Saturday, February 23, 2013

Primitive dogs

 Jim and I have been invited to speak at an international conference on the use of aboriginal/primitive dogs that will take place this summer in South Africa. We'll be giving one presentation to the general session (on the use of Aziats/Central Asian Ovcharkas to guard domestic sheep in the Rocky Mountains) and two poster presentations (one on the benefits and challenges to the use of livestock protection dogs, and the other on the use of LPDs in association with large carnivore populations). While we look forward to sharing our experiences, we're excited at the prospect of being with other people who live in close association with working dogs around the world. Our friend Guverner from Turkey is expected to attend, as well as our friends Atila and Sider from Bulgaria. Having this group in one room is reason enough for us to make the effort to attend. We're told that an expert on C.A. Ovcharkas from Tajikistan plans to attend also.

The dogs in the image above are Turkish lions - native Kangal dogs working to protect a sheep herd that are just out of the frame. These are adolescent pups. (As always, click on an image for a larger view.)

The next two images are of guardian dogs in Mongolia - typical of the dogs we saw in our travels there.

The next three images are Spanish mastiffs, ,working to protect sheep, goat and cattle herds.

 This is a Transmontano Mastiff in Portugal.
 And last but not least, the Bulgarian Karakachan.
The upcoming Africa trip was unexpected, and we are using the opportunity to travel there to acquire the remaining images needed for a black-and-white photography exhibit I've been working on for seven years. United States Artists is backing the exhibit project, called Portraits Of Pastoralism, and this crowd-source funding program is doing a funding challenge for us through March 20. If you are interested, have a look at the project page, and be sure to watch the video where you'll see some of the images in the exhibit, as well as a sheep busily picking my pockets as I try to talk seriously about the project.


Heather Houlahan said...

If you'd told me that the first Mongolian dog, the Irish-marked black and white one, was an English shepherd in the American southwest, I'd have believed you.

Sue Millard said...

That black Mongolian dog with the white ruff and blaze and white paws reminds me of the British "curs" or sheepdogs that we see in Wales, Cumbria, Devon/Cornwall and Scotland, working with the sheep. It's a very common pattern for the Border Collie. Do you know L N Trut's work on selection of silver foxes for tractability which links this emerging pattern to domestication? There's a copy on

Cat Urbigkit said...

The Mongolian dog standing outside my ger was the only human-aggressive dog in this series. I was told that he was vicious and not to try to touch him because he would bite. I eventually scratched him on the base of his tail, so he followed me around for days, barking and growling at anyone who came near me. He wasn't comfortable with human touch, but he did keep putting his butt against my leg so I would give him a good butt rub!

There were two men who came through robbing gers outside a festival. My belongings stayed safe, and this dog actually chased the men away, running them through the camp.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Cat, that sheep nuzzling you looked a LOT like one of those sheep in that movie(you know what I'm talking about!) And I DEFINETELY want to see this exhibit, if I get the chance!....and Sue Millard and Heather Houlahan--there are photos of some of the oldest domestic dog remains in the U. S. A.(Southwest) of two mummified dogs found in a cave. One is a very small, almost Chihuahua-looking dog, the other is a black-and-white dead(ahem!) ringer for a Border Collie--THOUSANDS of years before the European invasion!.....L.B.

Federico said...

A great vid on the topic of livestock guarding dogs is here:

I love how the ranching family they interview is doing it right: nail collars and dogs of different temperament and age.

Cinco Deseos Ranch LGD's said...

It was an honor to be selected to participate in the making of this film. I am a huge proponent for handling LGD's and socializing them. As more and more people flock to public lands for recreation, the days of running highly aggressive and half feral, non-socialized LGD's (as many ranchers do) I think are coming to a close. The liability there is just too much. I know I have a couple of dogs here who are aggressive with anyone save me. I watch them like a hawk and put them up when visitors come. Its great that they are my protectors, but I must handle them responsibly. A dog that's at least been introduced and handled as a pup is probably less inclined to out and out attack a biker or hiker on a BLM allotment, while guarding a band of sheep. The Lockharts run kangals in the movie they bought from Ed Bernell and myself, and by running different breeds together, really show how effective LGD management works with dogs that are not half feral, and are still strongly bonded to the flock. Thanks for sharing this.

Brenda M. Negri
Cinco Deseos Ranch LGD's