Best dog breed for a hobby farm?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Black dogs rock!
Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 12:54pm PST 
This is more dreaming than anything ( although one never can tellsmile ) I often dream of having a hobby farm, which if it happened would most likely be after I retire. At any rate, it would most likely have rabbits, mini dairy goats, chickens and possibly mini horses and/or ponies. Sheep and cows don't really appeal to me. It would probably be only a couple of acres, maybe 5 at the most. I realize there are guard animals such as donkeys or llamas, but all us dog lovers know that any excuse for another dog will dowink I googled it and of course the LGD's were suggested, but so were ACD's and Kelpies as well as GSD's and Rotties. I just wondered if certain breeds were better protection for the farm animals I mentioned. Suggestions anyone?

Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 2:15pm PST 
A couple of acres isn't very big. In my old neck of the woods that was a pretty standard sized neighborhood lot. Rabbits would be fine to keep of course but even five wouldn't be big enough for a house and any medium sized livestock (goats maybe one or two in a small pen but mini's? - just our yard is larger than that now and I can't imagine it). Perhaps the definition of hobby farm differs by region?

Get any dog that suits your lifestyle and don't be afraid to dream bigger big grin

formerly The- Very Hungry- Puppy-pillar
Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 2:22pm PST 
I think it depends on what your biggest threats are and how you would like the dog to handle them. Also, climate can play a factor - some dogs may not be able to work where it is extremely cold in the winter or extremely hot in the summer.

I live in a pretty rural area, mostly grain farms, but many farmers do have a "hobby" livestock farm where they raise a few animals. The dogs I see pretty often on farms are:

- Aussies, Border Collies, ACDs, Collies, and their mixes (I've lumped these together since many people have mixed "farm dogs" that resemble several or all of these breeds)
- Labs, goldens, GSPs, other "bird dogs" (many of our farmers are also hunters)
- GSDs/mixes
- Rottweilers
- small terriers

Around here, the biggest threats are people who trespass and animals who steal feed (mice, rats, raccoons, etc.). Farmers are also afraid of being sued by trespassers, so they mostly just want a dog that will stick close to home and alert them to any threats, who will bark loud enough to keep unwanted guests away, or those who can chase/kill small animals.

Some farmers do have issues with larger animals getting in (coyotes, foxes, raccoons), and they tend to either choose a larger "all-purpose" type of dog, like an old-style GSD or a Rottie, or a few have been going for the LGDs. The people who tend to have LGDs are those who generally have goats or sheep. I've seen some with Pyrs, a couple with Anatolians, and one farm with Ovcharkas.

However, in this area we do not have any predators larger than coyotes, and most of our coyotes are more likely to go after rodents or garbage, so a large dog that can eliminate threats on its own isn't really necessary. I imagine in other areas, there are bigger things to worry about (mountain lions, etc.) and so a different type of dog might be necessary.


Spooky Mulder
Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 2:24pm PST 
I don't know, I guess it depends more on what you want from a dog OUTSIDE of the farm tending aspect. Because any of the above mentioned dogs could do that job easily.

With a LGD you are looking at a more or less single-purpose animal... they will guard your livestock first, and perhaps be a pet secondary, but that's pretty much what you're getting. They aren't going to be a fun sport dog, or OB dog, or a dog you take to achieve any sort of special notoriety outside of just being a phenomenal guardian animal.

With your GSDs, your ACDs and the like, you have more of a mixed bag. These are animals who will certainly keep an eye on your property, but are also free to access other venues should you choose to pursue them. Though to some extent, you must look at any work you do with these breeds as TRAINING, rather than an inbred purpose... most of these working breeds are too highly driven and prey oriented to just be thrown out in a chicken coup and not be expected to pick off a few in the process (which stands more in contrast to most LGBs, which have minimal prey drive and extremely heightened territorial aggression). Remember, most are HERDING breeds first, guardians second (with the exception of the Rott, and within reason the GSD and the ACD). Without any actual herding work to be done, one might find these breeds to be more of a nuisance that at first suspected.

Some of this comes down to breeding of course, but you mustn't be fooled into believing there isn't a very important training aspect to it as well. For breeds like the GSD and ACD (or Kelpie, Briard, Belgian, any of the guardian herders), finding a breeder who actually does stock/farm work with their animals is of course hedging your bets. Though the populations might be smaller for breeds like the GSD, who has so many other venues that its involved in, there are still people out there working with them in this fashion, and its all a matter of finding the best possible match for your situation.

Keep in mind that how each of these breeds work is also very different. Your average ACD does not AT ALL have the same mentality as your typical GSD, and your Rott is probably the least herd-y of the group, while still being a capable farm dog and guardian.

Seeing as you have no plans for actual stock that requires moving, I'm honestly more inclined to think a LGB or a Rott might be the better options to look into. There's also no written rule that says you can't have a well trained Doberman to help you with general tending wink

Black dogs rock!
Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 2:37pm PST 
5 acres is not big enough for a couple of mini goats, a couple of mini horses/ponies, a few chickens and a few rabbits?shock I currently live right downtown and my yard is possibly a tenth of an acresmile I am actually getting rabbits soon. I had looked into the laws here before and you need at least an acre for farm animals but I don't remember how many animals on that acre. I don't need a big housewink

Good point about the hot and cold. It does get that way here. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter. I work in the country and I have know there are foxes , coyotes, and bears. I don't think people are that big of a threat, but of course anything is possible. thinking

ETA thanks for the input Mulder. LGD, Rotti or Doberman huh?thinking Rottis are pretty common here and so are Great Pyr's smile

Edited by author Mon Apr 23, '12 2:50pm PST


We don't doodle.
Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 3:24pm PST 
Bunny... I've already got some chicken trained toy poodles if you want one. Oh, wait, you don't want them to EAT the chickens, right????

Black dogs rock!
Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 3:43pm PST 
laugh out loud Riley, no, I don't. I kind of want the eggs for melaugh out loud

Black dogs rock!
Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 4:18pm PST 
So just for fun, I checked out Rotti breeders in my province. There are 2, both who seem pretty good. I am really impressed with the one that does sledding with their Rottiesway to go

Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 5:35pm PST 
We had two horses on like 3 acres. We just pasture rotated. It's not a big deal, it just takes a lot of organization. In NB you have to ship in hay and all that anyway and grass pasture isn't going to be enough for any livestock. You also have to keep barns and barn spacing/turnout/run-in sheds/shelters in mind which can eat up 5 acres fast but with the right setup and a head for self-repairing things it's not that hard, just time-consuming.

I would seriously recommend against a herder as a "farm dog" on a farm that doesn't actually require a dog. If you are going to do other things with said dog, agility, competitive obedience etc then you could consider it more seriously. I'd be tempted to consider more general molosser types who are protective yet not too active or overly guardy of livestock. For coyote protection, get a mini-donkey party.

Barked: Mon Apr 23, '12 5:56pm PST 
wave I love Rotties cloud 9 super dogs...in my opinion.
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