If you have a backyard flock and have had trouble with the occasional predator, you might want to know the best dog breeds for chickens. There are some that will guard your flock, keeping away danger. And then there are breeds that don’t necessarily do much guarding, per se; they just get along with and won’t actively attack your birds. However, if the dog lives outside, it could be enough of a deterrent to predators.
Some of you know we got an Australian Shepherd puppy several months ago. And if you follow this blog, you’re also aware I have chickens and ducks. Additionally, if you know anything about Aussies, you’ll know they have a strong prey drive. Which doesn’t make them exactly ideal for chicken people.
Prey drive is what affects whether dogs will or won’t attack other animals, including chickens. So dogs with a strong or high prey drive have a hereditary desire to chase, hunt, and sometimes even kill other animals. However, dogs can be trained. Just because you get a dog that’s ‘good’ with chickens doesn’t mean it won’t need to be trained as well.
Best Dog Breeds for Chickens:
The Great Pyrenees is a great dog, does well with families, but needs a firm hand in training. Also, it prefers cool climates, not making it suitable for the Southern U.S.
This next dog is also a good option, as it is calm and chill with other animals while also fearless when facing threats. However, the Pyrenean Mastiff requires firm training due to its stubbornness at times. And it prefers the great outdoors and doesn’t tolerate heat and humidity.
This next option I have for you is the Kangal Shepherd dog, which also needs broad spaces and a firm hand. It’s a loyal dog who will protect both the family and flock, but without clear boundaries, it can stray and attack others, including people and pets. Also, this was the only dog so far that I found that can tolerate the heat we get.
Finally, the Anatolian Shepherd is more business than cuddly fun, but it’s a fiercely loyal dog. Although training and early socialization are a definite must for this pooch. Again, this dog requires space and plenty of it outdoors. And did I mention training?
This list isn’t exhaustive; there are 4 other dog breeds usually included: the Komondor, Akbash, and Kuvasz. And all of the dog breeds are part of Livestock Guardian Dogs.
Some Caveats about Getting a Dog for the Chickens:
- Don’t just get a dog and expect it to know what it’s supposed to do.
- Having a dog takes training, especially one destined to guard the chickens. Ideally, get a puppy and train it to be around your flock, and the flock to be around the puppy, so they are familiar with each other.
- Bring your dog around as you feed, water, and take care of your backyard birds, because this will teach your dog that the birds are to be protected.
- Additionally, introduce your flock and dog slowly, preferably with treats once everyone is calm, since most animals love a good treat. So that in time, as you continue to bring your dog around your backyard birds, and proceed to hand out treats for good behavior, they will associate good things with each other.
When we first got our birds, we had a Shetland Sheepdog who would try to herd the birds when they strayed from their yard. Thus, he listened to us to keep them safe. We had Moses for many years by this point, he was highly intelligent, and obedient.
However, when we first got Sophie, our Aussie, she killed one of our ducks; it looked like she was ‘playing’ with it in her energetic enthusiasm. Though, with diligence, we’ve trained her that the birds are not for touching, molesting, eating, playing, etc. Although it didn’t really take her long to pick up on what we wanted. And now she completely ignores them.
Except now I’m on phase two of bringing her into their yard so she can know they’re part of the family and to protect them.
Other Dog Breeds as Options
Even though the Livestock Guardian Dogs are the best when it comes to guarding your chickens, with hard work and diligence, you can train other dog breeds to guard them too. Or at least to be a predator deterrent, like our dog Moses was. And how we’re working on Sophie currently.
Since most of the ‘chicken dogs’ have thicker coats and require cooler temperatures, that makes them unsuitable for the Southern half of the United States.
Although, herding dogs or shepherd dogs, if trained consistently, could at least deter predators, if not actively guard your chickens. Some breed examples include:
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Border Collie
- Australian Shepherd
- and Collie
Keeping chickens attracts predators, especially living on acreage. And you want to protect your birds, your investment, and the eggs they produce. I hope I gave you some ideas on what dog breeds work the best with backyard birds. But the most important thing to know and remember is to train your dog to think of your chickens as part of the pack.
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