Christian. BoyMom. Farmer's Wife. Marathon Runner. Ag Professional. Bourbon Lover.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Tunis Sheep Hampshires heed
This is the time of year we start getting questioned about when we will bring our big white dogs inside, and why our dogs are laying out in the middle of a snow pile and not in the barn. And it’s not just from non-farm folks either. In fact, I find myself displacing some of the below myths on Great Pyrenees (and other working dogs) all the time to all sorts of people!
So, what are the biggest Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) myths out there?
1. LGD’s are pets!
So this is only a half myth because about 30% of our pups are actually sold very successfully as companion only dogs and their families LOVE them! But, our main purpose in having and raising dogs is raising LGD's and these dogs are NOT pets! They have a very serious job to do and they know it. They are no interested in spending much time with you or I, they are not interested in sitting or rolling over and they certainly are not interested in leaving their stock at night to come into the house.
2. They are cold!
They are not cold! Our dogs, Great Pyrenees, actually have been bred to live outside because generally speaking that is where their stock live (although nothing surprises me anymore).
They are equipped with a double coat that insulates them in sub-freezing temperatures, blocks wind, and catches rain and ice on the outside of their coat (away from the skin). Although all of our dogs have access to barns, it’s rare for them to spend much time inside at all. They cannot hear, see and sense their surroundings as well inside and whenever they lose that control, their anxiety kicks in. So that is why you see them lying outside.
3. Neutering a dog will ruin his ability to work!
Wrong! Neutering (spaying) a dog will only ruin his ability to do one thing—reproduce. Actually, dogs that are fixed as close to 6 months as possible are the most effective working dogs out there. Their mind is always 100% in the game, instead of the female in heat who has stronger urges for 3 weeks out of the year than guarding her stock.
And believe me, you don’t want a female in heat at the peak of lambing, in the dead of winter when your neighborhood coyotes are hungry. A male Pyrenees will take off to find females to breed and can sense them from miles away. And guess what else is in the dog family? Coyotes and wolves. It’ll be best for all involved if your LGD doesn’t bed down with the enemy so GET YOUR DOGS FIXED!
4. An older LGD is already “trained”!
Be cautious of moving older dogs and certainly do not pay more money for one because she has “learned from Mom and Dad”. What she has done is bonded with the farm and stock where she was born, making it harder to move her and harder to create a bond with your stock. Pups are best placed between 8 – 16 weeks (for Great Pyrenees, as this actually does vary greatly from breed to breed. Many breeds of LGD require more supervision and guidance to develop into ideal guards so speak to your breeder). Older dogs can, and do work. But just be aware that you are not buying a fool proof system.
5. He came from “working lines”.
My least favorite, most hated line regarding livestock guardian dogs is “working lines” when someone is a attempting to explain why they are selling working dogs who have never so much as smelled a sheep. WORKING DOGS COME FROM WORKING PARENTS. Not working grandparents. Or working uncles. Or working cousins.
Everyone knows someone who found this great dog at a shelter, or a litter in downtown LA and came home to be the best LGD ever. This is the exception, not the rule. If you need a real working dog to protect the equity in your stock, please buy a dog from a farm, who is outside with the stock and has always been outside with the stock.
12/8/2014 10:42:41 am
Love the photo as well as your comments
12/9/2014 01:53:31 am
Thanks for visiting Vieva!! I should have been more diligent about giving credit to my customers for the photos. They all came from our customers of our dogs at work.
1/31/2019 10:19:34 am
Just commenting so you'd know something you wrote several years ago drew my attention. I have a 1/2 GP/ Border Collie and get FB bullied every winter about letting my dog stay out in the cold (where he is comfortable & happy) So was searching for documented proof that it would be more inhumane to make him stay inside the house all day.
11/12/2019 08:23:45 am
Hey there! I really enjoyed reading this post! 😃We just got our first GP and are so fascinated by this breed! He is our “goat guardian” and doing a fantastic job at just 4 1/2 months! My question for you is, we live outside of Memphis, TN... just a few days ago it was 67 and today it is 20! 😳 I put our GP up with the goats in the barn last night but was wondering if you thought it would be ok to leave him outside during the day? Because he is still a “puppy” I wasn’t sure if he had time to get his winter coat in yet? He has a dog house outside but is not insulated like the barn (although the barn isn’t very big so there isn’t room to run a play). Any thoughts? 🙏🏼😁
12/18/2019 08:38:30 am
I have 2 Great pyrennees and live near the Canadian border in northern Minnesota And I have never had to bring my dogs inside they actually prefer to stay outside even when it's below 0. It is true that their coat doesn't bully form until after 6 months but the temperatures you experience and Tennessee should not affect the dog at all he should be fine out all day-and-night. You can build a house for them but I doubt he will actually use it they prefer to sleep in the snow
12/18/2019 08:42:20 am
Would like to add to watch them in the Summer. They do not like hot weather and it might not be a bad idea to bring him in on extremely hot days
1/31/2020 12:54:16 am
I stumbled across this article while searching for info for our pregnant great pyr. We are extremely nervous that its winter, shes a 1st time mom and we have no experience with this. She usually sleeps in the sheep shed, but we want to encourage her to give birth on our front deck, where we can keep an eye on everyone (and provide a heated dog bed). Any suggestions on getting her to choose our location. And if she insists on staying near the sheep, how do we keep them warm? (We are in high 20°s at night). Any help would be wonderfully appreciated.
11/26/2020 02:24:08 am
If you have a pet, you need to take care of it all the time. You have made your content much better. I wish everyone will like this post. We hope it will be very beneficial for those who <a href="https://www.hetoq.com/best-clippers-for-great-pyrenees/">love pets</a> .
9/27/2022 05:43:35 pm
What if they’re kept in a small pen outside all day with no enrichment or exercise? How do they stay warm sitting there all day? It may be legal, but it’s cruel. I’ve seen this and it’s wrong. If you don’t have time for a pet, let it have a better home.
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Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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