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Best Breed to Guard Poultry?

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Best Breed to Guard Poultry?
  • We're seriously considering getting some chickens. Making a coop, the whole nine yards. And we started wondering what dog breed would be the best to guard poultry. My first thought is Great Pyrenees. But there's also the Anatolian Shepherd, Maremma and I'm sure many more.

    Does anyone have any input as to what breed would be best for guarding chickies? Of course the puppy would have to be raised with the chickens and trained.

    Thoughts on breeds?  Pros and Cons?

    Edited to add: We're not going to get a dog after all, just build a really strong coop. Smile 

  • Can you use one of your dogs you already have? Or wait your wanting one that is constantly with the chickens right?

    When I had chickens Cheyanne did a good job at keeping wild animals away from them. She would go in their pen and make her rounds. If there was any disturbance with the chickens we would go out and she would find whatever it was that was messing with them. It was always opposumes after the eggs though.

    What would be the main predator after the chickens your worried about?


  •  Well you have all the "big white dogs"...Pyr, Maremma, Akbash, Komondor, Kuvasz, plus other LGD's like Anatolians as you say, one or two others I think...there are a lot of things to consider:  the predator you need to protect the chickens from, the availability of the dog (I have a decent idea of how many Maremmas there are around the US, but not sure about the others like the Kuvasz, they might be rarer) and of course the traits of each and what would be best suited to your situation. 

    www.lgd.org might be a help. 

  • We would want to raise a puppy to live with the chickens. Our dogs would not be good with chickens. They would eat chickens. The predators here would be coyotes, foxes, bobcat, hawks and owls.

  •      If I wanted a dog to guard poultry or other farm animals, I'd go with a Komondor Cool From what I know of them they are pure working dogs, take their job seriously. They get along well with other animals and guard livestock as though their lives depend on it. They are quite fierce, and rather aloof with most people. If you need the name of a Komondor breeder, I think I know someone who still breeds them for work ...

  • HoundMusic
    If you need the name of a Komondor breeder


    Thank you. If we decide on one, I'll contact you.

    We haven't decided on getting a dog, I just wanted to explore the different breeds. I've been having fun reading about them. We may just build the chicken coop area such that our dogs could go all around it (but not inside) and use them for guards.  

  • Wouldn't an aggro Rooster or Tom Turkey, or Gander do as well? Course the rooster would give you more chickens but the turkey? they raise holy heck from what I hear and then you could take over with the gun or whatever's needed.

  • rwbeagles

    Wouldn't an aggro Rooster or Tom Turkey, or Gander do as well? Course the rooster would give you more chickens but the turkey? they raise holy heck from what I hear and then you could take over with the gun or whatever's needed.


    i recommend the large birds over a dog. but dont leap into it lol geese will attack because they are very territorial. if you learn how to "talk back" to them they'll leave you be... that is... if one comes up and tries to peck you then you stamp your feet and say SSSSSSSSS like a snake.

    turkeys can be mean and territorial but it seems ONLY if provoked. we have a tom and he's indifferent. but i met a few when i was a kid that i would have gladly plucked and stuffed in the oven myself! Our Jack Russell does fine with the birds. we let the ducks free range in our front yard sometimes. the first time we introduced her to them she wanted to chase. it only took one scolding for her to leave them alone. i havent let her in my moms yard with the chickens in a while and i dont really remember her reaction. she learned quickly for being a six year old dog. but she's always been a pleasing sort. rodent type animals are different. she managed to kill one of the baby bunnies when it escaped it cage.... i had just let her out onto the porch and turned back around to get my shoes from inside the door. when i came back out she had it in her mouth. she was scolded again and i took the dead bunny away from her - they ARE food but not yet, and not for when SHE decides - i didnt want to reward her for that. she can kill rats and such outside in the field or barn, but she isnt allowed to kill anything on the porch or front yard.

    if you have larger predators then you probably dont want a terrier sort..... my personal opinion is keep the dogs you have and build a good strong chicken yard and keep their wings clipped and shut them up at night and let the dogs patrol the area frequently. thats how we do it and we havent lost a bird or rabbit to a wild predator yet. 


  • DumDog
    my personal opinion is keep the dogs you have and build a good strong chicken yard and keep their wings clipped and shut them up at night and let the dogs patrol the area frequently.


    I think that's exactly what we're going to do (except for the wings). I have been researching the chicken thing for a couple days now and we're pretty sure we're going to do something like this, on a smaller scale. A garden on each side and a compost pile and chicken coop in the center. Then we're going to cover the whole thing and extend the dogs' yard to go around the whole thing.


    This design is from this page

  • rwbeagles
    Wouldn't an aggro Rooster or Tom Turkey, or Gander do as well? Course the rooster would give you more chickens but the turkey? they raise holy heck from what I hear and then you could take over with the gun or whatever's needed.

    Guinea fowl are great noisemakers.  Great for bugs also.  I have known several people that had them and they sure put up a racket.  But keep them separate from the roosters.


  •  I'll be honest, I wouldn't get an LGD *just* for poultry- a well-built coop is MUCH more efficient and much, much cheaper.

    That said?  Some of the smaller  general farm guards- specifically farmcollies and English shepherds- are very efficient poultry guardians if you want a dog that is social with both poultry AND people.

  •  Okay, this is small, right?  If so, I agree with the geese suggestion.  Here's why:

     Really, to consider this wisely, you need more information.  Or you need to share more information if you want help.  Big Smile

    • What kind of predation are you hoping to discourage?  Canids, domestic vs. wild, rodents, raccoons/possums?
    • What is your homestead situation?  Do you have lots of visitors?  How strong are the boundary fences?
    • What are your tolerances for noise?
    • Are you interested in learning to train a whole new breed/species/variety just for guarding?
    • Do you envision alerting to danger as being the primary function, or do you want your guard to drive away intruders, or battle to defend them if needed, or actively move his charges to safety and perform other tending functions like keeping young warm?

    You probably want guineas or just aggressive roosters, if:

    • You just want to be alerted if something's amiss
    • You have lots of desirable visitors that could be intimidated by something bigger (ie, grandkids)
    •  You don't have heavy predation, just maybe timid hawks and egg-hunters to be discouraged
    • You have a high tolerance for noise, because noisemaking is the only real defense these fowl have to offer
    • Your main defense will be tight fences, which will also keep in your winged fowl (guineas like to roam pretty far)

    Larger fowl like peafowl, swans, or geese might be a good choice if:

    • You want something slightly aggressive against light predation (winged predators, egg-hunters, foxes, timid coyotes, timid dogs)
    • You like a varied homestead
    •  You don't need guarding that is discriminatory (all intruders will be challenged equally)

    A farm breed might be a good choice if:

    • You are looking to add a new dog to your pack anyway (such a dog will expect to be a member of the household as well)
    • You have moderate predation (winged predators, small wild canids, aggressive rodents and raccoons) and expect mostly
      "alert" function
    • You live in a somewhat densely populated area
    • You are a little nervous about "training" a guardian breed, since farm breeds think more like herding dogs
    • You want intelligent discrimination of what constitutes actual threats, and what does not
    • You expect a hands-off approach to guarding - a farm breed won't be on patrol 24X7
    • You have a "Plan B" in effect if the guarding doesn't work out, as there's about a 25% chance that any individual in one of the farm breeds  will actually be a threat to the fowl, rather than guarding

    A large independent guarding breed of dog might be a good choice if:

    • Your stock will be spread out over a wide area (an acre or more)
    • You have heavy to very heavy predation
    • You expect your guard to "battle to the death" if needed
    • You want your guardian to be bonded to the stock only and not seek human companionship
    • You are looking for a high level of "stock attentiveness" - this is the stuff in the Lassie books where the dog tells you a chicken is stuck in a hole, or eggs are hatching and mom's not around, or a chick gets lost and the dog brings it home - only they don't really breed for this any more in the herding breeds
    • You live in a very rural area where the neighbors won't mind if the guardian dog goes out of your fences to see what that noise was
    • You just think it's really cool!

    None of this is set in stone.  There's a lady in uh, I think it's Wisconsin, who breeds a cross of livestock guardians, just for small homesteaders.  They are selected to be homebodies, very stock attentive, and friendly with farm visitors if properly socialized when young.  One of the reasons I don't like Komondors, for instance, is that they tend to be the opposite - actively people aggressive, but kind of clueless about stock. 

    A friend of mine has a Komondor who bites friendly visitors to the farm, but lets all and sundry wildlife walk off with the lambs - because they don't fit his picture of what "aggressive" is - he goes by his own feelings, not the distress of the stock.  Thus, he missed the fact that crows were pecking the lambs to death, and raccoons were walking off with poultry, right under his nose.  My friend is borrowing Tully, my big male Maremma, for the rest of her lambing season.

    That's not entirely accountable to breed - one needs to look at the lines and what the breeder in question breeds for.  Look at the operation and ask yourself honestly how it compares to what you are going to need.  Someone who has 3000 acres in the middle of nowhere and has very heavy predation is selling dogs who will frankly get bored out of their minds guarding chickens, unless you are planning a commercial pasture broiler operation.  I know someone who's doing about 100 laying hens on pasture and has a guard dog with them - they are all behind electric netting which is moved every day, so the dog always has something new to think about.  He's got an Anatolian/Akbash cross, another cross that is getting quite popular.

  • i dont like guineas.... we started with two and they NEVER. SHUT.UP. oh it was a night mare!! then my mom bought two more and it got a little quieter.... the man who sold them to us said theirs have torn small predators to pieces if it landed in the chicken yard. i dont know if thats true or not..... he's a salesman, soo.... lol the one good thing that i would say they have is they do eat bugs..... ticks especially..... AND butterflies... so its good and bad.. thats just been my experience for the last two years.

    the problem i have with geese is they're not particular with whom they goose. when i was two and living with my grand parents i was pecked quite hard by one of my grandmothers geese. i was minding my own business, helping her hang laundry when these two geese walked ACROSS the property just to bite me on the ***!

     by the way.... that chicken yard lay out looks my mom's back yard lol its IDENTICAL!! only the garden is on the other side..... and the chicken coop is built against the "barn/feed shed"


    one thing to consider is... rats. birds and rats go together like bread and butter according to an exterminator i know. might be because of the eggs or the food waste. i'd say its true..... we had an old smoker/grill that was FILLED with grain, corn, and sweet feed.... some little rat's stock pile... rather i should say colony. 




    Even though we've decided against an additional dog, I think we would have gone with a Maremma if we could find a good one. And I'll answer some of brookcove's questions for the thread's posterity. Smile

    The predators here would be coyotes, fox, birds, skunks, raccoons, snakes, bobcat, you name it! LOL  Very few visitors, and the boundary fences are fairly light. Our tolerance for noise is high, but I don't really want other birds. I would be willing to train and I envision a dog to drive away intruders.

    But since we're going with the setup above, we'll be using our own dogs, who server perfectly as guard dogs for us, so if we can keep them away from the chickens by building a tight coop and garden area, I'm sure they can guard a few chickens.  

     Dumdog, thanks for the word of warning about rats. Ugh!

  • Best breed to guard chickens in my experience has benn the hinze 57 variety. Especially rescued or pound doggs. They are so gratfull for you wanting them as part of your pack they are easy to train and just want to be good dog. I live in the country, have free range chickens and live near the woods way out in the boonies,