Please Tell Me About Your Livestock Guardian


8 Years
May 6, 2011
Campbellville Ontario
We finally moved to our little 'farmette' a few weeks ago and are thinking we really need a LGD to keep the chickens/kids/ and possibly any other livestock (we're thinking sheep/alpacas or small cattle) together, as well as the coyotes, etc... away. It sounds dumb (okay, maybe not dumb to this group, I forgot where I was for a minute
) but I want my chickens to be able to free range come the spring and their coop is under control (and they are out of my freaking garage!) and I want to make sure that they'll a) stay close and not bother the neighbours (we already have a dachshund who takes care of that for us
) and that keeps them from being coyote snacks. I'd also like the deer and raccoons kept out of the veggie patch.

So what do you have, how does it work with your family dynamics (we have 5 small children who also bring friends home from school - we would like to not have to worry about our dog attacking anyone) and your livestock?

So far we've been thinking of a St Pyrenees, a Maremma, a Bernese or a St Bernard (I really want a St Bernard, we've found a few that say they've been raised as LGDs but I wasn't sure if that was a typical LGD breed?). My second choice is a Bernese, but I'm a little leary of their shorter life span - seven years just doesn't seem that long... And we are definitely open to other suggestions and/or tips on how you trained your LGD.

Thanks guys, you've always got great suggestions to offer here, you gave us the courage to take our leap into rural-hood with all your tips and 'must haves' when I asked last time


8 Years
Apr 20, 2011
Front Range - Colorado
I don't think Bernese or Bernards are typically used for livestock guarding. The Bernese that I have know probably would not leave chickens alone.

Pyrenees and Maremma ARE LGDs. This is what they do, and they have an instinct for it. I have 2 pyrs. They successfully protect our sheep, chickens and turkeys from coyotes, foxes, skunks, eagles, hawks, and owls. They have even been known to move small birds that have gotten away from the flock, and taken them someplace safe, very carefully, in their mouths.

Any LGD needs to be sensitized for their job. You can't socialize them with dogs from friends and neighbors, or they will stop identifying that strange DOGS on their property might be dangerous. We have lost sheep and chickens to roaming dogs, because we made the mistake of socializing our pyrs.

We trained our Pyrs by 1) getting them as pups and raising them IN the barn, so they slept at night with the sheep, so they would bond to them.
2) we walked our fenceline with them several times a day, either with our other dogs at the time (who were males) so that they would see and smell our males dogs peeing on the fence and marking their territory, OR my husband did the same, so the dogs would learn the boundary of their territory.
3) we made sure the entire property was properly fenced so the dogs could not roam (they will want to)

BTW - for the garden, you'll still need to fence that off. If something like a deer or raccoon gets near it, the dogs will trample through it to chase off the deer. But the presence of a dog NEAR it, even if they are fenced out, would make any deer think twice.

Other than that - the rest was instinct for them. We generally take them into the lambing stall to introduce them to new lambs, so that they know there is a lamb to protect and who its mama is (pyrs are known for sometimes adopting lambs from their mothers and being too protective).

Bernards and Bernese were typically raised for searching tough mountain terrain and for pulling carts and wagons. They do not have the internal instincts for watching livestock like Maremmas and Pyrs. I don't suggest fighting against nature. They may be WONDERFUL family dogs, and protective of their families, but they don't have the same instinct as Pyrs and Maremmas for watching livestock, including chickens. You can research any of the breeds for more information.


Emu Hugger
11 Years
Mar 10, 2008
a bumpy dirt road in Florida
I have 5 Pyrs and for the most part love them. Most are very good around all the birds..... but the late puppy stage can show who needs improvement..... and my males seem better with the birds then the females for some reason. I have mini horses, mini zebu cattle, llamas, alpacas, horses, geese, turkey, cranes, swans, peafowl etc etc... and they are pretty good with all of them. Pyrs are barkers.... so if you have close neighbors they might drive them crazy. They are bred to bark often to tell predators "I'm here... so don't bother coming this way" . They will test fences, and many need hotwire ran at the bottom and top of the fence line, because if they can see it, they think it belongs to them also and they will try to patrol there too.
Mine are great with children, they are very careful around them and will lean into them as they get petted. If I am feeling bad, my two males will walk with me until I go out the gate, and I mean walk with me.... they have their hip pressed on me and they will keep stopping in front of me if I don't place my hand on their back while I walk.



9 Years
Apr 17, 2010
in the Pyrenees
I've been around some Pyrenees on working sheep ranches and think they are great dogs.

Funny thing, though.. I live in the Pyrenees and you see fewer of them around here all the time. I think because most of these farms are milking, as opposed to meat operations, so the sheep are never far away for a long time. Lots of herding dogs around though.

Maybe as the wolves come back into France from Spain, which is only a matter of time, more folks will get them again.



Head of the Night Crew for WA State
10 Years
Jan 27, 2009
I believe that all true LGD's are extremely large dogs. You might consider a Anatolian Sheppard, Komondor, and Kuvasz. All of these dogs will have to be trained to stay with the other animals. I owned a Komondor for nearly 13 years. He had to taught to not chase chickens. He never did learn to take are of the outside animals.. He was extremely attached to sleeping on the sofa. lol His favorite things to do was go shopping and have people talk about him. I must say that I dearly miss my dear Puppy.
Puppy was preparing to go to his best girls wedding. He wore a black tie to the actual wedding.
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