Autry Farms - Lexington, Tn

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Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD)

Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) breeds have been used for centuries to protect livestock from predators in Europe and Asia. The most well-known of these breeds in the United States are the Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, Akbash and Maremma. Many also work as family and home guardians, and several are assistance dogs to their disabled owners, as they are sturdy enough to provide physical support. With the right socialization, training and physical environment, LGDs can be successful family pets and home protectors. They are generally aloof toward strangers and their size alone is rather intimidating. Though strong, independent-minded and protective, they are normally gentle with children and livestock alike. A common saying among LGD owners is "LGDs are like potato chips - you can't have just one".

History of the Great Pyrenees


The Great Pyrenees is, as its name suggest, a very large dog. It ranges in size from around 25-32 inches at the shoulder. In weight it ranges from 85-140 pounds. It is primarily markings of badger, gray, or varying shade of tan and has a long, flat, harsh protective coat.
The Great Pyrenees originated in the Pyrenees mountains of Europe which form the border between France and Spain. They were developed by the Basque people to protect their flocks from predation by bears and wolves. The dogs have been used for this purpose for over a thousand years. Since a lot of the bears and wolves have disappeared from the mountains, the dogs today are still guarding homes and property. Historically, the dogs have also been used in France to guard large estates. The ability of these dogs to work was achieved by selective breeding in which only the most successful workers were allowed to reproduce themselves, and therefore, a great deal of this inbred instinct remains strong. It is upon this thousand-year selection that we draw when we breed modern dogs for working purposes.
The Great Pyrenees is a territorial guard by nature, which means that he works to keep his territory free from predatory danger. Because of this, there may be times when the shepherd does not see the dog for long periods of time. He knows that the job is being done because the losses decrease. If the dog is working effectively, the stockman may never see a predator, and the flock will never be disturbed.
A good working dog has been selected for hostility toward all possible predators. This is why Great Pyrenees, although bred to work on bears and wolves, are equally effective on wild and feral dogs which are an increasing problem to stockman. By nature, the Great Pyrenees is nocturnal. It has no tolerance for other dogs except the herding dogs that it works with, and very small dogs. It can be trusted with small, young and helpless animals of any kind, but it has to be watched as a young pup with some supervision as it usually takes a pup up to 18 months to become a livestock guardian dog. It is one of the most interesting qualities of a Great Pyrenees-the absolute intolerance of all predators, coupled with extraordinary patience and kindness to stock.
There are basically two ways in which Pyrenees are utilized as protectors of stock. The first is what we call an all-purpose "Ranch or Farm Dog." This is a dog that lives on a farm, usually in the proximity of the farmyard and ranch house. He is part pet, part guard dog. He takes care of the ranch, the family, and the stock that is usually pastured close to the house. The other Pyrenees is what we call a "Livestock Guardian Dog." The Livestock Guardian dog is not a pet, and he is not allowed access to the farmyard or to the house. His sole duty is to protect the stock, in some cases on large isolated pastures or ranges. Both types are a working part of the stock operation and function as such. Pyrenees have been known to increase their territory and may also protect stock belonging to adjoining neighbors pastures. The breed performs admirably in either of these situations.

LGD's at Autry Farms

We have used LGD's since the early 90's as working dogs with Deer and Goats mainly; however our dogs are also exposed to Horses, cattle, poultry and our family and children.
Great Pyrs have been very successful over the years in keeping predators away from our stock. Most of our dogs have registered Grandparents however I have found papers to mean very little when finding a great LGD.
“The Story of Hank”
One of the best LGD I have ever owned came out of a herd sell out in MS back in 1995 and I was fortunate enough to be able to have the winning bid on a full blooded Great Pyr named “Hank” that was a 3 yr old at the time. Hank was a challenge to get loaded and moved, he had never been handled much less leash broke. When we got him home Hank was put in the barn to give him a chance to settle in and get used to the place. The next morning I went out to find an empty barn, Hank was no where to be found. After looking for him several minutes, I caught a glimpse of him heading down in the bottom as fast as he could go, something appeared very wrong. I grabbed the 30-06 rifle and jumped in the truck. When I arrived in the bottom I could hear what sounded like a goat being killed and a bad dog fight all at the same time. As I got closer I could see 3 large black dogs (Rottwiler mix) and Hank, 2 of the dogs were fighting with Hank while the other was attaching a young Fainting goat that had wondered away from the herd. I shot the one attaching the goat first and the sound of the gun startled the other 2, one of them took off and I was able to shoot him. Within seconds Hank finished off the 3rd dog.
Now here I have a 3 yr old Pyr in a new place less than 8 hours that did not know my stock or me. He tore out of the barn, went through an electric fence to protect a goat that he had never even seen before. To me this was above and beyond any expectation I had. It took me 3 weeks to get close enough to touch him, he was strictly a working dog that showed no intreste in being touched by people but that all changed the day I had a customer come to pick up a Quarter Horse colt. They wanted me to show them the fainting goats while they were there. After about 10 min of looking at the goats I turned around to see their 2 yr old boy with his arms around the neck of Hank just about 10 feet away, I was amazed, shocked and worried all at the same time. I slowly squatted down and called the little boy over to me, after all this was a dog that had never been touched before this week. The boy ran to me laughing with Hank right behind him, since that day Hank became the family pet as well as the best Guardian I have ever seen.
In 2002 Hank passed away but his legacy lives on through his great contribution of his offspring still working at H & A Ranch and Autry Farms.