Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MrsRevDr, May 13, 2011.
I'm wondering if there is any kind of dog Breed that is known for getting on well with chickens?
I don't know what the best breed would be. Probably most any that are raised from a pup with them. I have 2 German Shepherds. One leaves them alone when they free range, the other can't be trusted around them. I also have a terrier mix who acts as if they don't exist. And then there is Ben, my Golden Retriever. When we first got chickens and I had ran out of stakes to hold a small section of fence down, Ben got a hold of 5 chickens and a duck. As I drove up to the house he had a chicken throwing it up in the air over and over! I got on him about it, and a few days later he got another duck. I beat him with the dead duck. That has been the only time I ever physically whopped him in any way, and he does not mess with them any more. He walks freely around them, even goes into the pen with us, and he doesn't bother them any more. I think he believed they were some kind of chew toy at first.
I, have border collies and they are the best IMO. I introduced the chicks to them and never have had a problem with either one. One of the collie's helps me round them up to put them in @ night and she is very, very protective of them. If my cat could talk he would tell you the same he has made the mistake of getting to close to them when they where just chicks and he was missing patches of bald spots where the dog attacked him. One thing you do need to keep in mind with border collies they are very active and really need a job to do or they will find something to do and it usually will be expense to fix or replace but got to love them one smart dog.
I have two black labs, both pheasant hunters. Amazingly, they leave my chickens alone. If they are lying around, the chickens actually perch on them. Only one time did one of them make a move at the chickens. Something frightened them into flight and the dog instinctively bounded affet them for a couple steps, then just watch them. I bet the poor dogs are thinking " I hope the other bird dogs don't see them perchin' on me. I'd never live it down in the feild!" I had the dogs around them since they were only a couple days old. I think it really depends on the individual dog.
I think its just the fact that the dog is raised with them. I got lucky, I got my dog as a rescue from the humaine society and she could care less about them. She is a small dog sorta looks like a westie/jack russel mix. The chicks are scared of her for a while but they all realize she isnt going to do anything. My rescue hen that was attacked by a golden retriever even has gotten used to her. I think any dog is raised with them will be ok. It might be harder with "hunting" breeds like labs or retrievers as they like to catch flighty things but I dont know. HOpe you find a good breed and dont discount shelter dogs.
I believe this is the biggest "it depends" topic on this forum!
Our family has 3 dogs; a 7 year old Rottweiler who ignores the chickens but barks at the deer and people "intruders", a 4 year old mini dachshund who quivers at the sight and scent of chicken prey and is fast enough to catch them, and a 3 year old Australian blue-heeler who herds my chickens into a small group and then circles them but won't touch.
None of these dogs have had special training to either go after or ignore chickens, though the dachshund has been disciplined for going after them. It hasn't really changed her basic nature of regarding small animals as prey.
When you consider a dog, be it a rescue animal or a new puppy, consult the AKC book of dog breeds or go online and read about what that particular breed was bred to do. INDIVIDUAL animals within a breed can be trained to ignore their basic strong instincts, but in general, what that breed was intended to do will hold true.
Herding dogs herd. Hunting dogs hunt and retrieve, and some kill and retrieve too. Dogs bred to go into tunnels or to fight will take delight in hunting and killing and are extremely persistent. Plus, age and weight have a lot to do with a dog's behaviour. An elderly, overweight dachshund won't work as hard as a slender young doxie to catch and kill.
Our three animals hold very true to those types. The Rottweiler is a cattle herding dog. Chickens are beneath her. Plus she's an older animal and doesn't want to expend the energy required to chase birds. The Australian blue-heeler will chase squirrels, but rounds up my girls and keeps them perched on the brushpile. He also "herds" bicycles, skateboarders, & small children by running rings around them. He has tried to herd the barn cats! But the tiny dachshund is the only one to actually grab a mouthful of feathers. She pokes her body through the deck railing and quivers, completely alert to every movement each chicken makes, ready to pounce. We just can't trust her near them, unless we want chicken dinner.
This is Iz, my English Bulldog. He loves the hens. He sniffs the hind end just like he would a dog. And is very gentle with them. When we had a smaller coop he would cram his self in to it and just sit in there with them all hunched over. He is a very toy oriented dog, loves his toys and stuffed animals and chews up a lot of toys. But he doesn't chew anything that isn't "his" so that might be why he is so gentle with them. The female bulldog we had ( she died) was also very gentle with them. Both the bulldogs were adults when we got the chicks.
I have a 4lb toy poodle also, Ziggy, he is ok with them, he would like to play with them. He will leave them alone, but I think it's because he is trained trained trained. Also all the hens are much larger than him. I think he would hurt them if he was not supervised. The hens were all here before Ziggy, so he has grown up with them. And we have not tested leaving him alone with them, but he gets excited in a playful way around them. He is trained to stay out of the chicken yard, but if the chickens are in the other part of the yard he will run at them a little, but is corrected immediately and stops. If I wasn't there ...who knows? Ziggy is to small to leave in the main part of the yard by his self, so I am with him if he is in the area that the hens would be free ranging in. Other wise the dogs also have their own "yard area" too.
My beagle will not stop until she kills all the chickens....... I would not recommend a beagle. We have to have the chickens penned when she is out and her penned if the chickens are out.
It is all about training, so if you start with a breed known to be easily trainable you will more likely be successful. I would also recommend breeds that are not hunting breeds, bird dogs, hounds or terriers - while many of them may be considered trainable, they may have some predisposition to having a stronger prey drive than others (and some of these breeds, esp. hounds and terriers are harder to train). I think a good way to go is with a herding dog or working dog mixed breed, there are so many dogs in shelters and rescues that could be great training prospects. If you go through a rescue and adopt a dog that has been in a foster home, you could look for one that is known to be either well trained or easily trained and doesn't chase cats. If they know it doesn't chase chickens, even better. When you get a dog through a rescue/foster home, you will know a lot more about their temperament. In the end though, it would be a bad idea to think you can get a dog that is good with chickens right away without investing a lot of time with them (although it did happen to me bc I went through a rescue and tested the dog with chickens first). Plan on signing up for obedience classes. If you teach your dog to sit, stay, come and most importantly "leave it", and master these commands even when the dog is excited and distracted, you will not only have a great companion that you can take with you anywhere, but your dog will listen to you around the chickens. a professional trainer and group obedience classes, often offered through shelters, are affordable and a great way to teach your dog to listen even when distracted.
many will tell you that you cant trust any dog with chickens but I've trained one to be a perfect chicken guardian dog (australian cattle dog x) and the other was either not interested or followed the lead of our first dog - I can't say I really trained him to be as good as he is around the chickens, however the basic obedience certainly helps. He is a dachsund/spaniel mix - both hunting breeds so it was a surprise how good he is around them. But as I said I tested him out with a chicken before I adopted him and he completely ignored her.
I lost our sweet cattle dog to cancer several months ago and would love another dog who guards the chickens AND kills rats and will chase cats and raccoons out of our yard like she did. It took a lot of training - clearly she had a prey drive as she killed many rats and even killed an opposum once, but she was so smart that she learned quickly that the chickens are to be respected. My plan is to look for a dog that has great eye contact and a desire to please humans, likely another cattle dog x, and do a lot of training.
Nobody thought I had a chance with my dog. 3/4 lab and 1/4 shephard. She has always been very fast and a major predator....still is on wild animals. My theory is that she got to watch the chicks grow from 1 day old and up. It was obvious to her that I had great interest in them and knew better. She behaves like they are part of the family and has no interest at all in attacking them. The chickens are not afraid of her either because she has never been a threat. Totally different story if a squirrel enters the back yard. I was very careful though at first and would only let her near the chickens on a leash. My dog is also 9 yrs old though but she still behaves like a predator. I would think age is a factor. In general, beware of dogs...I have lost chickens to neighbors dogs.