Friday, August 22, 2014

The dogs

From left:  Pretty, momma, zena, boy, kat and at right, Red.  
These are my livestock protection dogs... well, sort of.  I often wonder what people really mean when they say that.  For some folks it means a dog that basically lives with the livestock that they are guarding, and that they offer minimal support to.  For others it means that the dogs have a duty to guard, but also have other duties, like herding.  Still others basically call their pet dog a guardian dog, and I wonder if they have any contact with livestock at all.

This is my pack; and there's a litter of puppies right now as well, so we're up to 12 dogs.  I'm really not feeding them right now; between the rats and other small critters that they kill, trimmings from slaughter and birthing losses of piglets, they're all pretty well fed.  I do have a sack of dog food, which I offer them free-choice, but they don't eat it.

Given the choice, these dogs will eat the raw meat and prey that they catch in preference to anything else, and it really shows in their coats and overall robust health.  They run everywhere; and every day they make a circuit around the perimeter fence, a roughly 2.5 mile round trip, and inspect every tree and bush and rock along the way.

They're big terriers, and as with any terrier they have a strong prey drive.  This means that I'll find them digging furiously after something or running down the unwary rat.  When they do catch something it's very quick -- much less than 1 second.  Snap-shake-dead.

They are big-game dogs, and they do well around the pigs.  I keep a pack of them because I don't have to worry too much about a single dog being lured out by a coyote.  They're more than a match for a coyote on an individual basis, and on a pack basis, too.  The same as true for other small to medium predators, which suits me just fine.  for the carnivores, the sound and smell of the pack keeps them outside my fenceline, and that is good for everyone.

I really love airedales.  Super loyal, tough, gritty, determined.  Perfect farm dog.


Steve said...

Nice to see another Dog person. I'm curious if you chose this breed, of stumbled onto them and just added? We have four dogs, three of which are rescues. The Shepard/Malanois and the Border Collie are a herd by themselves. They love to run and chase.

Bruce King said...

My first airedale was a half-shepherd half airedale and I loved that dog. I had to put him down because of hip displaysia at 11 years old, and that experience made a lasting impression. The next airedale I had I purchased as a purebred, (and had him examined and xrayed for any signs of hip problems) and I've bred my own since then, adding new blood every few years.
Border collies can be a challenge. I don't think that most people realize just how interesting life can be with a smart dog, and border collies are the smartest I've run across.
for my own uses I prefer a standard size airedale, and that's what I breed. The dogs are 50 to 60lbs, the bitch 45 to 55, and they all run every day, so they have the lean runners build with deep chests.
and then when they're done runing, they're a tan and black carpet around the fireplace.