There are many things that are invaluable to have around the farm. Whether it is tools, materials, equipment, or animals themselves, it takes a lot to keep a farm running smoothly. Also useful is having a little help when we find ourselves with a lot on our plates. Luckily there is someone who will have your back while you’re out and about getting chores done; that someone is your farm dog.
It is hard not to love a dog and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who actually doesn’t. Dogs are great companions that serve many purposes beyond just being a friend. Depending on the type of farm dog you select, you may find yourself with a guardian dog, herding dog, or even a pest control solution. The type of dog that fits your farm’s needs could be any one of the three, or even all three. Here’s an overview of each to help you decide what type of farm dog is best suited for your needs.
When it comes to keeping the farm safe, it pays to have a livestock guardian dog on the payroll. This type of dog is more of a companion to/protector of your livestock than a pet of your own but can be relied on to mitigate threats to farm animals. For this purpose breeds such as the Akbash, Anatolian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, and Maremma are used. Their large size helps to intimidate and deter would-be predators but these dogs can and will neutralize a threat. They need to be introduced to animals in their charge and will wind up staying with those animals as opposed to cuddling with you on the couch. It is also important that these dogs are fully acquainted with family members that visit as well as trusted guests because of their protective nature. They should also be trained in a retreat command should you need to call them away from a confrontation.
If you have cows, goats, or sheep on your farm, then a herding dog can be quite an asset. There are many breeds that fall into this category, such as the Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Old English Sheep Dog, and the Welsh Corgi. These dogs are born and bred with a natural instinct to do their job and can be relied on to push animals where they need to go, which is quite useful in a small farm operation where you may not have ranch hands on horseback at your disposal. Herding dogs are also very intelligent animals and need to have a job to keep their minds and bodies occupied or else they may get into mischief. They also make great family dogs but don’t be surprised when they herd you or your children.
You also may find that the area of your farm in which you truly need help is with pest control. Certain animals can bring about major damage to crops or even fill your property with holes in the ground that can injure livestock and make them lame. They can also get into and contaminate food supplies. If animals along the lines of gophers, mice, moles, rats, or other vermin are a problem, there are a few canine solutions you can employ. Breeds such as the Cairn Terrier, Dachshund (Weiner Dog), Jack Russell Terrier, and Yorkshire Terrier are great for tackling small problems in a big way. Though they can be very high energy, these dogs tend to be great family pets at the end of the work day and can be enjoyed by all.
When picking out a farm dog to help with your work, it is imperative that you take into consideration the purpose that animal needs to serve and find one that is up to the task. Once you’ve chosen your dog, it is up to you to instill good manners and proper training so you have a well-behaved canine citizen on your hands. Also essential is good nutrition, routine vet care, and a well-stocked first aid kid should illness or emergencies arise. Most important, however, is to enjoy your dog. They may be on the farm payroll to serve a purpose, but they will always be man’s best friend.