Livestock Guardian Dogs

This is the very first post, to be followed by many more like it! For readers who do not know, Leviathan Kennels is currently in the process of adding Livestock Guardians to the program. This is both an exciting and daunting task, thanks to the wide variety of breeders in terms of quality and ethics. We are currently in the preliminary research stage, in which we take into account the assortment of LGD breeds available, the demand, costs, and overall repercussions of the decision made.

One of the more interesting aspects of this research is the compilation of the breeds and their characteristics. There are certainly more breeds outside of this list that are very likely to be outstanding LGD’s, but for the sake of simplicity, we decided to start out with a short list of the breeds that interested us the most. So without further ado, here is the list currently under research:

Great Pyrenees
Anatolian Shepherd
Kangal
Caucasian Ovcharka
Central Asian Ovcharka
Tibetan Mastiff

To provide a little bit of background on the livestock guardian dog, we must rewind to a much earlier date, roughly 2000 years ago. The first use of LGD’s is recorded as early as 150 BCE in Rome. Both Aristotle’s History of Animals and Virgil’s Georgics mention the use of livestock guardian dogs by the Molossians in the ancient region of Epirus. Many of the modern day livestock guardian dogs are thought to descend from the extinct Molossus breed used by the Molossians. Here are a couple of images depicting the ancient mollassor:

The LGD breeds were developed out of necessity, as most breeds are. A pastoral group of individuals, whether a family, tribe, or nation, had a variety of threats to their way of life, one of them being the predator of their livestock. Unprotected herds of sheep, goats, and other animals were decimated by the predators indigenous to the area. In Israel it was bears, lions, and jackals. In Mongolia,and most parts of the world for that matter, wolves were the largest threat. African tribes still have to protect their cattle from lions and cheetahs (recently Kangals have been introduced who are doing a remarkable job).

In order to stop this threat, shepherds stayed with their flock throughout the day to protect against these predators, but one shepherd was often not enough, especially when herds/flocks of 100+ existed. So a dog was bred for both size, courage, fighting ability, and a certain level of independence.In my research I plan on starting with the Pyrenees Mountain dog, a breed that has been doing an outstanding job all over the world, and is currently America’s top livestock guardian.

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