Category: Livestock Guardian Dogs

Feeding Your Turkish Livestock Guardian Puppy

Feeding Your Turkish Livestock Guardian Puppy

Family portraits Peaches and Herb puppiesSlow growth is important for these very specialized big dogs.  Regular puppy food, and even large breed puppy food, is too high in protein and can lead to growth that is too fast to be safe for these dogs.  We feed Diamond Naturals Brand Lamb and Rice and Sportmix Premium Energy Plus in rotation.  Our local feed store, Story Ag of Grinnell, carries these, but there are other good options if those brands aren’t available to you locally. A google search on feeding livestock guardian dog puppies, or Anatolian Shepherd puppies, or Turkish livestock guardian dog puppies, will lead to lots of great information on this subject, and recommendations for various appropriate foods to feed these types of puppies.

While the puppies are here on our farm, they have 24-hr access to their mother’s milk and also her dog food.  (During this critical nursing period, mom gets plenty of extra treats in the way of goat cheese and various meats.)  Once the puppy comes home, allow them access to their food two to three times a day, for twenty minutes, where they can eat as much as they like.  The riskiest time for overly fast growth is when they first come home, between 3- 6 months.  In general it seems that vets prefer to see the dogs with more weight on them than is really appropriate for Turkish livestock guardian dogs.  They should by no means be gaunt and boney, but well-covered with ribs slightly visible at 3 to 6 months, and more visible from 6 to 18 months.

Alaturka website: puppy feeding info

Diamond Naturals Lamb and Rice – 23% Protein, 14% Fat

Ingredients: Lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, white rice, cracked pearled barley, fish meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), egg product, beet pulp, flaxseed, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid.

Sportmix Premium Energy Plus – 24% Protein, 20% Fat

Ingredients: Meat Meal, Ground Yellow Corn, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Brewers Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Menhaden Fish Meal, Flaxseed, Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin Supplement, Choline Chloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Copper Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Magnesium Oxide.

Training and Caring for Your Livestock Guardian Dog Puppy

Training and Caring for Your Livestock Guardian Dog Puppy

I could not resist introducing this topic with the above title, but in truth, for a genetically-predisposed, born-on-a-working-farm livestock guardian dog, describing their development progress as “training” is a bit over-stating it.  In my experience, with my dogs, it is very important not to introduce them to situations before they are ready.  Their affinity towards protecting their herd, family, and land comes naturally and does not need any work on our part.  What we contribute to their development is not allowing them to develop bad habits by putting them in situations they are not developmentally ready to handle.

Most crucial is avoiding the exposure of a puppy to any type of livestock

11-week old puppy with 6-week old doeling

that the puppy will want to play with.  Lambs and baby goats are fun and bouncy and may be way too tempting for puppy play.  Chickens will run and fly and squawk as an excited puppy runs to them, turning the chasing (and catching) into a super-fun game.  It may seem harmless when the puppy is small,but your strong, smart puppy is learning and growing every day…and learning to be rough with the farm animals as they get bigger is definitely not what you want!  Watch them carefully during their first year as keeping them safe from learning that behavior is much better than needing to correct it as it happens.

2017 kids living it up - Jasper Farm Nubians
Peaches at 15 months

The most challenging age period can vary a bit from dog to dog, and we’ve had dogs who have never been challenging, so it is possible you may get lucky on that front.  Being extra vigilant when your puppy is about 6 months to 12 months, possibly extending to 18 months, will pay off in years of ease.  While not physically mature at 12 months, we have observed a significant mellowing-out in the dogs as they reach that year-old mark.

Ideally, the livestock guardian dog puppy will have a mature dog as a role-model, and non-aggressive yet no-nonsense livestock to spend their developmental puppy-hood with.  The livestock should be non-aggressive so as not to cause the puppy to be afraid of the animals, but no-nonsense in not allowing puppy naughtiness or general hyper-activity around them.  With our goats, that usually means the herd queen giving the puppy a firm head butt and then carrying on with whatever she was doing (not stalking the puppy with more head-butting).  Our verbal correction and subsequent lavish praise when the puppy backs off strengthens this learning process, but of course we can’t be with them all the time, and the genetically strong livestock guardian dog really just needs appropriate correction in a herd environment that is appropriate to their age.

Raising the single livestock guardian dog puppy can be challenging, as the puppy will need to play, and needs to be allowed to play.  This is much easier if you have another puppy or an older dog who will tolerate the puppy play.  In a situation without another dog available to play with the puppy, it is necessary (and humane!) to be sure the puppy has a play outlet – puppy-safe toys and you or the rest of the human family and friends.

The puppy is ready, and should, sleep outside in the barn, near or with the herd, as soon as they come home.  If the weather is bitterly cold, be sure they are curling up with other animals for body heat or have a snug spot where they can be out of the weather directly.  It is ok, but not necessary, to provide them with a heat source as long as you can ensure they are not able to chew on it.  We do not advise removing the puppy from the barn and the herd to bring them in the house.  However, as you are the person closest to your puppy, trust your gut and the situation.

Our Role in Puppy-Raising

Our Role in Puppy-Raising


I believe in many of the benefits of the Bio-Sensor method for puppies, and from day 4 to 18 I engage in the specific activities for this.  I am not trying to create a “super-dog” as I have seen claimed with this method, but I do appreciate the potential benefits presented by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia, an AKC judge, researcher, writer, and leader in promotion of breeding better dogs.  He found that the benefits from this early neurological stimulation led to:

  • More tolerance to stress
  • Stronger heart beats
  • Greater resistance to disease
  • Stronger adrenal glands

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non-stimulated litter mates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.  Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated litter mates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated litter mates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors and only gave an occasional distressed sound when stressed.

The Bio-Sensor method really can be boiled down to a very natural stimulation approach – starting around day 4, the puppies are engaged in gentle exposure to specific new experiences, involving being held in different positions and exposure to a cooler temperature.  Some approaches involve more dramatic temperature extremes – certainly with puppies born in an Iowa winter I feel it is plenty to just set them on the pine shavings outside their bed area to experience a little temperature shift before being returned to their warm snuggly nest of siblings plus Mommy.

I take note of each puppy’s reaction and development throughout this process – where do they lie on a spectrum? Are they wiggly, crying, and to what extent?  (If stressed the process is further gentled and abbreviated.)  Or are they relaxed through the process?  (I have had puppies, once their eyes have opened, look at me and yawn while I tickle their toes!)

The benefit I see from the Bio-Sensor method is something that doesn’t in any way change the innate personality of each puppy, but has the potential to help the development of their functional system, and begins to give a comfort level for activities that can spook dogs:  trimming nails, or checking out ears and teeth.

Aptitude Assessments – PAT PLUS LIVESTOCK

At about 7 weeks of age, we get to have the fun of observing each puppy in a series of aptitude assessment tests.  We use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT), which among other things helps to gauge the natural energy level of the puppy, based on the first response of the puppy to each situation.  This also helps us to assess the general “good-fittedness” of a puppy for various homes.  However, the PAT was designed with an eye towards dogs that don’t have the special skills that livestock guardian dogs have, therefore we also use an assessment protocol geared more towards the assessing the specific qualities we’d look for in a livestock guardian dog.

Guide dog trainers have the greatest faith in the PAT test.  A dog that retrieves nearly always works out to be a guide dog because it indicates a willingness to work for the owner.  Other organizations that use dogs from a shelter, such as those who use dogs to sniff out contraband or drugs, and police departments, place almost sole reliance on this test.  They know that if a dog brings back the object, they can train him to do almost anything.  Our dogs have hereditary strength as livestock guardian dogs, and the PAT gives us useful information in assessing their natural proclivity for that.  We also run additional aptitude assessments for livestock.

PAT uses a scoring system from 1-6 and consists of ten tests.  The tests are done consecutively and in the order listed.  Each test is scored separately, and interpreted on its own merits.  The scores are not averaged, and there are no winners or losers.  The entire purpose is to select the right puppy for the right home.

1. Social Attraction – degree of social attraction to people, confidence or dependence.
2. Following – willingness to follow a person.
3. Restraint – degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.
4. Social Dominance – degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.
5. Elevation – degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control, such as at the veterinarian or groomer.
6. Retrieving – degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with Social Attraction and Following a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.
7. Touch Sensitivity – degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.
8. Sound Sensitivity – degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.
9. Sight Sensitivity – degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.
10. Stability – degree of startle response to a strange object.

Sales Info – Livestock Guardian Dogs

Sales Info – Livestock Guardian Dogs

All puppies go home with vaccinations and deworming appropriate to their age.  Puppies are ready to go home after 8 weeks.  We find 8 weeks is an optimal age to facilitate an easier transition to the puppy’s new home, and to allow the owners to raise the dogs in their actual working environment. Our puppies’ parents are working livestock guardians and pups are pack raised with ample loving human socialization.  Pups are exposed to goats and chickens at an early age, typically at day one depending on the mom’s selection of birthing location, and pet dogs and cats are a regular part of their environment. 

We agree whole-heartedly with this message from Natural Born Guardians (raising Boz and Kangal livestock guardian dogs, relatives to the Anatolian Shepherd and Akbash):

These puppies need a purpose, whether it be a herd or flock to guard, or family to interact with daily. These dogs DO NOT do well, nor do we support or condone, long-term kenneling or isolation, as it negatively affects both their mental and physical development.  They are natural livestock guardians, and like all LGDs, become deeply attached to their owners and livestock, needing those bonds to develop as well-adjusted, happy, healthy dogs.  [Anatolian] Shepherds are extremely powerful dogs, who require an owner that is both willing and able to care for their needs, and socialize them properly.  A puppy will not be sold to anyone that is not prepared to care for this type of dog.

When at all possible, in-person pick-ups are encouraged!  Shipping by air out of Des Moines International Airport (DSM) is possible when United Airline’s PetSafe travel is functioning.  We can make arrangements for your puppy, and this usually ends up costing about $600, which covers the crate, health papers, and the airline charges.



Future litters will be sired by our new purebred Boz, Windigo, with Peaches or Grendel.  These pups will be 50% Boz, 32% Anatolian Shepherd, 15% Great Pyrenees, and 3% Akbash.  Puppies from these breedings are $1100.

We will update when puppies are expected, at this point that is early fall of 2020.

We place our puppies in working homes where they will have a herd to protect and humans to love.  A well-balanced working dog needs both.  Our sales info is here.