Smoke Ridge

Livestock Guardian Dogs

What are livestock guardian dogs?

They are dogs that protect their livestock charges, which for Smoke Ridge are meat goats. Other people use livestock guardian dogs to protect sheep, chickens, cattle, and more.

Livestock Guardian dogs are not only the reason why Smoke Ridge exists but also the reason why NOT ONE of the over 10,800 goat kids born here to date has ever been lost to predators! So is buying the dog food for the guardian dogs worth it? For Smoke Ridge, the answer is absolutely!  We have no dogs available for sale at this time, but would be happy to refer you to an ethical fellow meat goat producer who does have guardian dogs available. Just email or call us!

E-mail: smokeridge@3rivers.net Phone: 406-403-4070

How can guardian dogs prompt someone to start a meat goat enterprise?

In the late 1970s, Yvonne realized that her one-generation removed from Turkey male Anatolian Shepherd Kibar and imported-from the U.K. female Yani were under-employed guarding half an acre and one human, who was at work most waking hours.  After the 1979 San Francisco Bay Area earthquake, plans were promptly made and executed to move the two dogs and their person to Montana to begin raising cashmere-bearing meat goats. It was soon very clear that the dogs and their owner had found their vocation!

Livestock guardian dogs simply want their charges to be content.

The dogs are trustworthy among their goats, attentive to the animals, and protective of them.  Thank you, dear Canadian friend, for letting me use the third photo above!

Once, Yvonne caught a young female goat by the back leg to check more closely whether the young female might be pregnant. The doe was completely justified in letting out loud blat of annoyance at being so detained. One of the guardian dogs, hearing the goat’s call and seeing that a person was causing the animal’s unhappiness, jumped on the person’s back. As soon as the dog realized that the person was his human, he clearly showed his confusion. When the person then praised him lavishly for his actions, the dog was completely perplexed!
Luckily, guardian dogs accept human foibles with compassion, seeming to shrug, and just keep guarding. The dogs simply want the livestock content and thus calm, and everything else seems unimportant to them. As seen below, some guardian dogs even tolerate being climbed on by kid goats!

Feeding time rates little attention by the dogs unless a goat tries to eat some of the dog’s food. But should a perceived threat appear, even sleeping guardian dogs go from “flat to flying” instantly. The dogs will settle down again when the trespassing fox, coyote, eagle, or muskrat (among others) has been hurried on its way. Guardian dogs will swim to cool themselves down. As decided by the guardian dogs and only after warning barks at them has proven ineffective, errant visiting animals may be eliminated by the guardian dogs.

Are livestock guardian dogs a specific breed, or are they guardian dogs because they exhibit a certain behavior?

That is a question prone to start heated arguments between people involved in animal husbandry! An early valued mentor taught Yvonne that guardian behavior is genetically prevalent in many breeds and types of dogs, and can be reinforced by humans. Guardian behavior is typically exhibited from a very young age. As the dog matures and gains confidence, the innate guardian behavior becomes the pattern for each day of its life.