farm house and barns of a 1000 acre dairy farm that supplied the greater northern area of the east side of the state with dairy products. So when I get advice from my neighbors it is coming from an economic point of view of ‘survival’. I get that. I have lived frugally for 40 years to fulfill my sheep dream. But when someone hears ‘I need a LGD for my sheep’ they instantly jump to “hey, old Barney’s dog just had a litter and I think he needs good homes”…that’s how they have been solving problems for decades. Farming doesn’t pay big in this area…if indeed it does anywhere. But you are dead right on the dog. I need a healthy dog and it needs to be right for the job. If that means paying for a trained dog with health records then that is the direction I need to go to make sure I am not adding another mouth to feed which no benefit to me.
the other thing about ‘survival mode’ is that everyone is an expert or has “done that a hundred times….all you do is…”….”And it won’t hardly cost you a CENT!”. I own 70 year old bulldozers, 65 year old backhoe etc. but they run like tops and could be put in museums if there were such a thing for them. I think 10-15-20 or more years when I make any purchase. My last ‘new’ car still looks new from 2000 and runs like a top. I think old school is the only school. But back to the point…I’ll follow up on the dog. I think finding a good dog to introduce shortly after lambing/weaning will be a good time to do this. I’ve got a house to side and a barn to skin this Spring so I can’t put too much time into a dog. A trained dog would be ideal. Again, thanks, I know there is more to it that I’m thinking and will probably have more questions. If I can DM you sometime that would be very handy.
 

Baymule

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My dogs are about to face a big challenge. I'm moving to a much smaller place while I look around for another farm. They are already worried by my coming and going. They know something is up, but I can't explain it to them.

Your farm sounds awesome. Run down, it is still a wonderful place and I know you are diligently working away on it. I'd love to see pictures, if you are inclined to post any.
 

Legamin

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My dogs are about to face a big challenge. I'm moving to a much smaller place while I look around for another farm. They are already worried by my coming and going. They know something is up, but I can't explain it to them.

Your farm sounds awesome. Run down, it is still a wonderful place and I know you are diligently working away on it. I'd love to see pictures, if you are inclined to post any.
I am currently suffering the indignity of an 8 year old smartphone in which the camera has decidedly opted out of function mode. But my wife…the REAL photographer…has agreed to supply me with all the pictures I need. It’ll take a few days to organize.
 

Ridgetop

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Absolutely DM me whenever. I will give you my phone number and we can talk in person if you like.

I look at my dogs like my other livestock. You can go to a local auction and buy someone's culls, or shop around for what you really want in a breeding animal for the breed and species. Since I have a lot of money invested in my sheep, I want a guardian that won't chew them up, have temperament problems, abandon the flock at the approach of a predator, or have physical problems that make it hard or impossible to do their job. I also want a livestock guardian that is guaranteed to work properly and that I can trust.

30+ years ago we bought our first LGD from a sheepman in Montana after strays got in with our goats. LGDs were not as common then as they are now and only a few livestock producers were using them. It took me several calls to the Idaho sheep Station who were doing work with LGDs to find breeders. The breeder had Shar Planinetz and Maremmas on 1000 acres in MOntana protecting his sheep. The pups were a cross of his dogs. The first pup he was going to ship to me was 6 months old and already working, but on the day of shipment he called and said that when he went to catch the dog it bit him. This was in the days when LGD owners were told to have no contact with their LGDs because loving contact would keep the dog from bonding with the flock. It was not uncommon for some dogs not to recognize their owners. He said he would drug the dog and ship it next day. :ep

Since this dog had to live on our small property with our small children and visitors, I didn't want a dog that might bite people. I said I would wait for the next litter which was only 2 weeks old. He shipped us the up when he was 12 weeks old and he was great. The breeder guaranteed the dog would work or he would replace him.

At 4 months old he drove off the large Doberman that used to come and poop on our front porch! At 6 months old the dog was big. A couple of large stray dogs tried to come on our property. The puppy went out and started playing with them! Disappointed I waited for him to attack and drive them off. Here he was playing with these marauding dogs. He played for a while then they moved off. He sat down and waited. The dogs came back, and he played with them again. Finally, they left. I did notice that each time they had ended up further from our property and he sat between them and the flock.

This was not what I had purchased a LGD for though and I called the breeder to tell him that the dog was a dud. I wanted him to replace the dog since he had guaranteed he would if the dog didn't work. Why did the dog not attack the strays? The breeder explained that the pup knew that he would not win in a fight with 2 larger dogs so had done "play behavior" to lure them away from the flock. When he was mature, he would not allow dogs to come anywhere near the property.

If I wanted him to replace the dog though he would do so. I was to put the dog down (he said shoot him) and send him the tail and he would ship another dog no charge. I was not offended by the idea of sending him the tail of a dead dog as proof. However, the explanation of "play away behavior" made sense. I kept the puppy. A year later a couple of large dogs again approached the flock and Maverick went out and drove them off without any hesitation. At 10-months-old he and our old Weimaraner bitch drove off a mountain lion.

This story is to illustrate that you want a dog that is guaranteed to WORK, not just have been in a yard with a couple pet goats. LGDs have become fashionable these days and anyone with a female thinks they can make money breeding it. Some of the LGDs offered for sale are neither purebred or even crosses of 2 LGD breeds. This can be dangerous to your valuable flock since the dog might not guard but instead might attack the animals.

A puppy is a good option, but many puppies have periods of play behavior at certain ages where they try to play with the sheep and lambs as if they are puppies too. Since the LGD believes that the flock members are pack members, they play with their BFF sheep like dogs do. This means biting at ears and legs. Depending on the age of the dog when this behavior surfaces the bites can be superficial or severe.

By obtaining a trained older LGD from a reputable breeder you avoid this behavior. However, you need to know the breeder IS reputable since many people will sell or give away LGDs advertised as "trained". Once the "trained" dog is on your property you experience the behavior problems yourself that are the reason the dog was given away or sold to you in the first place!

Introducing an adult LGD onto your property may not be trouble free depending on the dog. While the dog will be perfect with the sheep, it may not accept your current dogs and vice versa. Adult Anatolians are notorious for not accepting other adult dogs of the same sex and age - even littermates after the age of 2 years old. This is because they establish pack dominance and if they are the same age they will fight for the dominant position. Having dogs of different ages works better. Our Anatolians are 9-year-old bitch, 5-year-old male, and 3-year-old bitch and work well together. I would not introduce another male onto the property until our current male was quite old, or until I could keep them separate.

Since you have a lot of work to do on your outbuildings before you spend the money on an LGD, this will give you time to research breeders online and ask questions of them. Remember that to every breeder their breed and bloodline is perfect. I am that way and I did not even breed my own Anatolians! LOL They are from the same bloodlines though.
 

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Looking forward to photos. If you are buying the property next to you in Washington does this mean you have decided not to move to Tennessee?
 

Legamin

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This all sounds very reasonable. I now literally have 40 years of my life invested on the ground with our sheep operation. I spent 35 years building a rare book collection dating to the 15th century and that all is now fluffy and making small ‘cow noises’ and readying their corners of the barn for more small wonders. This means a lot to me. And the dog I entrust them to will have to be a good one. Our main problem is coyote. We had one mountain lion some time back that harried the horses and the beef steer through the fence line and into the neighbor’s yard and our hound made enough noise to distract it before a kill. Since then we have made fences a priority. So far over 5 miles of cattle panels, railroad ties, T-posts, barbed wire, electric fence and electronic surveillance…even motion lights and trail cams. We have not had an incursion with the exception of the offal pile that we have put just inside one corner behind high fencing so that the predators can come get, take and disappear again. It is about 2000’ from the nearest sheep fence. And frankly it is nice not to have to bury every scrap after a busy fall slaughter.
I’m not in a rush to find a dog but think it would be a good time to introduce after lambing when the mom is back on her feet and the lamb can move about the pasture with confidence. I’ll follow up the names mentioned earlier and see when there are dogs available. So much happening…Spring ‘frost seeding’, lambing, trip to WY for new rams and a very special 5 star breeding ewe, a new handling system arriving, a load of custom cut lumber for the kitchen cabinets that I’m building this year, skinning the new sheep barn and siding our own home and painting….that should be enough but there is another 3 miles of hard welded fence and hydraulic remote operated pasture gates to go up. Retirement is going splendidly…… Currently recovering from Omicron after not having the flu for over 20 years and spending a part of Winter in a wheelchair has slowed down the works but I am limping back into action. I noticed that no matter how poorly I felt or how impossible the daily chores seemed on a particular day that the sheep were not one bit less hungry or thirsty and the production of poop continued unabated….so today…like yesterday…I’ll be getting up and going to work. It will be nice to have the confidence of a strong LGD to make the midnight ’noise checks’ just a little less urgent!
 
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