We use llamas to help protect our alpacas from predators in addition to livestock guard dogs, Turkish Anatolians. Anatolians are one of the only dogs capable of fending off mountain lions, coyotes, foxes and other dogs. They are docile and sweet, loyal to their herd and will defend against any threat. Grizzly, our male Anatolian, is 6 years old, weighs 165 lbs and can run up to 35 mph.
There are several theories of thought when it comes to raising livestock guard dogs. Some prefer to have their dogs defend against everyone, including people. Because we have so much interaction with the public, we have highly socialized our Anatolians to enjoy the company of humans and not defend against them. To train our dogs, they are put with the herd between 10-13 weeks of age and not pet by us for 3 months. This helps the puppies bond with their herd. After this time period, we socialize them with all kinds of people. The alpacas are their family and we are the perk with food, petting and loving.
Anatolians are extremely sensitive to emotions. Just a change in voice is enough to reprimand them and help them learn. The breed is said to be about 3,000 years old, originating from Turkey. Their popularity expanded in the 1970s when they were introduced in South Africa to help farmers with cheetahs moving into developed areas, killings sheep and goats. The farmers would then track down the cats and kill them, dramatically decreasing the cheetah population. Shepherds were taught how to utilize the Anatolians and the cheetah population started to rise with a decrease in goat and sheep kills.
Anatolians can also be referred to as Kangals or Akbash. While our dogs are a typical blond color with a darker muzzle, they can be solid white to solid black because they were never bred for their coats. The strongest, most agile dogs were utilized and bred and the rest did not pass on their genes. You may also see that Grizzly has a longer coat while Cookie's is quite short, which varies from one dog to the next.
Cookie is our female guard dog. At 9 years old she weighs in at 120 lbs and has taken on 4 different mountain lions in defending her herd over the years. She, too, is very social, enjoying the company of alpacas and humans alike.
Cookie overlooking the terrain.
This is one brawl we caught on film with Cookie. Three cow elk had just given birth the night before, over the hill on the other side of the fence. They wanted to cross over our pasture to another piece of land. Cookie did not want them coming close to her herd. The stand off ensued for about 45 minutes. Eventually, all six elk were escorted across the pasture safely to the other side.
Cookie at 9 months old.
We had the opportunity to go to our animal shelter (Heart of the Valley) this past week to talk about guard dogs to a summer camp group. While the Anatolians usual make a good impact with people, I wasn't sure how they wanted us to keep twenty 6 to 12 year olds entertained for an hour.
We arrived and there was a large "ooh!" that whispered throughout the room. We let Cookie and Griz off of their leashes and they happily snuggled into the kids laps, laying on the floor mats with them as we began the history of the breed, why we have these dogs and what makes them different from other canines.
The kids rubbed and scratched the dogs as they asked many thoughtful, well thought out questions. They were interested in something they had not seen before (Well, many had met Grizzly at various events we went to around town). Perhaps because they were from Montana and used to more of farm-ranch setting, but they were very in tuned to when Cookie got up and needed some space or Griz made his way to greet every kid and adult in the room.
Anatolians are smart, kind, intelligent dogs. They are terrific for farms and families alike. They need room to roam and lots of excercise, as well as authoritative owners that are consistent and firm. One pair of Anatolians can take on up to a thousand acres.
Please let us know if you would like any additional information .