When we began this venture, we started with only a llama, We chose a llama because our fear was mixing a predatory animal (a dog) with the prey (goat). we spoke to many owners of both llama and dogs and went with the llama. After our first year we came home to the farm one afternoon and found a pack of 6 dogs in the driveway and realized just how lucky we were that we came home when we did. We also realized that our single llama would not be enough to handle a pack of dogs or a pack of coyotes. We considered another llama but since we had been warned that llamas will herd together and ignore the goats, it seemed our next step was to revisit the guardian dog idea.
We went with the Pyrenees because they are not as aggressive as other breeds. This was a hard decision for us. How much is enough? While we took into account our predators, we also took into account that we are a small operation. Our dogs and goats are always within the perimeter, so for visitors and neighbors we needed something not as aggressive. I do not know how my girls would handle a wolf or bear. We have been very fortunate that has not come up. But I would rather loose a goat for my dog being not as strong than to have a human hurt because my dog is too much.
We got our first pup, a female, that had been raised with poultry. She was very human friendly and wanted nothing to do with our goats. In fact Olivia my herd queen beat on her as a pup. We went and got a second dog, a male, from Stacey Stoneman and he was fantastic. He immediately knew his job even at such a young age and he taught our female her job.
After we moved to Wyoming we lost our male to bloat. This was entirely our fault for not being more vigilant in our feeding practices with him. He had a habit of hoarding food then gulping it all down at one time. This could have been avoided.
Before his death we did breed him and our female. They had two liters and we kept two females out of those. We now run three dogs.
Let me tell you these dogs are my employees. I could not run this place with out them. To watch them work the herd and the herd respond is amazing to me. Each dog has a role within the herd. This is something they have done on their own.
Mama dog and Tot are the front runners. Tot is a little smaller and she is more elusive. I cannot catch her. She is always on point and very vigilant. Mama dog is much more laid back. She hangs out and supervises.
Tater, the other female is one with the herd. At any sign of distress she is in the middle of herd and they gather around her. If there is danger she leads them to the barn.
Not only do they watch and supervise, they are there at kidding time. Mama dog shines here. She lays with each doe, and will block the wind, keep other dogs and goats from the doe and clean up after if allowed. She has a specific bark at the rest of the herd when a doe is in labor and thanks to that bark I make most kiddings.
We have one goat in particular that enjoys grass on the other side of the fence. Even though it is not greener! This results in her getting stuck in some manner. Tot is usually the dog that will sit with her until help arrives. The same when they are stuck in a feeder, or anywhere they should not be.
These girls are my eyes and ears. Having them has made herd management more easy and I am so grateful. They work 24/7 and work for food! So to anyone considering dogs I recommend them!
Update to LGD's. Just something that I want to share, we recently purchased a 4th lgd, it was a disaster. Folks do your homework when you are purchasing your dog. If you have any red flags, turn and run. It is not worth the time, money or loss of goats. Don't think well I drove all this way, I might as well. NO! Don't do it!!!