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Caucasian Shepherd , Alabai(Central Asian Shepherd), Shetland Sheepdog, German Shepherd
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Livestock Guardian Dogs are among the most ancient breeds of dogs around the world if not the most ancient of the dogs.



In ancient times these dogs were responsible to protect flocks, animals, family members and properties of their owners against intruders including thieves and small and large predators in the presence or absence of the owner. That is a huge responsibility.



How LGDs can do this tall task?



What physical and mental capability a dog should have to fulfil these vastly different duties?



You can see that the duty that was asked from LGDs shaped them the way they are today.



Physically :



They need to be large to huge to be able to intimidate thieves and predators and even engage to defend their land and flock.

They need to have stamina because they need to follow and protect the sheep and goats day in day out in mountains and hills all season.

They need to have a weather resistant water resistant coat that needs no to minimum (once or twice a year ) maintenance.

They need to be nocturnal because majority of the predator activities happens in dark hours.

They have to be agile to chase the scaping predators or scape from them when obviously overpowered.

They need to have a slow metabolism because they do not have access to abundant food on a regular basis due to the nature of the villages they are in.

They need to have an impressive, loud and deep bark to intimidate the predators and thieves.



Mentally:



Thy need to be independent decision makers because they need to protect their property in the absence of the owner. This independent mentality in some cases if not most can not be switched off completely in the presence of the owner. In other words, you can not expect your LGD to be very obedient and follows your orders to the T. They accomplish the task you give them the way they think is right and if you disagree they think you should do it yourself then.

They have to be instinctively good judge of people and situation. This means they are suspicious in nature and not easy to approach and pet by strangers.

They have to be smart to assess the situation fast and make the best possible decision.

They have to be courageous, brave and fierce when there is a threat and they need to be very calm when things are alright.

They have to be able to live with their flock 24/7 and they have to gain the trust of their animals by being gentle with them.

They have to be able to work in a pack and know how to find their job and place in every situation.



To cover all the task we expect from them a Livestock Guardian Dog needs to be :



Brave, large,alert,athletic ,smart,intuitive,independent and team worker.

Almost all the known famous LGDs can be described to have all the needed attribution but some breeds have more of the specific contribution than others.



There seems to be more than forty LGD breeds around the world but some have more popularity and fame for one reason or another. The breeds I discuss here are the most common and famous and also available breeds with proven record. If any breed has not been mentioned here is based on being less known or available and not because they are not par to other more known breeds of LGDs.

Possibly the most important difference between LGDs and other dog breeds is that LGD temperament and action is the result of thousands of years of natural selection and is deeply engrained in their brain. It is so deeply innate that in many cases it is impossible to redirect it somewhere else. They are bred to work, now you want them to be playful?.



The previous 1000 generation or so before your dog were never playful before, now you want yours to forget about a 1000 generation of DNA memory and start to play fetch with you? Not going to happen and even if it happens then you can question the authenticity of that dog's LGD heritage.

If obedience is your pet peeves and you need a dog that gives all his attention to you during the training or other times then you better avoid LGDs. They are born and bred to guard the livestock and you. They are not to entertain you , or even obey you. They will obey you when you stablish yourself as the alpha and the wise man and not before it. They are independent thinkers and if the way they think about solving a problem does not align with you they might follow their instinct and not your order no matter how Alpha you really are. Good thing is that they are rarely wrong about judging people or situation. Do not worry, their mistake rate in my humble opinion is not more than of us humans.



Are LGDs smart?

If you want to know that are LGDs smart like some very smart dog breeds like a Belgian Malinois or Golden Retriever or a Doberman? The answer is no.
They are street smart. In a way in real survival situation and in real life where smartness matters they survive and thrive much better than Top 10 smartest dog breeds because they are smart in real life and not smart to follow the orders of the trainer to the T. Put a puzzle in front of LGDs to solve and they will show almost zero interest to solve it and you can't convince them otherwise but if LGDs believe the survival of their flock depends on solving that puzzle then they will solve it as fast as smartest dogs because now solving the puzzle is part of the job and not just make their owner proud.



There is no sufficient reason to choose LGDs as pets or solely companion. There are much better breeds than LGD if you want companion. If they have no job they will be depressed and then they turn to destructive and aggressive manners. Do not waste your time and an LGD time by not providing a real job for them. They are outdoor dogs and apartments and small houses does not satisfy their outdoorsy nature. Once or twice daily walk in the dog park does not help either because in their mind walking is not a job so the park turns to their territory and they start to patrol the park like they own it in just a few walks.







Important tips to choose the right breed:



If you have active large predator load in your homestead and you need a breed that can

tackle serious large predators with less hesitation and come relatively victorious in most of the times then Tibetan Mastif ,Anatolian Shepherd, Kuvasz ,Kangal are good first choices while Central Asian Shepherd, Caucasian shepherd, Armenian gampr and Akbash can also be as serious breeds that will protect their livestock at all cost.

In any case if the predator load is heavy and/or the potential predators are as big as your LGDs including Wolves, Bears, Mountain lions, Pack of coyotes or such then you definitely need more than one dog preferably three. A Male and female in case of two, Two females one male or Two fixed male and one female in case of three.

The chance of losing your dog to predators or serious injury exponentially increases if your dog is alone.

If you have ample acreage and your animals are scattered throughout your land then Anatolian Shepherd ,Kangal and Kuvasz seems to be better choices since their range of roaming around is wider than Tibetan Mastiff. Tibetan Mastiff is more oriented to stay around your homestead than chase all predators out of your property during the day. In other words Tibetan Mastiff range is smaller than other fierce dogs.

If your homestead has a high traffic of customers and strangers then you better avoid serious and intimidating breeds that are more human suspicious than others like Anatolian Shepherd, Turkish Kangal,Central Asian shepherd aka Alabai, Kuvasz , Caucasian Shepherd or Armenian gampr.Also if you want cute dogs you better avoid all of these breeds again because they do not seem cute to strangers and they do not even try to be cute.



Unassuming dog breeds: If you want a dog breed that looks unassuming and relaxed with low level of energy while on rest think about Tibetan Mastiff , Great Pyrenees, Spanish Mastiff or Maremma sheepdog.

Generally speaking almost all of LGDs are relaxed and chill while not on duty . During the day you may find them napping somewhere cool and quiet near the flock. Day time is their rest time and if everything seems routine they prefer to stay quiet and even low key to be ready for night shift.

If you think you are very special dog trainer and your training is going to work and You can override the natural instinct of LGDs , you are wrong. There is a decent chance ,you will add another LGD to another shelter down the road. Do not waste your time and dog's time and shelter's time.

LGDs are not obedient the way we define obedience.
 
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