Best Dog Breeds for Chickens
Picture yourself never having to worry about predators eating the chickens that provide you with fresh eggs. With the right dog breed, you can achieve this.
Millions of people in America and around the world now dig the idea of having a few chickens in their backyard; whether you are running a poultry farm or have a few chickens in the backyard, one question that comes to mind is what dog breed is best for my chickens?
Here are the 10 top dog breeds for chicken protection;
- The Komondor
- The Maremma Sheepdog
- The Shetland Sheepdog
- The Anatolian Shepherd
- The Great Pyrenees
- The Spanish Mastiff
- The Old English Sheepdog
- The Kuvasz
- The Pyrenean Mastiff
- The Puli
In this article, we’ll discuss individual traits of the best dogs for chickens, discuss why we chose these dogs as the best for chickens, and show you how to train your dog and chicken to get along well.
5 Traits of Chicken-Protecting Dogs
Before we dive into the different dog breeds that are best for chicken protection, you must understand that although the dog's breed matters, the dog's individual personality also matters.
You'll need to ensure that the dog is sufficiently trained before introducing it to the chicken, as any dog has the potential to be harmful to your chickens. A good starting point for well-trained dogs for chickens is Livestock Guardian Dogs.
Now let's see individual traits that make a dog a good companion and protector for any of your CoolChickenBreeds.
As with many things, comfort is a priority when performing a task. The same applies to the dog you intend to place in charge of protecting your chickens.
You'll need to consider the climatic condition of your location and pick a dog that will suit that location. This is because the dog will be outside often, and you do not want it to fall sick while on guard duty.
For locations with generally high temperatures, we recommend dogs like the Australian Cattle dog, while for places with low temperatures, the Anatolian Shepherd, the Great Pyrenes, or the Kuvasz.
Next on the list of traits your chicken guard god should possess are protective instincts. This instinct across different dog breeds has varying levels. For some, it is quite high, while some might require additional training to improve these instincts.
AKC generally advises against dog breeds like the Kuvasz receiving additional training to boost their protective instincts as they are naturally very protective.
The best dog breed for chickens will be trainable. This would mean that even in the face of danger, they should be able to stand their ground and not run. They should know how to respond to different predators that might come for your chickens and should know the sort of play that will hurt your birds.
To a large extent, your dog should also be independent and not need to wait for you before swinging to action when things go south.
The size of your dog will play a huge role in scaring off predators. Although this is not a hard and fast rule, dogs that are notably smaller than predators are also known to perform excellently well when needed, so a large dog is preferable.
The 5 Best Dog Breeds for Protecting Chickens
Now that you know traits and individual characteristics to look for and to train your dog to have when you need them to protect your chicken from predators. It's time we discuss dog breeds that are good protectors of chickens and what makes them the right choice.
Komodoroks, native to Hungary, are 24 – 28 inches tall and weigh 100 lbs or more. They are famous for their loud barks, independence traits, and the instinct to defend when attacked. These dog breeds are highly trainable and make good households.
The Maremma Sheepdog
Standing at 23 – 29 inches in height and weighing between 60 -100 lbs, this dog, whose origin is traceable to ancient Roman times, is one of the best dog breeds for chickens.
According to Pedigree, this livestock guardian dog is reported by farmers in Australia to be responsible for the 35% decrease in livestock fatality.
They are loyal, perfect for cold weather conditions, and have an innate protective instinct. Training them, however, can be a little daunting initially; hence they require early socialization.
The Anatolian Shepherd
You cannot go wrong with the Anatolian Shepherd as they are the perfect dog breed for chickens in hot and cold weather conditions. No wonder this dog breed has remained a livestock shepherd from the bronze age till this day.
They often reach up to 27 inches in height and weigh up to 80 lbs. They also have natural protective instincts and are very independent. However, early training is required for this old dog breed.
The Great Pyrenees
Another dog breed that can protect your chickens from predators while causing the chickens no harm when you are away is the Great Pyrenees, which is notable for its loyalty and gentleness towards chickens and children.
Do not allow this to fool you; they are one of the most notable LGD breeds all over the world and the US. They are ready to defend your livestock from predators no matter the cost.
The Pyrenean Mastiff
The Pyrenean Mastiff is a large dog that can grow to weigh as much as 220 lbs. These guard dogs, popular in the Pyrene mountains of France, are known for their ability to protect Villagers from wolves.
Although they are calm and rarely exhibit traits that might put your birds in danger, you have to train them to obey you due to their large size. One sure way to achieve this is through positive reinforcement and praise.
How to Train Your Dog to Protect Your Chickens and Not Eat Them?
Although when compared to dog breeds like the German Shepherd, Greyhound, and Husky, the dog mentioned above has a low prey drive.
It is, however, important that before exposing your chicken to your dog, you must further ensure that your dog undergoes further training to know not to kill or eat your chickens.
Here are ways to train your dog to protect and not eat or kill your chicken.
Raise the Dog and Chicken Together
As with a dog and a child, raising a dog and chicken together is one way to ensure that your dog will not eat your chickens while you are away. To do this, allow them to drink from the same bowl.
It is advisable to do this while the chickens are still young and the dog is still a pully. They can explore the land together or even share certain toys. Chickens and dogs do well with clickers, so it is possible to train both of them together.
Train them to Treat Each Other as Family
Another step in training your dog to protect and not kill and eat your chicken is ensuring they treat one another as family.
You will achieve this by putting your dog on a leash and taking it where the chickens are kept. Once there, exhibit traits a protector would normally exhibit; you'll be astonished to see that the dog will begin its protective role in no time.
Also, you should ensure your dog is present when you feed and provide water to the chickens. Since dogs are smart, they can tell that these chickens are a part of the family and under your care, and the dog will extend the same warmth.
For chickens, the chicken needs to see the dog as a friend and not a threat. This way they do not run or get aggressive with the dog, causing the dog to become agitated. So, ensure they eat together under close supervision for the first few weeks they will be together.
How to Protect Your Chickens from Predators?
Now that you've selected a livestock guard dog that meets your taste and satisfies all livestock guard dog requirement conditions, there are certain things you must put in place to ensure that predators do not come near your chickens. After all, being too careful never hurt anyone.
- Invest in roosters if the laws in your place of residence allow
- At night, lock your chickens in a safe place to keep both humans and other predators out
- Look for holes in your coop and block them to prevent predators like weasels from coming in.
- Cover the coop with a chicken wire to prevent air-bound predators from swooping in and flying off with your birds.
- Lastly, bury hardware mesh at least 2 feet below the ground to prevent predators from digging in and accessing your precious birds.
Watch this video to learn how to build a chicken coop that will keep those predators out
Dogs are essential when protecting your chickens from predators; their scents can deter predators. Getting one of these breeds discussed above is one way to ensure that you have peace of mind and wouldn’t need to worry about your dog eating your birds while you are away. Remember to raise the dog and chicken together and train them to treat each other as part of the family.