Sovereign Hill Farm

Livestock Guardian Dogs image

Maremma Livestock Guardian Dogs

What Do They Do?

Our livestock and some of our fruit tres are guarded by our brother and sister working team of Maremma LGDs. Fergey and Vera came to us at 10 months old as trained guardians and bonded to our goat flock. While their main bonding is with the goats, the perimeter corridor fencing around the entire system of pastures allows them to guard all 11 small-ish pastures, 5 paddocks and the barn courtyard. They also provide a level of protection for our gardens even without access to those areas since their barking tends to discourage the deer and moose.

What Are They Guarding Against?

The predators in our area consist of coyote, fox, lynx, bobcat, fisher cat, mountain lion, black bear and some neutered male wolves that our gov't saw fit to release in our area. We have not had any losses thanks for their diligence.

How Do They Do Their Job?

Livestock guardian dogs bond with their charges and in our case our dogs like to stay near the goat herd. During the day they are mostly in a state of watchful rest and although they appear completely asleep they leap to action when they hear/smell/see anything suspicious. How aware are they? When they first arrived they barked warnings at all satellites going overhead. I've seen them leap up barking from what looked like a sound sleep because a cat had walked across the lawn 100 feet away, completely out of sight.

Why Did We Choose Maremma Dogs?

The Maremma breed of LGD comes from Italy where they have guarded sheep and other livestock against wolves and bears for centuries. We chose this breed because they tend to bond with their flock/herd rather than territory and do tend not to be fence-jumpers always looking to increase territory. We also wanted a dog that was less human-aggressive to avoid potentially dangerous situations with visitors. They will however use escalating aggression to prevent unwelcome visitors from causing problems in our barn complex. Barking is their first choice of deterrent but they will move to herding intruders away from their charges to outright aggression if necessary.