While a dog might be man’s best friend, they can also be loyal to your chickens! Keeping your chickens protected is one of the most important parts of having chickens. There are plenty of ways to make your coop predator proof, and having a dog is one of them.
In this article we’ll discuss the best dog breeds to protect chickens. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but will provide a great starting point if you’re thinking of getting a dog to protect your flock.
Most dogs are natural protectors and will easily scare off predators from attacking your chickens. Not only that, who doesn’t love having a dog around! If you are interested in getting a dog to protect your chickens, we have made the process of finding your perfect breed easier.
A Few Points To Consider Before Getting A Dog
The thought of getting a dog to watch your flock can conjure up a lot of excitement. Envisioning them scaring off coyotes, racoons, and other scary critters can make you want to run out there and buy one today! But harness that enthusiasm a bit until you examine what’s all involved.
When looking at any breed of dog, keep in mind the work that it takes to train them. If they are puppies, they learn quickly but need a lot of guidance around not eating your chickens but protecting them.
A great article on training your guardian dog can be found here.
Will The Dog Adjust To Being Outside And Not Around People
Depending on where you get your dog, it’s breed, and how much it’s been around humans, you’ll want to make sure the dog will be content living in the pasture with your flock. The last thing you want is a dog who howls all day to be let out of the paddock. With time, they’ll adjust, but it can be a challenge to contend with!
If you get a puppy, the advantage is they are easier to train than an adult dog who may have already established a few bad habits.
Get A New Dog Or Train My Own
If you already own a family dog, you can consider training him or her instead of getting a new dog. If your dog is easily trained and would like living with your flock, go for it!
The training can be challenging, however, since he or she will be used to being around their people and not with chickens. Because you know your dog better than anyone, you’ll have a good sense of whether this will work or not.
You may be able to develop a system of having your dog with you during the day, but then let it stay in the paddock in it’s dog house at night which is when many predators are on the prowl.
Do You Really Need A Dog To Protect Your Flock?
Look at your situation closely before taking plunge and getting a guard dog. How large is your flock? For example, if you have a dozen chickens, is it really worth it to go through the effort of training a dog to guard the flock.
Are there ways to make your coop stronger or more predator proof? You may not need a dog if you are able to add automatic door openers to the pop door. Or by adding some electric poultry around the perimeter of your flock may provide enough of a deterrent and will be less maintenance than a dog.
We aren’t trying to dissuade you from getting a dog, but just want you to be aware of alternatives in the event you’re not quite committed to getting one just yet.
Owning a new flock protector can mean additional expenses as well. Below is a list of a few items your new furry friend will need.
- Food – Many of the breeds used as guardian dogs are large, so dog food expenses can add up quickly. Of course, having peace of mind your flock is safe makes it worth it!
- Veterinary Care – Dogs, like any animal, can get sick and Vet bills can run high.
- Shelter – Since they’ll be exposed to the elements, a good dog house is important! There are thousands of good dog houses out there. Many folks like lighter weigh houses that can be moved periodically. Houses made of durable materials like plastic, can do well in all types of weather. Proper ventilation is important, as is having it elevated slightly off the ground! Below is an example:
Ok, now that we’ve covered the basics and, assuming you’re still interested, let’s take a look at the list of breeds!
Finding the best breed for your location, needs, and chicken coop can be a bit overwhelming. However, to make the process more simple, here is an overview of some of our favorite breeds we recommend.
As stated earlier, the list is by no means exhaustive, but gives an overview of some of the top breeds we found in our research. If you have your heart set on a different breed, want to use your existing dog, or want to adopt a shelter dog and train it, go for it!
7. Great Pyrenees
This french livestock guardian dog will make your chickens feel completely safe. This dog was made to protect, if there is a predator nearby, your dog will be brutal towards it.
However, around your flock or family, they will be very well-mannered, friendly, and trustworthy. They are a wonderful, docile breed.
6. Maremma Sheepdog
The Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog is an Italian breed that is not only loyal but a great guardian for your chickens. They can spend hours outside due to their water-resistant coats.
In Australia, where these dogs are used as stock guardians, farmers reported a 35% reduction in losses from “foxes, wild dogs, and birds of prey”.
Before getting this breed, it is important to keep in mind that their protective nature can turn into aggression towards unfamiliar faces, so you will have to train your dog about socializing before introducing them to others.
This large breed originated from northeastern Spain and was originally used to protect flocks when the annual transhumance to high summer pasture in the Pyrenees happened. Due to their strength and size, they can protect your chickens with ease.
These dogs not only have an extensive history protecting flocks, but they can also be a lovable addition to your family. These dogs have a reputation for being very friendly towards children.
It is important to note that they will work better in colder climates. Their thick coats will make it hard for them to be in warm climates for long periods of time.
As a livestock guardian dog, the Anatolian Shepherd breed is made to keep a watchful eye on your chickens.
Not only are they visibly a large breed, but they are also extremely fast and quick. This breed is also incredibly easy to get along with as they are very kind to children and adults.
This Hungarian sheepdog, also referred to as a “mop dog”, is a strong breed to protect your chickens. They are a large, independent breed to have. While their strength and power will make them a great protector, their independence won’t make them best suited for a domestic environment.
They will thrive in environments where they can be left alone, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great with other adults or children. They are! As long as you train them and give these dogs some space, they’ll flourish in your home.
If you need a small to medium dog with lots of energy and loyalty, a Puli dog is a great option. These curly-haired dogs are incredibly energetic and active, so physical and mental stimulation are critical. Their coats will make them waterproof, which should be good news if you live in a rainy climate.
Their stubborn but smart nature might make them difficult to train at first, but these breeds truly make the effort worth it. These dogs are very loyal to their owners and will do their best to protect your chickens.
An Old English Sheepdog is known for its long, thick grey and white coat. These dogs are quick, alert, and brave. They don’t find larger predators intimidating. In fact, in most cases, predators scare easily with this breed of dog around.
These dogs are smart and sociable which makes them not only easy to train but a great family pet. These qualities make them one of the best breeds to have around your chicken coop.
In looking at these beautiful dogs, it reminds me of the the old Looney Tunes cartoons with Ralph, Sam, and Wile E Coyote! For a trip down memory lane, take a look at this video:
Some predators are common all through the US, and the world. Others live in different geographic areas.
For example, if you live in colder climates or near mountains, you might have to contend with bears or cougars more than those who live in warmer areas. Coyotes and Racoons are fairly common all throughout the US.
So having protection, like a dog, will definitely help protect your flock from predators and keep them from visiting your coop. We discuss many common predators here.
Check with your local agricultural extension office to find out which predators are common where you live. Here is the list in no particular order:
- Cats or feral dogs
In summary, dogs are amazing creatures to protect your flock. They are strong, intelligent, loyal, and great protectors!
From an Old English Sheepdog to an Anatolian Shepherd, there are plenty of breeds to choose from. Depending on your needs and environmental factors, it’s important to think carefully before picking your perfect breed.
We hope this article made the process a little easier. We wish you the best of luck.