What are good dogs to protect goats?

We live in one of the very few rural areas in the suburban Bay Area, half way between San Fransisco and San Jose in the Santa Cruz mountains. We want to fence in an area on the hill beneath our house and use goats for vegetation management. Because we…

    What are good dogs to protect goats?

    We live in one of the very few rural areas in the suburban Bay Area, half way between San Fransisco and San Jose in the Santa Cruz mountains. We want to fence in an area on the hill beneath our house and use goats for vegetation management. Because we…...
    Dog Breed Discussions : What are good dogs to protect goats?...

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    • What are good dogs to protect goats?

      What are good dogs to protect goats? Dog Breed Discussions
      We live in one of the very few rural areas in the suburban Bay Area, half way between San Fransisco and San Jose in the Santa Cruz mountains. We want to fence in an area on the hill beneath our house and use goats for vegetation management. Because we have coyotes and mountain lions in our area, we are thinking about keeping a dog in with them. Some breeds I am quite keen on are Great Pyrenees and Bernese Mountain dogs. Any other ideas?

      What are good dogs to protect goats?

      What are good dogs to protect goats? Dog Breed Discussions
    • We use a German Shepherd and he's been amazingly good at keeping coyotes away. Another option is a donkey. Donkeys will actually bond with your goats and will defend the herd. They can and will kill coyotes on occasion, but more often chase them off.

    • Sheep hear ding dogs are number one for either hearding or just protecting the sheep from predators or any attackers for that matter. The thing is to introduce the dog to the heard as a pup to get it acclimated to the sheep.Other dogs are labs or golden retrievers.

    • Selecting a guard dogThe 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. These 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. 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.Raising and integrating the puppy in a sheep operationThe 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 behavior such as chasing or biting the sheep and praise the pup for good behavior.Age at bonding pup to sheepSome breeds of dogs mature and bond to sheep sooner than others. Some pups within breeds also bond at an earlier age than others. Guarding behavior was reported at the U.S. Experiment Station in pups as young as four months of age, while other dogs were nine months of age. The larger breeds of guard dogs mature more slowly and puppy behavior was noted up to twenty-four months of age in some dogs. Patience and discipline is required with all pups.Problems observed in guard dogsFailure to stay with the sheep requires correction. Correct the pup for coming to the house by immediately taking it back to the sheep. A sensitive pup will respond to a verbal reprimand while a stubborn "hardheaded". pup may need a physical correction. Chaining the dog with the sheep at night and releasing it during the day may achieve positive results. Introduce the new pup to its new boundaries on a leash and do it several times the first week. Patrolling and attentiveness to sheep will increase and develop over time. Regardless of training of some pups, a small percentage never strongly bond to sheep.Playing with the sheepA certain amount of licking, pawing, chasing and nipping can be expected with some puppies. Boredom contributes to playful activities between puppies and the sheep. The problem can be minimized by moving the pup to a larger area, or in some way changing the pup's environment. Closely supervise a new pup and this will eliminate the formation of bad habits. Play behavior decreases with age.Sheep accepting new pupThe time required for the sheep to accept the pup will vary with the time of year it is placed. Lambing time is one time when the ewes will be protective of their young lambs. It generally takes several days to a few weeks for the sheep to accept the pup. Sheep accustomed to a guard dog are easily moved by herding dogs but the guard dog may have to be chained or placed away from the sheep.Notify neighbors when purchasing a guard dogA guardian pup is a valuable animal. They must be protected from accidents by moving vehicles, being mistaken for a predator by neighbors, shootings and trappings. A patrolling guard dog may easily be mistaken for an intruder. Notify your neighbors that you have purchased a guard dog.Guard dogs become ill the same as any livestock. Be aware of a loss of appetite, diarrhea or a change in behavior. Consult your veterinarian and get proper immunization and deworming for your pup.

    • They both make excellent guard dogs of livestock. However, if you live in a very hot climate (I'm not sure, as I'm from Canada) and I know there are cooler areas in California - it's not a good idea to get a dog with long fur. How about an Australian Shepherd? Short haired Border Collie? Short haired Lassie Collie? There are many lovely breeds of dog that will be great for your family and ranch purposes. Go and research on the internet, and get some good books from the library on breeds of dogs. You could also call up a vet and ask them for input. How about contacting the American Kennel Club?Good luck.

    • Great Pyrennes are the best. I have owned several over the years. We got the last one when she was just 5 wks old. Her mom had been killed by a car. That dog knew her job from day one. We had goats and our neighbors had goats, cows, burros. That Dog would stay on our side watching the goats and then go on th other side and watch theirs. She thought it was her job to take care of all of them and she did. She would stay near the fenceline so she could see them on both sides. I never saw a Great Pyrennes with better instincts and I really have had some good ones. They don't have to be trained either, you put them with your stock and they do what they are supposed to do. We never had a coyote problem when we had her. We sold the goats a few years ago and let her go with them because she would not have been happy without her herd to care for.

    • A friend of mine has Central Asian Ovtcharka dogs, which are a fairly rare breed in the US, native to countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, that border on the Middle East(those countries like Ukraine, and the ones that end in "-stan"). Those are excellent livestock guarding dogs, and unlike many of the more familiar livestock guarding breeds, have not had any specimens ruined by being bred for the show ring. A mountain lion is capable of killing many of the breeds suggested here(an Australian Shepherd would make a tasty snack for a big cougar, plus it's not a livestock GUARDING breed, but a HERDING breed-big difference). You can find out more about CAO's on the website below, which belongs to the breeder, now located in Virginia, that I got my original Ovtcharka from, who now resides at my friend's farm, protecting goats, turkeys, chickens, donkeys and cattle. They aren't cheap, but they will pay for themselves in the long run.

    • Don't use dogs, get a llama or two. And I'm completely serious. They're natural herd protectors, and a lot easier to manage. They live twice as long as dogs, and are easy keepers. Go look at the website, it explains better.

    • the Great Pyrenees is a GREAT idea, because they are sheep dogs and here in TX are used to guard goats also...in ancient times Pyrs would guard the sheep by living with them, and would kill wolves and even bears to protect the flocks !!!...... you can find Great Pyrenees on petfinder.com.......this is a site for rescue groups.......just enter your Zip code, and enter breed wanted, like Great Pyrenees, and be AMAZED at how many GREAT choices you have !!.......i recently adopted a Great Pyrenees mix from petfinder.com, and my dog Sylvester is awesome !!.......check it out.......try it.......do a good deed .......ADOPT a Great Pyrenees today !!!.......good luck to you, in your search for a Great Pyrenees as a new pet !!!!.......most adoptions run between $ 50 to $ 200 maximum, for a wonderfull dog, who will be very happy to be your new pet !!!.......do more research on Great Pyrenees, and i think you will conclude, that they would be the best choice, for protecting your goats from coyotes and mountain lions !!! if i can be of further help with questions on Great Pyrenees, email me !!!...one major drawback on Bernese Mt. dogs is they only live to be 5-7 yrs old, with 6 yrs being the average life expectancy !!!....Great Pyrenees will live 9-12 yrs or more, longer, if they are kept at lower weights, to avoid hip dysplasia !!!

    • The best predator deterrent is good fencing. We use woven wire field fence or goat fence, making sure that the fence goes all the way to the ground everywhere and filling in any gaps at gates, etc. We also run an electric wire across the top as added reinforcement. When you don't have a guardian, you will also want to lock the goats into a safe building during the night.What you want is a livestock guardian breed (LGD - livestock guardian dog). I see some people have mentioned breeds such German Shepherds and Austrailian Shepherds. These are NOT appropriate for guardian dogs. Austrailian Shepherds are herding dogs and will chase your goats and stress them out. German Shepherds make great guard dogs for humans, but NOT livestock guardians. I would never trust one around goats, they would be more likely to attack them than protect them. Livestock Guardian breeds include Great Pyrenees, Akbash, Anatolian, Komondor, Kuvasz, Tibetan Mastiff and Maremma. See http://www.lgd.org/ for more information on the separate breeds. We have an over abundance of coyotes where I live and my goats are in a large pasture near a creek where the coyotes congregate. My goats live with a small herd of llamas and a Great Pyrenees for protection. Along with good fencing, the dog & llamas have proved to be very effective at keeping the goats safe. We have coyotes getting close enough to wake us up overnight with their howling, but the Pyrenees' barking and patrolling the fenceline keeps them out of the pasture. If a coyote managed to get past the Pyrenees, it would have the llamas to deal with. Llamas make great livestock guardians because they detest canines (they do learn to accept an LGD that lives with them, although it takes a while). Llamas will chase coyotes and can actually kill them if the coyote doesn't back down.If you plan on going with just dogs, I would suggest to get more than one if they are responsible for a large area. If it's a small area one will be fine, but a single dog in a large area can not be everywhere at once and will wear her/himself out trying to keep all the goats safe. Livestock Guardians are wonderful animals and take their job very seriously. One extra benefit to the Great Pyrenees over the other breeds is that they tend to be very gentle and loving towards people, where the other breeds can sometimes be more agressive. Good luck!