The Alopekis, an ancient dog bred to guard chickens and ducks

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by DurhamDuck, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. DurhamDuck

    DurhamDuck Chillin' With My Peeps

    413
    12
    121
    Mar 26, 2011
    Durham, Connecticut
    There are many people on this forum that look into Great Pyranees, Anatolian Shepherds, etc. for guarding poultry. People get mixed results, as these dogs were meant to guard larger livestock. Most people are unaware there is a dog breed bred specifically to protect chickens. I was, too, until recently discovered the "alopekis" online. It is a small Greek breed mentioned by Aristotle and other ancients.

    From Wikipedia:

    "Alopekis populations existed until recently all over Greece and some of their traditional uses were ratting and the extermination of mice and other small vermin, as well as protection of poultry, such as domestic chickens and ducks from the attacks of foxes; the small dogs can easily fit in the hen coops and curl up inside to spend the night on vigil against their namesake intruder; they also co-operate very well with the bigger flock- guardians and sheepdogs in the farm and on the field. The breed is an excellent and brave little watchdog and quite strong for its size."

    Some more interesting facts:

    "The Alopekis as a house companion is very affectionate, reliable, devoted, lively, active but not highly-strung nor yappy dog. The typical temperament is confident, outgoing, sociable, happy and very easy to train. Protective and caring towards the other house pets or animals, yet a determined enemy of vermin, a very diligent little worker, a capable hunter and retriever of game and quite playful. The breed is very good with children. As a utility dog and watchdog the Alopekis is courageous, vigilant, alert, spirited and able to cover the distance tirelessly, athletic and with very quick reflexes. At farm or city this is a very useful little working dog and escort that adapts well to all environments and is a joy to live with for dog-lovers of any age and lifestyle."

    "Alopecis dams, in contrast to modern breeds, only come to season once a year; they are very good mothers and easy whelpers. Litter size is typically 3, at the most 4 or 5 puppies. The breed enjoys excellent health and vitality and does not suffer for any known physical weaknesses. On the contrary they are quite robust little dogs that do well with moderate care and are not fussy eaters. Their average lifespan is 12–15 years in a domestic environment. Hereditary diseases have not been reported."

    "The breed occurs in three different coat varieties (all with undercoat): a) relatively short, hard and flat, b) semi-long, profuse and harsh and c) semi-long, hard, wire coat with some facial furnishings. The wirehaired variety is extremely rare. The coat must never be thin, sparse, soft and silky or lacking a protecting – insulating undercoat, because the breed is a small utility dog that should be able to thrive outdoors as well as indoors. Winters in the mountainous Northern Greece, in particular, can be quite harsh, and the summers can be very hot, so good coat quality is essential. The coat is easy to groom and naturally easy to keep clean. In addition Alopecis dogs are very clean by nature and often groom themselves meticulously. The breed does not seem to attract as many external parasites as others."

    According to the Wiki article, it has been threatened with extinction since the 1990s for various reasons. I have no idea if it is possible for someone in the United States, (or anywhere outside of Greece) to get one, but I thought you BYCers would be interested to know about this ancient, rare breed. Look up "alopekis" and go to the Wikipedia article for pictures- they are fox-like and usually white.

    Does anyone know anything more about these dogs?
     
  2. Mini Meat

    Mini Meat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Interesting, I have not heard of these. I do have an Anatolian but, he is bonded to the goats and took playful swipes at the chickens (injuring a few with his great big ham paws) when he was younger. A smaller breed for the chickens would make a lot of sense.

    Good to know that there are options

    Thank you
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    18,045
    2,790
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Concern I have is in dealing with coyotes and bobcats. Foxes would be easy to whip especially if standard approach of more than one dog used. Even raccoons would repelled. Domestic dogs would not be an issue if typical fencing used. Coop setups I have used do not require such small dogs. If such dogs could be used in conjunction with larger dogs otherwise focused on sheep/goats then you might have someone more dedicated to poultry that hinder larger predator until larger dog gets their. Such investments may be better for larger and more integrated parties than typical of backyard poultry keepers.
     
  4. bigwiffy77

    bigwiffy77 Out Of The Brooder

    17
    1
    26
    Apr 10, 2015
    Gervais Oregon
    I've had great success with my lab/bull mastiff mix. He's very good with my children and all my birds (ducks,chickens and guinea fowl) he's killed/chased off coyotes, rats, raccoons, cats and even a chicken hawk while protecting my flock. He patrols the run while he's outside and it's gotten to the point where coyotes and cats don't even bother coming around. Just the occasional raccoon and chicken hawk.
     
  5. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Chillin' With My Peeps

    532
    57
    136
    Oct 20, 2014
    Arizona
    From http://m.dogbreedinfo.com/?url=http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/alopekis.htm#2861

    Too small for my tastes ... A coyote would have a snack? And we have smallish coyotes out here ... One gulp for our Mt Lion!

    However ... It is a neet idea to coop them up at night with the chickens ...

    Maybe if Greece was to launch a huge export of these little doggies ... They could get back on their financial feet!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by