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The guard dog breeds are the gentle but formidable giants of the working
dogs. They often go unnoticed. They are not as flashy as the herding
dogs and demand very little and there are fewer breeds to pick from.
Original livestock guardian dogs were village and country dogs who
accompanied the shepherd and flock on their annual migrations and by
doing so helped to guard the flock. Dogs that were detrimental to the
well being of the flock were not kept.
Today, in North America,
we see guard dog breeds with watered down traits which is a sad thing
to witness. Perhaps this is due to our kind nature, smaller holdings,
and less sever lifestyle. Nonetheless, we're still asking our dogs to go
up against some sever predators so we need to retain the strong
guardian and loyalty traits in these breeds.
List of Guardian Dog Breeds
The guard dog breeds we
know today bear the names given them from the countries and regions they
originated from. If one were to travel to some of these regions you
would find several more than the few breeds listed below. Sheep did not
originate in North America and neither did any of the livestock
The more common dog breeds in North America
include several of the white dog breeds such as Maremma, Kuvasz, Akbash,
Komondor, and Great Pyrenees.
Other not so common breeds include the Anatolian (becoming more popular), Ovcharka, Pyrenean Mastiff and Sarplaninac.
- Maremma Sheepdog
thought to be one of the breeds descended from the earliest of
livestock guardian dogs. Originated in Italy. A cool headed dog; works
in a variety of situations, not as common in range situations.
- Great Pyrenees Dog
Of French origin so named for the Pyrenean Mountain Region. A common
breed for work and as pets so extra caution is warranted when looking
for a sound working dog. A cool and level headed dog. Often seen working
as a general farm dog.
- Anatolian Shepherd
Originated in Turkey, although not recognized as a breed there as it is
in North America. A hot headed dog with great endurance, determination
and boldness. Often utilized on large tracts of land.
Origins in Turkey. Actually a white variation of the Anatolian
Shepherd. Possesses great stamina; often utilized on large tracts of
land. Very independent minded. Purebred Akbash are less common in North
- Kangal A third Turkish breed and
now considered a sepereate breed from the Anatolian and Akbash. A
formidable and hot headed dog, also with great endurance and
determination. Often utilized on large tracts of land. Not recommended
for first time dog owner.
- Komondor Hungarian
breed noted for its' corded coat. Its' name means sober or angry and the
breed is noted for having an aggression streak. Easily triggered by
stimulus or threat. Not as active about patroling as other breeds. Care
of the coat is necessary to keep the dog in good health.
known as a Hungarian breed but with early origins in Tibet. A bit
smaller in size and sensitive in nature. Loyal and suspicious at the
same time. Not commonly seen in North America.
- Tatra Mountain Sheepdog
(Owczarek Podhalanski) A breed with origins in Poland. Reputed to be a
very intuitive dog. A cool and level headed dog. More common as a farm
or shepherd dog, not on open range land.
- Russian Sheepdog
(Owtcharka or Ovcarka) As it's name implies this is a breed with
origins in Russia. Reputed as being territorial guardian dogs as a
result of selected crossbreeding. Caution is warranted when searching
out a livestock guardian. Loyal to people.
(Sarplaninac) A breed originating in Yugoslavia. A determined and loyal
dog with a long history as livestock guardians. There are only a few
Sarplaninatz dogs in North America.
The reason there are various breeds is because there are various people
living in various regions. In very general terms different dog breeds
developed because there was always need for specific traits to help get
the work done in that locale. Hence the different breeds that show up
among the various cultures and regions.
general and regardless of breed, these dogs have a very independent nature. In other words they
are stubborn, which can make them frustrating to deal with. They are
intelligent in a thinking and conniving way. So although they may not be
the quickest to learn new pet tricks, they will problem solve. They are
also very brave dogs who can pack a lot of courage. They will be quick
to climb the social ladder and assume the leader position if you don't
assume the role yourself.
While we can make these
general assumptions on the traits you're likely to encounter in
livestock guardian dogs, selecting a guard dog breed is a really a
matter of what you need and who you are.
Go to Livestock Guardian Dogs from Guard Dog Breeds
Go to Ranching with Sheep Home