When it comes to farm dogs, there are two kinds that you'll typically see in rural areas. First, you have the herder breeds, such as the Blue Heelers, Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, etc. Those breeds we won't be covering today because they are good for rounding up animals, but today we're going to talk about guardian breeds. These are the breeds that will be on the frontline protecting your livestock from wild predators so you can have peace of mind.

You may be asking, what are the qualities that are desirable in a farm dog?  First, the dog must be hyper-attentive to the livestock and constantly aware of any signs of potential predators looming. The dog must be large with lots of muscle mass, and not be hesitant to engage in conformation. Lastly, they need to be constantly marking their territory so predators don't pop up in the first place.

Now when it comes to all of these features, here are the most noteworthy livestock protector breeds.

1. Great Pyrenees

This is the breed that comes to mind when we think about a classic farm dog. It's the top choice for ranchers and farm owners alike. The big snow-white dog that's built like a horse, any predators would need to think twice before approaching your property. Yet when it comes to the family dynamic, they truly are gentle giants.

When they are on duty, their time consists of lounging and passively monitoring the livestock and slowly roaming to try to find anything out of the ordinary. In colder climates, they tend to thrive because of their thick double coat is designed to keep them warm.

As Great Pyrenees dogs are known for their thick top coat and fine woolly undercoat regular bathing and grooming is required. We recommend for bathing using the Pet Control HQ Neem Oil, for grooming in the summer months the Pet& Livestock HQ Sheep Shears and for drying the Pet Control HQ 2800W Professional Dog Grooming Hairdryer Blower.  This will lay the groundwork for achieving a beautiful and shiny coat.

2. Rottweiler

Another classic guard dog, they're used to secure large estates and be on the look for any intruders entering the property. Right off the bat, they have an intimidating appearance, and for good reason. Everything falls secondary to pleasing their owner, and if that means you're considered a threat, they won't think twice.

They tend to have a bite force of 328 PSI, which helps them stand their ground and ward off unwelcomed animals. These dogs are not to be messed with, making them excellent to look after your livestock.

Rottweilers will thrive in a home environment with someone who understands the breed and recognises the need for early socialisation and consistent, reward-based training.  Rottweilers are very loyal and can usually be very aggressive when they protect their owners. We recommend our Remote Dog Trainer for neighbourhood walks and visits to the park and our Training Treats as they respond well to reward-base training.

3. Anatolian Shepherd

These dogs are tough, rugged and strong, bred specifically for protecting your livestock. Their demeanor is stoic and calm, giving them a calming presence on any ranch or farm. You'll know they're there protecting you and your livestock, but they won't draw attention to make themselves known.

If you aren't an avid trainer, the Anatolian Shepherd might not be for you because they require a decent amount of training to know how you'd like them to serve you. If you do not assert yourself as the chosen leader, they'll step in to run the show.

As Anatolian Shepherds have a long history as livestock guardians they do tend to bark a lot especially when they perceive a threat to their flock or to their home. We recommend our Citronella Remote Dog Spray Anti bark Collar.

4. Bernese Mountain Dog

Used in the Swiss alps to discover and rescue people trapped in avalanches, these gentle giants are great for looking after your livestock. They're gentle and playful around the family, but territorial and protective when it comes to outsiders lurking on your livestock.

One thing to keep in mind is that they have a short life span of only 7-8 years, due to being larger in size. Their size comes from having a such dense bone composition, making them stand up fiercely to predators of any kind. They thrive as family dogs, that's why it's important for them to have daily interactions with humans to do their best in this setting.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known to shed…A Lot! When I say a lot, I mean a lot. We recommend our Dog Grooming Dryer for deshedding. As they have a naturally oily coat and repellent we recommend using our Neem Shampoo once every two to three months.

Obesity can be a significant health problem in Bernese Mountain Dogs which can result in joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease. We recommend our Pet Control HQ Blood Glucose meter for obese dogs to monitor their insulin levels.

5. Pit Bull

These sweet dogs make great family dogs and even better livestock guardians. The name "Pit Bull" came from what they were originally bred for in the early 1800s, bull-baiting. That meant attacking and killing an entire bull, which typically weighs around a ton.

When it comes to their family unit, they are extremely gentle around the house, making them great family dogs. On the other hand, they can be territorial and not afraid to show aggression to let their presence be known to outsiders. With a bite force of 305 PSI, any predator would be hesitant to go near an unfamiliar Pit Bull.

As Pit Bulls are known for their aggressive behaviour and intolerance towards other dogs we recommend our Pet Control HQ Dog Muzzle when going for neighbourhood walks or visits to the park.

Professional Dog Grooming Hairdryer Blower - 2800W

6. Mastiff

Known for their strong build, much like one of a bear, makes them a fierce opponent for predators of any size. There are many different mastiff breeds, such as Bullmastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, and Tibetan Mastiff all with their own personality. This dog requires an owner who is active in training them, especially from a young age. Although they are generally considered more of a family guard dog than a livestock guardian, they can excel in both roles.

Their aggressive nature and size are something that can work for you or against you, that's why you must have them under control if you're going to bring one onto your land. Active training is a must if they're going to fulfill their duties to the fullest.

Mastiffs are an enjoyable breed to train. They respond well to reward based training. We recommend our Electric Dog Fence System and Training Treats.

7. Doberman

These dogs are loyal, smart, and athletic making them an excellent choice to protect your livestock. Their large build and ability to jump 6 ft in the air demonstrate that they are not to be messed with by predators. Chasing predators off comes to them with ease, because they can run 10 miles at a time without showing signs of exhaustion.

They're quick to pick up training and will perform any duties that you require of them, and they will not disappoint. That being said, they require regular training and exercise to operate at their best.

As Dobermans have a reputation of being aggressive it’s important to understand what goes into training them so they can be well-behaved members of your family. We recommend the 2-in1 Electric Dog fence System with Remote Dog Trainer.

A functional farm or ranch can truly be a wonderful place if the chaos is kept to a minimum. That being said, it takes work and effort to help each animal know their place. It also takes a knowledge of which breed best fits your lifestyle and would look after your specific ranch.

8. Kuvasz

Kuvasz dogs are a unique and fearless breed that originated in Hungary. These muscular and strong dogs are known for their incredible loyalty to their families. They are exceptionally smart, confident and independent and can be challenging to train. They are used to working alone or in packs, which makes them an excellent choice for farms and ranches.

One of their most distinctive features is their white, corded coat, which requires regular grooming to maintain its beauty. They are excellent protectors and make great companions for those who appreciate their unique mix of independence and loyalty.

9. Komondor

The Komondor (otherwise known as the Hungarian Sheepdog), also hailing from Hungary, is a breed with a truly unique appearance. These large dogs, frequently weighing 40 kilograms, have a corded coat that resembles a walking mop. This thick hair helps them keep warm in the chilly winters of their native Hungary. 

These dogs need an enormous amount of grooming, so as with the Pyrenees, you might want to think about getting some dog grooming tools and learning how to keep their coats clean and completely dry.

Komondors were bred to be independent thinkers, and their territorial nature makes them an excellent guard dog. Komondors require lots of socialisation and training to become well-behaved family pets. They are loyal and protective of their family, but can be wary of strangers. With proper socialisation and training, the Komondor can become a loving and devoted companion.

10. Akbash

Akbash dogs, originating from Turkey, were bred as livestock guardians for predators such as wolves and bears. The name comes from a Turkish word, akbaş, meaning ‘white head.’These independent and fearless dogs can weigh up to 50 kilograms and require consistent training and socialisation from a young age to become good companions and effective guardians.

As a non-herding dog, the Akbash is content to keep watch over a flock of sheep or a herd of cattle. Akbash dogs are loyal and affectionate with their families but can be suspicious of strangers. They are not recommended for first-time dog owners, as their strong-willed nature requires an experienced and firm owner. With proper training and socialisation, the Akbash dog can become a reliable and devoted companion.

Got a question? Get in touch

Pet Control HQ is proud to offer only the best quality products for your  livestock and pet care needs - If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us with your enquiry. A member of our friendly team will be happy to help.

August 18, 2023 — Nick Flint