Chickens are vulnerable to predators and, if you raise them, you must take appropriate measures to ensure their protection.
One of the best ways to do this is to adopt a guard dog, and fortunately there are many breeds of guard dog from which to choose. They are tough on predators and extremely gentle with chickens. They stay with the animals around the clock and anticipate an attack or threat, thus avoiding it even when you are not present.
Chickens! There are many advantages to keeping a small flock. In addition to the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction of bringing a piece of farm life into your backyard, there is also the benefit of fresh eggs for your family and friends. But there are many things to consider before bringing chickens into the house, such as -will they get along with your dog?
Any dog can be a threat to your chickens. Proper training is very important, but breed characteristics also play a role. While every dog has a distinct personality, it’s no secret that each breed exhibits certain characteristics that make it unique. And it’s these traits that can help you judge in advance whether or not your dog will get along with your little red hens.
Dog breeds that may be good with chickens
We have divided our list into three sections. First up: dog breeds that tend to be “comfortable” with having chickens around and shouldn’t get too excited about the whole thing. In other words, these are dogs with low hunting motivation.
A particular dog’s attitude towards chickens will always depend on the individual dog. The breed of dog has an influence, but personality still plays a role. A great place to start could be Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGDs. These dogs, prized throughout the agricultural world for their loyalty and protective instincts, are often used to protect sheep, cattle, goats, pigs and poultry. Keep in mind that these breeds are the right size for the job and tend to be very large dogs. A partial list of these breeds includes:
- Maremma Sheepdog
- Maremma Mastiff Komemond Komodromo Komodromo, Tibetan Mastiff
- Anatolian Shepherd1
- Great Pyrenees
- Breeds of dogs that may disturb chickens
On the other hand, some dog breeds can be a natural “no-no” when it comes to creating a mixed dog/chicken family. These tend to be dogs with built-in hunting instincts – a trait not necessarily conducive to living with small birds. This may include breeds such as:
Greyhounds, Borzois, Italian Greyhounds, Saluki, etc. These dogs are attracted to moving animals and have a deep hunting or chasing instinct. They may not intentionally harm your chickens, but the results of chasing and catching can be the same.
Terriers – Yorkie, Jack Russell, rat terrier, airdale, Westie, etc. Terriers have a strong hunting instinct for small animals (such as chickens).
Retrievers and Pointer-Labradors, Goldens, etc. This can be a mixed bag, as they are bird dogs or hunting dogs, but they are also dedicated to pleasing their humans and spending their days relaxing. With training, some of these dogs may well be fine around chickens.
Miscellaneous – Siberian Huskies. They are working dogs, but are usually not chicken dogs.
Dog breeds that can help you with chickens
If you only have a few birds in your flock, you probably don’t need much help handling them or moving them from one place to another. That said, there are a few dog breeds in the AKC’s Herding Group that would be more than happy to give you a hand. Herding breeds love nothing more than to have a job to do. And if that job is something “real” like raising chickens from their coop to their pasture or eating area, so much the better.
The problem you may run into here is that pasture-raised breeds bring an intensity to their work that can be overwhelming for the chickens. Herding dogs can get overly excited about their work. This may be okay in a sheep or cattle environment, but it can be very intimidating and stressful for your chickens. It can work in some cases though.
Some of these breeds of breeding include:
Welsh Corgi-Pembroke and Cardigan
Australian Shepherd Pomeranian
Be Patient, Your Dog Can be trained to protect chickens!
Regardless of the dog you eventually attempt to introduce to your chickens, it is important to do the initial introduction period slowly3. Introduce your dog and the chickens to each other in a controlled environment, with your dog on a leash and the chickens behind a secure barrier where your dog can see them but cannot approach them. Eventually you can work towards removing the restraints, but always monitor your dog’s body language (steady gaze, barking, etc.). Solid obedience skills, such as sit, stay and come,
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