I don’t think I know anyone on a farm or homestead that doesn’t have a dog. That includes us. We have 3 dogs: A Rottie named Tango, a Boxer/Mastiff/Dane mix named Brewer, and a Cattle Dog mix (I think. I can never remember for some reason) named Chief.
Chief is the smallest, but he is the boss. Fortunately, he is pretty sweet, too. 🙂
Tango and Brewer are probably not the ideal farm dogs. They are good at looking big and intimidating, but that’s about it. Well okay, they are good for entertainment as well. They are both pretty silly.
Chief, on the other hand, was born to be on a farm. He will sit on the porch and survey his property, watching for anything that does not belong. He helps bring the goats back to the barn when they are being stubborn, and he even tries to help get the chickens into the coop in the evening when I am too impatient to let them go in on their own.
He is still working on this though. He tends to chase them away from the coop instead of into it. But he gets the whole chase thing, so I guess that’s progress.
Anyone with a herd or flock will benefit from a good herding dog, and it doesn’t need to be a pure-bred dog. As a whole, mutts tend to be healthier anyhow. Chief seems to just know what he needs to do. We just need to help him sharpen his skills.
Some people like to have a watch dog for the farm. In my experience, the goats alert me to visitors before the dogs do, but your mileage may vary. A small dog – one that is yappy – is probably a good watch dog because they will bark at everything. I can envision a little yapper letting us know someone is here and the big bruisers, Tango and Brewer, meeting them at the door. Truth be told though, Chief is a good watch dog, too. He will bark if he hears anything, usually scaring the heck out of me.
What we are in need of now (because 3 dogs isn’t enough, right?) is a livestock guardian dog. Now, I know llamas and donkeys make great guardian animals, but that would require fencing. And I have never owned those animals (not that I am opposed!) so I guess I am more comfortable with a dog. I know dogs.
My problem is, LGDs need to stay with the flock, so if I get a puppy, it would have to live in the barn. I am sure it would adapt just fine, but I am a marshmallow and would worry and want to bring it in the house. (Hey, I wanted to bring the goats in the house over the nasty winter, too. Don’t judge me.)
Anyhow, I am hoping we will find a Pyrenees, Anatolian, Maremma or mix of something along those lines soon. These breeds are known to be excellent guardians, and since we have coyotes, and have seen the occasional wolf, I would feel better having a big bad-ass dog to protect my goats.
I don’t want it to get lonely in the barn as it gets used to its new home. (Yes, I know. Big. Fat. Marshmallow.)