National Livestock Guardian Dog Appreciation and Awareness Day is October 26th. Guarding livestock was one of Fido’s first jobs? Our canine pals’ ability to protect our animals from both wild animals and other humans was invaluable in early history, and is still important today. A Wichita, KS vet discusses Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGDs, in this article.
Livestock Guardian Dogs have been around for thousands of years. The general consensus is that our canine companions were first domesticated about 12,000 years ago, likely in the Fertile Crescent, which is where agriculture began. It’s possible that the first LGDs pups were selected because they resembled the sheep they were guarding, and were initially raised with them. In fact, the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about the great dogs of Moloch, saying that “Of the Molossian breed of dogs, such as are employed in the chase are pretty much the same as those elsewhere; but the sheep-dogs of this breed are superior to the others in size and in the courage with which they face the attacks of wild animals.”
The AKC groups LGDs in with the Working Group. Some of these pups include the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Great Pyrenees, and the Komondor, who looks quite a bit like the sheep he protects. This group also includes other guard dogs, such as the German Shepherd, Dobermann Pinscher, and Rottweiler, and family guard dogs, such as the Bull Mastiff, Boxer, Great Dane, and Giant Schnauzer.
Each LGD breed is of course unique, but these guys do share some common traits. They need to be well-behaved among the animals they are protecting, whether that means pigs, goats, cows, sheep, or chickens. They also need to be able to drive away large predators or robbers, while being completely trustworthy with their humans.
Adopting A Livestock Guard Dog
You don’t have to have cattle to own a Livestock Guardian Dog. They can also make great pets! There are a few things to consider here, though. For one thing, most of these pooches are quite large. They’ll need lots of room, lots of exercise, and, of course, lots of food. Proper training is crucial here. Research is also a must. Each breed is unique, but LGDs do share some common traits. They also share similar health concerns, such as increased risks of developing hip dysplasia, heart trouble, and respiratory issues.
Do you have questions about caring for an LGD? Contact us, your local Wichita, KS pet hospital, today!