Ranch Life: Livestock, Working Dogs, Wolves and People

As an all-around animal and nature lover, I often find myself thinking about the ways in which dogs can negatively impact the environment.

People and Carnivores logo

Then, every so often, a story like this pops up – a story about working dogs whose loyalty provides a sustainable and reliable form of livestock protection. It’s an awesome solution especially at a time when many people violently resist the reintroduction of natural predators like wolves.

Even if you aren’t interested in the eco-angle of this story from the People and Carnivores conservation group, I urge you to watch this 7-minute video for the rare and old timey dog breeds featured in it. (And don’t be put off by the creepy thumbnail image.)

To learn more about how human society and the great predator animals can share the planet, check out PeopleandCarnivores.org.

What do you think of the Livestock Guarding Dogs?

If you like this story, check out my post on the Conservation Canines.

About Crystal K. Wiebe

I live with two formerly wayward dogs, and helping other dogs find new homes is my passion. I recently founded the company Beer Paws to help celebrate the relationship between people and pets.

Posted on February 26, 2013, in Awesome, Dogs, Environmentalism, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. We see Italian Maremos guarding sheep often on our travels. They are most unhappy if you stop to say hello and do a great job of guarding their flocks. We really approve of working dogs as long as they are well treated – they usually are and well loved.

  2. We had a farm dog and he saved our bacon more than once. He knew how to get help and I taught him to trill and the 3 trills had different meanings. Great Post – thanks for sharing! Happy Tuesday:)

    • Your story reminds me of this: The other day we had a window replaced at our house, and the guy leading the installation crew told me about how he lives on a big wooded acreage. One time, he let his dogs out, and an owl tried to scoop up the shih tzu but was scared off by his Australian Shepherd.

  3. Humans and dogs have been evolving together, in a symbiotic relationship, for 10s of thousands of years. Guarding livestock is one of the first things that dogs ever did for us after we stopped being hunter-gatherers. The fact that these dogs are able to harden the target, discouraging predators rather than killing them outright like a man with a rifle would, seems like an optimum solution. As with anything, it’s going to depend on implementation. These dogs are obviously well socialized to humans, dogs, and sheep, and look healthy and happy. And I would imagine that once their dog pack is established in equilibrium with the wolves, the actual confrontations are minimal.

    • You are right on about all of that. Obviously, the situation spotlighted in the mini documentary is ideal, but it sure would be great if more folks would work toward that. I wonder if it would be possible to incorporate some rescue dogs into those Livestock Guarding Dog packs.

  4. Really enjoyed this post Crystal. The dog’s really did and do an awesome job protecting the sheep. You sure got your share of snow the last little while. Wow. We had a beautiful day here in Spruce Grove, Alberta. Snow was melting, blue sky I think spring is coming. Whoo hoo.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. I have to admit the story almost brought tears to my eyes. I think spring is coming in Kansas City, too. There’s still a foot of snow in my backyard but temperatures are supposed to hit the 60s in the next few days!

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