If you ever even considered the idea of bringing up your very own livestock as opposed to buying your stuff straight from the market then chances are that you also considered the idea of buying a guardian dog as well. When hit with the realization that one cannot exist without the other you most likely rushed to the first article that told you which was the definitive best breed that you could go for.
Well, while there are definitely breeds that are superior to one another in terms of safekeeping your livestock, there are various factors that you need to keep in mind before making this acquisition.
This is why for this short guide we decided to give you a proper set of answers to the questions you may have at the moment to direct you towards the best guardian dog you could own.
After we’re done with this segment, we’ll also provide you with a list of our own showing you the 15 best livestock guardian dogs out there. Remember though, this is not a definitive list, there are pros and cons to every pick from our list so remember that as you make your very own choices.
With that out of the way however, we do believe that it’s about time that we answered the first question that’s on everyone’s mind as far as livestock guardian dogs go, aka:
- Why Do Your Livestock Need a Guardian Dog?
- Common Characteristics of the Livestock Guardian Dog
- How to Choose a Livestock Guardian Dog
- 15. Karakachan
- 14. Tornjak
- 13. Spanish Mastiff
- 12. Tibetan Mastiff
- 11. Maremma Sheepdog
- 10. Polish Tatra Sheepdog
- 9. Akbash
- 8. Pyrenean Mastiff
- 7. Kuvasz
- 6. Komondor
- 5. Great Pyrenees
- 4. Caucasian Shepherd Dog
- 3. German Shepherd
- 2. Kangal Shepherd
- 1. Anatolian Shepherd
Why Do Your Livestock Need a Guardian Dog?
Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat, the main reason as to why you would ever need a guardian dog for your livestock is because you need them to be protected from a numerous amount of predators that could lay waste to your poor animals in a matter of minutes.
Not only can they help deter the predators from your farm but by their sheer presence they can actually end up scaring off any potential predator that could be lurking in the general vicinity of your farm.
But to be more precise, these are the main techniques that your guardian dog will go through to protect your livestock:
- First and foremost, your dog will mark its territory which will deter any wolves or coyotes from getting close. Sure, sometimes this isn’t enough for the really big packs, but it can still deter most any predators that could be willing to get too close to your livestock
- Secondly, dogs are quite loud creatures, and through their barking and their other various activities they can end up deterring predators from getting so close that they could take a chomp of your livestock
- Last but not least, if push comes to shove, then your dog will physically protect your livestock. This is an extreme side of the job but it can happen and while your dog’s health is not guaranteed, they can at least push the predators far enough for your livestock to get away
Common Characteristics of the Livestock Guardian Dog
When it comes to having a good guard dog for your livestock there are certain parameters that your pet needs to abide by in order to even be characterized as a guard dog in the first place. They are the following:
- They need to be large enough to be considered a threat by the potential predators
- They need to be able to survive outdoors since they’ll spend most of their life out there
- They need to be attached to the livestock in case they need to protect it
- They need to be peaceful to friendly incomers but deadly to intruders or predators
- They need to mark their territory regularly
- They need to love their job otherwise they won’t do it properly
- They need to be very vocal as without their constant barking potential predators could end up getting a bit too close to the livestock
- They need to be well aware of their surroundings, whether that be through smell, sight, hearing or whatnot they need to notice when a potential predator is coming
- They need to have good furry coats on their backs since they’ll also need to be outside in the snow during the winter protecting the livestock
How to Choose a Livestock Guardian Dog
While certainly when it comes down to it every dog can be a guardian dog, when it comes to being an actual good livestock guardian dog there is certainly a lot more to the job than meets the eye. Sure, we mentioned briefly above how the dogs need to be massive so as to scare off their potential predators, but there are more creatures out there that can easily sneak around your farm to get to your livestock.
Take raccoons, skunks, birds of prey or even bobcats for instance, all of these predators could easily sneak past all the warning signs placed by your guardian dog and swoop in to steal your livestock in an instant.
This is why your guardian dog needs to be both friendly to newcomers and incredibly aware of any potential threats that may arise from the unknown. On top of that your dog needs to be properly trained as well so that it can work with other dogs to ensure the safety of your livestock. This is often times a problem for bigger breeds since they’re known for not working well with others.
So, make sure that your dog is not just big, but also complacent. If your dog ends up fighting with the other dog that you just got to protect your livestock then chances are that they will find themselves unable to work together to fight off any potential threats. Just to reiterate, size is still a worthwhile factor that needs to be kept into consideration when getting a livestock guardian dog. Just make sure that they’re also team players and most specifically that they’re very good at examining everything around them so that no predators could sneak up on them.
But, with that being said, now that you know how to choose a good livestock guardian dog how about we jump straight into our own top 15 of the best livestock guardian dogs out there. So, let’s start off with our number 15 pick, aka:
The main reason as to why the Karakachan is such a good breed to choose for guarding your livestock is because they’re very independent and best of all, they’re very careful as to what is happening around them at all times.
They are also known for following your livestock around at every step and since they can grow quite large, up to 120 pounds to be precise, they make for the perfect addition to your livestock’s protection unit.
While definitely a smaller breed than the Karakachan, the Tornjak is by no means a small dog as it can still get to around 110 pounds at its peak.
But what it lacks in size however it more than makes up in its strength as this is a very loyal dog breed that will easily overpower most intruders in a matter of seconds. On top of that they’re very easy to train and they are very protective of their livestock.
13. Spanish Mastiff
The Spanish Mastiff is one of the largest breeds we have on this list and it definitely deserves to be on every list out there for its sheer size alone.
This is the type of a breed that you get when you want every predator to stay away from your livestock without the need for it to even fight off against any of them. A simple sight from this behemoth will deter any potential threat instantly.
They may be a bit harder to train however, which is why you need to hire a professional trainer so as to make sure that they know what their job is from the get go.
12. Tibetan Mastiff
But hey, sometimes you don’t just want your dog to be scary, you also want them to be ferocious. If that’s the case then the Tibetan Mastiff may very well be the perfect choice for you.
This is commonly referred to as one of the best breeds of guardian dogs in the world because they’re the type to literally fight off bears and win most of the time.
They have a very thick coat of fur around their bodies too so they can easily survive in the harshest of conditions.
11. Maremma Sheepdog
This Italian breed is amongst the most loyal dog breeds in the world. Because of this, coupled with their above average size, they make for great guardian dogs.
They’ve been used as guardians over the centuries over and over again and that’s because they’re very easy to train and they get attached very quickly to your livestock.
Couple that with the fact that they’re extremely friendly with children and you’ve got yourself a great pet and an amazing guardian dog for your livestock all in one.
10. Polish Tatra Sheepdog
This dog is the literal definition of the gentle giant archetype. It isn’t anywhere near as aggressive as most other breeds on our list but it more than makes up for it through its imposing size and very loud barking.
This is the type of breed that you get just for the show, it will not be able to fight off any serious threat but it is still an incredible breed when it comes to pushing away predators that are afraid of picking a fight with a dog this big.
This Turkish breed has been used as a livestock guardian dog for many centuries now to the point where it is literally the most used dog for that purpose in the history of Turkey.
The reason for this is the fact that it is a relatively large dog breed and on top of that it is very loyal and defensive of its livestock.
This is the type of dog breed that will never leave the livestock alone and on top of that it will definitely put its life on the line if any predator decides to come up a bit too close to the herd.
8. Pyrenean Mastiff
This dog breed originally came from Spain although nowadays it is used all around the globe. The reason as to why you don’t see them that often however is the fact that it actually used to be endangered since after the Spanish Civil War the farmers could no longer afford to feed them.
Luckily, nowadays they are a bit more numerous and they have been spread a bit around the globe. But alas, why would you want a Pyrenean Mastiff? Well, look at it, it’s a massive dog breed that is also very protective of its herd and most importantly, it is very easy to train.
This Hungarian breed is both loyal and incredibly intelligent as well. Couple that with its overall massive size and you’ve got yourself one of the best guardian dogs out there.
Kuvasz dogs are in fact so loyal that many people have opted for them as pets even if they were originally only used as livestock guardians.
Yet another smaller dog breed, the reason as to why you’d want this breed over any other on this list is the fact that it is a very observant breed that will keep track of its surroundings at all times.
They are usually the first to notice any brand breaking in the distance or any foul smell entering their vicinity. On top of all of that, they are quite easy to train and they have a tendency to be very gentle with visitors so you won’t ever have to worry about that.
5. Great Pyrenees
This is a gorgeous dog breed for sure, one of the most beautiful looking dogs that we’ve ever seen and that’s a fact. But, that’s not all, on top of that the Great Pyrenees is also a great guardian dog breed because of its thick coat and overall imposing size.
They are usually very calm and gentle giants although they can be quite vicious against predators as well. They’re usually fearless, so even when confronted by bears they can still stand their ground.
4. Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Commonly referred to as one of the absolute best choices as far as guardian dog breeds go, it is very hard to dispute over any other dog breed being better at the job than the Caucasian Shepherd Dog.
It is a massive dog breed, they’re as tall as 2.3 feet and they can get as heavy as 220 pounds in total. On top of all of that they’re very vicious when it comes to any predators getting close to the livestock, they’re known for fighting off wolves, jackals and even bears in some cases.
3. German Shepherd
Despite the fact that most people believe that the German Shepherd is just another breed that you can get as a pet, let’s not forget the fact that this right here is the perfect guardian dog that you could get your hands on.
First of all, it is relatively massive, very loyal, and let’s not forget about how absolutely gruesome this dog breed can be. They can easily fight off most predators and even home invaders which is why they deserve to be on this list.
2. Kangal Shepherd
The Kangal Shepherd dog appears to have been specifically bred to the point where it would become one of the best guardian dogs in the world. Everything about it is perfect, whether you’re talking about its size, its independency, its protectiveness and its relatively easy-to-train demeanor.
There is nothing bad that we could possibly say about the Kangal, it is simply put just a perfect choice for your livestock.
1. Anatolian Shepherd
After seeing all the other massive breeds, you may be wondering why you’d ever settle for a smaller breed like this. Well, let’s just say that this right here is the type of dog breed that will easily fight off any creature, regardless of their size, and through its incredible speed it will even chase them off of your property.
That’s right, not only is this a large breed but it’s also one of the fastest out there to the point where they can easily outrun most predators and chase them down to deliver a final blow to them. If you ask us, the Anatolian Shepherd is definitely the best livestock guardian dog out there.
At the end of the day, you need to keep in mind the fact that every dog breed we mentioned on this list will do its job splendidly. While some are bigger than others, some are more vicious or more loyal, at the end of the day you cannot go wrong with any of these picks.
So, if you’re still considering getting a guardian dog for your livestock then we wholeheartedly recommend going for any of these picks as you will not regret it in the slightest.