Turkish Livestock Guardian Dogs

Turkish Livestock Guardian Dogs

Our 115-acre farm is situated in a heavily predator populated area, nestled among trees and hills. When night-time coyote activity is high, it is chilling and spectacular to hear the howls of our dogs as they split up and fan out across our property, keeping the frantic yips of the coyotes at bay.

We chose our dogs’ bloodlines for their innate ability to be smart and powerful guardians, and for their amiable traits around humans, reinforced by shepherds and goatherds over two thousand years and more immediately by generations of working parents. Finding their mix is a deliberate effort on our part to perpetuate a reliable guardian dog capable of functioning in a dense predator region, who is also comfortable with themselves and their strength and therefore kind and trustworthy around family and friends.

The genetics we work with are primarily Anatolian Shepherd in origin, with a bit of Great Pyrenees and Akbash. We initially had two beautiful livestock guardian dogs brought up from Skylett Ridge Goat Ranch, a goat farm in the woods of Tennessee: Peaches (5/8 Anatolian Shepherd, 5/16 Great Pyrenees, 1/16 Akbash) and Herb (13/16 Anatolian Shepherd, 1/8 Great Pyrenees, 1/16 Akbash). We were so happy with Peaches and Herb that we have since brought a 3rd dog up from Skylett Ridge, our monster Grendel (a brindle female).

My admiration for these dogs led me to research further into Anatolian shepherds, and I discovered that the mountains and regions of Turkey are diverse and full of nomadic tribes with their own particular genetic lines of livestock guardian dogs.  However, when these dogs are imported to the US, if their importer chooses to register them, they are all lumped under the “Anatolian shepherd” label (with the exception of Akbash which retained its own!).  I became particularly interested in the Boz breed, and I have been incredibly lucky to bring Henry, 50% Boz and 50% Kangal, down from a goat and sheep farm in Wisconsin.

Our dogs, Henry, Peaches, Herb, and Grendel, are part of both our human family and their goat family, and the dogs work along with us to ensure the well-being of the goat herd and other farm animals (turkeys, chickens, and cats!)  While appearing quite relaxed, they are very aware of their surroundings and patrol our land regularly to stay on top of any changes and potential threats in the area.  We appreciate their overall quiet approach; when they bark we know there is a real reason! Asserting their presence on a constant basis, more in a physical rather than audible way, allows predators to consider whether it is even worth messing with our farm!

Another priority for us is coats that stand up to the harsh Iowa winter temperatures and winds, but also remain low maintenance. Some of our dogs are smooth coated (short-haired) and some are rough coated (long-haired), yet both types remain clean and unmatted (except occasional matting behind the ears with the rough coat) while also having a dense undercoat suitable for frigid winters, which they shed to prepare for hot, humid summers. (If they were indoor dogs, this springtime shed would be a serious emergency!)

I am extremely proud of the dogs we have raised and continue to place in a variety of quality working homes, with horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, and all types of fowl, as well as various management needs, from dogs needed to stay in a pasture and close to their stock, to situations where they need to cover a wide area, and to wide-ranging farms where they are needed to work pastures and areas with only occasional human contact. Our dogs are working on farms across the continental US, anywhere from more local midwest plains and rolling hills, to the mountains of Colorado, and the lush farms of the south.

For more info on how we raise puppies click here.