Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Our knight in fur


It seems like the only time I mention Sovalye is when the coyotes are getting our animals or when there is a problem with him. That's a lot like the people who never give a business feedback unless it's bad, so I figured I should give him some credit for doing a great job lately -- and without getting himself injured. (knock on wood)

Sovalye is Turkish for "knight," which seems appropriate since his job on Antiquity Oaks is guarding us and our animals. He weighs 115 pounds, which is on the small side for an Anatolian, but he still outweighs any predator that comes our way. Between him and the llamas, we seem to be keeping the coyotes at bay. (knock on wood)

He recovered fully from his torn ACL last spring, but as he approaches five years of age, I'm starting to think about getting a puppy that can start training with him, so that the puppy will be ready to take over when he's too old to guard the animals any longer. Should I get another Anatolian or a different livestock guardian breed? Or should I get another English shepherd like Porter, who is supposed to be an old-fashioned, all-purpose farm dog? Although I'm a little excited about the prospect of another dog, I'm also really worried about making a bad decision, but that's a post for another day.

11 comments:

Melissa said...

I'm partial to the Great Pyrenees myself. :)

CONEFLOWER said...

What a wonderful farmhand you have there. He is really handsome. Did you know that donkey's are good coyote preventers too? I have friends on Whidbey Island who have 4. One for each pasture. They had two Great Pyrenees, one was terrific, thought she was a sheep, even ate with the Shetland sheep on the farm. The second, not so good at chasing coyotes. So they got the donkeys.

Anne said...

I have an Anatolian and a great Pyr and they are both great. The Pyr barks ALOT, which is a breed characteristic. If you have close neighbors , this can be a problem. My Anatolian is only a year old, and I will always have one of these great dogs. Besides guarding, she is an obedience dog and I'm going to do carting and conformation with her. I've heard donkeys are great, too. I love your blog!!!! Best, Anne

Deborah said...

We got a couple of Great Pyrs when we first moved out here, and they turned out to be terrible. They seemed to think our chickens were their squeaky toys -- and dinner. Within six months we had sold them to pet homes. Since Pyrs have become so popular as pets, the challenge is finding one that has still retained good guarding instincts.

We had a donkey once, and he was not nice. He killed one of our ewes, so we put him in a perimeter pasture. One day a buck got out, and the donkey grabbed him by the front leg and was galloping across the pasture dragging him. I know that's unusual, but he was definitely not guard animal material.

MaskedMan said...

If it works, don't fix it. There are a number of very good LGD breeds, but if you've had good luck with Anatolians, I'd suggest you stick with what works for you.

I like Pyrs, but they're popular enough that there's been problems with low-quality breeding. Displasia (hip and elbows) is a potential issue, as is cancer - Osteosarcoma is a prime killer of older Pyrs. And they bark. Loudly.

Michelle said...

I will side with Masked Man on this one!

Donna said...

I cannot comment of different breeds of LGDs but will comment on my guard donkey experiences. We have one female that is a great guard but gets too fat on pasture so cannot be kept with sheep or goat for that reason. Then we bought a castrated male donkey to keep her company. He ended up killing one of our ram lambs that got through the fence. I prefer llamas myself.

Deborah said...

Thanks for everyone's thoughts on the dogs. I've looked for Anatolian breeders a little and found one that sounds pretty good out on the east cost. Sovalye's breeder in Michigan sold their farm for health reasons, so they're not a possibility any longer.

Thanks for your input, Donna. I definitely prefer llamas to donkeys. They pretty much ignore the sheep and goats but have stopped several coyote attacks that we're aware of.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be cute if you got another Anatolian!! He'd be like a son!

Twwly said...

I know a few people with Maremmas who are quite happy with them.

Al said...

Well I know this is an old post, but if I read back in blogs, others must too, so for what its worth.... I love our Polish Tatra! They are similar to the Pyrenees, but don't have the problems that are starting to pop up in Pyrs since focus has shifted from working to showing Pyrs. Besides being an LGD though, they also herd (but NOT by nipping at the animal's ankles like other herd dogs, but more like nudging/guiding the herd). They have also historically been used to pull carts, work with police and assist the disabled. http://www.ptwda-usa.com/PTWDATheWorkingTatra.html (not my site).

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