Do you know what a “Livestock Guardian Dog” is? Let Sasha explain…

My dog, Sasha, is a Kuvasz.

More cute than intimidating (for now…)

The Kuvasz is a breed classified as a Livestock Guardian Dog, or LGD for short.

Often when we discuss this breed or LGDs, people think about herding dogs like Border Collies. No, LGDs aren’t there to herd, they’re there to protect the herd. They aren’t guard dogs either, in the commonly understood sense, like a Doberman, but still they are guards and guardians. They are something unique, but not well-known.

Cody & Liesl Lockhart of the Candll Lamb & Cattle Co. provide a great introduction and understanding of what LGDs are and their role.

[vimeo 60354527]

Here in Central Texas, I see a lot of farms with a “guard donkey” in the paddock, but not too many with LGDs. I have seen a few, and I think it’s a wise notion because of what a strong pack of “sheepdogs” can bring to the table in terms of keeping your stock safe.

Via the Kuvasz Fanciers FB page, I read a great 3-part series on LGDs by Mother Earth News:

  1. Part 1 – a general introduction to LGD’s
  2. Part 2 – discussion of some of the breeds
  3. Part 3 – more breeds

An important take-home is that all LGDs are not the same. As example, when people ask about Sasha we tell them she’s a Kuvasz. Most people are unfamiliar with the breed, so we explain it as “you know what a Great Pyrenees is? Similar.” We do that because Pyrs are fairly well-known, and they are similar: both big white fuzzy dogs, both LGDs. But once you get to know them, they are different. Pyrs tend to stay more with the flock and focus on the ground. Kuvasz are more perimeter dogs and will watch the sky. We see this constantly with Sasha, ensuring a secure perimeter, and ensuring those birds (especially the big vultures) keep away from the house.

LGDs are serious dogs that require serious commitment on the part of the owner. They must have a job, they must be allowed to do their job. This is not a dog you can keep in a crate or alone in the house/apartment for 8-10 hours a day, then hang out with after work. Many people get an LGD breed not understanding what the breed is, and after they realize the strong commitment and work required, give up the dog (always a sad thing). These dogs are not Labs or Beagles, they aren’t a typical “family dog”. But if you can provide what they need over their entire life, they’ll give you something wonderful in return.

If you know anything about me, you could label me a “sheepdog” (in the Lt. Grossman sense of the word). It stands to reason I’d have a dog that embodies the same qualities.

2 thoughts on “Do you know what a “Livestock Guardian Dog” is? Let Sasha explain…

  1. I have less trouble explaining LGDs than some, quite a few of the local small farms run LGDs of varying types. Mostly Pyrs and Maremmas, but some Kuvasz and a few Anatolians. I get quite a few “but I thought LGDs were always white?” as they look at Apollo, but in general a surprising number of people understand the concept. Which doesn’t stop a huge number of them from insisting on petting the fluffy doggy, but thats a different gripe….

    • Well, if what’s most popular up there are Pyrs, Maremmas, and Kuvasz, I can see why people would expect all LGDs to be “white dogs”.

      and I totally understand wanting to pet them. I mean, look at that picture of Sasha above… they can be mighty adorable. At least, until you see their teeth. 🙂

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