Loving the herd life
- Nov 30, 2020
- Reaction score
It was a pleasure to read this. While these two are our first LGD working dogs, years ago I worked with working Newfies. They did water rescue and there was a significant amount of swimming and training exercises at the lake every week and they also were champions in the ring. They also rode in helicopters and assisted in many actual rescues as the area where we lived had many mountain lakes. Their hips were scanned and they were bred for being the best on all counts. They were such a joy!Definitely the breeder is paramount! Having luckily found the wonderful breeder of Anatolians who has helped us with every problem we have encountered, I know that the right breeder is as important as the right dog. In spite of having had many Pyrenees and a cross LGD, without this breeder we would probably have given up on Anatolians. Instead, they are our breed of choice as long as we have livestock. They are not an easy dog. They are highly dominant, both bitches and males. Unless you have help in understanding the minds of LGDs you can have problems. They are not like other breeds of dogs. To me a good LGD is so different as to be almost another species.
A reputable breeder will be recommended by several sources who know their dogs and have had good experiences with them. A reputable breeder will have repeat buyers and usually a waiting list for pups. The waiting list is because the reputable breeder is not a puppy mill and does not turn out litter after litter. They restrict themselves to one or two litters per year, which means that repeat buyers wanting one of the puppies from their good breeding will have to book one in advance.
The reputable breeder tests their dogs for hips, elbows, and any other congenital abnormalities in the breed. They are particular about which sire to use on which bitch to ensure good working ability, conformation and temperament. (More about conformation later.) The reputable breeder has a take back policy which will require you to return the dog if it does not work out for you. The reputable breeder will often have a contract that puts all health guarantees and working guarantees in writing.
Some breeders are only interested in the breed ring. Those are not the breeders you want. While many are reputable and do the testing I listed, they are not as interested in the dog as a working dog. This is true of many breeds that excel in the show ring and have lost much of their ability to guard livestock, hunt, or herd. They make wonderful pets and excellent show dogs with excellent health and temperament, but these are not the breeders you want either.
When looking for a specific working dog, you need to get recommendations to breeders that produce dogs that can herd, guard or hunt. Some of these excellent breeders both show and work their dogs. Some of these reputable breeders don't show themselves but have dogs that do with other owners. And some of the reputable breeders are only interested in the working abilities of their dogs. These are the breeders you want.
Next, you want a breeder that does not put you off with a lack of interest in discussing the breed with you. Particularly you want the breeder that discusses the breeds' worst proclivities and discusses the training needed to avoid any problems. The BEST BREEDERS are those that are always available to help you with training. On the other hand, if you ignore the training suggestions, after a while even those excellent breeders will have to wash their hands of you. There are some people that ask for help but are not willing to follow the instructions. These people can ruin a good dog of any breed.
We went into this with that background, but we didn't find any registered dogs that worked on a level that would help them work with us. When I responded to a few ads, most of the people I contacted shot me a price and didn't want to get into details. Shep's owner was the first person who told me if I was serious she wanted to have a conversation, which encouraged me. She not only wanted to know all about us and our setup, but also knew every one of her pups. And he was born to parents who protect goats and was sleeping in the chicken house. *sigh* He's always got a place with us (and I'm so glad we brought him inside as a pup), but he isn't going to be what we got him to be, obviously.
We had a few bumps with him when he was a teen with the birds but he wants so much to be approved of that he skulked around for a day after we "had words" about it. His training has really been the least troublesome part of having him around surprisingly. They really are like a whole different species, but we've always been able to work the issues out. Newfs are similarly independent thinkers and stubborn a mile wide so maybe that helped a bit with working with these guys.
I do wonder though, how would his genetic issue or propensity for such issues be picked up? When we embark tested them, it suggested a genetic propensity for collie eye, but nothing about craniomandibular osteopathy or any other development issues. Is there a way to know about this kind of thing ahead of time? @Cecilia's-herd OFA is great, but if my understanding of it is correct, it's only going to evaluate hips. Is that correct?
We've been on a waiting list with a breeder that has shipped dogs to more than 40 states and raises a mix of what are said to be high-quality dogs. My turn has come up and I am hesitant at pulling the trigger. I know she thinks I am wishy-washy, but once burned twice shy (or something like that?).
We don't have tons of visitors and when we do, they don't belong in with the animals (unless it's the farm vet, at which point we put the dog in). We don't need one of the more aggressive breeds, I think, as our largest predator is our brush coyotes (coyotes that have bred with stray dogs) and in our area, they're about the size of Annie or an average size german shepherd. Rarely do they come in a pack although my neighbor has seen them in packs of 6 or so.Temperament is also key in selection. Do you require a friendly dog because you have a lot of visitors to the farm? Do you want a more aggressive dog due to type of predator, or your need for more protection in an isolated area. Do you need something for specific livestock. Poultry? Rabbits? Small livestock? Home and ranch general guardian? These are all things that the reputable and knowledgeable breeder can select for you in the litter of puppies. The knowledgeable breeder knows their dogs. The experienced ones know what puppy traits to select for in the adult dog. The knowledgeable working LGD breeder will be able to select the pup with the qualities you need among those adorable fluff balls.
In our case, we keep LGDs for our poultry. We raise truely free range pastured poultry right in the middle of coyote and eagle country and have yet to lose a bird to them, but don't plan to start. I read a few books when we got started and had settled on maremmas, but the one that we got that was full bred maremma was a nut job. I would definitely try again with them, but am considering AS and GP when the time comes around again after that experience. Would probably also consider karakachan.
Annie is 2... will be 3 this year. The dog she was fighting with in her last home was a 3 year older than her GP female. Her back knee injuries are what made our vet think she had a torn CCL, not sure if I mentioned that in my original post about her. She had the stitches out of one of her front legs the week before she got to us and the other front leg had had stitches a few months prior. She may be fine with a younger female, but she is pretty particular with female dogs. We never allow her to see or be in contact with our female house dog after their initial meeting that didn't go great and we decided to choose our battles and that this one wasn't worth it. She is only part AS though so many of her traits will be from the maremma and GP in her.It is a shame about your male's jaw problems. Your female is working well though and he can be back up for her you might not have problems with his jaw for many years. if you have a bad predator problem, I would recommend that you find another female Anatolian when your bitch turns 2 or 3. Anatolian males will not tolerate other males, but Anatolian females will tolerate other females if they are several years apart. Oddly neither sex will tolerate same age dogs of the same sex. Even littermates raised together will begin to fight when they reach 2 years old. This seems to be specific to Anatolians.
I really appreciate your reply.