Is there a good dog breed for chickens?

Posted by: Anonymous

Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 11/30/03 03:11 PM

Within the past month, I've had around 10 of my chickens disappear. Some I'd find a scatter of feathers around, and some I'd find no trace. I'm thinking it was several predators: foxes, owls, hawks, raccoons and stray cats. Is there some type of dog that might be good and gentle to my chickens but on the other hand guard them? I know it's a longshot, but my babies love to range outside and 2 weeks ago I decided I didn't want to lose anymore so I don't let them out of their pen. I know they're miserable but I hate to see any of them die. My tiniest bantam and my Guinea hen are missing too, so it could be any kind of animal getting them. Does anybody know or have experience with a few breeds of dog that would make my hen's days happier? Any suggestions are welcome.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 11/30/03 04:23 PM

I have two dogs, a Chocolate Lab and a Golden Retriever. The Lab was given to me when she was about 4 and never went after my chickens and has been protective about 'her' house and property. She has taught the Golden to take care of it to but we got him when he was a pup and was raised with the animals. If he hears the chickens make a ruckus he runs to check on them. We have had alot of coyotes lately and he keeps them away. Something very quiet was taking my birds and leaving no trace (maybe bobcat) so I ended up penning everyone up. I think it is not a specific breed you want, but rather a dog that is raised as a pup around the chickens and that wouldn't solve the immediate problem. Both of my dogs are bird hunting breeds but never mess with the chickens. I wish you luck, sorry you lost your birds. jennifer
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 11/30/03 05:29 PM

There is something to be said for having a dog around. Just having his smell all over the property is helpful plus they pee on everything including the sides of the coop eek . We also have a bird dog that has learned not to bother the chickens. He was 6 yrs old and had to re-think his take on birds but has managed to do it. Our other dog (mutt) was not in the least bit interested in the chickens from the start. The dogs have the run of our yard as do the chickens during the day. I have yet to see coon or weasel tracks in our yard and our neighbor feeds the coons. Maybe thats why. wink Checkout your SPCA for a good calm dog. Tell them what you are looking for in the dog and they can probably help. Thats where we got our mutt.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 11/30/03 06:19 PM

I have two black labs and they listen fairly well, so they don't mess with the chicken all that much.

I'd recommend them or possibly a border collie. A dog that is known to be really obedient.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 11/30/03 07:44 PM

I have a mini dachsund... a breed that under most circumstances I would never reccomend keeping with chickens, but she is excellent with them chasing away all other animals, cats, other dogs,(even though she dosen't know that they could probably eat her!) wild birds, and even rabbits, with out hurting the intruding animals or chickens. she even helps me catch the when I need to, just like a little sheep dog, she gets right up to them and tells them where they need to go but dosen't harm a single feather. I think there are good, bad and exceptional in every breed. It just takes intensive training, patience and a little luck!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/01/03 07:56 AM

Hi, a couple of breeds you may be interested in include the Irish Wolfhound, Belgian Sheepdog, Bearded Collie, Border Collie, Bernese Mountain Dog, Briard, the Belgian Tervuren, *Great Pyrenees, Mastiff, German Shepherd and the Kuvasz. Each of these dogs would make an excellent guard dog, "with careful training," and I can't emphasize that enough. Although I always advocate getting a dog from the pound, in this case, it's important to seek out a dog who has been bred for guarding or herding, unless you just want a dog who can scare anything away with his bark in which case I'd say get a Schnauzer - loud, fearless and superb guard dog - although you must keep him/her away from the chickens. (One of mine is a Schnauzer - definitely can't let him near my ducks, but boy, he is the BEST guard dog ever when it comes to warning me if anyone or anything is around the house! Many a UPS man has fallen off my porch just from him barking in the window!) A good point mentioned above is to get a pup, thereby creating and maintaining a familial relationship between the dog and your flock; one he/she'd want to protect. I always think it best to get two of anything, especially dogs, since they, like us, are social creatures. Also, don't tie your dog up outside, train with invisible fencing or provide borders so your dog will be safe, as well. And, of course, always a strong, protective shelter and lots of attention from you. I have two dogs, and they definitely have helped keep predators at bay - but I never, ever leave them out alone at night - for their own safety, and during the day, they go in and out whenever they want, but just their scent and their very loud barks make a difference. So sorry about your chickens, hope this helps.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/01/03 09:38 AM

Anything with Airedale terrier in it. We have 5 dogs and the best is a Border Collie/Airedale cross. H e kills pigeons in the barn constantly but has never harmed a chicken. He lays in the run with them and lets chicks and chickens both pester him. He is misery on coyotes and other varmits. I agree just the presence of a dog keeps many/most predators away. We had the worst grasshopper infestation ever and I finally let my chickens free range in hopes of saving some of the garden. I figured I could lose a few a week and still be way ahead as the cost of pesticide is high and not that effective. Well 30-50 chickens free ranged from June-Sept and I only lost 2 pullets to one of our ranch dogs. We are in an area saturated with every predator. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. Of course they were cooped at night, but I think the fact the dogs are around makes the diff.
Posted by: Anny

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/01/03 12:21 PM

I have an Airedale and he's VERY good with the chickens. He will chase anything else. Not that we have many predators here, just foxes, but the dog will also chase cats, pigeons, even blackbirds, and doing so he will always avoid the chickens, even slow down so as not to frighten them. The chickens like him because he cracks walnuts for them laugh .

The only problem with an Airedale: it has to get trimmed every three month. :p
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/01/03 01:58 PM

How about a yorkie or a pug? So small I doubt they could even fit a banty in its mouth. Or if your neighbor has a dog ask if you could poop scoop for them, put it around the run and house. It may help some smile
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/01/03 02:15 PM

We have a Border Collie and I agree with the folks that say they are good dogs. Our BC's strong points are her intelligence and wanting to please. But she is always high energy and often impulsive which are drawbacks. She's pretty good with the chickens now but we watch her closely. I scruffed her and scolded her pretty severely a couple of times. She learned though.

About going to the pound ... around here if you say you want a farm dog you will be shown the door. They will only adopt to indoor homes.

Good luck with your predator situation!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/01/03 03:30 PM

We have a golden and a black lab also they are real good with the chickens but they chase about everything else inlcuding the poor dove my lab got today. When my mom brings her yorkies over they go right for my birds chasing them all over the place. They may not be able to fit one in there mouth but they can get feathers in there. good luck
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/01/03 05:05 PM

I don't know what to do yet. Last night, a fox (I think) dug a hole under the fence and got 4 of my hens. I seem to be losing them in large numbers. I know for sure I don't want to get a puppy, I don't have the time to raise one. I'm going to check with the SPCA and see what they have in. So some of you say small dogs and some of you say big dogs...I'm not sure which would be better. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/02/03 10:29 AM

Hi again, if you are losing that many chickens to predators, maybe you need to tighten the fencing/coop situation right away, and think about lighting outside. I've read alot on this site which can help you in terms of fencing underneath and around your coop. If you really are intent on getting a dog to protect your flock - get a dog bred for working with livestock with inbred guarding and herding capabilities (as I mentioned some breeds above)- these dogs will be easier to work with than say, a dog who has been bred solely for guarding or ratting. Dogs are predators too, don't forget - so it's best to weed out a problem before it exists. As I mentioned, my Schnauzer is the best guard dog you could ask for, but he is NOT bred for herding and no matter how much training I could give him, I cannot erase his inate terrier, ratting disposition. You want a dog who will help to protect your flock by virtue of his scent and bark - to deter wild predators. He is not out there to fight - he's out there to scare them away. If, by some awful circumstance, he/she ends up fighting a wild animal, your dog risks injury or death, rabies, skyrocketing vet bills etc. So, just keep these things in mind. Good luck.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/02/03 11:54 AM

Well, I went downstairs and am kicking myself because I just can't go against you getting a dog from the pound - despite all the info. I gave you. I've got a feeling you're heading for the pound anyway - and good for you! My other dog is from the pound, and he is the one who doesn't bother my ducks at all - (though I still wouldn't leave him alone with them.) He is the most affectionate, loyal dog - I love him to pieces. And, there are so many dogs in need of a good home - I hope you do find your dog at the pound! To help make your selection, as Chookers said, talk to the folks at the pound and tell them what you're looking for, and definitely take him/her for a walk around the grounds, noticing how the dog behaves around squirrels, birds etc. You might even want to bring a couple of your birds in your car, take the dog to look at them and see the reaction - some dogs will go nuts, some will be bored, some curious - you want the one who shows no excitability around them, but one who is alert and friendly. There are lots of obedience classes for dogs - a good idea. I wish you so much luck - for your chickens too, and especially for a dog out there who might get a second chance at a decent life.
Posted by: Sunni Ten

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/06/03 04:49 PM

Please don't get a dog just for the sake of a having a guard for your chickens. Get one because you WANT a dog and will make it a part of your family. Dogs are super intelligent and social and I can't tell you how many neglected dogs I see in my own neighborhood alone. Fed and watered, but that's about it.
That being said, if you really want to adopt a dog, do not rule out pound dogs. There are SO MANY great dogs at the pound, dying (literally) for a home.
As for breeds, I wouldn't worry what breed. Just having the dog scent around will deter predators. As for what dogs will get along with chickens, I believe (from experience) that it just depends on the training you give the dogs. I have 2 labs (one's a trained bird dog) and they've accepted my chickens as part of their "pack."
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/07/03 05:14 AM

A slightly different take.

Have any of you tried a guard Llamma.

I had a horrible slaughter from two neighbor dogs last summer (I caught them in the act when I returned from a short trip to the store). I have three dogs, none of which have ever bothered the chickens, but one of which shows too much interest for comfort. However, due to consideration to my neighbors, my dogs spend a good deal of their time in the 1/2 acre yard I have fenced for them. Their yard (remember one of them makes me nervous) is seperate from the chicken area (they were locked up when the attack occured). Since the attack, I have made things more secure in the chicken run, but no free ranging is going on.

My plan (you know how it is with projects-plenty of plans, not enough time or money) is to enclose about an acre for some milk goats and Llamas as guards. I've started the work, but wont get it done now until next summer. I would like to let the chickens free range in this area as well. I know some Llamas are great as guards for smaller stock, such as goats. Guarding the chickens may just prove to be a great bonus.

Anyone have any experience w/ this??
Posted by: Shahbazin

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/08/03 06:53 PM

Also, besides local shelters, check out dog rescue sites, like Petfinder. If you want a chicken dog, just to guard the livestock, think seriously about one of the breeds bred to guard livestock (not herd them, which is a form of chasing stock): Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, Maremma. Here's a rescue site for LGDs:
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/08/03 06:59 PM

Would guard breeds include German Shepherd? You hardly ever see them anymore, seems like.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/09/03 06:05 AM

I have a Great Pyrenees (spelling?) who is absolutely WONDERFUL for guarding my livestock. The first day I brought my chickens home, I kept them in the livingroom after an owl tried to make off with one of them. She layed right beside the box and wouldn't let any of the other dogs near them. She wasn't mean -- just let them know she meant business.

This past week, I've had a stray dog show up on my property. He decided yesterday that it would be fun to try his hand at chasing chickens. But, once again, Arizona came to the rescue. She immediately placed herself between the stray and the chickens and let him know -- in no uncertain terms -- that the chickens were "hers" and that chasing them was off limits.

She is my wonderful, gentle giant -- and I would recommend a Pyre to anyone interested in having, not only a wonderful companion, but a terrific livestock dog as well.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/09/03 06:51 AM

Just to echo what someone else said, find out what the pound's policy is about farm dogs. I volunteered at one pound where they put a big beautiful dog down because they didn't want him to go to a farm. A family on a farm wanted him badly, but they were turned down because he would be (shock) working!
Also, my neighbours and I have had problems with coyotes, and everyone here has a dog. I solved it by having my chickens always behind a fence. I move it when they run out of fresh grass, but I left about six inches of chicken wire at the bottom, and I fold it down and put bricks on it. There is evidence of things trying to dig and get under, but they have been unsuccessful and it has been about 7 months. The neighbours have lost 7 chickens, and I lost only one, and that was before the fence regime. Good luck with whatever you try. It is stressful to lose chickens!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/09/03 09:19 AM

We were the ones that were turned away from the pound because we were looking for a "farm dog." As soon as the words were out of my mouth you could feel a chill in the air! So many nice dogs there, that someone gave up on.

I will have to say ... when our dog went missing for several days during hunting season (gunfire scared her)... the pound did a very good job getting a description of her and keeping an eye out for her. We did locate the dog on our own, however.

IF anything happens to her, we might well consider a great pyrhenee (sp!)

Posted by: Shahbazin

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/09/03 05:49 PM

German Shepherds are a herding breed, the ones we had were not 100% reliable around chickens. A lot of the American ones are bred so sloped in the rear, they tend to have back/hip problems. It may look "pretty" to some, but it's a waste of a good working breed. The problem with shelters adopting out farm dogs - that's why you want to check out breed rescues, they should understand the breed traits better & not be so "one size fits all". I run a pair of Anatolian Shepherds (a bit like a shorter coated Pyrenees) with my flocks of poultry & sheep, & don't have to worry about predators. We have big cats in our area (cougars & bobcats) so llamas & donkeys wouldn't work here. I've used livestock guardian dogs for 20 years now. Here's a site about the LGD breeds:
Posted by: Rogo

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/11/03 02:14 AM

If you're looking for a guard for your livestock, your best bet is to get a dog from a breeder who breeds livestock guardian dogs. The pups learn from the parents while growing up with the stock. If your stock is different than what the dog grew up with, the breeder will work with you to train the dog to your stock.

The dogs live with the stock 24/7. You really can't have close neighbors since the dogs may bark a good part of the night ~ their first warning to any predator.

As you've seen, many of us have dog breeds supposedly not good for guardians. My dog tears out of the doggie door whenever a chook cackles. The dog cleans the inside of the sheep's ears. -Yuck!- Nothing better get near HER critters! She's the prefered one of my house duck who sleeps with her beak on the nose or a paw of the dog. The dog's an American Pit Bull Terrier.
Posted by: Stretch Man

Re: Is there a good dog breed for chickens? - 12/20/03 01:04 AM

Our ( and I think most) german Shepherd has had the "shepherd" bred out of them in favour of the protective qualities that they are reknowned for. Ours has taken a number of chooks and ducks and even after an intensive course of aversion therapy still puts his jaws around a bird if he thinks no one is looking. He is now on his last chance before he gets snipped(haven't decided whether he will get an anesthetic yet) or a new home. one thing going for him though, he's a better mouser than the cat!