Researching Farm Dogs

I'll admit that I've wanted a dog for a really long time. I had a dog in childhood named Cupcake (and before her, her mother Muffin, though I don't remember Muffin). She stayed with us util we moved to an apartment, and then she went on to live with a family with a nice back yard. It wasn't really until after she was gone that I developed an interest in all things canine: wolves, dogs, wolves, wolves, and more wolves.

I quickly discovered that the the fluffy white dogs I was remembering were Great Pyrenees.  This one is guarding a sheep flock in the western US.

I quickly discovered that the the fluffy white dogs I was remembering were Great Pyrenees. This one is guarding a sheep flock in the western US.

So I've wanted a dog since, but getting one was never really sensible. I'm glad my parents never gave into my interest in a dog in my adolescent years because things were just crazy in my early twenties as I figured my own life out and learned how to be a mama 🙂

Now, though, now we are on a farm. We have a policy that any animal that comes onto our farm will have a working purpose. So I knew that if we got a farm dog, it would need to be a working dog.

Finding the Right Breed

As I've mentioned before, we also try to select animals that are known for having a laid-back temperament when it comes to people, especially children. I had stored somewhere in the back of my mind that the huge white dogs at Ovis Hill farm (a wonderful sheep farm in Timmonsville, SC) were really gentle with children, so I went on a quest to find these gentle giants.

I found them.

The dogs are Great Pyrenees a large breed bred to be livestock guardian dogs. They're not sheepdogs, but rather guardians of whatever livestock is in their charge.

I'll admit I didn't do much research into breeds once I'd found the name of the “Pyrs,” as they're called. I remembered them well from Ovis Hill, as well as the tales of their valour and their willingness to gently watch over toddlers as well as sheep.

I have researched Pyrs plenty, and have gotten in contact with a breeder who is raising them as working dogs – something important to us. I want a Pyr who has come from a heritage of working dogs, and a breeder who is raising working Pyrenees. I admire all breeders who are extending the line, but a breeder rearing a working pup is practical and knows how to help us raise up a trusty guardian.

This Pyr is right at home with the goats - I loved this pic since we're leaning strongly towards goats right now!

This Pyr is right at home with the goats – I loved this pic since we're leaning strongly towards goats right now!

Our breeder, Susan of Grimm Acres, has been great about answering the multitude of questions I keep thinking of and shooting off to her in emails 🙂

She's assured me that her Pyrs are all friendly (to the right people/critters) and that guarding is definitely part of the nature of the Pyrs that come from her farm! She's explained how to help them bond to their herd (or “flerd” – a concept we learned about from Grimm Acres), bond to their family, and help them grow into their nature as a gentle but very effective livestock guardian dog.

Now I'm reading up on general dog care, as well as on feeding dogs (we raw feed our cat, Kirin, and I'm exploring that possibility for our dog). I'm hoping that as we get closer to knowing when we'll bring our puppy home that I'll be able to get my hands on some good books on livestock guardian dogs… but I think that our biggest education will come from the days we spend on our puppy's farm, and of course, raising him or her up.

I'm very excited 🙂

A shot of the Pyrenees mountains, where the breed originated to be livestock guardians on the slopes :)

A shot of the Pyrenees mountains, where the breed originated to be livestock guardians on the slopes 🙂

Thanks for the lovely photos go to: Don DeBold, Devra, and BrightonPiers

Kristen

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Kristen

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