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The Top 5 Dog Breeds That Protect Sheep

Close up of sheeps face

When you are looking at getting a dog breed to protect your sheep or your goats you want to take into consideration how much exercise they need, it doesn’t have to be anything significant just throwing a ball or a stick back and forth with them should do the job.

Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees standing on grassy hill

The Great Pyrenees is a large, thickly coated, and immensely powerful working dog breed. The typical height for the male Pyrenees is 27-32 inches and for the females Great Pyrenees 25-29 inches.

These loyal guardians exhibit calm like features but can spring up fast and ready for action or when hit with a threat. The dog’s job was to watch the flock and fight off predators such as bears, livestock rustlers or wolves.

Fun fact! Did you know that the Great Pyrenees was recognized by the AKC in 1933 and is the 91st breed? Another fun fact about them is that they were brought to the USA  in 1824. 

Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherd sitting on a grassy hill with sheep

The Anatolian Shepherd stands about 27 to 29 inches from the shoulders and weighs as much as 150 pounds. WOW!  Anatolians descend from some of the oldest known domestic-canine bloodlines. Anatolian is a very adaptable, devoted and responsive bred. They will protect their flock, livestock, children and other family pets.

Fun fact! American ranchers began importing the bred in the 1950s but did not take hold until the 1970s.

The breed tends to be wary toward others and self-guarding an Anatolian puppy must be socialised and always should be on a leash. As the AKC said, “Under no circumstances should an Anatolian receive protection or guard-dog training”. 

When getting Anatolians, you should know the health factor for them like getting their ears checked regularly, and also some health tests are recommended are hip evaluation and elbow evaluation.


Akbash sitting with a herd of sheep

The Akbash is a  white Turkish dog they are usually kept as livestock guard dogs and not so much as pets. Since they are working dogs, training is not an issue, which is a good thing because they do not like chasing balling throwing sticks. 

If you are looking at getting one as a pet, they may develop behaviour problems such as digging and escaping. When it comes to their health, they should have a problem until they get to be a big dog. They usually live health problem-free until they are about 10 to 11 years. They are very aware of their surroundings and have acute hearing and eyesight.

Akbash average size can range from 28 to 34 inches tall and weighs about 80 to 140 pounds (36 to 63 kilograms). These smart and independent breeds would often work by themselves in the field without any guidance or help from their owners. Some history about these fantastic dogs, some Reports of these large guardian dogs go back as far as 750 to 300 B.C.


Komondor standing in grass

 A big male Komondor can stand more than 27 inches and weigh well over 100 pounds, with its dense bone, a deep chest. The thick coat that they have on them is supposed to help them be protected from wolves, while they protect their sheep.

Komondors are said to have the same temperament as other live-stock guard dogs, but the individuals can be more volatile, some have said. This can happen when there is a lack of socialisation or even lack of training. 

They are good with families and other children, but like most live-stock guard dogs, they would be much happier with a job they can do. Komondors are susceptible to the health problems of big breeds, hip dysplasia and bloat. 

Komondors are graceful and athletic for their size, and sufficient exercise is essential to keep them healthy and happy. 

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff sitting in a field

Tibetan Mastiffs can stand about 26 inches from the shoulders and weigh well over 100 (150)  pounds.  Female Tibetan Mastiffs typically stand about 24 inches from the shoulder and can weigh well over 100 (120) pounds also. 

Tibetan Mastiffs eat less than expected for their size, as adult dogs may only require two to four cups of high-quality food per day. They only eat when they are hungry. For Tibetan, Mastiffs are not uncommon for them to skip a meal altogether.  

Altogether, this breed is not very food driven, and they do not respond to treats as a training tool.  They are stubborn dogs; sometimes, they are known for doing great in class, but once home, they will ignore all your commands. 

The Bottom Line on Dog Breeds to Protect Sheep

When you are looking at a live-stock dog to look after your sheep or your goat, you should remember all dogs are going to be different, some learn very fast, and some take time. 

Every breed of dog is different, but when looking into training, you should start with obedience training, then look into sheep training about 6-12 months. In preparation for sheep work, they say to start early obedience training can begin as early as 10-12 weeks as long as it’s informal and short. 

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