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There is a new addition on the homestead! Yes, we welcomed our beautiful baby girl six months ago, but we also got another sweet girl two weeks before Lillian was born.
We got Chewie in November right before Lillian was born because who doesn’t get an eight week old puppy two weeks before you’re having another baby? (As you can tell, I am really behind in updating you on things going on around here, but between kidney stones and two little kiddos, it is easy to get behind. I am hoping to be more on the ball about getting blog posts up!) Chewie (Henry is really into Star Wars) is a Great Pyrenees. We are using her as a livestock guardian dog. Livestock guardian dogs live with whatever livestock you have, in our case chickens, ducks, and pigs, and deter predators. Around here, we deal with the occasional fox, opossum, raccoon, weasel, and aerial threat. Before we got Chewie, we actually lost a chicken to an aerial predator, so having her here as an extra protector to our animals is very important. Interested in getting your own LGD? Here are some things to consider.
- There are many different breeds of livestock guardian dogs. Great Pyrenees may be the most well known breed associated with livestock. Other breeds to consider are the Anatolian Shepherd, Akbash, and Maremma Sheepdog. There are many other breeds so research one that would best suit your family’s needs.
- We chose a Great Pyrenees because they have been used as LGDs for a very long time. They can be aggressive toward a threat but are still a great family-friendly dog which is important to consider when you have children. They are also adorable and look like you have a polar bear, so who wouldn’t enjoy that? One drawback I have noticed is they bark most of the night to keep any predators away, so if you have neighbors close by this could be an issue.
- When you choose your dog, bring them home and immediately place them with your livestock so they can bond with whatever animals they are guarding. Don’t expect too much from them as a puppy. They will likely want to play with your animals at first. I have read their instincts to guard really don’t kick in until about six months, but it can take up to two years. Chewie actually killed one of our older hens because she is still learning.
- Make sure to provide them with a weather-proof shelter that is warm. We have also made her her own private area where her food, water, and shelter are located that the chickens cannot access. They may get territorial over their food, so we want to keep the chickens out of her space.
- You may want to invest in fencing because these dogs are known for roaming around. If you have the room for that, great! In our situation, we have two acres and are right beside the road, so we need to keep Chewie safe. We use electric fencing, and Chewie does very well at avoiding it! We haven’t had any issues with her trying to run off.
So if you are interested in protecting your livestock with an adorable, hardworking furry friend, I would highly recommend a livestock guardian dog. Be sure to do your research to find what breed is the best fit for you. Once your dog is bonded to your livestock, rest assured that you have a fierce and loyal protector on your homestead and a life long friend.