Thursday, January 24, 2008

Flock Protectors

We have been talking a lot on our private lists lately about another loose group of working dogs now being minutely divided into "breeds", the great flock- protecting dogs of the middle east and Asia, with some historical extensions into parts of Europe that had the "transhumance" or flock migration.

I have seen working examples in Mongolia, Turkey,and just outside Magdalena (may have to get photos of those soon.)

While regional character should be preserved, breeders a should be wary of making the divisions too fine. Nor do I think shows are a wise way to go. Luckily these dogs are big and can be fierce-- not for the faddish. They need to work.

Cat Urbigkit has this to say:

"I get lots of questions from people doing research on specific
livestock guardian breeds, seeking my position on whether certain
kennel clubs/breed registries recognize the breeds we working dog
owners use and wondering how we'll preserve these dogs without
recognition. Most of us who breed and use these dogs in primitive ag
situations couldn't be further removed from the breed clubs and
frankly, don't give a damn whether they are officially named or not.
We are determined that good dogs will persist because they do their
jobs and we become so connected with them.

"Most migratory sheep outfits in the western United States use
livestock guardian dogs to protect our herds. I have one good friend,
who I raise pups for, who keeps 24-26 working livestock guardian dogs
at any one time. We sheep people in the United States are simply
following the lead of shepherds around the world who have used these
dogs for thousands of years. We've imported their working dogs (only
in the last 30 years!), and now reap the benefits. We still practice
ag in a primitive way - moving our herds with the seasons, using the
dogs to protect them. Our herds are scattered over hundreds of miles
of range, and often go unnoticed by the public. But we're here, as
our our dogs, our working partners."

Here are some examples:

A young Akbash or Turkish white:

Cat's dogs with sheep:

Some Mongolian dogs belonging to Michelle Morgan at Mongolian Ways. She is also a dog scholar and breeder.

A Kazakh tobet with cropped ears (wolves) and a tazi for contrast;

A pup in a Kurdish village down near the Syrian border:

... and a bigger one coming toward me in the distance. I didn't hang around!


Semavi Lady said...

The livestock guardian dog (LGD) genre is wonderful indeed. :)

Their primitive independence, selective obedience & "hearing ability" as well as their headstrong character is often not appropriate for all would-be admirers who may actually prefer a dog of a more cloying or indulging nature.

The greatest cause of failure in human and LGD partnerships whether as working dog or companion, is often the human's unrealistic expectations.

Steve Bodio said...

Sounds a lot like the tazi- saluki complex-- also bred by the same people. Selective obedience indeed!