What Kind of Guard Dogs?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

What are the best breeds for outdoor guard dogs? We have the following requirements:

1. We want them "scary" to intruders, but safe enough for three little children.

2. They have to be able to handle year-round warm weather (mostly in the mid-70's to mid-80's).

3. They have to be goat-friendly.

4. I have to be able to find them easily here in Hawaii, not interested in importing fancy breeds.


-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), July 30, 1999


I'm bumping this question over, so that the other, accidentally- posted "Guard Dogs" thread will fall into the pit.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), July 30, 1999.


I did the reserch for you. I had this same question, only about 5 months ago. As you can tell by my sig that I am partial to English Bulldogs, but they are not my choice for "watch dogs".

I choose German Shepards, they are smart, even tempered, (I would sudgest getting a pup, about 4 months old. Young enough to be raised with your kids, old enough to be a serous deterrent for intruders.) They don't even 'have' to be mean, just LOOK mean and bark.

We bought one male 5 months old and two females (sisters) 3 months old. AKC reg, so if nothing happens come Jan.1,2000.....we will be raising AKC German Shepard Puppies. Anyone want to buy one? Ha Ha

I have three children, a cow, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and horses. They have not bothered any of our lifestock, but they might wander a little if I let them roam together in a pack.....I only train them one on one. I am teaching them to 'walk the perimeter' of our farm.

Hope this helps.

-- bulldog (sniffin@around.com), July 30, 1999.

That came out wrong..... I do not consider my kids livestock. Sometimes they might act like animals but I wouldn't go so far as to put them in the barn. Ha Ha Ha

-- bulldog (sniffin@around.com), July 30, 1999.

Actually, Bulldog, I liked the term you used: "lifestock". It sort of covers animals AND kids.

BTW, thanks for the quick response. I'm glad to hear that there are good breeds for all of those requirements! The American Kennel Club breeds are organized for their security rating on a website I stumbled onto on a search. German Shepards were high at the top of the list, just below Bullmastifs and Rotweillers and two breeds I'd never heard of "Puli" and "Kotomund"(sp?), I think it was.

I'm also going to ask my neighbor with the dog that runs out to the fence with "attack" in his eyes and scares me every time I go for a jog in the neighborhood... what breed it is.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), July 30, 1999.


I think you can get a number of good dogs to protect you. The most important thing I think would be..... Get a dog that is big enough to intimidate but get him YOUNG! He/She can grow to love your kids, what a dog loves he will protect. Dont buy an older dog, you might be buying someone elses problems. We are living in different times. We have no time to make mistakes.

Good luck.

-- bulldog (sniffin@around.com), July 30, 1999.

Thanks, Bulldog.

BTW, how much dog food and in what form do you -- and other dog- owners -- plan to stockpile? I've been eyeing those mega-bags of dry chunks-type dogfood at COSTCO, thinking: "How many will I need?" per dog, that is, for one year?

I've reas the helpful Pet Care threads, but quantity is the question. I'd probably be inclined to get a few different types, just for variety. I guess I'm thinking that even dogs will want a change of pace during Y2K...!?

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), July 31, 1999.


If you have children, by far the most important thing in choosing a dog is that it is friendly toward all children. Some breeds are very possesive to one person, or perhaps just to your family. Some dogs bred for guard duty will get mean in a high stress situations. Your worst nightmare would be to get a dog that will turn on one of your children or on the child of a friend or neighbor. We have a black lab and a collie. Both well bred, and both are great with kids. Both are fairly big (about 70 pounds) and they bark when strangers come around. I doubt that either would attack any adult, but I'm as certain as I can be about any animal that they would not attack a child. I can take food out of their mouthes without fear of being bitten. I think this is what to look for in a dog when you have children.

Hope I didn't get too preachy. ------Alexi

-- Alexi (Alexi@not-in-the-dark.com), July 31, 1999.

Excellent point, Alexi, and it addresses my worst fears, of course. I knew a family who had doberman pinschers (since puppie-hood, BTW) and their three year old son accidentally fell on one of the sleeping dogs, who proceeded to maul him in a surprised reaction.

The idea of a guard dog is, of course, to discourage -- STRONGLY discourage -- intruders from trespassing. The reality of having this kind of aggressive energy in the same living space as young children does pose threats that have to be considered.

In light of Alexi's point, anyone out there want to comment on what they consider to be a breed deal for both purposes? I have always loved lab's and collie's, and definitley will consider each of those breeds.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), July 31, 1999.

We have raised collies since 1972. A couple years ago we acquired two from nice lines with excellent international pedigrees -- and won't keep them past y2k. Too highstrung for superior guardian work, much too interested in chasing the chickens, too much effort to keep coats in good shape, too many potential health problems (eyes/hips, etc), and not truly a hardy type of dog that can do well with little input. And, I want to tell you that making this decision was extremely hard...I love these dogs; I raised them since starting with their great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.

We've also raised pugs for ten years. These are good companion dogs, smart, don't bother the livestock, will bark at strangers....but these dogs don't frighten intruders. People think they're cute. We'll keep a couple pugs because they don't eat much and we'll need something to keep us warm on those long winter nights.

We have goats, sheep, geese, chickens, ducks, pot-bellied pigs, and ponies. We MUST HAVE a dog that does not molest the livestock, but does discourage both predatory animals and human intrusion.

We considered Blue Heelers (also called Australian Cattle Dogs), good protective instincts, herding dogs, but really very one-man types. We looked at dachshunds -- tough, smart, small, will bite, intense hunting instinct. Too small for protection, though. Have a doxie/blue heeler cross that will stay post y2k as a "varmint" dog in the barn.

Now, after all this talk, what we have ended up with are: Great Pyrenees and a Great Pyr/Newfoundland cross. While these two are still pups, they are showing superior guardian skills right now....both do not bother the livestock; they move slowly and deliberately around the other animals (keeping the livestock calm); they are going to be HUGE dogs (100+ pounds); coats are very easy care; eat about 2 pounds a day of dry food each (not too bad for growing giants); VERY loud bark; VERY alert, especially at night; tolerate heat well (like to swim); totally outside dogs, contantly patroling the fenced property. Best of all, they both have sunny, calm, relaxed dispositions.

Shortcomings of both these dogs, as I see it, are that they are white coated -- this makes them very visible from a distance. I am concerned that this will also make them easy targets for unpleasant people. Maybe I'll stock up on hair-coloring....

Anyway, hope this gives you some ideas. Don't know if Great Pyrs are available on the Islands, but I'd expect to find them on some sheep/goat properties if they were.

Anita Evangelista

-- Anita Evangelista (ale@townsqr.com), July 31, 1999.

I have chow crosses. A chow/husky and a chow/shepherd that are half sisters. I believe either one would willingly place their lives on the line defending me or my children. They are that loyal. I believe we are their adopted pack. (They seem to be closer to their wolf ancestors than beagles and pugs, etc.)

Unfortunately, that protectiveness can be a tad unpredictable with strange adult males. They will be a bit growly, and sit defensively on my feet when a repairman comes into the house. I normally just put them in the bathroom. I have heard that chows that are not used to them can be unpredictable around small children. Mine grew up with kids and have never had that problem.

They are not much taller than knee high, have double winter coats and shed enough to make an entire new dog. Mine also like to chase the chickens. Would sorely love to break them of that habit. I have found chow crosses very intelligent, affectionate and easy to train (except for instinctual chicken chasing.) They are the type of dog that want to please you.

The other "best breed" I favor is the Icelandic sheep dog. (Similar to a sheltie but more even tempered and less high-strung.) Don't think they are allowed to be exported, though. The breed is way too valuable to their sheep industry. These dogs are a rare pleasure to train. It is like they read your mind.

-- marsh (armstrng@sisqtel.net), July 31, 1999.

Agree with Anita. Have since acquired Pyrenees/bloodhound cross. Would like another Pyrenees, Newfoundland (supposed to be fantastic with kids), or Pyrenees/Anatolian cross if I can find one. Our daughter has a Bouvier cross, and he seems to take patrolling somewhat seriously. Have heard alot of good about Mastiffs. I'll check back. I am very interested in other's experiences and opinions on dogs.

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), July 31, 1999.

I vote for Great Pyrenees guardian dogs. We have two. They are beautiful, easy to keep groomed... the dirt just falls off. They are gentle with our children, will not bother any animal they grew up with. We introduced guinea hens and they didn't hurt them either. But I would not introduce animals now unless I had to. They have bonded to the cats, and to us... and well... they are just THE BEST.

The heat DOES bother them a little, since they are mountain dogs... I heard from some breeders that it will shorten their life span to live constantly in a hot climate... cold is not a problem.

They are active in the night, and do like to bark. (smile) They seem to know who *belongs* here and who doesn't. They intimidate all the repair men, for which I'm glad, and they welcome all our friends with a wag of the tail. They just *know*. They are BIG. About 100 pounds or more. (Our female weighs 98... our male is bigger.) Hope you find what you're looking for, quickly.


-- georgia peach (the.patch@worldnet.att.net), July 31, 1999.

I've had Newfoundlands for the past 25 years and have never seen a Newf growl or become cross with anyone or anything. They are fantastic with children and other livestock. Mine let up to five cats sleep on top of them in the wintertime. They are big enough (140-150 lbs.) to scare off most people with bad intentions and their bark after dark will strike terror into just about anyone. My youngest pup (almost a year) is a natural at herding my llamas into a holding pen. The only drawback with Newfs is they burn up in the summer. We've been shaving the dogs the first part of June and that keeps them cool all summer. By October-November their coat has grown back in to keep them warm in the winter.

-- Jeff Stocker (jstocker@raex.com), July 31, 1999.

Mumsie. We have a pure bred Anatolian dog.Think twice before getting any dog with an Anatolian strain.Please feel free to E-mail me at the address below for further information.

-- Chris (griffen@globalnet.co.uk), July 31, 1999.

I have a personal bias in favor of the Samoyed. It is a medium sized working breed originally from Siberia. Usually they will run from 50- 85 lbs. Long white coat, and well=suited for cold weather. (Your location would require a bit of re-orientation for them.)

Anyway, they are great with children and livestock, very even- tempered, but also have an instinct to protect the herd. We used to have a Sam that would be regularly over in the neighbor's pasture. Just standing there with the cows and their calves. If a stranger came around she barked to express her displeasure that someone would bother her herd.

They are a very intelligent breed and require a family to do well. Originally they slept with their owners in Siberia to provide additional warmth. Samoyed breeders frequently rotate their animals, bringing them into their homes to cultivate their natural affinity for human companionship. Their coats are hypo-allergenic, and are used to knit sweaters in some places. (Their fine undercoat easily combs out in warm weather). Dirt doesn't stick to them very much either. And ours didn't eat a great deal.

Her one weakness was a desire to chase the neighbor's pickup truck and the postman's vehicle. This character flaw eventually was her undoing and led to her untimely demise. The urge to "herd" something that was running down the road was too much to resist.

Not a scary dog, but has a respectable bark, can pull a cart (and will like doing it) catch rats, protect the kids and livestock, and give you a warm fuzzy like nothing else on earth.

Check the Samoyed rescue page on the web, and perhaps you can find one looking for a family in your locality.

wanting another one,


-- gene (ekbaker@essex1.com), July 31, 1999.

I work with animals on a daily basis and have a few points to add:

1. All breeds have "typical" characteristics but each dog is an individual and there are always exceptions. If you do not have experience with dogs, get some help when choosing one (I mean someone who can actually interact with the dog). I have problems trusting breeders although there are reputable ones out there. A good solution may be to go to a good, established shelter. Many have adoption counseling and have done temperment tests on the adoptable dogs. If not, find a trainer who may go with you.

2. Mixed breed dogs "TEND" (in my experience) to have more even temperments than purebreds. I really like lab/shepherd mixes. I have four mixes that bark very well at anyone coming in. My purebred shepherd however (a product of very bad breeding and neglect) loves everyone. However, his looks are the most intimidating and I just grab him by the collar and look like I'm holding him back when any stranger appears, works well! Chows have a very bad reputation with everyone I work with. I would never trust them around children. They are the only breed I know of that will wag their tail and bite you at the same time - very hard to read. (Before I get slammed for this, let me say I have met SOME chow mixes that seem to be very nice dogs.) On the other hand, I like Rottweilers very much, especially mixes. It is very easy to distinguish a good Rott from a bad one. The good ones have personalities almost like labs, very friendly. But people are usually very afraid of them.

3. I would also recommend spaying and neutering without question. This does not make them less protective. But it will make them more even-tempered and reliable. The most important thing about spaying and neutering, however, is that it will curb their desire to roam. A male dog can smell a female in heat up to 5 miles away. And good luck trying to keep that male dog on your property. I have seen them dig, climb fences, even break chains and rip through screens to get to a female. The dog won't be much protection if he's 2 miles away looking for a mate!

4. As it was stated above, the most important thing to remember is that a dog (almost any dog)will protect you if it WANTS to, meaning if it cares about you and considers you its friend. If you establish a relationship with the dog, make it part of the family, interact with it and give it lots of love, it will most likely be a protective dog in any situation. No matter what breed you get, if you bring it home, chain it in the backyard and throw it food once a day, it will have no reason to care what happens to you. It may even join in the attack!

5. Make sure you know how to care for the dog. Get good advice from vets and trainers, read some posts here about heartworm prevention, vaccinations,etc. Know correct training techniques, ie crate training, praise, never hit etc.

You're looking for a dog to serve a purpose, but if you treat it right, you'll find it will accomplish that and so much more. Good luck.

-- dakota (none@thistime.com), July 31, 1999.

Pyrenees and Huskie breeds do not belong in Hawaii, Any more than small, hairless types belong in the Arctic. I own 2 dogs, live in Alaska, and vacation in Hawaii. My Filipino friends, and others confirm, dogs are considered as food in Hawaii by some cultures. They prefer medium sized, white dogs - for taste, but will take what's available. That's why, along with disease problems, there aren't many dogs to be seen.

Why not go to the animal control folk and select an established pet of your choice. Older = wiser. You will know appearance, can determine disposition towards kids, and will have a local pet. Young dogs mean training and an uncertain result.

-- A. Hambley (a.hambley@usa.net), July 31, 1999.

dakota and A. Hambley both make good points regarding pet dogs -- but when you are looking for an animal to "work" (guarding is work) the characteristics you seek are different than what you'd want in a pet-home situation.

Had never heard the preference for white dogs in Hawaii "for table use" -- but that would certainly change any recommendation for Samoyeds or Pyrs (both are white)! I know that there are stock-raisers on the Islands (sheep/goats/cattle), and it might be your best bet to just go and ask what kind of dogs they use.

Mutts are often the hardiest dogs going, but I seriously don't think that the kind of "temperament testing" done at shelters is going to tell you much about a dog's protective abilities with livestock -- or whether it will decide your livestock are actually dog-dinners. Selecting a pup from parents that already work livestock -- or getting a proven adult worker -- is a more reliable method.

The spay/neuter question, I think, is much harder than we realize. If y2k is a BITR, do whatever you'd do with a pet -- what's the difference? But if y2k is a major disaster with long-term consequences, having the ability to sell excellent guard pups and to replace your own injured/disabled dogs might be crucial to your survival. You may even end up having to rely on the animals as a food source (perish the thought!), as so many indiginous peoples have done. I can't tell you how many times people have returned after getting a collies from us, sorry that they had the dog fixed -- no offspring from the "most clever/sensitive dog that ever lived".

I would strongly advise NOT burning your bridges.

Controlling animals that are in season? We've found that a stout chain and sturdy collar will keep even the most amorous male from straying for the 10 day period that the female is receptive. The other 355 days a year, he's on regular duty. If you live in an area where there are many unspayed female dogs, they all tend to cycle around the same time anyway (weather related?), so it's not that big a deal. Is a chain foolproof? Of course not. Life's got risks. But we're all adults here, and we can figure out how to deal with it.

Just don't make any decisions that are irreversible.

-- Anita Evangelista (ale@townsqr.com), July 31, 1999.

Thank you all. I live down the road from one of the largest cattle ranches on the island, and will speak to the folks there about their dogs, as well as others here (a family further down the road has a German Shepherd).

I am definitely DISinclined to get an animal from the shelter for the guard dog purposes. Instinctively, the idea of "growing" a dog or dogs along with the children and the animals and the garden just seems to make sense. I will take your advice and consult locals who are dog-savvy.

I have been thinking about getting two dogs, and am interested in thoughts on whether they should be a male/female pair or another gender combo for best long-term plan. I would think that we would want the dogs to be able to breed, as Anita points out, to keep options open for the future.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), July 31, 1999.

I'd like to make one more point about spay/neuter, if I may. If the situation is serious enough to cause a post-Y2K explosion of strays like many people expect, your female in heat will attract every male in the area. Those animals WILL be a threat to your livestock and children. I lived 2 years in Hawaii and now live in Florida. I know that dogs here are NOT in heat for "only 10 days". Due to the climate, dogs can go into heat several times a year - more often if they are not bred. Many dogs have 2 or more litters per year. Cats are usually pregnant again by the time their kittens are 12 weeks old. If you let your animals breed, remember YOU are responsible for the results. Will you have enough food, etc to take care of the one to 12 pups that result from an accidental pregnancy?

I think we need to define what "guard dog" means. You can spend thousands for a specially trained dog that will attack on command. I think what most of us need could be instead called an "early warning system". I expect my dogs to alert me to any strange sights, smells or sounds and I know they will. I can then assess and handle the situation myself. I don't expect them to attack an intruder, nor would I want them to. That intruder could be a neighbor that they have never met or a lost child. Remember you can train a dog to act a certain way but it is very difficult to expect them to discern threat from friend.

-- dakota (none@thistime.com), July 31, 1999.

More important than the breed (german sheppard,bull terrier,mastif,rotweiller,doberman,dachshund)is the training.Guard dog training can be very dangerous. It is just as unconscionable to teach a dog to indiscriminately chew the legs off of intruders as it is to rig up shot gun booby traps. I had a co-worker years ago who raised germen sheppards and trained them and competed them in a german guard dog sport.The dogs were trained to,on command,either stand ground snarling and growling with hackles raised,jump up on the "intruder"(wearing german attack dog padding)and get in his face,acting like the dog was about to go on a feeding frenzy,and then,with a final command tear the proverbial new ass hole. I never much liked the guy and all he ever wanted to talk about was his attack dogs and the touraments he went to,so I just nodded and smiled a lot trying to get back to my aikido magazines(to each thier obsession!)and now I can't bloddy buggery bollocks remember the name of the sport. If you're a sick fuck,and just want killer dogs,I've heard,second hand,that one can feed a dog gun powder to turn them mad with pain.Said dogs will atack anything.No human would do such a thing.And any predator in human guise that would,should be destroyed for the good of the human race.peace!

-- zoobie (zoobiezoob@yahoo.com), July 31, 1999.

dakota: You make a good point. I hadn't considered the "attraction factor" of dogs in heat. I suppose I haven't thought through whether I really want to commit to breeding and caring for a lot of dogs, in addition to all of my other responsibilities and chores.

What would you suggest in terms of the gender and number of dogs? I have never entertained the idea of creating a canine fighting machine, but rather, as you suggest, an "early warning system" AND deterrent for intruders.

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), July 31, 1999.

This is in response to a number of the above. Females go into heat about every 3-4 months and their cycle can be as short as 5 days, but usually is a little longer. We have 3 female dogs and 1 male and have not had any problem with stray males. We have Shelties that I would not recommend even though our male scares the heck out of anyone that knocks on the door, they have been overbred & are too high strung these days.

I also have an Australian Shepherd. I too wanted a guard dog and a working dog and she is that. Unfortunately we moved to the farm after she was grown and she does not like the cattle or the horses, but the sheep are her babies. She is protective and I would pity anyone that would raise a hand to us. The only down side is that they play very hard and don't always realize their strength with the kids. Our kids are older and can play rough with her. I would definitely recommend this breed. They handle the heat and cold equally well.

With the 4 dogs we go through about 20 lbs of dog food a week.

On the subject of cats, we have farm cats that are allowed to reproduce and usually only get 1 litter per female occasionally 2 litters. They don't go into heat during the winter and have spring kittens which they tend to nurse most of the summer. We have found that as long as they are nursing, they tend not to go back into heat. Since our cats are all from the same family, they share kittens and the 3 mothers feed all of the kittens. We have neutered some of the males, but turn over on a farm is fairly high due to road accidents, wild animals, etc. so we allow the females to reproduce.

-- Beckie (sunshine_horses@yahoo.com), July 31, 1999.

Dear Sara,

A number of people have suggested the larger breeds.Here is just a suggestion.Whether you buy a pup or acquire a mature dog make sure YOU can control it.We have a 120lb monster(a rescue aged 6) who weighs more than me.If he wants to go somewhere I simply get towed along behind or have to drop the lead.This is not always funny especially if he feels he needs to chase off an intruder...whether it is an innocent caller or not.We have tried all sorts of leads but our guy is still stronger than me.

In addition a very good point was made about the difference between a working guard dog & a "faithful friend".A good guard dog is usually the product of breed temperament which has been enhanced by selective breeding.This type of dog can go off the rails in a very dangerous way if not trained firmly & kept reminded of his station in life.

-- Chris (griffen@globalnet.co.uk), July 31, 1999.

As a somewhat expert on the subject, let me make a suggestion. Pound puppies are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Look for retriever crossed with a shepherd... Our "hairy child" is half Labrador Retriever, half Australian Shepherd. He is a Tri-color Retriever. Retrievers are famous for their docility with children. Shepherds have been bred for thousands of years as a constant companion of a man, tending his flock. The dogs slept with them and were "company" for the lone shepherd. Shepherds are among the most intelligent of all dogs.

Ours is a male, and he is very protective of my wife. He comphrehends word phrases and inflections in your voice well enough that he can almost understand what you are saying. He would probably BE a guard dog for my better half, but the hearing and the warning bark is his forte. He has the deep chest of a retriever and he has a very BIG bark. He weighs about 80 lbs. He has a very gentle nature.

POUND PUPPIES!!! Save a life, they will love you for it.

Dog, man's best friend....

lickin' the food bowl...

The Dog

-- The Dog (Desert Dog@-sand.com), August 01, 1999.


As a life long participant of the Schutzhund Sport, I will not take offense. :-) My first job out of high school was a training assistant at a large kennel (yes, I was the one with the padded arm) with German bred Dobermans as the primary breed, went on to raise five generations of Dobies from these German lines.

After the Dobies died out, we invested in German import German Shepherds, since we wanted outside dogs, and are into the last of that line of three generations, two older females left.

It is unfortunate that the only contact you have had with Schutzhund was a person with an ego that is probably directly tied into the "performance" of his dog as an agressor. My "ego trip" with my dogs was the tracking aspect of the sport (I got an old gal with a nose you wouldn't believe!) The other leg of the sport, besides the agression and the tracking is a very rigorous obedience and agility routine. Dogs out of these lines must display a balanced disposition and certain amount of discretion with regards to agression (if they are not "formally" trained, which for the discussion here of home protector, they will not be).

Ture aggression is NOT a desired quality, protectiveness, loyalty, alertness and energy are. My "biggist and badest" dog, in the protection field, was also the "mascot" of the Cub Scout Wolves. All 95 pounds of him just melted around little girls, they where his true weakness. Should we ever be attacked by a group of Brownies, we where toast.

Out of all of the dogs I have owned and trained using proper methods of socialization, all loved children with the exception of one who "tolerated" children (and she pretty much just tolerated the whole world except for myself).

Ok, here I end my defense of the Schutzhund Sport! :-)

However, when I originally saw this thread, I intended to return to it with an answer unrelated to Schutzhund, and the purchase and keeping of those "type" of dogs for someone who doesn't intend to devote the time and effort to properly train said dog would be a mistake. So this is a general guild to choosing a protection animal.

Folks, you need to think real hard before you bring home that German Shepherd, Rottie, or Doberman for home protection. You must be willing to committe the time and effort and training into that puppy. The genetics have given the dog the potential, you are responsible for controling that potential. What you are looking for in the dog, protection, can easily become your worst nightmare.

These dogs are loaded with energy, they are big, they demand attention, and they have to spend that energy, whether you control it or not depends on your committment to training. If the energy isn't canneled towards constructive work, they will spend it chasing the neighbors cattle or your chickens or literally eating the inside of your car (yes this happened to me).

Still, I have rarely ever seen a dog of this breeding that didn't love the children in their family if around children when young. (As my son got older...I would "borrow" younger children for the puppy to get to know :-) However, you must also train your children how to properly treat the puppy. Teasing and torturing the animal, even in a playful setting is not good. Constructive games of ball and frisbee are very good. Children should learn the obedience commands the same as you do and use them regularly. I have never let a younger child play tug of war with any of my pups, too close of an association of child and bite.

So the only point I care to make on the selection of any dog intended as a home guard is this. First select the breeder. Ask for references from other owners of the breeders puppies. Believe me, as a long time puppy seller, I am much more impressed by a skeptical buyer than by one that shows up, chats for a few minutes, picks a puppy and writes a check. If I haven't screened these people out by the inital phone call, not all of them go home with a puppy. Likewise, I had a deposit and contract for a puppy in advance, then found out the "intent" of the buyer was to use the dog in a neighborhood feud. I almost got sued over that deal when I returned the deposit.

Also, as a breeder, when you go to the kennel or home to look at the puppies, my advice. Be quiet. Let the breeder do the talking. If you want a dog that will grow up to love the kids, ignor the neighbor and chew the leg off of a stranger, believe me, every puppy in that litter will do that if you tell the breeder (a bad one anyways) that is what you want. A bad seller will most times dig his own grave by out talking himself if you only give "hints" as to what you expect.

Leave your comments limited to basic protectiveness and children...ask questions...dog sellers love to talk about their animals...if they don't talk...walk away.

When people came to see my pups, first they talked to me. I wouldn't let them near the pups. If you do see the pups first, be objective, falling in love is just too easy. Next, they went to see the mother or both parents if from my dogs. Then I showed them the capabilites of the parents, the energy. I showed them how my dogs loved their children. And they where well informed of the effort it took to get these animals at this level and heard the nightmare stories of the pups I had sold or trained otherwise that had not been given enough attention and supervision and the effort it took to get those pups retrained. At that point, both they and I made a mutual decison whether they still needed a puppy.

In all my years of selling "potentially" protective animals, only one puppy has ever been returned. A single father said he loved the animal, he was exactly as I had portrayed him, he took it jogging with him every morning, but just couldn't wear the puppy out; nor was he set up to care for it with his other responsibilities and the pup was demolishing the garage daily while the family was away.

Then when you finally get to see the pups, watch very closely...you only have a very brief time to pick a life time commentment. Before you go to select a dog, read up on how to select a puppy. Ask the breeder about individual charactoristis of each pup. If the breeder only views the litter as "group" not as "individuals"with very uniques charactoristis (and his/her comments reflect that) ...wallk away. This persons only interest in the puppies is the money.

It would take up much more space here to go into that, but the public library has many good dog books and most have a section on puppy selection. Basically, stay away from a puppy very timid, hand shy, or sickly looking. Also one that appears to be overly aggressive with its litter mates (of course this is the pup I choose...but I am looking for a dog able to back up his confidence; this puppy will take alot of time...however, as a breeder, I am very careful about who I place a very bold puppy with).

For most folks, the recommendation is to go with the middle puppy. He comes up to you willingly, is drawn to your children naturally, and your childrens shoe strings and basically "playful" but not exhibiting the desire to "overcome your children"...for lack of a better description.

Choose out a couple of puppies that appeal to you, and interact with these pups individually. In other words, don't try to get the pups attention when it is running around the yard with its littermates. I would usually set up an area in the yard, weather permitting, around the outside puppy pen, and leave the family with their one or two choices alone for as long as they wished. If the breeder will not accomadate you as best they can on this...you got it...walk away.

Be sure you ask about Hip Dysplasia, commen in large breeds of dogs. This disease is a crippler of older dogs. The owner should be able to produce certification of testing of the parents for this. If not, walk away...fast.

Also, specific breeds have ailments that effect them more than other breeds. Do your homework once you choose a breed so you can ask the right questions and request the appropriate test results.

Naturally vaccinations and wormings should be current and verifiable.

Now I am not familier with the other breeds mentioned in this thread, the Pyrnese, Newfondland and others (nor can I spell them :-). But I recommend them highly because most of the breeders of these animals seem to be very responsible. If I where chosing a puppy from one of these working breeds, I would only buy it from some one who is actually using the parents for work if at all possible.

I just wanted to give some insight into the types of animals I am familiar with.

-- Lilly (homesteader145@yahoo.com), August 01, 1999.

Regarding temperament and/or guard dog training. I do believe that a dog with the right temperament will naturally kick into "protector" mode when needed, whether it has received guard training or not. We once picked up a half dead puppy that someone dumped on a highway in New Mexico. She was part Australian shepherd and perhaps St. Bernard, retriever, you name it. She was 101% gentle with our kids and other pets, never even a cross whisker was displayed. Then one day, she was in the front yard with our young son when a strange pitbull/shepherd mix headed towards our son. She transformed into some kind of Tasmanian devil-grizzly thing and that dog left in a big hurry. I was flabberghasted, because we had no idea she had that in her. The point made about integrating the dog into the family was right on and extremely important. The dog will protect the "pack", and whatever territory it establishes etc. Hopefully, it will see your family as the "pack". Be sure you establish dominance from day one. This is one reason that I will only take puppies. We have small children, and hope one day to have grandchildren around. A puppy that has been "dominated" early on (in firm love, of course) is probably not as likely to challenge you later. For example, we used to have a small male doxie mix, and he maintained alpha dog (dominance) over our Bouvier/Golden pup even after the Bouv was humongous. He remained intimidated by that little tough guy. It was comical. On the other hand, a dog that you acquire as an adult may challenge you unexpectedly, and they are not as easy to deal with. They may have had some ill treatment, neglect or abuse that you could unknowingly trigger a response to, etc. We have rescued a few puppies over the last twenty years, and one adult. I would not adopt an adult dog unless I knew the owners and the dog's history, not while I have little children around. Labs and retrievers are delightful, but definitely early warning system and not protection types, would probably lick intruder to death. We have only had one purebred (Golden) and the rest all American mutts. Gotta love those mutts though.

Chris, am very interested in hearing more about Anatolians! Saw one in person a few months ago (adult male) and he was one awesome sight to behold. Would never even remotely dream of tangling with a strange dog like that.

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), August 01, 1999.

There are good reasons to get a dog and there are bad reasons to get a dog. Among the worst reasons to get a dog is 'for Y2K for protection.'

Raising a puppy into a good dog doesn't happen by accident. It takes work. It takes time. It takes money. And even then, there are no guarantees. It isn't a Disney film.

If you haven't owned/trained/cared for a dog before, and if you wouldn't be considering buying a dog at all except for Y2K, please don't.

"A righteous man regards the life of his animals." Proverbs 12:10

-- winter wondering (winterwondering@yahoo.com), August 01, 1999.

Very well put Winter,

So why does it take me so many more words to say the same thing??? :-)

But we do disagree on one point, I think y2k is an excellant reason for alot of folks to get a dog, even if the extent of its "protectiveness" is barking as a warning...with the tail wagging, if you know what I mean.

That alone may be a way to avoid a more "intense" confrontation for your family or at least notify you to be prepared for something. And a medium size $50. alert and loving mutt from the pound can serve that purpose.

I would never in our "real time" advocate getting a dog, chaining him in the back yard, and basicly only giving him the basic attention and care necessary. And I live way out in the country and must keep in mind some folks live closer to areas that may see more problems. But with the uncertainties ahead, especially when a person's mindset is avoidance of confrontation, I can go so far as to consider such an animal more of a "tool".

Goodness knows, so many are considering a firearm as a tool, and if that mutt keeps one from using a gun...well he has served his purpose well for stranger and owner alike.

Just my opinion.

-- Lilly (homesteader145@yahoo.com), August 01, 1999.

wonder-no-more-winter! For the record, any animal that becomes part of our life will be loved and cared for.

I still have a question as to the most suitable breed(s), although I have gotten some ideas here, thank you all. The latest point -- about a dog being so overpowering that they could bowl over a child during affectionate play -- is also a good thing to consider. I guess a huge dog is probably not the answer for us.

So, I guess I'll concentrate on the around or under 100lbs varieties, and those who are, perhaps, mixed breed, to get the best traits and less chance of "high-strung" in-bred, purebred 's. What do you think?

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), August 01, 1999.

Hi again Sara:

Looks like you've gotten a lot of answers, maybe more than you wanted! It's pretty plain that people who have dogs are about as opinioned about their breeds as other people are about politics or religion!

Some definitions may be in order, since we've slung around a lot of vocabulary:

"Pet" dog: any of dozens of breeds and crossbreeds that make suitable household companions. These dogs carry all the "usual" pet characteristics -- friendly, easy-going, tolerate kids, bark at strangers, adapt to home situation. Cost for these loveable critters will be $0 to maybe $350/500, depending on registration.

"Working" dog: dog bred and trained to perform a specific task -- such as herding, walking patrol, hunting, guarding. Because of the genetics of these many breeds, the dogs are only truly happy and at ease if they have opportunities to do what their breeding calls for. Included in this group are border collies, hounds, retrievers from working lines, Australian shepherds, Pyrs, Anatolians, etc. Costs for these are the same as any purebred, several hundred $$$. The more training, the more these will cost.

(There was a big controversy in the AKC a few years ago about "working" breeds that have been pretty much converted over to "pet" dogs. I would go so far as to say that MOST AKC dogs are more "pet" than "worker", although almost all the breeds can trace their roots back to workers. My "Lassie" Collies certainly came from hard-working shepherd ancestry in Scotland, but (much as I love 'em), it's the RARE modern collie that has any idea what to do with sheep -- you want a real working sheep herder, you need a Border Collie (medium sized black and white dog) that's still got the instinct to herd. Quality Border Collies imported from Scotland can easily set you back $5000.)

"Attack/Protection" dogs: these are dogs that have been specifically trained for one duty -- personal or property protection. As another poster pointed out, these can be trained by someone who wants to bring out the best in a dog, or by some goon who is only exercising his ego through the dog. These protection dogs are often larger sized and fiercer-looking breeds, typically German Shepherds or Dobermans. This doesn't mean that all dogs of those breeds make suitable protection dogs. A good protection dog will cost you mucho bucks, maybe upwards of $2000, because you are paying for A LOT of training and skill.

When you are seeking a dog for a particular purpose, you need to keep that purpose clearly in mind when shopping for breeds. You said you wanted a dog that would work with your goats, kids, and discourage intruders, while tolerating warm weather. Perhaps one of these characteristics is "more important" (i.e., maybe you're more interested in a kid-friendly dog than one that will bark -- or the other way around).

When you go dog-shopping, keep your list in mind. If you plan to visit breeders, the other suggestions given above about spending time with puppies individually is also important -- although it's awfully easy to fall in love with the most pitiful puppy of the litter (steel yourself against it!). Make a point to look at and interact with the pup's parents, and get a sense of their personalities, too -- they are the source from which the puppy has come...what they are, the pup will be.

A single dog, raised with time in the house as well as contact with your livestock, will become a member of your family, will understand what you are saying, and pick up subtle clues about your moods. If you plan to raise two or three dogs together, they will not be as attuned to their people, and, if left to run together -- well, they'll be like a pack of teenagers. Dogs in a group will do things that a single dog would never THINK of doing! You can mitigate this somewhat by rotating dogs into the house one at a time so they become more people-oriented.

Anyway, I'm sure we all hope you find the dog(s) that are most suitable for your situation. The good news is that MOST dogs can adapt and fit in to your needs, and will be both companion and intruder alert. The dog will adapt to you, and you will adapt to the dog.

Anita Evangelista

PS: One last piece of advice....if you find that the dog and your family CANNOT get along (i.e., the dog is too agressive with the kids) get rid of it. Even the venerable dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse advocated this. There is no reason to keep an animal that is a menace to your family.

-- Anita Evangelista (ale@townsqr.com), August 01, 1999.

Sara-- I suggest that you check out your local animal shelter...we found a wonderful, loving 100# short haired light brown dog. No single breed that we've been able to identify...but probably a little rottweiler. He's perfect with children, but his size threatens would-be opponents. If you get to the south side of Kaua'i, you're welcome to meet him ("rumrunner").

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), August 01, 1999.

definately a german sheppard,bull terrier,dachshund,cack-a- poo,doberman,or rottweiler

-- zoobie (zoobiezoob@yahoo.com), August 02, 1999.

Mad Monk, I promise to get in touch when I travel to Kauai.

Anita, zoobie, Lilly, Mumsie, Chris, The Dog and all, many, many thanks. I will report back when we have located our dream dog(s).

-- Sara Nealy (keithn@aloha.net), August 02, 1999.

ok,I admit it,I was just being silly about the cock-a-poos and dachunds,although the I find the idea of wiener dog guard dogs pretty funny

-- zoobie (zoobiezoob@yahoo.com), August 05, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr near Monterey, California

What does anybody think about the idea of getting a standard poodle (you know... the big ones), and training it to be a guard dog? My husband and I are alergic to dogs, but I've always loved them anyway. This would be a good excuse to get one, since poodles don't affect us the way other dogs do. I had also been considering getting one as a service animal, since I occasionally have trouble with arthritis and could use some help.

Someone, please e-mail me if this post screws up the formatting of this thread. I'm experimenting.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage.neener.autospammers--regrets.greenspun), August 05, 1999.

Elsewhere, someone wrote:

"There are good reasons to get a dog and there are bad reasons to get a dog. Among the worst reasons to get a dog is 'for Y2K for protection.'"

"Raising a puppy into a good dog doesn't happen by accident. It takes work. It takes time. It takes money. And even then, there are no guarantees. It isn't a Disney film."

"If you haven't owned/trained/cared for a dog before, and if you wouldn't be considering buying a dog at all except for Y2K, please don't."

This can not be repeated enough. As I have often heard this much said and agree somewhat: getting a dog is a little like having kids, but worse. In a basic sense, dogs never grow up.

We work with rescues and all too often someone wants a big, bad guard dog, but is not willing to put love, effort, energy, and money into socializing their dog and making it a good citizen and a cherished companion. We see all kinds of mistreated dogs: skeletons with skin, etc. It's very sad. Some might consider getting a tape recorded bark.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (faryna@groupmail.com), October 03, 1999.

After reading these posts, I get the impression that people are actually promoting irresponsible breeding (ie..all the comments about mixed breeds being the best) It's true, dogs in shelter s need homes (and dogs in rescues, which I do) but to promote mixed breeds s being the best only adds to the problem..

Big doesn't always mean better!

My choice is a Lab..even though I'm partial to American Pit Bull Terriers! BTY..In the canine temperment tests, 98%of APBTs that took it passed, versus only 86% of other breeds. Highly loyal, excellent with children and actually they do not make good guard dogs, as they are very people friendly but do judge charater well and will protect. We have 3..the oldest male is my 7yo son's best buddy. One day he was outside playing ball in the yard and A loose dog came walking up..DJ (the APBT) placed himself in between the dog and my son. On several other occasions, DJ will stand next to my son when strangers approach. He doesn't growl or bark but will stand there. Once he knowes it's ok, his tail wags and he wants to get petted!

Number one dog to bite a family member is an German Shepard.

Other choices might be Weimaraner, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Bouvier Des Flandres,Welsh Corgi, Standard Poodle

-- Candi Miskell (rocksteadyapbts@hotmail.com), December 07, 2002.

I want to give my opinion on gaurd dogs. I think that German Sheppards make the best guard dogs. I also think that a female makes a better gaurd dog than a male does. I have had German Sheppards since I was very small when my dad brought me my first one home and I have been a lover of the breed ever since. I have two males and a recently aquired female. I have had both males and females over the years and the best one I have ever had was a female that had been spayed before she was allowed to have a litter of puppies. I got her when my son was born and I guess because she never had her own babies she decided to take over mine as her own. She went wherever my son went and always layed right beside him as he played outside,she never bit anyone but she let them know that she didn't want them around her baby human. She was the best babysitter ever. I have raised all three of my sheppards that I have now from babies and I hope with age they will make good dogs as well but even if they don't, My love for them will not faulter.Also, I would like to ask the question, Does anyone know of any case where a German Sheppard has turned on someone? I have never heard of one and was just curiouse as to wether anyone else had. Thanks for letting me voice my opinion..... T. Matlock

-- T.Matlock (terrie6340@yahooo.com), February 08, 2003.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ