Livestock Guardian Dogs
At Chaffin Family Orchards we are ranchers who work with nature and recognize the value to both our business and the ecosystem by being predator friendly. Our answer to keeping our sheep safe from our native predators is livestock guardian dogs. Our LGD’s are large dogs that have come from lines that for centuries have been selected for their ability to bond to and protect livestock. Typically the dogs will only bond to one species, so when we get a new puppy we immediately introduce them to the herd they’ll be guarding. The pup instantly becomes part of the flock and begins treating the herd as it’s family. We always put the younger dogs with an older dog who will show them the ropes. There is no human training in teaching these dogs to protect livestock. It’s only through genetic selection and the older dog’s guidance that they form a connection to the herd and are willing to protect their livestock at all cost. However, the dogs are never intended to expendable. They’re not only expensive to raise and keep, but their also part of our farm family. Their purpose is to create a viable threat to a passing predator animal that might be smart enough or strong enough to challenge an electric fence.
These dogs take almost a parental or alpha role in the herd. They’ll guide the animals away from potential danger or towards shade on a hot day. We’ve even seen them assist in cleaning up offspring when a mother is too exhausted to get up and clean up her new baby. The dogs spend their days lounging around with their herd, playing games with their companion dogs, and basking in the sunlight. They do most of their guarding work at night. They patrol the fence line of their paddock, marking territory, barking, and warning predators to stay away. We’ve built a relationship with generations of our local predators. They’ve learned to choose to do their hunting in areas not inhabited by the livestock and teach their offspring the same. If we took lethal force with these indigenous hunters we’d constantly be dealing with more predators moving into this land as new territory who don’t know our routine. When the flock moves to a new location the predators have their area back. Since our sheep are constantly moving to new locations the predators only have to share their areas with the dogs for a few days at a time. We have found in the 15 years we have had guardian dogs that a mutual respect develops between the predators and guardian dogs where they honor each other’s territories.
Our guardian dogs become very close to us and spend the entirety of their lives living most dogs’ dream. We currently have 5 guardian dogs at the farm. Frank (Akbash x Marema) works with the ewe flock and is a great puppy raiser. He is an excellent guardian and tolerates no funny business from the young dogs in training. He is a reliable mentor dog that has raised some really good workers. Tyler (Akbash x Marema) is our teenager at heart. Since he has never really grown up, he usually watches over our teenager lambs. He’s a big goof when around us, but when he’s alarmed by an unfamiliar sound or scent, he’s no laughing matter. His huge size makes him able to cover lots of ground with these young active sheep Terra (Anatolian x Pyrenees) is a young female that works with Frank. She always runs up to greet us and meet whatever guests we’ve brought to pet her. Belle (Akbash x Anatolian) is one of those extremely versatile dogs that doesn’t bond to just one species. She’s in charge of guarding whatever animals are at the home ranch as well as keeping an eye on the young calves. All of these dogs have their own personalities and skillsets and we strive to allow each of them to express their strong suits and rise to their ultimate potential.
All of our guardian dogs are spayed or neutered to reduce distractions while guarding. Sorry we do not offer dogs or puppies for sale.