Blog, Farm

“Farm Dogs: LGD vs Herding Breeds”

My old boy, Doc. He was an amazing example of the Aussie breed.

I had to bring up the farm dog topic considering dogs have been a big part of my life, and eventually will be a big part in the protection of our future farm (and family). There are two main types of farm dogs. LGD breeds (Livestock Guardian Dog) and Herding dog breeds. My husband has never really had either type, but I have grown up around Australian Shepherds, my whole life. They are a herding breed. We will be getting an LGD soon, and I can’t wait! Training dogs has always been something I enjoy doing, so I love to get experience with different kinds.

Herding Breeds:

My family has always been an “Aussie only” kind of family. Very biased, but who could blame them, they are an intelligent breed! Usually once people find a breed they like, they don’t switch, at least not for a long while. Australian Shepherd’s are one of many herding dogs bred and genetically driven to herd, just about anything on your farm. My old Aussie, would herd me when we ran around the back yard! There are Heelers, Collies, Corgi’s and many other kinds too, that are in this “Herding dog” category. They were all designed to help “round up” your herd, whatever that herd may be and if they have the chance to do so. All of them are intelligent, loyal, hard-working breeds, who are quick to learn and bred to guide the herd to a certain destination, or to keep them in a certain area. However, there is a significant difference between herding dogs, and Livestock Guardian dogs. 

On my List, to read next!

LGD Breeds:

Livestock Guardian dogs are another breed of “farm dog” if you will, that are bred for the farm life. Livestock dogs consist of many breeds. Popular ones are, Great Pyrenees, Sheepdogs, Maremma, and Anatolian Shepherds. Of course there are plenty others, just like with herding breeds, but these are most common. These breeds are similar; loyal, hard-working, smart, quick learners, and intelligent. However, they were made to be the sole protection. A barrier between herd and predator.

I think the main difference with these dogs is, they are meant to bond solely to the herd/flock or whatever animal its protecting and not to you, the human. While they are meant to obey and listen to you of course, they are meant to be out in the barn, not in the house on the dog bed. This type of breed thrives being bonded to it’s job, (a herd or flock). Where as an Aussie for example, thrives being bonded to the human first, who then gives it a job.

(Herding breed) Aussie to the left. To the right, (LGD breed) some type of Pyrenees/Maremma mix.

The Difference:

Herding breeds are driven to herd, corral, and to guide the other animals (or the children) on the farm. Where as Livestock Dogs, are bred to protect the animals of the farm. They are the watchers, the loyal lookouts. That is their job, not to corral the farm, but to save the farm from things that prey on the outskirts. Aussie’s and other herding breeds can be protective, my Dad’s Aussie does great at protecting him! However, there are other breeds better suited to do so, and better suited for that type of training. It’s not impossible, but it is more difficult to train a dog for something it wasn’t truly designed or driven to do in the first place. 

Personally, my husband and I both have not had our own LGD before, we’ve only been around other people’s. We will be getting one though, to protect our farm once it gets a little bigger. Our animals will need a protecter, and something that will help to deter predators. I love Aussie’s and in fact I have loved training them and being around them throughout my childhood but they, as well as other herding breeds, were never designed to be doing the work of protecting, full time. It’s not what they’re driven or bred to do. I also can’t have a dog that would rather be inside with us, instead of in with the barn animals. If you too have had Aussies, you know they are “velcro” dogs! LGD are herd first, people second kind of dogs. They still like you, but they love their herd/flock.

Also, on my list. Can’t wait to read it!

The LGD We Want:

We will be getting a Karakachan dog when the time comes. They are hard to find, especially in our area! but we stumbled across a breeder, and it seems to be just what we are looking for in a farm dog. Loyal, smart, hard-working, protective, quick learners, and good with kids. That was the main thing. We’ve read and researched about them all (one of the helpful things about the internet!) and we can’t wait to start working with an LGD Breed, and just learn more about them with all the day-to-day experience on our own.

I think a lot of people get nervous about LGD’s when starting out, because they are marked as “severely stubborn.” I think this mainly comes from the fact that they are the “boss” of the herd, they are independently driven to do their job, on their own without your help. If you come into it with no training and no one to help, then that smart, quick dog has a risk of learning bad habits and being stubborn, in a bad way. That is where we need to step in to guide, take preventative action, and to train them properly. Any smart dog can learn bad habits! I believe that it takes the correct training, and any helping hands who have the experience, as well. Don’t be scared to try owning a different breed, just because you haven’t before. As long as you prepare for that dogs needs and such, why not?

I have had a good amount of experience with dogs, and even hope to eventually do puppy training in the far future, but still every dog breed is different and it takes different techniques, and different training for breeds who have different drives! So I’m eager to train an LGD and learn more. I love researching different dog breeds, partially because I’ve worked with Aussies so much that now, it is time for a change! I also just enjoy training dogs. 

Next up on the “Dogs to Get” list that I have going, is a German Shepherd (for our protection, not the farms). Tell me, do you have a Karakachan, or other LGD? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your family’s experience with them!