Best Dog Breed to Double as Both Housepet and Chicken Guard?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by vanillachai, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. vanillachai

    vanillachai Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've looked at some guard dog articles, questions, and threads, but most focus on just the guarding aspect and even say guard dogs shouldn't double as housepets or get attention outside the guarding area. (which makes sense) I know, with training, many breeds can be taught to look after chickens, but finding a breed that is inclined toward it would be nice. Here's the situation...Sorry about the wall of info and I hope this is in an appropriate section. :fl

    Family member wants a new dog that will keep our very old house dog company in his remaining years and also keep them company when they are home and sleep with them at night. They think they can raise a dog, but I am 100% certain they will not, so I will be raising/training/spending time with it the majority of the time. I have owned or had experience with many breeds before, but never taught one to be near the chickens as the chickens/ducks are a very recent addition to the family.

    Personally, I would like a dog that will look after my chickens while they free range during the day and keep hawks and stray predators away. As well as perhaps some unattentive neighbor's escaped dog out for a joyride... (lost some chickens to this) Though we also have a renter with a dog. So I'm not sure if keeping other dogs away from chickens without being aggressive is a thing. If it isn't, disregard. I don't need it kicking the snot out of unfamiliar dogs.

    There is no need for a nighttime guard dog as their coop does just fine. And it would only be out there to watch them when I am home, so it would mostly function as a house dog. While I like the thought of a guardian dog, I would settle for a dog that could be easily taught to leave the chickens and ducks alone when it's outside with me while I'm doing chores or to play. We also have 2 ducks.
    We're on about 10 acres, partially fenced off for a couple of horses. And we have a few cats that blissfully ignore the chickens.

    Family member is quite picky, and wants a large or semi-large fluffy dog, but doesn't like Mastiffs or Pyrenees.

    With all this in mind, I'm not sure if there is any good solution to what we should get, but there are many a dog breed out there, and I wasn't sure where else to look for advice. So thoughts are very appreciated. Thank you! And let me know if I missed anything important or if getting the best of both worlds is downright impossible. Haha.
     
  2. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I really like our border collie/labrador cross. He's chased off raccoons, killed rats, treed fishers... And he's a good, easily trained dog who get along well with kids. He never eats eggs, chases chickens (unless we're trying to catch them and have enlisted his help) and if the cattle get loose, he tries to drive them back to the barn.

    He did need a lot of exercise as a puppy, and he was not a good dog until after he turned about a year old. He ate a lot of shoes.
    P1030142.JPG
     
  3. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have an Australian Shepherd/Catahoula mix. I had her before I had chickens as my companion and hiking buddy and as a companion and partner in crime to my older dog. She was always on the protective side, not aggressive, but barks with fur up at strangers, gets between me and strangers, barks at strange dogs if they come in our yard. She likes other dogs and once people are "safe" she begs for their affection, but the "stranger danger" thing is instinctual to her (much more than any retriever breed I have had in the past). She is smart and trainable, and now that I have chickens, they are her chickens. She would prefer to be with the family when we are home, but will go out in the yard on her own to "check the chickens" and she alerts me if neighbor dogs (or predators) are around and gets between them and the chickens. We've seen her protecting our cat from a neighbor dog as well.

    Perhaps look at breeds that are good "watch dogs" instead of "guard dogs." These are breeds that will alert you to things, but generally have less aggression and may be less inclined to attack (unless really provoked). Also breeds that are traditionally farm working dogs, even if they are traditionally bred to work with sheep or cattle, the same personality type will translate well to working with your chickens. These are dogs that are usually smart and trainable and bonded to their human/farmer/pack leader. They are also dogs that are happier with a job to do than they are just lazing around the house, which means they will be inclined to work for you on their own. My Aussie mutt is much happier patrolling the coop and hunting in the wood pile than my retriever, she is always busy. Keep in mind the same type of personality can be more challenging in the home setting. They aren't immediately friends with everyone. They want to be busy and will find ways to "work" even inside (mine is fond of scattering the recycling all over the house, and needs to be able to see out all windows to know what intruder may be making those sounds, so this may necessitate climbing on furniture and opening blinds). She also begs for attention and affection in a demanding way because just hanging out is too boring if she hasn't run enough and isn't checking the chickens.

    Just things to think about. I hope this has given you some factors to weigh in your decision making.
     
    Roscoe2k2, JaeG, black_dove2 and 4 others like this.
  4. vanillachai

    vanillachai Chillin' With My Peeps

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    :loveAw, he sounds amazing. My condolences for your poor shoes. Haha. He's not the type of dog we're hoping for, but I will keep it in mind!

    Thank you so much for all of the info and advice! I'll look into breeds along those lines and see what I can find.:)
     
    black_dove2 likes this.
  5. Wolf

    Wolf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My old Labrador has protected my flock for almost 12 years. She was raised as a pup along with them during the day, at night with me in the house. They just need an education from Human to know what's OK behavior and what's not. As they grow they get to think of the flock as theirs - and that's why they protect.
    The younger Labrador that I got 4 years ago - after learning that hazing the birds did NOT make me happy - she quit that childish behavior, and has taken over most of the old dog's protecting. She scans trees for Coopers Hawks, and has run off foxes.
    I've always started with puppies. Train them in what's acceptible around the birds, and what's not. Can't tell with grown adopted dogs around birds, someone elses' lack of education with their pup or tolerating bad behavior... just too hard to fix.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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  7. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    Smooth Collie from a working strain.
    Best,
    Karen
     
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  8. vanillachai

    vanillachai Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's helpful to hear about your experience with training. I'm only used to teaching the usual things like "don't run off" and "stay out of the trash" so I'm nervous and unsure about how to approach teaching a dog to watch out for the flock. Especially the ducks, since they seem to invite trouble their way. Thank you for your advice!
     
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  9. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x2 with vanillachai

    If you're looking for advice on training, here's some.

    There's really only one difference between training a dog not to rummage in the garbage and not to hurt chickens. You can gradually train your dog to stay out of the garbage, and rely on age to mellow him a bit.

    You cannot gradually train him to not hurt the hens. Remember that there are some things you simply will not tolerate and do not tolerate them. Make punishment swift, severe, and certain--and make it come from a person the dog respects.

    If this is redundant, sorry. But I hope it helps.
     
  10. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    That is why you need a dog from working strain with the proper amount of prey drive so that it does not go after the birds.
    Karen
     

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