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Keeping Your Coop Safe: A Few of the Best and Worst Livestock Guardian Dogs

May 08, 2017

metal chicken nesting boxesMost standard chicken breeds have a lifespan of eight to 15 years when properly shielded from predators, but it's important to make sure your livestock guardian dog (LGD) isn't the predator they need to be protected from. So before you invest in metal chicken nesting boxes and all of the other required gear for chickens, here's some useful information on the best and worst LGD breeds for the job.

Good LGD Breeds
A great LGD will keep watch over your livestock at all times and should be friendly toward them, as it's their job to protect the herd or flock from any potential predators that may be lurking. Here are some of the best LGD breeds to invest in if you own chickens:
  • Great Pyrenees:
    The Great Pyrenees has been used as a livestock guardian for hundreds of years because of its excellent disposition and its natural guarding instincts. This dog can be extremely aggressive toward predators, but is also a wonderful companion to gentle and helpless small animals like chickens.
  • Maremma Sheep Dog:
    This breed comes from Italy and has a muscular build. Despite its size, this breed is very good with animals, particularly lambs. In addition, this breed offers protection against terrestrial and aerial predators.
  • Anatolian Shepherd:
    In addition to being a large breed, these dogs exhibit impressive speed and agility, which makes them perfect for defending against predators. In addition, their natural protective instincts and intelligence allow them to guard livestock and poultry without much human direction or supervision.

Bad LGD Breeds It might seem like a good house guarding dog would naturally be a great LGD, but it's actually quite the opposite. In fact, a dog suited for home protection may even attack your animals. Here are some breeds you definitely want to avoid if you have chickens:
  • Greyhound:
    Greyhounds are natural-born hunters, especially when it comes to small creatures like rabbits, moles, and chickens. If you want to keep your metal chicken nesting boxes filled with live chickens, a greyhound may not be the best LGD option.
  • Jack Russel Terrier:
    Jack Russels, in addition to almost every other member of the Terrier family, were bred to hunt down small creatures. Chickens might be a little bit bigger than their normal targets, but these dogs are bred mainly for performance, and hunting is a large part of that.
  • Siberian Husky:
    These dogs were bred to work, but nowhere in the job description does chicken guardian come up. Huskies typically make excellent home protectors, but will hunt small prey down like wolves in a pack. Definitely not a great choice for chicken protectors.
Investing in poultry, as well as the metal chicken nesting boxes and other equipment they require, is a big commitment. If you're truly dedicated and you want a companion and a guard for your flock's nest boxes, make sure you take the time to properly assess potential breeds for the job.