Kangal Dogs in their Homeland: Turkey

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This is Otto and his human partner

He lives in Maine in the United States. But his ancestors are from Turkey. They have for centuries been the guardians of sheep, working alongside their shepherds.  Sharing here a short video of the life they continue to live there. Note the relationship they have with their shepherds, and how the very young pups are incorporated into the flock along with their adult companions. Note the spiked collars the adult dogs wear for their protection.   Click below:


Odin’s Courage in California Fire

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photo by Mary McGuire    (This is not Odin)


Wanting to share a true life happening that took place last week during the destructive California fires

ODIN a Great Pyrenees guardian dog refused to leave the baby goats he had been guarding, despite the explosions, heat, and the fast moving fire that forced his family to evacuate. The family returned, finding their way past police barricades and still dangerous areas, intent on seeking Odin and the goats…..with thoughts that they were all lost to the fire.  But once back they found Odin weak, whiskers singed, limping, his white fur all yellow and burned paws with the small goats surrounding him. Not only that…..young deer sought Odin’s protection as well.


*Odin will have a full recovery, thanks to his caring family

Livestock Guardian Dog Facebook Support

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photo by Billy Foster




Below is a link to a valuable facebook group “Learning about LGDs”  Very experienced breeders and long time owners of these guardians often answer questions that are posed. One of those is Jan Dohner, who we have highlighted here on our Network.  It is good to have a place to go to support each other.


Livestock Guardians and Winter

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IT IS WINTER TIME ~ A challenging time to farm; also a LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLE for wild carnivores.

It is important for you to know that carnivores walk this line of survival, that they are often on the edge of starvation in the winter.

That is why Guardian Animals are such an important part of your team in the winter. Note the photo above, taken by Billy Foster of the Foster Farm in Maine. Though his fencing is excellent, the deep snow would allow a carnivore to jump over it with ease.

BUT ~ His guardian dogs are present, and have been present all year. There is an UNDERSTANDING between them and the Coyote family who live on his farm. Note the Coyote tracks that REMAIN on the outside of the fence.

SO ~ if you are thinking about acquiring one of these amazing guardians for your farm, the following are some questions and thoughts to think about and research this winter:

  1. Do your homework first
  2. Do you need one at all/do you need more than one…why or why not
  3. When should you use a Llama or donkeys instead of a guardian dog?
  4. What makes a Guardian dog, a guardian dog?
  5. What breed is right for you…differences in breeds?
  6. What does a guardian dog do for your farm?
  7. How to acquire a Guardian dog (breeders)
  8. What is the role of a good breeder?
  9. The importance of good fencing for your guardians
  10. When and how to introduce them to the farm animals and farm
  11. Their care


Farm Dogs

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If ever you wanted to do research regarding the Guardian Dog that is right for your farm, this newly published book by Jan Dohner will be of great assistance to you. It is one of those books you would want to keep as a reference because it is packed with valuable information.



Jan Dohner: Guardian Dogs and Carnivores

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Jan Dohner and her Kangal Guardian
Jan Dohner and her Kangal Guardian

An Excellent opportunity to come learn about farming successfully with Carnivores will take place at THE COMMON GROUND FAIR in Unity, Maine on September 24 and 25.

At 1:00 PM on Saturday, the 24th we will host a panel of two outstanding farmers, Dave Kennard and Billy Foster, noted author and breeder of Kangals Jan Dohner, and Wildlife biologist and author Geri Vistein. Last year the tent was packed as we shared together in a lively discussion, our experience and knowledge. Our audience was amazing, jumping right in and asking excellent questions and expressing what has been happening on their farm.

Then, at 2:00 PM Jan Dohner will go more into depth about all the important issues regarding the decision to find a guardian dog, and then when they come to your farm…then what? Her new book Farm Dogs is just being released on time for the Fair, and her excellent 2007 book Guardian Animals: Using Dogs, Llamas and Donkeys to Protect your Herd is highly recommended  She will also speak on Sunday, the 25th at 1:00 PM


Introducing a New Guardian Dog

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Maremma Puppy photo by Windance Farm
Maremma Puppy  Windance Farm  

Guardian Dogs know what their work is about. They don’t need the farmer to teach them that.

BUT ~ when they are new to your farm, there is much for them to learn about the specifics of YOUR farm. It is exremely important that you take the time to teach them…..if you want them to be successful guardians.

The following is shared by Jackie Church of Windance Farm in Upper State New York. She is a responsible breeder of Maremma Guardians, and shares her knowledge and experience in a Manual she has written for farmers. Here is one section on introducing your guardian to your farm.

Setting your Dog up for Success

You must set your dog up to succeed. This applies to a new adult dog, and to the brand new young puppy that arrives at your farm.

You need to know what to expect from your dog and what ages you can expect it. Some dogs are exceptions in both the negatives and positives. You may have a dog that could never fail, no matter what you did. Then you have others who take longer to mature, and make you scratch your head more than anything in your life.

Again, what you put into this dog – is exactly what you will get out of this dog. If you toss a dog in the pasture alone, then you will get exactly what you are putting into it. Yes, the dog may (and an adult should) know how to keep predators out, mark the boundaries and bark.

But all the rest? The relationship it should have with the stock, with you, what the boundaries are, where and what – all that the dog does not know.

In all of the old world countries that use guardian dogs, they do not run just one dog. They work the dogs in teams. There is a smattering of ages –from some old dogs to very young dogs.

The older mature dogs that know their jobs are the teachers of these young pups. This is done by example and correction.  If you take a young pup and place it in the field without an adult dog who knows the ropes –then YOU become the teacher. YOU become the mentor. YOU become the one to provide the instruction. If you do not, any failure of the dog is not because of the dog, but because of the lack of guidance and training.

Contributed by Jackie Church of Windance Farm in New York
Jackie breeds outstanding old world Maremma guardian dogs
Material from her Training Manual ©

Crisco, Adult Maremma, Windance Farm
Crisco, Adult Maremma, Windance Farm

Raising Successful Livestock Guardian Dogs

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photo by David Kennard
photo by David Kennard


A successful livestock guardian dog, like this adult Great Pyrenees, is an invaluable member of your farm. There are important actions that you can take to help them be successful. In the link below, Cat Urbigkit, a successful rancher in Wyoming, who uses guardian dogs to protect her sheep, offers 12 of those key factors. Valuable information coming from years of experience!

12 Keys to Raising Successful Livestock Guardian Dogs


Livestock Guardian Dog Grant

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Bulgarian Karakachan
Bulgarian Karakachan
Bulgarian Karakachan puppy
Bulgarian Karakachan puppy

Our Chickens are by far the most vulnerable to predation by our carnivores,

especially when the carnivore in question is being subjected to human persecution.




FACT | Food Animal Concerns Trust

  • FACT is delighted to announce another free opportunity for poultry farmers — the chance to receive a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) puppy and participate in an immersion training session! New this year, FACT is partnering with a current Fund-a-Farmer grant recipient to place four LGD puppies with selected poultry farmers who raise their birds humanely (one of seven certifications is required). These selected farmers will receive a LGD puppy and attend a free weekend training session this summer in Wisconsin, along with additional educational resources and expert technical assistance throughout the year. FACT’s LGD webpage for more information.