Dogs on the homestead can be hugely beneficial. Not only do they provide companionship for your family members, but they also provide protection against predators.
But that doesn’t mean just any dog will do.
As much as we’d love to tell you to go adopt a homeless shelter dog, the truth is there are some dog breeds that are better than others.
For instance, the hyperactive terrier may be great with your kids, but he may wreak havoc on your chicken coop.
The shih tzu may be adorable, but her silky hair will constantly get filled with briars and mud from your land.
When you are considering dog breeds for your homestead, take your time and do your homework.
Ideally, this dog will be a four-legged member of your family for years to come. It’s not a decision to make quickly.
Use the following information to choose the best dog breed for your homestead.
Know Your Needs
There are many valid reasons for owning a dog.
However, you have specific needs according to your homestead that should influence the dog breed you choose.
For instance, if you have an urban homestead, you probably have different needs for a dog than homesteaders with rural farms.
Likewise, if you have a farm or livestock, you may have different needs for a dog.
With larger farm animals, you may want a dog breed that is good at herding animals.
On the other hand, you may not need your dog to do any herding.
Instead, you may only want a dog for protection against predators.
As you begin your research on dog breeds for your homestead, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do I need a dog for general security?
- Do I need a dog for protection against predators, such as snakes and coyotes?
- Do I need a guardian for my hobby farm?
- Do I need a dog for hunting?
- Do I need a dog for herding?
- Do I need a dog that safely interacts with the public (such as guests to your farm)?
Let your answers to these questions guide your search for the best dog breed for your homestead.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Homestead Dog
In addition to understanding your reasons for needing a dog, you’ll also need to consider the following factors to help you determine which dog breeds are best for your homestead.
- Size and space requirements: Some large dog breeds require more space to roam than others. If you have a small backyard, you won’t want to get a mastiff. Similarly, you need to consider your space. Do you have a pond, woods, or other areas that may prove detrimental to certain breeds?
- All-weather: Ideally, homesteaders want dogs that do well in all weather conditions. For example, if you get a dog that is high maintenance, it adds even more to your already long homestead to-do list. That’s where an all-weather dog comes in. These dogs do well no matter the weather – rain, sun, or snow.
- Coat: Along with all-weather, keep the dog’s coat in mind. Homesteaders tend to do better with dog breeds that have fur rather than hair. Dog breeds with hair tend to require more hair maintenance. Plus, fur works better in various climates. One problem is that your family may require a hypoallergenic dog, which tends to have hair. The hair isn’t as field-friendly or durable as fur.
- Temperament: While every dog is different, some breeds have a temperament that doesn’t work well with homesteads. For instance, dogs that are hyperactive may annoy the other animals on your farm. Dogs that are diggers may destroy your gardens. Dogs that tend to escape aren’t the best choices for homesteads either.
- Predator Protection: You want to have a dog that is alert to danger and will alert you and other animals on the homestead to threats. Some large dogs provide predator protection simply because of their large size, but some small dogs are good at actively defending a homestead.
- Lack of Prey Drive: If you are raising livestock on your homestead, it is critical that you avoid getting a dog that has a high prey drive. Prey drive means dogs want to catch, play with, and kill small animals, such as chickens and rabbits. Some dogs have high prey drives, such as Jack Russell terriers. If you have them on your homestead, there is a chance you will lose some of your livestock.
10 Best Dog Breeds for Your Homestead
Take all of the information you’ve already been given and what you know about your family and your homestead to narrow your choices.
You want to choose a dog that brings joy to your homestead and is compatible with your humans and animals.
Here are some of the best dog breeds for homesteads.
#1 Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees is one of the best dogs for homesteads because of its ability to work as a livestock guardian. They have water-repellent coats and work in all weather conditions. Their favorite activity is resting and watching over their livestock. Their large size works as a deterrent to predators.
[Related Read: Livestock Guardian Animals]
#2 English Shepherd
These eager-to-please dogs work great on homesteads with cattle, sheep, or ducks. English Shepherds enjoy herding animals, but they need plenty of space to roam, run, and herd. They are working dogs, so they work well on homesteads with large farms.
#3 Maremma Sheepdog
Maremmas are calm, independent, and smart dogs. They are large dogs, reaching around 100 pounds and living for approximately 10 to 15 years. They do particularly well in cold climates and provide great protection for their flocks (hence their name).
#4 Labrador Retriever
Labrador retrievers are popular on and off the homestead. They are great hunting dogs and excellent human companions.
The bullmastiff is a protection dog, but this big protective dog is actually a good family dog. They do well with children and will go out of their way to protect their loved ones. Even though they are larger, they don’t need a lot of space due to their lower energy levels.
The komondor is easy to recognize because of its distinct dreadlocks. These dogs can reach 120 pounds, and they live up to 15 years. Komondors offer great protection for their flocks, so they work well on farms with sheep and cattle.
If you don’t have the space for the komondor, consider the puli. Pulis have the same distinct dreadlocks, but they are half the size of the komondor. Like the komondor, they are bred to herd livestock. They do well with strangers.
The fluffy Kuvasz breed works extremely well for watching over livestock. They are independent and like to wander the property on alert for predators. They need a lot of land to roam and protect. Note – They aren’t great with children.
#9 German Shepherd
While people tend to think of German Shepherds as K-9 (police dogs), they were originally herding dogs. These dogs offer great protection for your flock and your family. As long as you give them ample space to run off their energy, these dogs are a great choice for the homestead.
#10 Rough Collie
The Rough Collie is the type of dog Lassie was. If you don’t remember Lassie, Lassie was a brave, intelligent dog who went above and beyond when it came to protecting her family of humans. Collies are traditionally known for their intellect and herding abilities.
No matter which breed of dog you bring into your homestead, we’re sure you will enjoy the extra love and protection your pup provides.
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