Livestock Protection Dogs
Livestock Protection Dogs
Sims D., Dawydiak O.
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Flock Livestock Guard Dogs
(Dog breeds for guarding and protecting livestock and properties)
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Anatolian Shepherd Dog (Kangal Dog, Karabash)
Guard dogs are used as an effective method to protect livestock from predation by coyotes, wild dogs, bears and other predators.  They can be used to protect small or large flocks in both fenced pastures and in feedlots, or on open range.

Definition and Taxonomy

Livestock guard dogs are often confused with sheepdogs or cattle dogs. Some dogs that are clearly of the molossoid mountain type are known as "shepherd" or "sheep" dogs", which adds to the confusion. Examples are the Maremma Sheepdog or Central Asian Shepherd Dog, just to name a few. However, their function is quite different. To simplify things, we could say that livestock guard work from the inside out (they blend into the flock and protect it against outside predators), while sheep dogs work from the outside in (they concentrate on the flock itself, controlling their movement and outside limits).
Flock guard dogs are generally larger and more massive in structure than sheep dogs. They usually work independently of a shepherd and are often left as sole protection of the flock, which explains why they have an independent character and tempermant. Sheep dogs, on the contrary, usually work in cooperation with the shepherd. Most importantly, flock guard dogs do not normally herd or chase sheep. Their normal behavior is calm and placid, but fierce and fearless when provoked. Successful guard dogs are trustworthy (will not harm the animals under their custody) and instinctively attentive to the sheep. All these traits are generally innate in these breeds and can be further developed with proper handling and minor training.

Sheep-guarding dog
Photo: Jean-Yves Benedeyt
Most guard dogs are large and imposing, weigh 75 to over 100 pounds and stand 25 inches or more at the whithers. Although some are brown or gray, white is the preferred color to differentiate them from the predators, which are usually darker in color. The color white also allowed them to blend in with the flock at night, offering an increased protection against predators.

The long and tick hair of these breeds offers protection against cold, parasites and attacks by predators.

Even though they are not really suitable for urban living, they are often chosen as personal protection dogs because they will be as protective of their human family and their children as they would be of their flock.
Polish Tatra Mountain Sheepdog(Podhale Shepherd, Polski Owczarek Podhalanski)

A close relative of the Hungarian Kuvasz and Slovakian Cuvac, this breed is a formidable herd-guarding mountain dog from Poland.
A breed created by Kurt Konig, from various shepherd and mountain dogs and Leonbergers. The name of the breed comes from the German word for 'guardian of the home'.

The purpose was to breed a dog that was large, but agile, with stamina and with an aristocratic posture.

The Hovawart looks like a lighter-boned, more elegant Golden Retriever. The breed comes in gold, black and gold and solid black.
Livestock Guard Dog Breeds

There are several breeds of Livestock Guardian Dogs, many of which are still regional breeds that are little known outside their country of origin:

Akbash Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dog
(Coban Köpegi)

Aïdi (Chien de l'Atlas, Atlas Shepherd Dog)

Bucovina Romanian sheepdog

Carpathian Shepherd dog

Estrela Mountain Dog

Gampr: Armenian equivalent of the Caucasian Mountain Dog

Serra da estrela Mountain Dog

Slovensky Cuvac (Cuvac, Chuvach, Slovak Mountain Sheepdog)

Pyrenean Mountain Dog (Great Pyrenees)

Pyrenean Mastiff

Shar Planinetz, Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog (Shepherd dog of Sarplanina, Jugoslovenski Ovcarski Pas, Sarplaninac)

The Slovakian mountain sheepdog is closely related to the Hungarian Kuvasz and Polish Tatra sheepdog. It was primarily used as a guard and herding dog, but is nowadays more and more seen as a companion dog.

Today, the Kuvasz, Cuvac and Tatra are considered three distinct breeds.
The Great Pyrenees and Akbash are the most popular breeds, but the Maremma, Anatolian Shepherd, Komondor and Shar Planinetz are also used in the U.S.

Many livestock guards, such as the Komondor and Kuvasz are naturally protective and make excellent protection dogs.

The Livestock Guardian dogs' independent and dominant  temperament explains why some cynologists classify them under the molosser group. Most of these dogs can be found in Group 2, subsection "mountain type" of the FCI, but some dogs classified under Group 1 are also typical Livestock guardian dogs of the molossoid type, for example the South Russian Shepherd Dog.

Function, Appearance and Temperament
by Catherine Marien-de Luca
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Kangal dog
(Anatolian Shepherd dog)
Photo: Ebru Baraz
Great Pyrenees (Pyrenean Mountain Dog)
Photo: Chris Fertnig
Caucasian Sheepdog
Tatra Mountain Dog (Podhale Mountain Dog)
Photo: Emmanuelle Bonzami
Caucasian Ovcharka:
Breed Standard based on the "Georgian Type"

Central Asia Shepherd Dog (Sredneasiatskaïa Ovtcharka): Breed Standard based on the "Turkmenistan Type"

South Russian Ovcharka (Ioujnorousskaïa Ovtcharka):
Breed Standard based on the "Ukranian Type"

See also: Russian Dog breeds

External Links and Bibliography:
Sims D., Dawydiak O., Livestock Protection Dogs, Alpine Blue Ribbon Books, 2 edition, 2004
Esquire Caucasian Ovcharka Mountain Dogs
Livestock Guard Dogs, Llamas and Donkeys by W.F. Andelt

Caucasian sheepdog
Photo: Elżbieta Dziedzic

Kangal Dog


Kars Shepherd dog:
a turkish dog breed similar to the Caucasion Ovcharka

Komondor (Canis familiaris pastoralis villosus hungaricus)

(Canis familiaris undulans hungaricus)

Maremma Sheepdog

Mioritic Sheepdog

Rafeiro do Alentejo

Tibetan Mastiff

Tornjak (Croatian Mountain Dog, Bonanshi Ovcar Tornjak)

And the Troika of the Russian Livestock Guardian Dog breeds:
Spanish Mastiff (Mastín español)

The Spanish Mastiff is native to the regions of Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha, which are the two other names by which this breed is also known. It is a typical flock guard that was also used to guard estates and farms.

The coat can be any shade of fawn and red, wolf grey, grizzle or brindle with cream tan markings.