Looking into Aussies as a farm dog

Posted by: Anonymous

Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 02/28/06 06:26 PM

We are considering an Australian Shepard as a farm/livestock guard dog cool . Would we be able to keep the dog outside with our chickens, and would it fend off predators. Does anyone else have an Australian Shepard and keep it out with their chickens? Also, would it chase the chickens smile ? Right now with all the research that I have done on the breed they sound
really good for us, so long as they don't demolish the flock eek smile
Posted by: Rob2

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 02/28/06 06:46 PM

I had a few back in the late 70s. they are tuff dogs, heelers and need some hard training. mine were just too hard on the sheep but great on hogs, which is what I marketed them as, fair on cattle. Mine had a hard time with the chickens, never tusted them totally, if I wasnt near. I liked them , the best I ever had as an all round farm dog just recently died, she was 1/2 beagle, 1/2 Aussie.
Posted by: Jrsygntbrdr1

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 02/28/06 07:26 PM

I got attacked by an Aussie. The dog belonged to our neighbor, and would run across our yard to get to me. Attacked me in front of my mom. Always scared me to death. I will NEVER own an Aussie. They are too untrustworthy for my taste.
Posted by: CJR

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 02/28/06 08:31 PM

Guarding is not their specialty, it is working livestock and that takes ENERGY and activity.

You may find an individual that is truly good with chickens, but even the best require training and there would be lots of trauma while a puppy is growing up. Aussies are wonderful working dogs, but for livestock work--not guarding. The example just reported is what can happen when a hyper active dog has to stay in a restricted area--they can--waiting patiently--but only if knowing they will have field work coming up! They are not your ordinary pet yard dog. CJR
Posted by: Wrancher Girl

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 02/28/06 08:44 PM

Hey-my-friend-had-two-of-these-dogs-and-they-killed-some-of-her-chickens!!But-then-she-beat-them-with-the-chickens-they-had-killed-and-said-no!-They-never-did-it-again...I-don't-su ggest-this-as-I-never-would-beat-my-dog-with-a-dead-chicken..Even-when-my-coonhound-got-loose-and-killed-all-of-my-chickens-I-just-gave-him-away-to-a-good-home.The-funny-thing-is-h e-loved-chickens-and-was-good-friends-with-them-until-he-turned-two-and-his-hunting-instinks-kicked-in.The-puppy-coonhound-I-had-loves-chickens-but-only-because-as-soon-as-she-coul d-walk-and-be-away-from-her-mother-4-weeks-old-I-think..She-allways-followed-me-and-fed-the-chickens-with-me..When-she-would-chase-the-chickens-I-could-easly-pick-her-up-and-say-no !But-the-chickens-started-chasing-her-because-she-was-smaller-than-them!!hehe-lol-it-was-kind-of-funny..Now-she-lives-on-my-friends-chicken-farm-and-gets-along-great..I-have-had-do gs-that-showed-no-intrest-in-chickens-and-some-that-would-chase-but-not-hurt-them..So-I-hope-some-of-this-helps..(My-space-bar-isn't-working-right-now-Sorry)!! smile
Posted by: NW Chix

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 02/28/06 09:47 PM

I think they get into trouble doing what they were bred to do--herd--if they don't have any livestock to work. A colleague of mine had to get rid of a pair of Australian Shepherds because they herded a passing jogger, nipping her on the ankles. May not work too well with chickens, but I'm sure there are exceptions as with everything.
Posted by: Rogo16

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 02/28/06 10:12 PM

Do some more research. Working dogs need the job they were bred to do or else they get in trouble.

If you want a livestock guardian for your poultry, get a breed that's been bred for centuries to do that job. Better yet, get a dog from a breeder who raises livestock guardians. The pups grow up with their parents out with the stock. If your stock is different than what the dog was raised with, the breeder will help you to train the dogs to your stock.

Livestock guardians are with the stock 24/7 and not used for other disciplines.

Here's a list of livestock guardian dog breeds:




** If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep
getting what you're getting. **

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to
gain a little security will deserve neither and lose
~Benjamin Franklin



Posted by: Karen

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 02/28/06 11:59 PM

I raise Australian shepherds. I've had them since the 70's.

It really depends a lot on the line they come from. The first Aussie's I had in the 70's were very protective. The herding they did was instinctive because I sure didn't know what I was doing! They were wonderful dogs.

Back in the 70's our chickens weren't just "free range", they just plain roomed freely. The dogs never chase them and we never lost any to predators.

None of the Aussie I had ever chased the chickens until I got a show line female in 99. I knew she was untrustworthy and once when I was sick she got out of her yard and killed the sex-link layers, the Araucana bantam can fly pretty well and they were all fine. But then my son has a show line male and he’s fine with the chickens.

The Aussie I have now is completely trust worthy, but she did want to chase them when she was young.

Aussies are very smart and you must be the boss.

Livestock guardian dogs as puppies must bond with the animals they are going to guard not to you. This means that you either have to get a pup that's already been bonded with chickens or you have to get a pup that’s young enough and have it live with the chickens so it will bond to them.

Also guardian dogs bark--a lot!! Barking is their first line of defense. I've known people who've gotten rid of them be cause they barked so much and fence fought with the neighbor dogs.

Bottom line is do lots of research. Never leave a puppy or young dog unsupervised with livestock. And last but not least the dog must understand "No" "Come" & "Stay".

Posted by: Karen

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 12:11 AM

I had to add a p.s.

Not all lines of aussies are hyper. Personally I can't stand hyper dogs of any breed.

I want a dog that is a couch potato unless and until it has a job to do.

Posted by: Rhova

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 09:07 AM

I have an Aussie as well as several other herding dogs, and I have to say I find him very easy. He's a hard worker, loves to please, and NEVER stops! When you get a dog, you have to remember, you are getting that dog 24/7, for upwards of 14 years, and you have to live with it. I have Tucker (the Aussie) because his family couldn't live with his energy level. They loved him very much, but couldn't deal with him being on the go all the time. For me, he's perfect!

I would never leave a dog out with chickens unsupervised. They may not be out to hurt them, but they are big, and chickens are not. What about another type of animal as a guardian? A friend of mine keeps geese in with her ducks as a safety measure, she rarely loses a duck.
Posted by: Fowl Lover

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 11:49 AM

I have a friend who raises Aussies. I think they are great but he is fantastic with dogs. The dogs herd his chickens all over the place, it's very entertaining. The advice I give anyone on any breed is do lots of research--not looking at pictures but researching personality and temperment. Then compare that with your experience and knowledge of dogs and your willingness to do obedience training. When you and the dog match it won't matter the breed, it will be a success. If you get a breed you "love" but it doesn't match you it will be a disaster.
Posted by: Blackdotte

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 04:18 PM

Note I am from Australia,here we call them Blue Heelers(there are also Reds) .They are bred to work cattle,and not just docile one but semi wild beasts as well. They herd by biting the heels.Also popular as a wild pig hunting dog.
So now you know what the instinct is.My neighbour has an old bitch that is the greatest suck you could ever find.They also respond well to obiedience training.
Posted by: Rob2

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 07:24 PM

Thats what they are mostly called here too, red or blue heelers. One of my bitches was kicked in the head by my Andalusian mare & her head got the size of a basketball, thought she was gonna die, nope, got run over a couple times by a car, a truck and a tractor, one tuff dog. I think if they are laid back there is another breed snuck in!!
Posted by: Rog

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 08:46 PM

Lets get a few facts correct here. Australian Shepards and Blue or Red Heelers are a totaly different breed. Australian Shepards have Border Collies bred into them from the start. Hence the long hair. Heelers have Dingo`s bred into them from the start. Hence the short hair. This is fact. Not fiction. To me the dog is just as good as his or her trainer. Just me. Rog
Posted by: Karen

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 09:15 PM

Rog, same thing here in California. Blue Heelers were said to have Dingo in them. Australian Shepherds had Border collie & regular collie in them besides goodness knows what else.

In the 70's ranchers here would rather have a Border collie, Aussie cross or either one crossed with Blue Heelers.

Posted by: Rog

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 09:36 PM

Karen Yep. I raised Australian Shepards in the 70`s. Before AKC accepted them as a breed. Had Blue Merles and Red Merels. ( SP ) My daughter still raises some really nice toys. When I raised them I liked the smaller dogs. Seemed like the bigger dogs were more agressive and harder to get a handle on them. Do you know Martha Hood in Oklahoma. She has raised some great Australian Shepards over the years. And actually she crossed the Shepards with the Heelers and they were a great cross. Not as hard headed as the Heelers and not as timid as the Shepards. Rog
Posted by: Karen

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/01/06 10:22 PM

Rog, Sorry I don't know Martha Hood.

Yes I like the smaller dogs too! Not because of temperament though. I just like the smaller size because they’re easer to handle, groom, ect. 17 to 19 inches at the shoulder is a good size.

Red Merles are still not common out here. I have a little red female and people ask me all the time what breed she is.

I've had people tell me "that's not an Australian Shepherd! Australian shepherds have blue eyes". Lol

Posted by: Rhova

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/02/06 06:35 AM

My Aussie is a black and white bi - I get asked all the time "What happened to your Border Collie's tail?". Rog, if you were breeding them in the 70's, you'd know this dogs background I'm sure, he goes back on one side to Hangin' Tree's old working stock (Hangin' Trees Black Bear is his grandpa), and Los Racosa on the other side. He is one tough boy, but so happy and willing to work, I just love him to death, even if he's on the go 18 hours out of the day!

To keep it topic related, I don't think Tucker would ever hurt anything deliberately, even a chicken. However, he's big, he's goofy, and he's knocked every single person in my family flat out at least once, and given me a black eye, all in the name of love! I suspect he'd love chickens, would never deliberately hurt a chicken, but it would get squished by affection :\
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/02/06 03:08 PM

Thank ya'll for all the replys smile . Aussies seem like they would be good for cattle but not chickens, which is too bad 'cause I need a chicken dog. All the LGD's that I looked at where all so furry and large - we're on the Gulf Coast and I'm afraid they'd die of heat stroke. Anyone know of a smaller dog that could watch our chickens? We looked at Border Collies but I think that we would have the same problem with them. Does anyone know of a dif LGD thats small?

Posted by: Rob2

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/02/06 04:35 PM

You're right Rog! they are 2 different dogs. I usually try to be more correct than I was in my post re; red/blue heelers. My 1st were Aussies, the last was heeler but they are similar workers, my English Shepherd is a heeler also. I am not a fan of AKC breeds, beagles yes as they have the only legitimate gun dog trial format.
Posted by: Karen

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/02/06 10:07 PM


I didn't mean to give the impression that Australian shepherds couldn’t be used with chickens.

Chickens are all the livestock I have now and my Aussie helps me pen them up sometimes when I need help. I trust her unsupervised day or night with them.

The point I was trying to make was that each dog is an individual even within a given breed. Different lines within a given breed will work in different ways. Some are workaholics and can't be trusted alone with stock and some can be.

Find some breeders of what ever breed your interested in and ask them in depth questions.

But even if you get the perfect dog it must reliably mind you. That is it must come when called EVERY TIME & stay & sit or down at the very least.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/03/06 12:36 PM

Karen: Thats good! Do you know how to pick out a puppy that would be good with chickens(maybe in the way they act, aggression) so I could get a dog that would be good with chickens? I know what you mean about training it to sit stay, etc. Thank you Karen for clearing that up. smile
Posted by: Karen

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/03/06 04:05 PM


check your Private Message. Thats the Icon of two people next to the envelope.
Posted by: Simon V.

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/06/06 05:06 AM

Blue heelers are just, generically, cattle dogs here and they do have dingo bred into them by Thomas Hall in the 1840's. The Australian Shepperd isn't even from Australia - they just thought that because it was so good at herding it must have been Australian as is Australian Cattle Dog (blue and red heelers) and the Kelpie. Aust. Shepperds weren't even recognised as a breed in Australia until 1994.

If you are talking about Australian Cattledogs forget putting them with chickens. Blue heeler next door killed my beautiful rhode island red roo last year just as he was reaching man-hood. I was at the Sydney Royal Easter show last year and saw an Australian Shepperd obedience show and they were very trainable but I would visit this website:


it mentions that one of the reasons they get Aust. Shepperds handed in or rescued is because they kill small livestock like chickens because they are not kept separate.

If I wanted a livestock guard dog I'd get a Maremma.
Posted by: Uno

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/06/06 10:00 AM

Hello Picky Chicky:

It has been my experience that herding dogs and guardian dogs are two different things. And while guardian dogs are becoming more popular in our area, they are always used with larger livestock, like goats, sheep, cattle, etc. In this capacity they guard against ground attacks by larger predators, like coyotes.

When I let my chickens out, while the occasional coyote might nab one ( easily, we are surrounded by bush) the bigger threat comes from the sky, hawks,owls and eagles. I am not so sure that one dog on the ground can do much to fend off aerial attacks when the flock is spread hither and yon free ranging.

When many chicken people want a dog that is good with chickens, what they mean is a dog that will ignore the chickens utterly. For the most part your dog either wants to ignore them (good) or can't ignore them and wants to romp or chomp them (bad). I know there will be people who have dogs that lick the chickens. If ours try that we shriek, " No chicken lickin!" and give them heck.

To my way of thinking, chickens are a high risk critter. Many wild animals find chickens an easy target, and losses are to be expected. Their greatest safety is provided by the kind of night shelter you give them. A field raised Maremma, raised in the company of livestock could arrive at your house, look at your chickens and sit on the porch waiting for you to put him in with the goats.

I have had many dogs and my aim has been to teach them to LEAVE THE CHICKENS ALONE! Then I do not expect them to 'guard' the chickens. Although dogs being dogs, when a coyote saunters into the yard, they'll do what dogs do....give chase. And when picking out a puppy there is no way to tell what his opinion of chickens will be. But with a puppy at least you have the chance to teach him what his opinion will be. As for the best breed......as others have said, each is an individual. Just pick a breed and pup that look like vegetarians. Good luck :p
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/06/06 10:12 PM

My younger brother is interested in Australian Shepards and Border Collies. He wants to get a Dog this year and both those breeds are on his list. He looks the looks of both of the breeds but he doesn't seem to understand that their personality isn't really something that we want here. Now I don't know very much about either of the breeds so what I am about to post may or may not be true about them. But if its to my understanding then both Australian Shepards and Border Collies will chase cars if given the chance. They are herding dogs so it would only make sense that chasing cars might give them a thrill. We don't want a dog that will chase cars because we already lost one to that (yes, I know that almost any breed of dog can be a car chaser but these two breeds seem more likely to do so). The landlord and other farmers in our area also raise cattle and I'm assuming that a Australian Shepard or Border Collie would be tempted to chase and herd them. I doubt that the landlord would be pleased with a dog chasing his meat steers. And finally my fear of him wanting one of these breeds of Dogs is that I have both Chickens and Goats. My small flock of chickens are pets and I do not want to loose a single one of them due to my brothers Dog. And I do not want a dog that will attempt to herd or chase my Goats. Not only could the dog chase them to death, but next year I will also have pregnant Does and newborn kids that would be threatened by a such a dog. My Cats are also a worry at this point but I don't know how Australian Shepards and Border Collies react towards cats.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/06/06 10:16 PM

P.S. like Uno said, what you want is a Guardian Dog not a Herder Dog. I think that you would be more interested in Great Pyrenees's then Australian Shephards and Border Collies. But even the Guardian Dogs won't always protect the chickens. They don't quite bond with chickens as well as they do with Goats, Cows, Horses, etc.
Posted by: Karen

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/07/06 09:41 PM

How a dog turn out depends on many things. If a child is not taught manners it will not be very pleasant to be around. If a dog is not obedience trained it will be a nuisance. If a dog is not kept under control (this means a fenced yard or a leash & collar or obedience training) it has the potential to be a nuisance.

That said years ago we were out in the country and the dogs ran free day & night. They didn't chase cars, bikes or people. But I was always watchful.

Now we have neighbors all around and lots of traffic on our road. We have a fenced back yard for the dogs (one at this time) and she isn't allowed to roam.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/11/06 04:04 PM

All "herding" dogs must be given "jobs" of some sort or they become destructive and a pain in the a**. I had an Australian Cattle dog and he was GREAT with MY chickens because he was introduced properly and knew they were part of the family. Would have never trusted him with any others. Now have an Australian Kelpie which is a great help getting the chooks in. I find them a little less high strung then the border collies, but it is all about personal preference.
We live on a property so I have a number of working dogs to choose from.
Posted by: Rog

Re: Looking into Aussies as a farm dog - 03/11/06 05:54 PM

How good a dog is depends on the dogs mind and how good the trainer is. Good trainers understand how each dog thinks after awhile. And trains that dog to it`s ability. Dumb dog , not much ability but can be usefull at some things. Smart dog , lots of ability and can do lots of diverse things. There is no simple answer. I have a show bred Dalmation now. To big for show. She will kill a possum and tree a coon. Dig up a mole , catch a mouse and eat it. A wild bird gets in the coop she`ll try to catch it. But she protects my bantams. Even the chicks. Let a chick holler and she is out there looking to see what is bothering it. Any breed of dog will work. If it`s the right dog and has the right trainer. Just my thoughts. Rog