Our LGD Journey

AgnesGray

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Unless you have an instance of suddenly increased predator load (like us after the terrible California fires several years ago), or large predators like cougar and bear, you are probably fine. His size and presence with your female will be intimidation enough. Don't worry.
That must have been awful for so many reasons. My brother lived in Cali at the time and for many years. Can't imagine the added worry about livestock and the fires. :hugs

Fortunately, we have no cougar or bear. What sent my worries into overdrive was a recent encounter with a raccoon. To be fair, he was a pretty big boy, but still a raccoon, not a coyote or coyote mix. Annie went to the stock and Shep went after the coon, no fear or hesitation. He looked like he'd lived his whole young life to get to handle that situation. He was in his element. Except he couldn't seem to dispatch him for reasons obvious to us, but not to him. The coon barely missed his eye and bit him on the face and leg. We heard the noise and resolved the issue, but we wondered how it would go had it been something larger and if we hadn't been there to step in. And although Annie has the Anatolian spirit, she is so tiny.

I do think we're going to allow him to finish growing before making a decision. I would love to add a third dog just to provide extra support to them, but I don't want to grow too fast too quickly either. It's just not a clear yes/no to me, you know?

Shep wasn't phased at all by his injuries. He wasn't actually licking his wounds here; he was chewing on a treat we gave him for his efforts. 😆
IMG_20211217_162756_664.jpg
 

Ridgetop

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The separation of the dogs - one to attack and drive off the predator and the other falling back to provide a rear guard to the stock is typical behavior in a pair. Excellent to hear about dogs working well together. Once Annie gets more growth on her she maybe the ne to go forward while he falls back, although it appears they have delegated their duties themselves. This is guardian behavior that cannot be taught by humans. :)

Don't figure raccoons are too small to be dangerous. Male raccoons can get up to 50 lbs. which is the size of many of our coyotes here. They have nasty fangs and are vicious antagonists. While he could not dispatch the raccoon, he did send it on its way with your help. What a brave boy. His next fight might be more successful since he will have experience from that fight.
 

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I sure understand your situation. I have an Anatolian/Akbash/Pyrenees male. At 9 months old, he had Femoral Head Ostectomy surgery for hip dysplasia. Vet said worst case in a dog that young he’d ever seen. We contemplated putting Sentry down, but just couldn’t. We gave him the chance and I’m so glad. He’s made an awesome guard dog. Big feet, deep chest, huge wise head and small stunted body. Just like you feel about Shep, Sentry was meant to be mine. We will take it one day at a time with our dogs, won’t we?

Do the best you can, give Shep the best life you can. That’s all you can do.
 

AgnesGray

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The separation of the dogs - one to attack and drive off the predator and the other falling back to provide a rear guard to the stock is typical behavior in a pair. Excellent to hear about dogs working well together. Once Annie gets more growth on her she maybe the ne to go forward while he falls back, although it appears they have delegated their duties themselves. This is guardian behavior that cannot be taught by humans. :)

Don't figure raccoons are too small to be dangerous. Male raccoons can get up to 50 lbs. which is the size of many of our coyotes here. They have nasty fangs and are vicious antagonists. While he could not dispatch the raccoon, he did send it on its way with your help. What a brave boy. His next fight might be more successful since he will have experience from that fight.
Would you expect Annie to still grow at her age? The GPs we've known and had would be done by now. Every time she's at the vet I am hopeful that she's at least put on a few pounds but she's holding steady in the low 60's since we got her.

You're right about that coon. He was very well fed. It took 2 large shovels to carry him away.

I do love how they work together. Would prefer if the roles were reversed and he stayed at home while she took the front line. She's a little powerhouse.
 

AgnesGray

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I sure understand your situation. I have an Anatolian/Akbash/Pyrenees male. At 9 months old, he had Femoral Head Ostectomy surgery for hip dysplasia. Vet said worst case in a dog that young he’d ever seen. We contemplated putting Sentry down, but just couldn’t. We gave him the chance and I’m so glad. He’s made an awesome guard dog. Big feet, deep chest, huge wise head and small stunted body. Just like you feel about Shep, Sentry was meant to be mine. We will take it one day at a time with our dogs, won’t we?

Do the best you can, give Shep the best life you can. That’s all you can do.
I love hearing that about Sentry. I think when it's meant to be they find us. Sounds like Sentry was sure meant to be your boy.

I have to remind myself sometimes that it's a day at a time. I will continue to ponder getting backup for Shep and Annie, but will hold off for a bit. For now we're enjoying watching them enjoy the cold weather.

I don't get the feeling Annie saw much weather this cold in New Mexico and she is still like a kid a Christmas every time a snowflake falls.
 

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Would you expect Annie to still grow at her age? The GPs we've known and had would be done by now. Every time she's at the vet I am hopeful that she's at least put on a few pounds but she's holding steady in the low 60's since we got her.
I went back and reread your post but couldn't find an age for Annie.

Livestock guardian breeds are a slow maturing group. Both females and males usually don't finish growing until 24-30 months. Females often don't reach sexual maturity, (enter their first season) until 10-12 months old. LGD breeds should not be bred until at least 30 months old due to their continued growth pattern.

Maremmas are slightly smaller dogs than Pyrenees and Anatolians. Here is the size chart from the AKC for all 3 breeds in Annie's gene pool:
Maremma Great Pyr Anatolian
Female weight 66-88 lbs. 80-100 lbs. 80-120 lbs.
Male weight 77-99 lbs. 100 lb. and up 110-160 lbs.

Female height 24-27" 25-29" 27" and up
Male height 26-29" 27-32" 29" and up

As you can see, the Maremma is the smallest of the 3 breeds. Annie's weight in the mid 60's is not unusual for a Maremma. She would be considered small for a Great Pyr or Anatolian. Since Annie is 40% Maremma, it is probable that her Maremma genes are controlling her size. However, this weight and height chart is for the breed show standard. Many older guardian dog breeders who are keeping these dogs for flock protection breed the best workers, not necessarily the largest dogs. The best working Pyr we ever had was Sandy who was only 70 lbs. She was fearless, quick and aggressive to predators. Often our neighbors would watch her charge right into the middle of a coyote pack and scatter them. While everyone thinks of the LGD as a massive dog, the best workers are not always the largest. Along with massive size can come a loss of agility speed, and dexterity in fighting. Breeders who aim only for size can lose the agility and speed necessary to a working flock guardian.

Throughout history the need for size in the livestock guardian breeds was based on the type of predators in the area roamed by the early shepherds. In Turkey and the Pyrenees mountains brown bears and wolf packs were and are the main predators. Brown bears are one of the largest bear species, fast powerful hunters. Wolves are much larger than coyotes and hunt in packs consisting of a mated pair and their offspring of different ages. A wolf pack normally has 6-12 members but may number as many as 20 wolves depending on the size and availability of prey. Because of the way wolves hunt cooperatively in packs, they are the most dangerous predator and require a larger number of guardians to protect the flock and shepherds. Larger LGDs are necessary to drive off bears, and multiple member packs of wolves. In Italy, the original breeding ground of the Maremma LGD, wolves were smaller, and more confined to the northern mountainous regions. Foxes were common - about the size of a small coyote. Over time, the size of the Maremma may have been allowed to diminish in favor of a smaller, quicker dog.

Annie shows the excellent traits of the prime guardian dog. Her size is immaterial to her ability unless you have much larger predators than raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. Shep (since he does not know about his physical failing) is brave, willing, and shows excellent guardian traits. Both these dogs are working to their potential. As your story about them splitting to different positions in protection showed, they have a good working partnership.

While I would definitely have it in mind to get another livestock guardian in the future, at the moment these two are doing what you need. Eventually you may have to replace Shep, but not now. In addition, remember when bringing in a puppy, the puppy will play fight with Shep and Annie. This is normal and how the older dogs teach the pups to defend and attack. With Shep's jaw problem, you don't want the puppy to accidentally injure Shep's jaw. On the other hand, you don't want to wait until you only have a much older Annie to both defend and teach a new puppy. It is a Catch 22 situation but as time goes on you will be able to make the decision.
 

AgnesGray

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Maremma Great Pyr Anatolian
Female weight 66-88 lbs. 80-100 lbs. 80-120 lbs.
Male weight 77-99 lbs. 100 lb. and up 110-160 lbs.

Female height 24-27" 25-29" 27" and up
Male height 26-29" 27-32" 29" and up

As you can see, the Maremma is the smallest of the 3 breeds. Annie's weight in the mid 60's is not unusual for a Maremma.
Annie is 2, will be 3 this year.

It cracks me up to see the size charts for Maremmas in the US. I think you're right that maremmas have shrunk in size (here in the states). The AKC has it wrong, sadly, but I do know that there are small maremmas here somehow that fit in that size range and Annie may have gotten the small genes. She was 61 lbs this last time at the vet, including her slip lead, collar, and second leash.

As for the "real weight" of maremmas, the maremma parents of the pup we adopted had more of the american look than the original Italian, but were 130 (male) and 140 (female) which is closer in size to the maremmas I knew in Italy. The dog's grandmother was an Italian import which I'm sure contributed to the heavier weights. I am not sure of their breed standard sizes, but there were maremmas I met there that were much larger and had somewhat different facial features than some of the "maremmas" we see here and I have wondered about that.

I love Annie's build in many ways. She is quick and can wiggle through the smallest of spaces (who needs jump gates when she can wiggle under fences in a flash lol). The only thing I don't like about the situation of her being small is that our coyotes about match her in size and way outnumber us. She is feisty and the sounds she makes when she's going after something make our hair stand up, but she will never have the power of a "full size" LGD.

...you don't want to wait until you only have a much older Annie to both defend and teach a new puppy. It is a Catch 22 situation but as time goes on you will be able to make the decision.

Yes, this is the plan. We have been incredibly blessed that these two have found us. Imperfections and all, they have been such an asset. Hopefully number three will be another "meant to be" addition.
 

AgnesGray

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We are contemplating a Colorado Mountain Dog pup. Anyone here have one?
 

AgnesGray

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That is a mix of breeds, so the temperament is pretty much a role of the dice.
I can see that with the foundation and g1, g2 pups, but after selectively breeding for 4 or 5 generations, I am wondering how much of a gamble it would be. Especially since all of the foundation dogs are purebred LGD dogs.

I think it's interesting what they are trying to create with dogs that are specifically suited to smaller properties that don't roam as much and are good with poultry/farm visitors/etc.
 

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