If you own a flock of sheep, a herd of cattle or poultry, then you will need to protect your animals from predators, thieves and other unwanted elements. If you use poisons or traps, your animals may end up being casualties. So, you should consider safer alternatives and one of such alternative is a guard dog.
Having a livestock guardian dog around your farm is a good and safe way to protect your animals. Such a dog would always stay with your flock; watch out for predators and other intruders, and fight fiercely to protect your animals. Please note that not all guard dogs are good for protecting livestock. A dog breed meant for home protection may attack your animals if you try to modify it for livestock protection. So without wasting your time, here are the top ten best security dog breeds for protecting livestock.
Top 10 Best Guard Dog Breeds for Livestock & Poultry Protection
1. The Great Pyrenees
Also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, the Great Pyrenees is a dog breed that has been used as a livestock guard for centuries. This dog has a natural guarding instinct and it is very aggressive with any predator that may want to attack its flock. In addition, the Great Pyrenees can be trusted with young, small, and helpless animals, which are most prone to predation. Another upside of the Great Pyrenees is its nocturnal nature; it stays awake at night to protect your animals. So, predators cannot even take advantage of the darkness at night.
2. The Maremma Sheepdog
A livestock protection breed of Italian origin, the Maremma sheepdog has a solid, muscular build and a thick white coat, which forms a thicker collar around the neck. Despite its huge size, the Maremma sheepdog is very friendly towards animals and particularly gentle with lambs. It loves adequate open space and is very calm and intelligent. This dog can protect free-range animals from both terrestrial predators (such as coyotes, wolves, foxes and stray dogs) as well as aerial predators (such as hawks, eagles, and owls).
3. The Akbash
This dog, of Turkish origin, is a large dog which can weigh up to 140 pounds and can reach a height of 35 inches. It has long legs, a curled tail, and a white double coat. While on duty, the Akbash is neither shy nor aggressive. But it has keen senses that quickly detect unusual sounds and changes in its environment. It is not hostile except when challenged, and it can think and act independently. Though very powerful against predators, the Akbash is very gentle with lambs, goat kids, and chicks.
4. The Kuvasz
Of Hungarian origin, this dog is perfect both as a livestock guard and as a home security guard. It is a large dog with a dense, white, odorless coat that can be wavy or straight in texture. The Kuvasz is very intelligent and clownish. If you want a dog that would make you burst into fits of laughter sometimes, this dog is your ideal choice. This dog is very loyal, and it can think and act on its own without instruction. It protects livestock by scanning and evaluating the environment for potential threats and taking deterrent or protective action as needed. However, keep in mind that this dog is somewhat noisy and tends towards independence.
5. The Pyrenean Mastiff
This is a large breed, which usually has a heavy white coat with darker spots. It is strong, rustic, calm, and self-reliant. It can function as both a livestock guard and a home security guard. The Pyrenean Mastiff is gentle with its flock, and it tolerates other dogs and pets as well as people it knows. If challenged by a predator, this dog won’t spare any efforts to protect the animals within its protection. This dog does not require regular exercise. However, it must be trained with a strong hand, as it is an independent-minded dog that may not respect a passive owner. Socializing the Pyrenean Mastiff from puppyhood is a must.
Top 10 Best Guard Dogs Breeds for Livestock and Poultry Protection
6. The Komondor
This dog is also of Hungarian origin and a cousin of the Kuvasz. It has a white coat that easily blends with that of the flock. The Komondor is one of the largest common dog breeds, with a height of over 30 inches and a heavy, muscular, and robust body covered with a heavy coat that sometimes resembles dreadlocks. It has long legs and a short back. The Komondor can act independently and fight fearlessly to defend its flock. When things are normal, it remains its calm, steady self. This dog is overprotective; it may attack innocent strangers or passers-by.
7. The Polish Tatra Sheepdog
As its name implies, this dog is fantastic for herding and protecting sheep. However, this is not the only task that it is good at; it is also very good for personal protection and for military purposes. The dog has a massive, pure white double coat and a huge frame. It is a very loyal and protective territorial breed. It barks loudly at the sight of anything suspicious, and it doesn’t attack until when that is completely necessary. The Polish Tatra is very active and intelligent, and it doesn’t drool.
8. The Anatolian Shepherd
A muscular breed with a thick neck and sturdy body, this dog is large, rugged, and very strong. It has keen senses of sight and hearing, allowing it to protect livestock. In addition, it has great speed and agility, and it can catch up with any predator. Like other livestock guard dogs, the Anatolian shepherd can protect its master’s animals without human direction or assistance. But it is not a good breed for home security, as it is very temperamental. Although, it is very easy to train due to its high intelligence, it could be stubborn sometimes and may decide not to obey instructions. Rather, it prefers working independently.
9. The Kangal
Though not a herding dog, the Kangal is a good flock guardian, which lives with flock of sheep (or other livestock) and protects them against bears, wolves, and jackals. The Kangal is also very good for home security because of its protectiveness, loyalty, and gentleness with small children and other pets. Because it has a lighter weight than most other livestock guard dogs, it has great speed and agility (it can run at a speed of up to 50km/hr).
10. The Tibetan Mastiff
Even though not a true mastiff, this dog was named as such because of its large size. This breed is very hardy and primitive, so it can survive very harsh environmental conditions. As a flock guardian dog, the Tibetan Mastiff has a tenacious ability to confront predators of all sizes. In addition, it remains very active during the night. However, this dog is very stubborn and extensive obedience training is needed to bring it under control.
In conclusion, I hope the list above will be of help to you. However, it is important you bear in mind that the performance of your dog is highly dependent on the quality of training you give it. So please, invest time and resources to train your dog and it will serve you diligently and excellently.