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Tell Me About Livestock Guardian Dogs

Toni w dog house and pig.jpg

Livestock guardian dog breeds have existed for centuries and work in all corners of the world. These very specialized dogs have little to no prey drive. This makes them different from conventional companion dog breeds.


LGDs do not herd livestock - these incredible dogs bond with the livestock they live with and see them as pack members. LGDs are kind and nurturing with their charges and ferociously adversarial to anything perceived as trying to cause harm.

From the dog's perspective....

LGDs own the ground they stand on, typically defined for them by the perimeter fencing. Entering a field for the first time he will raise his head and take a quick look; then off he’ll go for a perimeter check. This behavior is typical of LGDs and begins early in life. I have seen four-week-old pups do perimeter checks. 

Animals found within this perimeter belong to the dog. This includes livestock, household pets, fowl, and humans! All become the responsibility of the LGD.

LGDs do their most important work at night when predators are active. From dusk to dawn these hard-working dogs bark, scent mark, and do perimeter checks. When LGDs work in pairs it is typical for one dog to stay with the livestock while the other dog checks the fence lines. The presence of the LGD serves to deter predators. Most LGDs are never pushed to fight with predators because predators have a lot to lose by becoming injured and are opportunistic hunters.

It is said that the mark of a great LGD is that he makes you think you don’t really need him because you never seen any evidence of predators in the area. Here on our ranch, we used to have mountain lions and coyotes come very close in, and we suffered livestock losses. Since the arrival of the first Maremmas we stopped seeing even the tracks of predators and seldom hear the coyotes at all.

I believe in predator preservation. I love that the Maremmas make it possible for me to live near their natural habitat in harmony rather than being at odds with them. When my head meets my pillow at night and I hear the dogs sound off from time to time I am comforted by the knowledge that while I sleep they will watch over the animals I care about. I also appreciate that they do not work for me at their expense.


LGDs love their job and have a high quality of life, especially when allowed to work in pairs.

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