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Guard Dogs for Protecting

Guard dogs protect sheep by patrolling, barking, scent-marking, and pursuing a predator when the sheep are threatened.

A sheep producer should investigate the concept of using a guardian dog before investing in a puppy.

A guard dog must form a bond with the sheep and protect them from predators. It is very important to incorporate a guard dog into the total management plan.

A producer must consider other dogs on the premise and determine how the guardian dog will relate to these dogs. Some producers are forced to take the guard dog away from the sheep in order to work the sheep with working dogs.

Protective Guard Dogs - Breeds

The dog may be one of several breeds or a mixture of breeds. The most common breeds of guard dogs in the U.S. are the Great Pyrenees, Komondor, Anatolian Shepherd, Akbash Dog, Maremma, Kuvasz, and Sharplaninac.

hese dogs generally command good prices; however, the loss of a few lambs will soon pay for one. Mixed dogs were used in experimental work and were quite effective depending on how they are reared and the kind of temperament they exhibit.

Guard Dogs - Getting a Puppy - Checklist

A pup, born of a proven sire and dam and raised among sheep will probably develop into a good guard dog if properly bonded with the flock.

A puppy raised in a kennel may have difficulty bonding to sheep, especially if over six to eight weeks of age. Choose a puppy from a line that exhibits traits complimentary to your needs. Avoid pups from overly shy or aggressive parents.

Investigate the health status of the parents and look for hip dysplasia, a joint problem common to many large breeds of dogs. Consider neutering the pup to prevent problems due to heat cycles in females and males seeking females in heat. Neutering of males or females does not diminish their guarding capability.

The puppy should be placed with the sheep and treated as a working dog, not a pet. Place the puppy with some lambs to avoid injury that may result from older aggressive ewes.

 The puppy must develop a bond with the lambs. The older sheep must be introduced gradually to the puppy. Ewes not accustomed to a guard dog may view the pup as an enemy. Over time, the sheep flock will become accustomed to the presence of the guard dog and they will tend to ignore the dog's presence.

Feed the pup in the sheep barn when the sheep are fed. Correct the pup for inappropriate behaviour such as chasing or biting the sheep and praise the pup for good behaviour.