Dog Breeds For Protecting Poultry / Livestock…

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“I want to get a puppy, of a breed known for protecting livestock. I want to take it to training camp. I want the breed to preferably have short hair but be able to withstand winter weather outside in Texas… a large breed of dog that will be able to fend off a Bobcat or a Raccoon. So, what information do you have for me regarding this quandary? Please help.” ~ Bill Bush

(NOTE: Initial Question Heavily Edited For Lengthens Sake – The Primary Concern Was The Bobcat…)

Bill, thanks for the question and I’m so sorry you’re having predator problems.

I’m not an expert on breeds of dog nor am I a veterinarian but I happen to know one very well. He is also an avid hunter and is knowledgeable on the use of dogs in hunting, mountain lions in particular. This veterinarian seemed like the best resource for your question so I’ll share some of the things he told me.

In his opinion, there is not a particular breed of dog that would have the ability to kill a bobcat.

Even well trained, large dogs will be severely wounded, if not killed by an animal of that kind. Obviously a large dog would fare better than a small one though.

You must remember that we are talking about domesticated dogs versus a wild animal that is seeking food. No mater how large the dog, it’s skin is only so thick and is vulnerable to being ripped up by the bobcat if confronted.

On the note of the bobcat seeking food, if your area is experiencing a drought, I’m sure you know that there will be an influx of wild animals in search of food. Although most predatory animals come out at night, drought will bring animals into inhabited areas during the daytime.

So after discussing your situation with my friend, there are two suggestions I have for you;

You may need to keep your flock more secure in both the daytime and the night. You mentioned a chain link fence. I’m assuming you’re referring to a “run” area. I would suggest lining the whole thing with chicken wire or something with a heavier gauge wire if you prefer. Also, bury the wire 18 inches below the grade to discourage a digging animal.

The tighter weave will prevent an animal from reaching in through the chain link.

You may not be able to release your animals to range during the day but may need to keep them in the secure run if you are dealing with a drought. After the drought passes, you should be able to release them again.

If the run is open on top, consider covering it as well. If the bobcat can gain access to an adjoining chicken house roof, it can jump into the run. The cover material is your choice, just be sure it is secure.

An alternative would be an additional fence around the existing one that has an electrical charge. You’d need to be sure your poultry could not get to it. The same would apply if you chose to add electricity to your board on board exterior fence.

Secondly, your plan to get and train a dog is excellent but for a different reason than you’ve suggested.

A well trained hunting dog would be of great benefit to alert you that something is wrong. Whether the problem is a raccoon, a bobcat or any other predatory animal, a dog is better suited to “sound the alarm” than to defend the flock.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that your birds were out for eight hours and it wasn’t until you left that they were attacked. Wild animals are instinctively fearful of people.

Just the barking of a dog may be enough to keep the predators away but at the very least, you will be aware of their presence and be able to take steps to defend your flock.

May I suggest Smith & Wesson. (For those who are not familiar, Smith & Wesson in a popular gun manufacturer.) A warning shot should scare away a predator.

Bill, I know you were hoping I would be able to provide you with a breed of dog that would be able to fight off predators and I’m sorry I’m unable to do that.

If you take the steps outlined above, I believe your animals will be safer and you’ll be able to get that pair of geese next spring.

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