Livestock Protection Dogs

An Akbash Dog at work!

Akbash Dog on duty.

Anyone with livestock soon comes to understand the value of livestock protection.  North America is one of the few remaining places where livestock owners often have to cope with predators. In Montana, Washington, Minnesota, and other northern states wolves along with bear and cougar are real threats to cattle, sheep, and goats.  Further south, cougar, coyotes, and even predatory “black” vultures are a threat.  Bobcat and fox round out the list for hoofstock owners.

For people who raise chickens or other fowl, coyotes, raccoons, and any number of other smaller predators make every night one for potential herd or flock losses.  Feral hogs have become a serious threat to sheep and goat raisers in Texas and other states, just as Russian boar are a serious threat to Turkish sheep.

Ironically, while North America has predators, we have no native guarding or protection dog breed for livestock.  Some Navaho Indians dogs have been reported to be protective of their sheep, but others are not. The behavior of individual dogs does not make a breed.  What most sheep producers learned during the 1980s was to use European dog breeds that were used to protect flocks in “the old country.”

Some of the breeds worked well in North America; others, while having an ancient history of livestock protection, no longer seemed to have the instincts needed to be successful livestock protectors.

A purebred Kangal Dog, Rica has the right disposition for her job.

Some fit with the routine of leaving the dog with the stock while herdsmen and owners were somewhere else; some breeds needed more human supervision and did not do well with this model of livestock guard dog use.

Given the need for most people to leave the flock or herd unattended and the fact that along with large predators, dogs are often the worst predators in some areas, the Turkish dogs, the Akbash Dog and the Kangal Dog, have proven to be exceptional protectors.  If raised correctly, they truly bond with their stock (chickens as well as goats here) and stay home. Our dogs are kept in field fencing unless “in the breeding mode.”  That is simply 40″ tall 4 “x 4”  field fence. And both Turkish breeds are stray/strange dog aggressive.

Some goat owners find that donkeys can work for them; others say that  wethered llamas are all the protection they need.  For people who have serious predation problems, livestock protection dogs can mean peace of mind — when you go to work, when you are sleeping at night, when your animals need protection — perhaps from predators you have not planned on YET.

Pure Akbash Dog, Sharif, goat guardian and coyote’s curse!

If you are interested in knowing more about livestock protection dogs or the Turkish Native dog breeds, contact us – or go to

The Turkish native breeds (Akbash Dogs, Kangal Dogs, Kars Dogs, Tazi, and Catalburun) do not include Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, which is a western breed being developed from dogs taken from Turkey.

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