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Livestock Guardians

Our Livestock Guardians

I did a lot of research on LG’s before we got our first LG & decided that the Great Pyrenees had everything I was looking for in a guardian.  I did just as much searching for a pup that was affordable & came from a background that I thought would suit us.  If you are considering an LGD for your animal herd or people herd, and think the Pyrenees might be for you, I’d say good choice!

stud

He came from Louisiana.  His parents both full-blood, did not have a herd of their own to guard but kept an “eye on the neighbors cows” and kept “coyotes and stray animals away”. He is an excellent LG & though we had troubles with him slipping through the fence & hot wire when he was a pup, he has bonded with his goats wonderfully.  He leads kids to mamas when they wake from their naps & the herd is out to pasture, cleans butts, provides kids with a fluffy white hill to play on and protects his herd from anything he sees as a threat.   I couldn’t ask for a more gentle, loving, caring, strong, bold, fearless guardian.

More on the breed: Be sure that you do thorough research. If they do not have enough of a job to do Pyrenees will “wander” in search of a job, of a herd to protect.  ALL LGs require good fencing as they will test by crawling over, squeezing through, digging under & even jumping over. We use hog wire fencing with an electric fence wire top & bottom.  We also cover all gates with hog wire! Pyrenees are nocturnal & it is their nature to bark, to let anything lurking in the dark know that they are there, alert, on duty and will not hesitate to take on a predator if necessary. So understand, they will bark & that can be annoying to neighbors & even you.  It’s something you have to get used to.  Please consider your layout, neighbors and surroundings in general before getting a Pyrenees.

Pyrenees are independent thinkers by nature.  It runs in their blood and only makes sense that if they are to guard a flock, they must be able to make split decisions that are best for the herd and their safety.  You may not always understand all of their choices or disciplines but you must trust and allow them to do their job.   Great Pyrenees LGs do not need to be micromanaged! It is important that you spend time with the pup and teach them who their ultimate leader is but they are not like other dogs and do not need to mind your every command. It is not at all abnormal for an LG to tend to kids, clean butts, clean mamas and clean up after birthing.  Be very aware that they will eat still born or expired kids.  This is done to keep predators away, to protect the herd.

SO you are wanting a Livestock Guardian that will protect your stock? Then you must treat the LG pup as such.  Do not play with the pup, pet, cuddle or treat the pup as you would a house/yard dog.  Pet the LG when you are out with the livestock, within their boundaries, in their element.  All work done with a LG should be done within their boundaries, in their element. They should not be allowed to “play” with your house/yard dog. A Livestock Guardian needs to stay out with livestock, live with livestock so that they bond with and become a submissive member of the herd.  Many people think that this is mean but it is vital, so that they do their job and protect and take care their herd.

 

Pyrenees grow very fast and are very large while still “puppies”.   They all reach an age where they want to run and play with anything that moves.  This generally happens at 6, 12 and 18 months. Your herds Pyrenees will be no different and it is important during these stages that you are aware of what the pup is doing most all the time.  You need to be actively available and involved during these stages. Many times nannies/ewes will put a pup in it’s place if it is “playing” with a baby in an unacceptable manner & this is OK and important to let happen although there may be periods that you have to separate the LG from kids, chickens and other “flight” animals, when you can not be right there to watch, until the stage passes or the pup has understood that the animals they guard are not play toys just because they run when provoked or startled. Never discipline by force but rather by firm demand of respect through repetition.  It is not necessary to hit a Pyrenees.  You can firmly correct.  Be consistent and in cases where they are not getting the point or need immediate & serious correction, such as if you see them chasing a chicken, run them down & roll them to their back, straddle them and firmly tell them no while keeping them in that position until they completely submit to you.  Just like a mama dog would her pup, because the LG pup is not in a primitive/natural herd setting where they continue on with the guardian pack/herd, you must fulfill the role of the elders in the pack and teach acceptable basic behavior and boundaries. They can unintentionally hurt kids from play. Hard as it can be, you must be patient and remember that they are puppies and not all knowing adult LG’s, and that this stage too will pass. Spend time walking them around their boundaries and never let them go past it.

baby Tundra

Please note, in no way are we trying to say to throw your  8 week old LG pup out in the pasture and leave it. Certainly a pup cannot be expected to take on coyotes or other predators right away, actually don’t expect that for a good long while, so this is where the nocturnal & barking (sometimes non-stop) part comes into play. Before you even think to bring the herds LG home you need to create a safe haven within the area that the herds LG is to protect. For example, within the barn/shelter area create a creep for the pup so that if necessary it has a place it can go to or stay in to get out from under larger animals but still be with it’s herd. An inside out side fenced area is perfect. This allows the pup to go outside and bark of a night within the safety of a confined area but come back into the the barn with it’s herd if it needs to.  With a creep inside the barn it can cuddle with babies/bond with nannies but still have place to eat or have some alone time if needed. As the LG pup gets older it will no longer need the protection of a creep BUT it is always a good idea to feed LG’s in their own area as ruminate animals should not consume dog food and Great Pyrenees can be food aggressive. Of a day, let your pup out with it’s herd if you have small pasture or be sure that it has nannies/kids or someone back at the barn if the pasture is to big yet for them to safely patrol. Common sense and remembering that this is not your LG, it is your herds LG will help a great deal when preparing & caring for the pup. Above all else remember a Livestock Guardian does not really need you at all rather, it’s you that need them. Respect them, trust them, watch & learn from them and allow them to do their job! Be the alfa in the types of situations I have given above. In turn they will respect you when it is needed. If you have any further question please feel free to contact us. Please note: We are no longer in the business of breeding LGD or selling them., however we hope that the information you find here is helpful to you in understanding the breed.   Tundra snow of '13

Here are some good resources to start your own research:   http://www.lgd.org       http://www.akc.org/breeds/great_pyrenees/index.cfm      http://www.akc.org/breeds/great_pyrenees/index.cfm
There are many farms out there that have GP as their flocks guardians and share their experience with the breed on their websites.  They are great resources for research!