Dog Breeds Explained Logo

Livestock Guardian Dog Breed Explained

The livestock guardian breed of dog (also known as the LGD), is a domesticated dog bred originally to be used to guard and defend livestock against wild predators.

The livestock guardian dogs are usually named as sheepdogs because they most frequently guard flocks of sheep. Nevertheless, most LGD's are confident of guarding all species of livestock.

Livestock guardian dogs are introduced to livestock as puppies, allowing them to "imprint" on the animals as soon as possible. This introduction and imprinting usually occurs when the LGD puppy is between 3 and 16 weeks of age.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

LGD'S are focused dogs. So much so that those who are raised to guard sheep would not be as focused, or as effective as a guardian dog of cattle or goats.

Likewise, a livestock guardian dog trained to look after cattle would not usually be effective, or as focused while guarding sheep and or goats.

This introduction and imprinting at an early age is vital, as the livestock guardian breed tend to behave in a protective and non-predatory way only with the species of livestock which they have been raised with.

Proper socialization and instinct are paramount to rearing an effective LGD.

Trying to Bond the live stock guardian dog to cattle is generally more challenging than bonding them to the smaller livestock species. Nevertheless, the practice of bonding guarding dogs to cows has become more common in places such as the American West since the reintroduction of native predators, which are now becoming a bigger risk to cattle herds in areas where predation had once been rare.

Unlike the herding breed of dog such as the border collie, livestock guardian dogs do not control the movement of the flock with aggressive or predatory actions causing.

LGDs tend to blend into the flock and more often than not ignore the individual animals in favor of keeping an eye out for potential threats. Although bunching behavior is noticed, it is typically the livestock which tend to bunch around the guarding dogs, particularly on open range when predators are near.

Livestock Guardian Dog - Great Pyrenees Dog Breed

Anywhere from one to five livestock guardian dogs are placed with a flock or herd depending on its size, the type of predators, their number, and the intensity of predation.

When predators are scarce, one LGD dog is normally adequate although range operations usually require two dogs for safety. Both male and female livestock guardian dogs have demonstrated to be equally effective in protecting of livestock.

However, in regions where dogs were used in migrations, male dogs were frequently used exclusively because pregnant bitches and newborn pups would in all likelihood perish on the long journeys.

Livestock guardian dogs are typically large and protective, which could make them less than ideal for urban or suburban living.

All the same, despite their size, the LGD breed of dog can be gentle. They also make excellent companion dogs, and are known to be very protective towards children. If they are introduced to a family as a puppy, most LGDs are as protective of their family as a working guard dog is of its flock.

As a matter of fact, in some communities where LGDs are a tradition, the runt of a litter would often be kept or given as a household pet or simply kept as a village dog without a single owner.

The three main qualities most sought after in the livestock guardian breed of dog are trustworthiness, attentiveness and protectiveness.

  1. Trustworthy in that they do not roam off and are not aggressive with the livestock
  2. Attentive in that they are situationally aware of threats by predators.
  3. Protective in that they will attempt to drive off predators.

Whilst protecting livestock, the LGD's tend to adopt different personalities, allowing individuals to take on different roles with the herd and among themselves.

Most of this breed tend to stay close to the livestock, allowing others to follow the shepherd or rancher (when one is present), and some drifting farther from the livestock. These differing roles are considered complementary in terms of protecting livestock.

Experienced ranchers and shepherds sometimes encourage these differences by adjustments in socialization technique so as to increase the effectiveness of their group of dogs in meeting specific predator threats.

Livestock guardian dogs that follow the livestock assure that a guard dog is on hand if a predator attacks, allowing other LGDs to patrol at the edges of a flock or herd to keep would-be attackers at a safe distance from livestock. Those dogs that are more attentive tend to alert those that are more passive but perhaps also more trustworthy or less aggressive with the livestock.

Livestock guardian dogs have been known to fight to the death with predators, although in most cases predator attacks are prevented by a display of aggressiveness.

LGDs are known to drive off predators that physically they would be no match for, such as bears and even lions. With the reintroduction of predators into natural habitats in Europe and North America, environmentalists have come to appreciate LGDs since they allow for sheep and cattle farming to coexist with predatory animals in the same or nearby habitats.

There are many breeds of livestock guardian dogs, and typically, many are little known outside of the regions in which they are still worked, which include:


Anatolian Shepherd Dog - Livestock Guardian Dog

Akbash Dog
Anatolian Shepherd Dog




Carpatin (Romanian Sheepdog)
Caucasian Ovcharka
Central Asia Shepherd Dog
Ciobanesc de Bucovina


Estrela Mountain Dog

Bergamasco Dog - Livestock Guardian Dog


Fila Brasileiro


Great Pyrenees

Greek Sheepdog


Kangal Dog

Komondor Dog Breed Picture


Maremma Sheepdog
Mioritic (also know together with the Ciob?nesc de Bucovina and the Carpatin as Romanian Sheepdog)


Old English Sheepdog (Bobtail)


Perro Majorero

Polski Owczarek Podhalanski (Polish Tatra Mountain Sheepdog)
Pyrenean Mastiff Mostin del Pireneo
Pyrenean Mountain Dog (Great Pyrenees)

Great Pyrenees Dog Breed Picture


Rafeiro do Alentejo


Slovak cuvac
South Russian Ovcharka
Spanish Mastiff


Tibetan Mastiff
Tornjak (Bosnian and Herzegovinian - Croatian Shepherd Dog)

Stay Informed!
Bookmark Dog Breeds
Explained Now!


Subscribe to Dog Breeds Explained RSS   Subscribe to RSS

Livestock Guardian Dog - Great Pyrenees Puppy More About Livestock Guardian Dog

More About Livestock Guardian Dog

Livestock Guardian Dog - Great Pyrenees Related Livestock Guardian Dog Info

Related Livestock Guardian Dog Info

Return to top
Dog Breeds Home Page | Dog Breeds Explained | Dog Breeds A-Z Directory | Dog Breed Pictures |
Dog Breeds Site Map

Copyright© John Adams 2006-2011. All rights reserved -

footer for dog breeds explained