We’re familiar with herding dogs, but have you heard of livestock guardian dogs?
This adorable video posted on Twitter shows a young puppy roaming with a flock of sheep, bonding with them as he prepares to become their livestock guardian.
Flock of sheep adopted puppy dog "in training" to become part of the herd pic.twitter.com/ZZDhsVeeRM
— Gabriele Corno (@Gabriele_Corno) August 16, 2022
According to the American Kennel Club, livestock guardian dogs are able “to be reliable around livestock like sheep, pigs, goats, and even chickens; have the ability to discriminate between family and potential threats; and have the ability to follow through in deterring true threats to the livestock.”
While the AKC classifies livestock guardian dogs as part of the working group, their role is distinct from herding dogs. What sets livestock guardian dogs apart is their relationship with the herd or flock. While herding dogs work with livestock to corral them into a specific area, livestock guardians see the herd as part of their territory. That being the case, these dogs protect their flocks and the humans that tend to them from outside threats.
Livestock Guardian Breeds
The previously mentioned video shows a young Anatolian Shepherd puppy. These are one of the most common working breeds chosen for livestock guardianship. Other breeds include the Great Pyrenees and Komondor. These dogs are renowned for their loyalty, companionship, and intuition.
The breeds chosen for this line of work are generally larger dogs with thick, white coats that help them blend in with their flocks. Additionally, their thick fur also serves as protection from the cold and against would-be predators.
Owning a Livestock Guardian Dog
Choosing a working breed as a companion dog can be a great decision for dog parents in both rural and urban settings. However, it’s essential to be mindful of what these breeds need in order to stay happy and healthy.
Due to their inherently protective natures, socializing your pup is a priority. While you may want your dog to guard your property and family, it’s important for them to be able to distinguish between a stranger and an actual threat.
Besides that, another aspect to keep in mind is the physical requirements of owning a working dog. These dogs have generations of breeding meant to keep them moving and active. Like all dogs, keeping them physically and mentally stimulated is important. Unlike smaller and more docile breeds, however, working dogs need a lot of physical and mental stimulation to stay satisfied. For that reason, these breeds are not generally recommended for first-time dog owners.
Aside from that, finding a livestock guardian dog to bring into your family may be a great choice. They are smart, engaging dogs who are fiercely loyal and protective. And if you happen to have any livestock, we’re sure they’ll be grateful as well.