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Are you looking for the best dog to watch over your small flock of chickens at home? Learn all about the three best livestock guard dogs for chickens and what makes each one so great for your home!
Starting your own chicken farm at home can be exciting. But you may be wondering how you will protect your chickens from other people and predators. There are actually dogs that can do it for you! They are the guardian dogs of livestock.
In the past (and still today), farmers put all their faith in dogs to help keep their livestock safe and together. They relied on dogs as shepherds to protect and guard their flocks. A sheepdog could herd sheep, pigs, goats and cattle. But they could also take care of the chickens.
There are many types of dogs that can fill the role of livestock guard dog. Some are categorized by AKC under the working group while others are categorized by the UKC under the guardian group.
Each type of dog is totally different even though they have a similar role. The dog you get for your chickens in your home will depend a lot on your lifestyle and the compatibility of his temperament with yours.
Here we are going to show you three of the best guard dogs so that you have a better idea of which breed of dog is right for you.
What is a Herding Guard Dog?
Livestock guard dogs (LGD) are dogs that are made to work with farmers and protect livestock on the farm. They can herd all kinds of farm animals, from large cows to small chickens.
Most LGDs are medium to large sized dogs that are strong but gentle and calm. They must be able to watch the herd all day and keep it together, but also protect the herd from any dangerous predators like wolves, coyotes and foxes.
LGDs must also be able to work for long periods outdoors in any condition during the year. That’s why many of them have thick coats that can tolerate all weathers.
The typical LGD is calm and patient yet alert and strong. He must be comfortable spending his time alone with the cattle but also be always vigilant and bring out his strength when the time comes.
The three main LGDs
1. Kangal Dog
The Kangal dog is an ancient breed named after the Kangal district of Sivas in central Turkey, where it likely originated. This hardy cattle dog has been used by farmers for centuries and is even considered the national dog of Turkey.
The first Kangal dog arrived in the United States in 1985. Although the breed is still not recognized by the AKC, you can register it with the UKC and Kangal Dog Club of America and many American farmers are adding this dog to their farms.
A Kangal dog is a very large and powerful dog with a heavy bone structure that is virtually immobile. He won’t back down from predators, which is what made his body so strong. Its distinguishing qualities are its body that is longer than it is tall, its curling tail, and its coat.
The coat is two-layered. It is short but very dense in winter and light in summer when the undercoat falls. The color of the coat should always be solid, and oscillate between a light dun, or a pale and dull gold, or a steel gray. He also has a black mask and black hair on his floppy ears.
Typically, this dog is very alert, protective and territorial. With the family he is very loyal and gentle, but any suspicious stranger should beware as he will get the side eye of this dog.
He will face threats when necessary but he prefers to intimidate his enemies. Strangers, predators and stray dogs will not be able to touch the chickens under the supervision of this guard dog.
2. Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees is one of the most popular and perhaps most commonly used LGDs in America. It is also a very old dog originating from the Pyrenees between Spain and France. There he worked with the farmers to protect the herd from any predators.
This majestic dog has a dense, white coat that was likely designed to withstand the cold winters in the peaks of the Pyrenees and blend in with the snow. The Great Pyrenees were legendary for their immense patience and ability to spring into immediate action to defend their herd.
Although the Great Pyrenees looks very gentle with its calm demeanor and fluffy white coat, this giant dog has a strong body that can weigh over 100 pounds.
He will knock down anyone if threatened and his courage to guard is unmatched. You can count on him to take care of your hens and he won’t mind all the clucking so much thanks to his patience.
A Pyrenean Shepherd is an excellent family dog for his calm, his intelligence and his kindness. But families need to give this dog a job like watching chickens if they want to add him to their home.
3. Anatolian Shepherd
The Anatolian Shepherd hails from Anatolia, the peninsula that makes up the Asian part of Turkey. This is another very old breed with ancestors dating back to 2000 BC.
The breed was first introduced to America before World War II as part of a secret mission called the “Sheepdog Project” to determine which breed would be the best herding dog. But this program collapsed with the outbreak of war, and the Anatolian Shepherd did not regain recognition in America until the 1970s.
At that time, the Endangered Species Act had been enacted and the Anatolian Shepherd was the perfect candidate to protect livestock without harming endangered predators like wolves.
Farmers love the Anatolian Shepherd for its independent and patient nature. He can be left alone with the cattle for hours and he will be happy. The Anatolian Shepherd, while very loyal, is actually not as affectionate with humans as the other two breeds and is very reserved. But he shows his loyalty by not only protecting your chickens, but also alerting your family to any strange happenings.
The huge Anatolian Shepherd, which can weigh up to 150 pounds, is quite an imposing figure when standing guard over your flock.
They are incredibly muscular yet agile, have a curled tail and a slightly longer short coat on their neck. Coat colors are numerous and include fawn, liver, brindle, white, red fawn, biscuit, and white and blue fawn. Markings like a black mask and ears or white on its chest or legs are also acceptable.
Livestock guard dogs are those breeds of dogs that are made to work on a farm and protect farmers’ livestock. The Kangal Dog, Great Pyrenees, and Anatolian Shepherd are three of the best LGDs you might want to consider adding to your home if you need a dog that can guard your chickens.
Each of these breeds is incredibly unique, and your choice of choice depends on factors such as their family friendliness and personality. The Great Pyrenees might be best for a family with kids, but if you’re out all day, the Anatolian Shepherd won’t mind.
Nevertheless, they all have in common that they are excellent livestock watchdogs. Whichever you choose, you can rest assured that your chickens will be safe from natural predators and other humans.
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