Animals on Guard
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Origin: France, Asia, Siberia
Height: 25 to 40 inches
Weight: 85 to 100 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years
Traits: One of the most common guardian dogs in the United States, this breed is large, white, solid and muscular. A gentle and loyal giant, it can be very affectionate. A Great Pyrenees needs a lot of space and prefers cooler climates. It’s a serious worker that can be very independent. It has a calm nature, loves attention and considers itself part of the family. A Great Pyrenees has excellent hearing and sight and will defend its charge with its life.
Cost: $150 to $350
Whether you love or hate them, the fact is donkeys can make excellent guardians. They live a good, long life – 25 to 35-plus years. Donkeys are highly territorial, instinctively dislike canines, and love to be part of a herd. Unlike dogs, they cannot wander. A donkey is recommended for smaller herds or flocks, but if you’re lambing or kidding, monitor how your donkey interacts with any new additions. Calm and affectionate, the donkey has won many owners’ hearts, especially as they can switch off their sweetness when a predator looms near. A donkey has hard hooves, a strong neck, jaws and teeth, and they will use them all to protect their charges. Braying loudly first, a donkey will chase, kick and stomp a coyote, dog or wolf. They are intelligent and can be friendly with strangers. With proper care, a donkey will be a good guardian for many years. Another plus: They eat the same things as sheep, goats, or llamas – grass, hay, grain and minerals. They need a companion, such as another donkey. They best protect sheep and goats. A good donkey can be purchased for $200 to $600.
A bit of controversy is related to whether llamas make good guardians – some say they do and others say no. For best results, individual farmers need to choose a guardian llama carefully. Ideally, the prospective llama should have some guarding experience before being placed with your flock or herd. They must be old enough – at least 18 months – and large enough to adequately protect.
Llamas tend to be independent and aloof, yet proud and regal. Geldings and unbred females make good guardians against coyotes and dogs but not against cougars, mountain lions or bears. They show a high level of curiosity and are highly aware of their surroundings. When danger is sensed, a llama will give a shrill alarm and become very restless. Presented with a predator, a llama will advance, snort, spit, chase and stomp. When guarding alone, llamas should only look after smaller herds or flocks. A single llama will not protect well against packs of predators. Llamas can be purchased for $300 to $500.