Grit Blogs > Milk Maid Ranch

Dogs That Guard Our Livestock

A Photo of Milk MaidEleven years ago we had a raid on our property. The goats were out grazing at night and my daughter’s beloved goat had gone into labor. We never saw her kids. In the morning when I went out to feed she was with the other goats but was covered in blood. Going down one side was the telltale signs of claws while near her spine were 2 holes that, to me, were teeth marks. Blood was all over her but it was obvious she had delivered her kids. As I cleaned her up my mind was racing. These were not the marks of coyotes, it was a big cat.  

Part of having livestock, is having to deal with birth(the fun part) and death(the not fun part). What had happened that morning never entered my mind while I tended to the day to day chores on any other morning. My heart was now saddened and I had to do something to protect my herd of dairy goats. I heard about the different breeds of guard dogs that will protect livestock but had never seen them. I went to the computer after all the outside work was done. There are many groups on Yahoo that cover just about everything there is so I went to the NewOkiePioneers group in Oklahoma that I’m on. I asked if anyone had these breeds of dogs. A woman knew of a litter of Great Pyrenees ready for new homes and she gave me the breeder’s info. I called right away and bought a pup, sight unseen. I’m in Texas and the drive would take a day to get one. As it turned out, her family was going to Dallas that weekend and she could bring the pup and meet me. A two hour drive was much better, and in a few days we had a 9 week old ball of white fluff. My 10 year old daughter was so excited and held Kanga on the way home.  

 Great Pyrenees pup at 8 weeks old 

In years past I had trained and taught puppy obedience so the thought of having another pup to train was exciting but I had never trained for guarding livestock. When we arrived home our Yellow Lab was very excited to have a new pup around but Kanga was not happy until I put him in the barnyard with the goats. He came alive then and I found out very quickly that I didn’t have to train him to guard anything. He was right at home with the goats and as I watched to make sure he was not hurt by the girls, it amazed me that they would warn him but not hurt him if he got too close. If the Lab had been in there, they would have rolled him a few times. The more time I spent with them, I began to see the goats understood he was there for them & realized this was one of the best things I could have done for the herd and by the time Kanga was 8 months old, he was doing his job to a T. I never had to train him. He knew his name but there was no need for him to as he never came to it. Obedience is not a GP’s thing. They are part of the herd and the goats were not the only thing he would protect.   

One day I noticed one of the ducks was missing. She was my favorite and the flock had the run of the place so I didn’t always see them every day. Come to think of it, Kanga was also missing. I went to look for him but as I started to go out to the pasture, I heard him whining. He was behind the barn, a place I usually don’t go as the fence is right behind it. There is dead brush there and I don’t like running into snakes. But this was a different kind of whine (the happy kind). So, I made my way back there and he as lying with my favorite duck, a nest with 12 eggs, and they were hatching. I backed up and called Kanga to come but, as I said, obedience isn’t a GP’s thing. To my surprise, the duck was fine having him with her. So, in a few hours I went to check on them and he was still there and was sniffing the new ducklings. All 12 had hatched out so it must have been a day or 2 earlier that they had started to hatch. Kanga was so easy with them, never hurting one yellow, fuzzy, baby.  He always kept an eye on them after that.  

 Kanga and Kubby 

I really can’t say enough about this breed if you are looking for a guardian for your livestock. We have horses, hens, ducks, geese, Irish Dexter cattle and the dairy goats and the Great Pyrenees do their job. I have to say I’ve never lost any goats from the time I had Kanga on my property. We now have 5 GP’s and Kanga has been gone a year now. He taught me plenty about his breed and I have to say how nice it is to not have to teach them to do their jobs.  

milk maid
11/13/2012 8:45:52 PM

Thanks Dave, and I agree wholeheartedly that they don't live long enough. The pup with Kanga is now 5 and I know it will be his time in a blink of an eye. He's the sire to the litter of GP's that were born this past January and I kept a male and female from that litter of 11. The male is the image of his dad so it's nice to have his offspring to continue the pack. They will guard anything that they are used to seeing. I'm also a deer rehaber and they will also keep the fawns safe. Have a great day in your garden. Suzy


nebraska dave
11/11/2012 3:15:44 AM

Milk Maid, the big dogs just don't seem to last long enough. I knew the Pyrenees would guard sheep but I didn't know they would guard baby ducks or just about anything on the farm. That would definitely be a great dog to have with livestock. Have a great Pyrenees day.