Ninja and his best buddy, Brennan.
The dogs get to know each animal in their charge individually, be it sheep, goats, chickens, or whatever. Although they guard the entire flock, it is interesting to see how they interact with each animal, becoming close friends with some, or steering clear of others who may be a bit surly toward them. We currently have four Anatolians, and we witness this action from them on a daily basis. Different dogs have different personalities and we are learning how to gauge which dog works best in each situation. In our observations, it takes a dog with more experience, or one with a very gentle spirit to live with weanling lambs. The lambs begin to play and run in the pasture and that action triggers prey drive in pups. The pups then want to chase them. The more they chase, the more panicked the lambs become. It can spell disaster. Some breeds may be different, but you cannot put an Anatolian puppy in with your sheep and expect it to do what it is supposed to do without supervision. It takes patience and time training to make a good livestock guard out of an Anatolian, but when they finally have it, they are the best in their field as far as we are concerned. Well worth the effort to train them.
Experienced dogs, or seasoned dogs, are generally adults at least three maybe four years old, who have lived with the flock and have made enough mistakes, having been corrected by either their shepherd or an older LGD, that they have become steady observers of the sheep with no desire in them to chase the sheep. Each dog on our farm seems to have found its niche in our little society.
Swatty with a ram friend.
Bedia (pronounced ba dee' uh) is Mike's pride and joy. She just passed her medical tests for breeding requirements through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) with a rating of "GOOD" on her hips, and a grade of "NORMAL" on her elbows and thyroid. She will be bred the next time she comes into season, provided we have enough buyers interested in the pups. Bedia is an excellent guardian. She is in charge of the pregnant ewes and does an excellent job of not taking any guff off them, but also by being their buddy. She is a ferocious guard, though you wouldn't believe it unless you saw her in action because she is such a sweety. She loves everybody when she is introduced. Bedia is our largest Anatolian, but very fast and agile. With her brindle coloring and the way she practices her stealth, she's an uncanny protector. You can look out over her pasture for five minutes and swear there is no dog in there with those sheep. Then out she comes from her hiding place and you would be in serious trouble if you had already jumped the fence.
Bedia is one of two Anatolians that we have that is not yet trained to guard chickens. However, after having a little mishap with a rooster last week, she is now in training.
Bedia's mother Kara Panter is imported from Turkey. Bedia's sire, Topcu Subayi, (aka Gunner) comes from parents who were also imported from Turkey by Chyril Walker, owner of Shepherds Rest Anatolians in Oregon.
The following picture just shows how much contact the dogs have with the sheep they are in charge of. Though they aren't easily visible, there are three Anatolians in the paddock with the sheep.
Swatty after a hard night of guarding. Busy night.
Last, but not the least of our group is Mattie. She is a registered Anatolian, but we decided to have her spayed because we want to breed Bedia. The Anatolians have such large litters that we decided we only wanted to breed one of them. We will want to keep some of the puppies, but others will be offered for sale.
There are many different breeds of LGDs. We happen to prefer the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. They seem to fit the bill for our farm, our flock and the job requirements to be met here at Lone Star Farm. Livestock Guarding Dogs are just what their name implies. They guard, they do not herd or bring in the flocks. They simply live with the flock 24/7 and keep them from harm from four-legged predators. The Anatolian is one of the breeds that will also keep the flock from being stolen by two-legged predators. As a precaution, we do not allow visitors in the pastures without being accompanied by Mike or myself. It's safer that way. However, it doesn't matter what age child it is, as long as they are well behaved, our dogs love them. They are gentle with children and take on the responsibility of protecting them, as soon as they are introduced.
S.W.A.T. guarding her lambs.
Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs)
As they do their work, you come to respect their decisions about the flock.
Hot Rod & Royce guarding Brennan.
Playing in the water after a heavy rain.
One of Swatty's very best qualities, kissing babies. If that was the only requirement, she could be mayor of a city. She adores babies of any species.
S O L D
Below are S.W.A.T. (affectionately known as Swatty) and Ninja. They are both Anatolians, as well as brother and sister. Since they are not registered, and we want to raise registered dogs, we had Ninja neutered and Swatty spayed. All of our dogs are microchipped. The two of them come from our friend and Anatolian breeder, Lyn Brown, of La Plata, New Mexico. Swatty takes care of ewes and their lambs, while Ninja guards the pregnant ewes. They are both very good chicken guards as well, they even guard the eggs which is quite comical to watch.
Swatty is a very happy dog most of the time, while Ninja takes his work very seriously. Ninja is totally focused on what he is doing, while S.W.A.T. is happy-go-lucky about everything except predators. She also likes to hear herself bark.
Ninja giving Brennan a ride and getting kisses from great granddaughter, Brooklyn.
This has been our experience with Anatolians. We have also owned other Anatolians and Anatolian/Great Pyrenees crosses. We have found that cross to be too soft as a guard dog to ward off people in our particular situation. The Anatolians seem, to us, to be much more serious as predator deterants when it comes to humans. We also noticed with the crosses, that they were content to simply scare off the critter predators and then the predators would return again and again, while the Anatolians will eliminate the intruder once and for all by killing it. We are constantly finding skeletons of animals in the pastures, especially the outside perimeter pasture that is our first line of defense against predators. But, that is why there are so many different breeds of LGDs. One of our close neighbors lost seven Boar goat kids in one night to coyotes. We haven't lost a single lamb. In fact, our chickens run free on the farm and we have not even lost a chicken to a chicken hawk since we have had the Anatolians. The Anatolians also guard up, watching for hawks and vultures. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to how the dogs operate on their farm, in their own predator environment. You need to decide what would work best for you. Please feel free to contact us regarding Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. We will be breeding Bedia in the future.
Lone Star Farm | Barbados Blackbelly Sheep
Mattie relaxing in the hay room.
Mattie in her pasture waiting for something to happen.
Mattie has graduated to taking care of the adult rams. She handles being with the rams by herself and does a good job. Mattie is still considered young as a livestock guardian. She was three years old in July of 2017. She is just now ready to be with very young lambs. She had a buddy, a ram named Lone Star Ezra, that we recently sold. She moped for a couple of weeks after Ezra left, but she seems to be happy in with the others now. It was quite sad the way she grieved the loss of her ram friend.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Swatty guarding up close and personal.