Having a livestock guardian dog can play an important role in successful homesteading which is why we have decided to add Zara! She is a 12 week old Anatolian Shepherd mixed with a little bit of Great Pyrenees. Fully grown, she is projected to be around 120 pounds. LGDs have been used for centuries to help protect various livestock and are still very important today.
Livestock guardian dogs are breeds specifically bred and trained with the purpose of living and bonding with whatever specific livestock a farmer wants them to guard. We chose to get a livestock dog specifically to be with our goats. There are a multitude of predators on our property such as coyotes, bobcats and even stray dogs that can easily take down goats. Raising livestock is not cheap and when we put the work in to raise these animals the last thing you want is to see them fall prey to another animal. This is where Zara comes in. Our goats can be very vulnerable to prey especially when they start having kids (baby goats). We currently keep our goats in an electric fence to keep them in and predators out but things can happen like a battery going dead or the fence gets turned off and not turned back on. This is where having a livestock dog as a second line of defense can be extremely useful.
Not all dogs are cut out for this job. It’s a tough job, there is little interaction with humans as they are usually are out in the fields all day working. They need to have the ability to bond with livestock while also having the ferociousness to ward off predators. These dogs are not meant for the indoors as they need lots of space to roam and their coat reflects their ability to thrive in various weather conditions.
We had our reservations about adding another dog as we already have 3 living indoors but decided it was worth it to minimize risk. Our reservations stemmed mostly from questioning if we had enough time to adequately train a LGD. We have found if we just go for it somehow we find the time to make it work. Zara came from a sheep farm in Kansas and already seems to naturally know her job. Currently we are working on socialization and meeting all our animals. Wish us luck on our new adventure!