German Shepherd Livestock Guardian Dog: Several centuries back, Germany functioned as the home of various functioning ranch canines, consisting of those of livestock guardians.
But what about German Shepherds, do they make great livestock guardian canines?
German Shepherd Livestock Guardian Dog
German Shepherds are typically bad livestock guardian canines. This is because of their naturally high victim own, which sometimes causes them to act strongly towards the livestock that they are billed with protecting. Although a correctly trained GSD with a moderate character can get the job done, most professionals prefer to use a various breed.
Over the centuries, some of the most versatile canines have been GSDs—and much more so if their bloodline originated from those of a functioning beginning.
Today, many people associate GSDs with those jobs that show to be more dangerous, such as police or bomb-sniffing.
Many people don’t immediately partner the breed with the job of being that of herding or functioning as a guardian for livestock.
However, this is what German Shepherds were initially reproduced for – herding and guarding sheep and cattle.
Qualities to Look for in Choosing an LGD
When it comes to dogs that are selected for the protecting and protection of livestock, there are several characteristics that prevail to all of them.
These qualities consist of:
Reduced Victim Own
A livestock guardian dog should not have the personality to chase after down your livestock, also in those circumstances when the livestock ranges from the dog.
Most German Shepherds, because of their high victim own, are not genetically set up with this characteristic.
GSDs, together with Boundary Collies, Australian Shepherds, or other breed trained to or that has a personality for herding are not typically the very best choices for protecting livestock.
These types of breeds are susceptible to “functioning” pets, and consequently, will not leave them alone or at tranquility.
Large In Dimension
Most breeds of canines used for livestock protection typically run in the 90-120 extra pound range, otherwise bigger.
Sometimes, the women of the breed can weigh on the lower finish of this estimate. However, the men can often top out at well over 150 extra pounds.
One of the most common breeds well fit to this role are:
– Anatolian Shepherd
– Great Pyrenees
– Tibetan Mastiff
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A livestock guardian dog needs to have a harsh layer of hair.
This will afford a livestock guardian dog the protection they’ll need when exercising in the aspects – whether those be rainfall, chilly, snow, or heat.
In this respect, German Shepherds are preferably fit.
However, not all livestock guardian canines are reproduced for all weather.
For instance, the Anatolian Shepherds were reproduced in the high desert of Turkey.
Consequently, they can tolerate bitter chilly, but when it comes to driving rainfall, they do not do as well.
Assertive and Independent Character And Nature
Because most livestock guardian canines are reproduced to work both alone and from another location, they should have a rather independent and stubborn nature about them.
The perfect livestock guardian dog will have the ability to set his concerns, decide which location of your home needs to patrolling, and how much distance he needs to keep from the very animals he has been credited to protect.
When a livestock guardian dog gets on “the job,” you can anticipate it to exhibit selective listening to when provided commands, as they’ll handle circumstances in the manner they choose.
Educating A German Shepherd To Protect Livestock
When most people use the call “protection dog,” it’s typically used in a rather confused manner.
Most of the time, most people have a preset idea or concept as to what the call protection means when used in connection with GSDs.
The call “protection” is often confused with “attack.”
It’s essential to bear in mind that a protection dog is not learned the exact same manner as a conventional attack dog. The temperaments required for each type of job are very various in nature.
The primary training for a protection dog is that of notifying its proprietors to the feasible invasion of strangers.
Whereas an assault dog is trained to not just attack when regulated but also stop the attack when advised.
A GSD trained as a protection dog will integrate both of these quirks and use his own judgment when discerning an endangering circumstance and determining how to react.
GSDs are innately wise, independent thinkers, which makes them the expert protect canines that they are.
Their breeding and herding heritage produce a mix that proves them to be a common choice for protecting people, property, and, on some events, livestock.
It is important once again to emphasize that German Shepherds have an innately high victim own, so any application of protecting livestock requires disciplined educating.
Most of livestock guardian canines can learn to protect children, ducks, poultries – just about anything.
However, once again, a GSD needs to be properly trained and shown what he needs to protect.
If simply tossed into a circumstance with no assistance, a GSD will pick and choose what to protect on his own, which is not always the exact same pets that are essential to the proprietor of the livestock.
However, once a GSD is revealed what to protect, he will make it his job to always keep the pets safe, also if it means giving his own life at the same time to get the job done.
But remember, if a GSD livestock guardian has too much of a victim’s own in his DNA, after that regardless of how much training he is provided, he will never be workable for the work.
Hostile Versus Leading
2 more words, in the context of GSDs, that are totally various in meaning and meaning, but often confused, are “hostile” and “leading.”
Supremacy in any animal is the driving desire to go to the very top of the pecking purchase. In other words – top dog.
A dog with a leading character wants to be the alpha of the load, whether that load consists of other canines, an individual family, or a group of poultries.
It does not matter what the species is; a leading dog will want to have first rights to everything – food, the sprinkle, where to rest, where to stroll, or even where to stand.
Aggression is a completely various characteristic.
It provides with the desire to cause discomfort and damage, regardless of what the factor may be.
Whether aggression is caused by fear, or the protection and protecting food, it’s almost assured that some form of physical damage is most likely to occur.
Eventually, in any team or load of canines, it will come into question that is one of the most leading and, therefore, alpha.
With this in mind, a livestock GSD will only show real aggression when those pets that remain in his charge to protect are endangered somehow or manner.
If this occurs, a GSD will snap into a safety setting, and consequently, will show aggressive habits.
With this said, there are a couple of specific questions about your livestock that need to be dealt with before letting your GSD loosened to do his job.
The type of animal that a GSD is billed with protecting is a factor of how effective the protection will be, so we’ll currently take a better take a look at what pets GSDs should and shouldn’t be provided the job of protecting.
Is a German Shepherd a Great Livestock Guardian of Poultries?
The answer is yes, but with several points to bear in mind.
Although most German Shepherd canines do have a fundamental victim’s own that may entice them to chase after and capture your poultries, they can prove appropriate guards with the proper training and patience.
Roosters and GSDs are not constantly the very best suit, as the supremacy and aggression common to most roosters has deemed a difficulty by a GSD.
You can imagine that will win that fight!
Is a German Shepherd a Great Livestock Guardian of Goats?
The use of a GSD for protecting or protecting goats can be challenging.
Many people have had best of luck with the use of a GSD for protecting goats, but generally, they are not recommended for this type of job.
We have learned of several accounts where proprietors of sheep find that a GSD put in charge of protecting them does the job with too much aggression – sometimes nipping a little bit too hard at the goats.
This is because goats have the tendency to be rather persistent, a characteristic that a GSD may deem a difficulty.
And it’s popular that a German Shepherd will not pull back from a difficulty – particularly a GSD trained to protect.
Is a German Shepherd a Great Livestock Guardian of Sheep?
Sheep are pets that need to be herded and directed, a GSD does this job very well.
As formerly mentioned, German Shepherds were initially reproduced to herd and protect sheep and cattle, so protecting and protecting sheep is literally in a German Shepherd’s DNA.
Simply have a look at these German Shepherds having the tendency to a group of 60 sheep to obtain a better idea of how effective they can remain in this role:
Just like the circumstance with goats, some proprietors of livestock to specify that GSDs can get a bit nippy when it comes to sheep, but overall, they are very well suited to this role.
Is a German Shepherd a Great Livestock Guardian of Cows?
The answer here’s a definite “yes!”
This is what German Shepherds were initially reproduced for. Their own to herd makes them highly demanded this job.
Cows tend to obtain confused and easily spooked when in herds, particularly when the herds are large.
This is where a GSD will excel – they naturally know how to round up cows and maintain them in the purchase.
Is a German Shepherd a Great Livestock Guardian of Equines?
Overall, GSDs make fine horse guardians, and we have often seen German Shepherds bonding closely with equines.
In fact, lots of equine proprietors feel that having actually a GSD on the path with them is important.
There many accounts of German Shepherds operating disturbance in between equines and killers, consisting of cougars and bears!
However, please be conscious that a GSD will need proper training about equines so that he doesn’t attempt to herd them.
This can work very easily to spook an equine and possibly shake off the biker.
Is a German Shepherd a Great Livestock Guardian of Ducks?
As with poultries, you’ll need to train your GSD not to attack your ducks, but instead to protect them.
Once you have effectively conditioned your GSD to withstand their all-natural victim’s own, many people have specified that the breed is an excellent guard of ducks.
Enjoyable truth: It’s not unusual for a GSD about ducks to herd duckings!
While German Shepherds are not ideal livestock guardians in contrast to certain other breeds, their role should not be discounted.
As specified over, the livestock protecting the effectiveness of a GSD will depend upon the type of animal a GSD is billed with protecting and how well the GSD is trained to perform the job.
Although GSDs have a rather inherent predisposition for protection when it comes to protecting livestock, you might find that some flexible educating may remain in the purchase because of their high victim own.
Consequently, with persistence and perseverance in educating, you’ll have a livestock guardian that you could greater than depend on to put his life on the line to find in between your livestock and any potential risk.
The most common health problems in German Shepherds are:
- Panosteitis (“growing pains”).
- Hip dysplasia.
- Elbow dysplasia.
- Von Willebrand’s disease (a blood-clotting disorder).
- Degenerative myelopathy (a progressive disease of the spinal cord).
- Spinal stenosis (arthritis of the spine leading to nerve injury; also called cauda equina).
- Hot spots.
- Aspergillus mold infection.
- Pannus (immun
What Constitutes a Livestock Guardian Dog?
Livestock guardian dogs are a group of breeds that were not developed in the same place, or at the same time, but rather developed in the same way. These breeds have been created all over the world, in basically the same ways – breeding dogs over hundreds of generations, always improving certain characteristics that proved useful when guarding other animals.
1) very low prey drive, ie, they will NOT chase down prey animals even when those animals run away (many other dog breeds have medium to very high prey drive, and will chase anything that moves away from them – cars, balls, people, cats, etc). Many so-called working dogs do NOT make good livestock guardian dogs because they are too prone to chasing down the animals they are supposed to protect. For instance, border collies, German Shepherds, Australian shepherds and true herding dogs would make a poor guardian dog. They want to “work” the animals, not leave them in peace and quiet.
2) Large size. Most livestock guardian breeds are in the 90-120# range and above. Some females will be at the low end of that scale and some males for some breeds can go well above 150#.
3) A rough hair coat which gives them good protection from the elements in which they were bred. Not all dogs were bred for all conditions – Anatolian shepherds were bred on the arid plateaus of Turkey and Asia Minor, and as such, they are high desert dogs. They can take bitter cold but don’t do well in driving rain. Other breeds such as Komodor could stand out in a hurricane and hardly notice because their long locks of hair channel the rain away.
4) Independent and sometimes “stubborn” nature. LGD’s were bred to work remotely, often without any human interaction at all. As such, they make their own rules, set their own priorities, and decide for themselves where to patrol and how far away to range from the animals they protect. In more recent usage, they are usually housed much closer to residences and as such must learn how to be good canine citizens with basic obedience. They often do extremely well in an obedience class in terms of being calm, respectful, and cooperative, and a number of LGD’s have earned various obedience titles. However, when they are working, they will suddenly develop selective hearing (ie, they ignore commands) and handle situations as they see fit. Human handlers need to be ready for this possibility and be proactive about things like strange children wandering into the yard, UPS guys coming to the porch, etc.
Should LGD’s be raised in isolation, or integrated into family life?
When LGD’s were first introduced to the US as a solution for livestock protection, the general recommendation was to limit human handling and leave the dogs at a young age with the animals they were intended to protect. Since then, LGD owners and trainers have figured out that the opposite should be done – these dogs should be well socialized to both human beings and a variety of other animals. This does not interfere with their ability to bond with and protect their flocks/herds. Rather, it prepares them for the reality of modern life, where they are much more likely to come into contact with people, kids, other animals, etc than they were on their ancient territories.
This exposure also helps LGD’s form bonds with EVERYTHING in the family – the people, the pets, the livestock, even the friends, family, and business acquaintances for any given household, farm, or ranch. If any of these individuals have legitimate reasons to visit a property where an LGD is working, then the LGD should be introduced to them in advance, under controlled circumstances. Even people like the UPS delivery person, the meter readers, the post office delivery person, etc, should be introduced to the dog. For that person who will only be on the property for a short time, for instance, repair or construction people, an introduction under relaxed situations will go far in reassuring the dog that all is well. This can help prevent issues where the dog is uncertain about whether an individual has legitimate reasons to be on the property.
Sometimes we can’t introduce visitors in advance, so we just have to do the best we can. There have been several occasions here where we needed to call a veterinarian for emergency care of a sick animal. Under those circumstances, no one is relaxed or casual. Still, try to reassure the dog that no matter what else might be going on, that particular person is needed there, at that particular time.
THis may seem like a tall order, and it is important to make these introductions as often, and in as relaxed a manner as possible. Yet the dogs also pick up on our own body language to help them determine who belongs and who doesn’t. When farm vets have visited here for emergency services, sometimes in the middle of the night, somehow our dogs have known they were there for legitimate reasons. They didn’t even bark. When we have been inspected by various state agencies, again the dogs picked up on our deference to the inspectors and were quiet and respectful themselves.
A friend had an interesting story to tell along these lines. While they were building their house, they had contractors in and out and all over the property, for weeks on end. Their several LGD’s became accustomed to the many new individuals coming and going. The standard routine was for the general contractor to meet with our friend, and her dogs, upon first arriving each day, and at that time any new employees would be introduced. From that point on, the dogs didn’t hassle the workers. Yet one new employee got a different response. Of all the dozens of people working on that project, somehow the dogs didn’t like this particular person. They growled, their hackles stood up, and they physically blocked the person from coming on the property. Everyone was very surprised. The new employee was intensely insulted and walked off the job in a rage. Later, the general contractor found out that a particular employee had been recently convicted of small thefts on previous job sites. The general contractor fired him. Somehow, the dogs knew that this person, of all the people on the job site, was not trustworthy.
Can Livestock Guardian Dogs Be Trained To Do Obedience, Agility or Therapy Dog work?
Training an LGD is not like working with other breeds. They are not Laboradors, ie easy to train, always responsive, and eager to please. On the other hand, they are extremely intelligent, acutely aware of everyone’s demeanor around them (ie they can tell very quickly when someone is nervous, tired, wounded, angry, happy, etc), who is in control of any given situation, and they will readily prioritize a situation to sort out what’s important and what’s not. So in terms of intelligence, they are very easily trained. But in terms of obedience, they will consider most “commands” to be “suggestions” instead. Many LGD owners talk about how their dogs had perfect obedience manners in the show ring and/or in class, but then won’t obey when out and about in public. Most LGD owners believe this is not because the dog is distracted, but rather because the dog is more “on guard” and less likely to be willing to follow a command to Sit or Stay or Come, when there are various potential threats to be monitored. That being said, there are LGD’s doing wonderful obedience work, agility competition and even therapy work. These dogs have chosen, for their own reasons, to apply themselves to those tasks. Regardless of how easily any given LGD can be trained, all LGD owners are strongly encouraged to at least complete basic obedience with their dogs, so that the dogs are better canine citizens and so that the owners can effectively handle their dogs in multiple situations.
How should LGD’s be trained to stay home?
LGD’s will range far from home if given the chance. Once upon a time this was prudent, so that they could either patrol and find out if predators were in the area, and/or drive them off before they got too close to the herds/flocks. Ranging over a 10 square mile area was a day’s work. In today’s world of subdivisions, highways and high population densities, all reputable LGD breeders and rescue groups strongly advocate (or flat out require) at least a 5′ woven or chain link fence to contain the LGD. That keeps the dogs home where they belong, and out of neighbor’s yards, off the highways and out of trouble. You CANNOT train an LGD to simply “stay home”. They will push the boundaries of what is theirs until they meet a boundary they cannot cross. All too often, that “boundary” is a neighbor with a gun, an Animal Control officer or a car on the highway. The #2 reason LGD’s are turned into rescue groups for adoption is that their owners didn’t have adequate fencing, and they wouldn’t stay home, regardless of training. Expect that any rescue group or breeder you work with will require a good stout fence to keep them home. If fencing is not an option for whatever reason, LGDs will probably be a LOT of hassle because they’ll keep getting out and running off.
Just to re-emphasize: All dogs need some type of training!
That pack might be other dogs, a family of humans, a herd of goats, or any gathering of individuals of any species.
German Shepherds are a herding breed, and often bred for bite work with a very strong prey drive.
Most LGD breeds are double coated for this reason, so that in the cold months they build up a warm, insulating coat that protects them from cold temperatures and weather, and in the warm months they shed out their undercoat keeping their outer coat to protect them against the rays of the sun and weather.
His lower energy levels mean he needs less exercise and mental activity than the average German Shepherd.
BEHAVIOR – Livestock guarding is not all about killing every predator.
A German Shepherd type was likely in existence as early as 700 AD.
A dog with a dominant temperament wants to be the alpha of the pack, whether that pack consists of other canines, a human family, or a flock of chickens.
They will protect their flock livestock, children, smaller dogs, even the family cat with intensity.
This breed is probably not a good choice as a family pet if you have very young children.
All You Need to Know Several centuries ago, Germany served as home to various working farm dogs, including those of livestock guardians.
The german shepard bred has almost been ruined for farm life around here.
Hartnagle recommends looking for herding dogs with a shorter coat. “That long coat,” she says, “is not going to be utilitarian.” While this dog may do well on a hobby farm, if you have a large herd, look elsewhere.
It was at this crossroads of early civilization that sheep and goat herders developed a livestock guardian known as the Coban Kopegi (“shepherd’s dog”), forerunner of today’s Anatolian Shepherd.