Monday’s Homestead Barn Hop: Meet Our New Furry Helpers

Hey guys!! I’m so glad you could join me, Jill, Amy, and Megan for another fun-filled Homestead Barn Hop! It has been so inspiring visiting everyone’s homesteads and seeing what you’ve all been up to! Keep the great ideas coming!

So, we’re giving owning dogs another chance. We’ve had several not work out, but we’d really love to have a good farm dog to keep watch over the homestead.

When looking for the right pup, keep breed in mind. And be sure to research  your chosen breed before actually bringing one home.

German Shepherd’s are cute as puppies, but don’t let the name fool you, they make horrible farm dogs (well, from my experience, anyways). Any dog with the nature to chase (Retrievers, for another example), unless highly trained, will not do well with chickens. Ours killed three of our hens, just playing I’m sure. But once these breeds get a taste for the hunt, it’s nearly impossible to break them of it completely.

We also tried having a Great Pyrenees. He was such a gentle giant, and we loved him from the start. But these dogs are notorious for getting out and wandering far from home. Ours was no exception.  We were constantly getting calls from neighbors miles away reporting that they had our dog and that he had been in the road. Though I had some pretty humorous calls, too. If you’ve ever seen an Gr. Pyrenees, you know they are HUGE. Like a St. Bernard. One guy called me and said that when his sister had first spotted “Rebel” on their front porch one evening, she yelled, “Oh #@%*, there’s a bear on our porch!!” That was pretty funny.

He never caused any trouble, but we were so afraid he’d get hit by a car. And were even more afraid that some crazy teenager would be flying around a curve and get killed either hitting him or avoiding him. And it would have been on us. He escaped every attempt at keeping him in, and so we decided it just wasn’t safe to keep him any longer. The only responsible thing to do was to find somebody more equipped to have him. And we did.

Many of you have suggested that Border Collies are wonderful farm dogs, and so we’ve been on the hunt for some for months. They must be in high demand around here, ’cause every time I found one listed, it was immediately spoken for. Last week, we finally found a sweet pair of collie brothers. They were free to a good home and we were the first to call for them, and so we figured they must have been meant for us.

We’re really hoping these two work out. Their dog lot is butted up between the chicken run and the goat’s pen, so hopefully they’ll grow up being used to them. We let them roam and play during the day, and they’ve been perfect about just hanging around. Maybe they’ll help keep varmints at bay, and warn us of people or dogs that may be on our property.

Do you have a favorite farm dog breed? I’d love to know your experience!

17 thoughts on “Monday’s Homestead Barn Hop: Meet Our New Furry Helpers”

  1. My family has had a veriety of different dogs on the farm with our free range chickens, ducks, cats, goats, cows, and horse. Many of our dogs have been labs or lab crosses, one my favorites was the stray anatolin who fit in perfect. Right now my parents have two black labs and my husband and I have a heeler mix and an australian shepherd. Most all of our dogs have killed one or two chickens/ducks and were beat for it with the dead bird and learned pretty fast that it wasn’t worth it. Even our hard headed terrier mix who would kill snakes, coons, and skunks learned not to mess with the other animals. I think that as long as it is an inteligent breed/individual they can be trained not to kill poultry. My neighbors have a male border collie as their farm dog who does great.

  2. Thank you for posting this! Very good advice. I grew up around dogs, my mom owns a dog grooming salon and shows them as well. You could say I would have rather played with my dog instead of my Barbies. 🙂

    We had a border collie growing up, but we didn’t live on a farm.

    Border Collies can turn very hyper and destructive if left to entertain themselves. But if you give them work to do they do well. And it doesn’t even have to be “big” work. They can guard the livestock, and keep them rounded up.

    When my mom would do her gardening, she would bring Ernie along, us kids would play. He would constantly be looking towards an unfamilair noise, then looking to see if everyone was still okay. When noises would be to threatening, he would bark.

    He would “herd” my brother and I if we got too rambuncious.

    Dogs also do better when they have another dogs with them.

    Have they been fixed? This might be a good idea, unless they are going to be stud dogs for breeding. If male dogs aren’t fixed and they might not give a second thought to ‘mounting’ people or furniture (for lack of better words)

    Hope they can work out. 🙂

  3. We have had Shepards, they’re great. It depends how they’re trained. Our new pup herds wonderfully. They’re very loyal, ridiculously intelligent & very hardy. Our neighbors swear by mutts too though. I really guess it depends on the training & intelligence of the pup, willingness to please & what not! Good luck with your collies, my mom’s collie turned into a car chaser & got hit after a year with them so watch out for those tendencies!!

  4. We always had farm dogs. The best were short haired mongrels. My husband liked the ones that followed him around and showed interest in what he was doing. Our last one was a fox terrier. He was good but needed thyroid medicine or he would be sick. He was pureblooded and we suspected too inbred. I imagine they all adapt to your way of life after a while. Of course they have their own personality too.

  5. My dad’s border collie comes over and herds the kids 🙂 Funny to me but it scares the little one. She always goes with me when I feed calves and check on the sheep. She herds even when we don’t want her to. She is also not good about being kept up…she barks, and barks,and barks until she is let out. Super high energy!!!! Funny dog though, with something to do she is great otherwise she finds things to do.

    Our best dog was a mut with some german shepherd in her.

    Good dogs are hard to find.

  6. Our little rat terrier/boston terrier mix had been a great little farm dog. Recently (last few days) we’ve had a raccoon come and visit the trash cans. Racoon can really do lots of harm to the chickens, but our little “Spot” has chased it away. The only thing better would be to have her live in the chicken coop. The chickens don’t pay any attention to her anymore, even the rooster. She one time killed a duckling that had gotten out of the coop, we tied it around her and let it rot there. She hasn’t chased any more little ducklings since. I say there is nothing better to have than a little faithful farm dog and cat. We have a little three legged cat. She stays close to home too and practically lives at the coop. She’ll follow us all around, in the garden, splitting wood… doesn’t matter she’s a faithful little friend and great mouser.

    I hope your little border collies turn out to be good little farm dogs too. They will be great with the kids ’cause they love lots of activity.

  7. Australian Shepard’s are what we have have but I’ve heard from many folks that it isn’t the breed alone its the owner taking correct responsibility with proper training, and of course the dog itself.

    Our Coco protects our land, herds our children, kills critters that wander into the yard, alerts us to strangers, etc. He protects our chickens, and our family but is still gentle enough to play with our young children. We adopted him as a puppy from the shelter and he was altered young. Males need to be altered unless you plan on breeding. Coyotes, wolves and wild dogs will use a female in heat to lure them away from whatever they are protecting. Even the best of dogs will leave their task to follow a female scent, which in turn usually ends in your flock being eaten and often times your dog.

  8. Bummer! I so hoped to get a lab! That is interesting that border collies are tough to find where you are. Here, in the San Francisco Bay Area, they are everywhere. They don’t do well in our tiny yards. Much better on the farm! 🙂 Enjoy.

  9. We live in town still and have a beagle/lab cross. She is excellent with our chickens, rabbits, children and cats. And chases other critters who might like to get our chickens.

  10. The Border Collie is a breed that must have something to do – it is a working dog and extremely active. Likewise, your Great Pyr needed a flock to protect and plenty of room to roam to do so – they are known to be stubborn when it comes to commands because their first priority is protection, not listening. It doesn’t sound like you have enough livestock to warrant a working dog. If you’re looking for protection (for you, not a flock), get a giant breed: an English or Bull Mastiff, Saint Bernard, etc. These dogs are highly protective of children and their “family” but if trained correctly, very docile (and also fairly inactive, which make them great “porch dogs”). However, most would-be intruders will think twice about entering a property with one of these beasts on guard. Our Saint Bernard has a very menacing, low, guttural bark that would deter even the most determined intruder, but if given the chance, he would likely help any thief walk away with our television because of his good nature. 🙂 Ours also protects our four chickens and walks the fence line several times a day to keep an eye on things. I’m with Deb on this – skip these guys and find ONE dog that will do what you want it to. You’re going to have an even harder time finding a home for two siblings if they don’t work out for you. Good luck.

  11. I grew up on farm and we had many types of farm dogs. We always had better luck with female dogs. The males always seemed to get into trouble, killing chickens, ducks, etc. Once we got rid of the males, the females were very nurtering to all the other animales and children. That went for our german shepherds too.

  12. Hi Kendra-
    We had a border collie and he was gentle, sweet and affectionate. On the down side, like Deb mentioned above, we could never break him from chasing cars. He also enjoyed “herding” everything… the cats, the cows… he never hurt any of them, but he sure kept them well in line. Good luck, they are adorable boys.

  13. Are you going to be herding sheep? If so, training is a must for Border Collies! They are argueably the most intelligent breed, and may get into trouble, just trying to keep themselves from being bored! (chasing cars, for example) They are also extremely high entergy. The perfect dog…..for specific tasks. (German Shepherds are also herding dogs)

    If you are looking for a livestock guardian dog, I’m afraid you may strike out again. There are several breeds that make much better LGDs than Border Collies. Please don’t set those adorable boys up to fail! My suggestion? Better fences maybe? And then go with a breed recommended for what you will use it for.

  14. We’re hoping to get a dog this fall or winter. We’re looking for a good all-around breed that will be good with our kids, keep the squirrels and varmints out of the garden and chickens, and alert us to anyone snooping around where they shouldn’t be.

    While Joseph would LOVE an Australian Shepherd, we wouldn’t have nearly enough work for them to keep them happy and content. We’ll have to wait a bit until we really have a job for them. A lot of breeds are perfectly bred for specific roles and now we just need to find the right breed for our needs.

    I’ve heard great things about blue lacey dogs — they aren’t the prettiest to look at but they’re smart, loyal, and well behaved. Good luck — those two are super cute!

    City Roots, Country Life


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