Owning a dependable Livestock Guardian dog is a dream that many livestock owners strive to make a reality. However, finding trustworthy livestock guardian dog breeders that develop dependable bloodlines with sound health and temperament can be challenging and requires expert guidance.
Here are 6 points we will discuss as we search for livestock guardian dog breeders:
1. Decide what breed you are looking for.
2. Know what to look for in a reputable breeder.
3. Find reputable LGD breeders.
4. Evaluate the breeders.
5. Consider the price and your budget.
6. Choose the sex, type, color, and coat of the LGD.
This article is my How to Find Reputable Livestock Guardian Dog Breeders guide. I’ll tell you the type of breeder you should purchase your dog from. I’ll also tell you what information you should seek from them, how to find the most reliable breeders, plus some other options you have when buying a LGD puppy.
I’ll also tell you about the kind of breeders you should avoid and every other detail that will help you make an educated choice for you. So, let’s get started on how to buy a livestock guardian dog puppy.
How to Find Livestock Guardian Dog Breeders
When buying a livestock guardian dog puppy, know what to look for in a reputable breeder. Find a breeder specializing in working livestock guardian dogs. Evaluate the breeder, consider the price and your budget, and choose the sex, breed, and color that will suit your environment.
1. Choose A Livestock Guardian Breed that Suits Your Needs
I have heard time and time again here, that you should choose a breeder over breed in the LGD world. I disagree with this theory. There is a common misconception in the United States that livestock guardian breeds can be lumped together into the same temperament group. This is a fallacy. LGDs closely resemble the landraces and cultures they were formed in. Some breeds are much more tolerant of strange humans then others. Some are more suspicious. And some are much harder in temperament for inexperienced owners to manage.
It is the owner’s responsibility to choose a livestock guardian dog breed that can excel in his environment. It is irresponsible to choose a human aversive breed for a tourism ag business, likewise its not fair to choose a more biddable LGD breed for an environment where they will not receive human companionship.
The subjects of LGD breed differences is too extensive for this post. But a responsible livestock guardian dog breeder will be able to tell you if their dogs are suitable for your needs. They will not place a softer smaller breed in a situation where they can be eaten alive by apex predators. And they will not be placing a gritty breed like the Karakachan with first time owners who do not understand the mindset of a landrace, primitive breed.
Matching the right puppy and breed to owners and environments is a crucial part of a dog’s success as a Livestock Guardian Dog. Ethical breeders know their breed, and their pups. They are the key to laying the foundation for the working success of a dog and breed. Do not skip the important steps of researching breeds and searching for reputable defenders of the breeds. How do we find reputable breeders? Let’s go to step 2.
2. Know What To Look For in Reputable Livestock Guardian Dog Breeders
The LGD has become a popular dog breed sought out for both large agriculture operations, and tiny homesteads. And the growing demand for these working breeds has registered a corresponding growth in the number of breeders. But the increase in the number of breeders has also raised concerns about the purpose and capability of all these newly established breeders claiming expert status. So, what should you look for in Livestock Guardian Dog breeders?
When buying a livestock guardian dog, look for a breeder with experience and credibility. Check the sire and dam’s health, and pedigree and ensure they have been health screened. Examine the parents’ appearance and inquire about their temperament and working ability. Inspect the litter and the conditions in which they live.
When researching how to buy a livestock guardian dog, the first thing to know is that there are different types of breeders. While some people breed dogs with the sincere intention of providing healthy, functional dogs to those seeking to own a dog, others breed them with the primary purpose of profit-making often at the expense of the animal’s health and quality of life.
There’s a universally accepted standard for identifying a reputable animal breeder. Any responsible livestock guardian dog breeder or animal breeder will always have the Five Freedoms for Animals in mind. But how do we apply these freedoms to livestock guardian dogs?
Here’s a quick overview of these freedoms applied to the context of livestock guardian dogs:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst: the dog is fed a healthy diet and fresh, clean water for proper nutrition and health. Ideally, this should be based on the dog’s specific needs. Determined by breed, age, and health conditions.
- Freedom from discomfort: the dog lives in a suitable environment. The dog is provided shelter that includes appropriate bedding, acceptable temperatures, and extreme weather, light and noise protection.
- Freedom from pain, injury, and disease: the breeding dogs are screened for recommended breed health tests; at a minimum, they have hip, elbow, and heart screenings. The dogs receive the required vet visits for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, including recommended vaccinations and tests.
- Freedom to express normal behavior: the dog has enough space and facilities. Dogs are allowed to be dogs, by expressing themselves through digging, running, barking, and other dog interactions.
- Freedom from fear and distress: the dog is treated in a manner that does not cause psychological stress. They receive a lifestyle that provides quality of life. Including purpose, function, and human companionship.
Following these freedoms also distinguishes ethical breeders from unethical ones. Ethical livestock guardian dog breeders care about the quality of life and the health of their dogs and puppies.
Dogs bred following these five freedoms will have a more enjoyable and successful life once placed in the care of an owner or family. As a prospective dog owner, you are responsible for evaluating the information that confirms your future dog has been bred following these five freedoms by an ethical breeder.
But where do you find that breeder? Let’s move on to step three.
3. Find a Reputable Livestock Guardian Dog Breeder
There are many ways you can find livestock guardian dog breeders and prospective LGD dogs when researching how to buy one. Here we will discuss the most reliable ways and others that will lead you to do a more thorough search and breeder evaluation. What is complicated about finding working LGD dogs is that some show breeders no longer maintain working lines. These dogs have lost their natural instincts and, as a result, their ability to do their job. On the other hand, we have working line breeders that do not health test or maintain the correct structure and breed health of their lines. Ideally, we want to find a reputable breeder that understands the Form and Function of their breed.
LGD Breeder Directory
We’ve put together a mini Livestock Guardian dog breeder directory at this link. While we cannot guarantee the reputability of members, they have all received favorable reviews and acclamation in their local LGD communities. We know how difficult it is to find real people on the internet and we tried to make this as easy as possible for potential puppy searchers. Please do your due diligence, and feel free to contact us personally if you have legitimate concerns about any of the members. Click here to find this LGD Breeder directory.
National Kennel Clubs
National kennel clubs are a reliable source of information for buying livestock guardian dog breed puppies. The FCI registry has a complete list of the original livestock guardian dog breeds. The FCI parent breed clubs often have breeder directories. In the US, we have the UKC and AKC registries. Some of the LGD breeds are not fully recognized by the AKC. The American Kennel Club has a MARKETPLACE where breeders can advertise and puppies for sale are listed. You can access information on each listed dog regarding their age, sex, weight and height, personality, AKC DNA test number, energy level, shedding, and trainability, among other features and traits.
On the AKC’s breeder referral search website, the recognized lgd breeds are listed among all other breeds. Here, you can access the breed parent club website and find breeder referral names where you can get help and information.
National and Regional Livestock Guardian Dog Club Websites
National livestock guardian dog clubs are a specialized resource because they usually focus on the breed. Here you will find all the information you need about the particular breed you are interested in.
In the US, not all of the livestock guardian dog breeds are well known enough to have much of a club presence. Likewise, livestock guardian dog breeders will not always be involved in club politics. They prefer their dogs to prove their worth in the field and feel that is enough. It can be very difficult to separate the competent breeders from the substandard ones in these breed types. But if the breed you are interested in has a strong club presence, it can be a start.
In addition to seeking direct information from the regional club’s office on finding an LGD breeder or puppy, these events can be perfect opportunities to share information on well-bred livestock guardian dog puppies.
Shelters, Rescues, and Adoption Agencies
Many shelter organizations that deal with dogs offer rescue, care, and rehoming services. They are optimal options for finding a Livestock Guardian Dog breed if you decide to rescue or adopt. You can read more about adopting an LGD in my comprehensive article, How to Adopt a Livestock Guardian Dog- A Complete Guide.
There are several Livestock guardian dog charitable organizations that can provide reliable information on buying or adopting an LGD dog.
Other Ways to Find a Puppy
Other ways of finding Livestock Guardian Dogs to buy include:
Google Search for “livestock guardian dog puppies” and “Livestock guardian dog Breeder Search”
You can search Google for terms such as “livestock guardian dogs for sale” or “livestock guardian breeders.” Be cautious, however, and follow the ethical breeder guidelines given to assess the breeder before placing a deposit or making a purchase. Not everyone is who they seem to be online.
Facebook Groups, Dog Blogs, and Websites
If you have spent any time in the Facebook lgd groups you know they are a very mixed bag of tricks. They range from helpful, outdated, austere, to ridiculous. But if you hang around long enough you can find your niche, and hopefully, some breeder resources that won’t make you want to pull your hair out. Maybe I am being dramatic, but for real, if you know, you know how polarizing online dog people can be. Outbound links that direct you to LGD breeders or puppies for sale on articles or websites are also options. In addition to evaluating the reliability of the linked breeder and the quality of the livestock guardian puppy as you would with a Google search, use the ethical breeder guidelines to evaluate the quality of the breeder.
Consult Vets, Trainers, and Owners
Veterinarians, groomers, and trainers are experts in their own fields – considering that they interact with many different dog breeds on a day-to-day basis. Many works with reliable breeders and will be able to give you recommendations for breeders with high standards.
First-hand recommendations from other LGD owners who had positive experiences buying their dog from a reliable breeder. These experienced LGD owners know their community and may be valuable sources of information on where to buy a LGD.Damaris
As a general rule, ensure that there is no conflict of interest with people advocating for breeders based on other factors than quality. The American LGD world can be a bitter, toxic place and I’ve seen way too much personal criticism of otherwise ethical breeders. On the flip side, I’ve seen some breeders recommended that had clearly less than stellar practices. Feel free to reach out at any time if we can provide any non-biased, factual info for you.
Now it’s time to evaluate the breeder and find the best match.
4. Evaluate the LGD Breeder
To determine if a breeder is ethical, observe their environment and question them about the following aspects of breeding:
- Experience in breeding Livestock Guardian dogs: Find out if the breeder has been breeding for a long time or is just starting out. Ask them how long they have been with the breed you are interested in. Breeds vary considerably, and many breeders in the USA mix breeds. This does not always count towards credibility in a breed. Those who have been in the breeding field for a long time will provide examples of success. They will also give verifiable examples of people to whom they have sold their puppies.
- Breeder credibility: It is expected that a credible breeder will keep appropriate records of both health and pedigree. They will not refuse to tell you who the ancestors of your puppy are, and they will keep the appropriate documents. They may be members of the national kennel club and be members of local or national breed clubs. In the US, for example, ask if they are registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the UKC. Any other registry here may not be legit. The boz breed for example is a scam and does not consist of real working dogs.
Dog Health Matters
- Bloodline and dog health: Health conditions and genetic defects are easily passed on through the bloodline. Ask about your prospective LGD’s lineage and if the sire and dam have been screened for breed-prone diseases such as Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), Cardiomyopathy (DCM), or hip dysplasia which are considered common among LGDs.
- Ask whether the parents are registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or have Penn hip scores. Ask if the litter has had its first round of vaccinations (seek specific details about the vaccinations). Also, check to see if they have been dewormed.
Learn More about Great Livestock guardian dog breeders…
- Breed temperament: Enquire about the typical traits of the breed to find out if the breed will be appropriate for your family context; whether your newly acquired LGD will be good with children or if the breed gets along with other dogs, and if it will do well in your environment. If you have done your homework, you will already know the answers to these questions – and so should the breeder!
- Dog appearance: Ask to see litter photos and photos of the parents. The general appearance of the LGDs should indicate that they are well taken care of and healthy. If you meet the parents in person, do not expect them to be comfortable meeting you, a stranger. Some breeds vary in this respect. There is never an excuse for feral dogs, but some of my best guardians came from parents that were aloof and suspicious of strangers. Adults are not to blame for this behavior. Dogs can be aloof and uncomfortable meeting strangers, but should not show excessive aggression. If the dog is trying to eat you, in the owner’s presence, this is alarming. That much aggression shows instability, and you should avoid it.
- Dog environment: If you visit the breeder’s premises, observe the environment for cleanliness, appropriate shelter, and space. The facilities should not be unsanitary or unsafe. Dogs should never be kept in small kennels. A messy environment that is unorganized, or unnaturally dirty will be a sign of backyard breeding and inexperience.
- Refund/return policy: Ask if the breeder has a return and refund policy should the dog display genetically-linked diseases or get sick after bringing it home. Discuss the possibility of returning the livestock guardian should you be unable to keep him for any reason.
Observe & Ask Questions.
Observing and asking questions will give you the necessary information to weigh the reliability of a breeder. An ethical breeder always wants the best for the dogs they are placing for adoption.
They will ask questions to ensure that the dog will receive a suitable home. They will expect you to provide a safe environment and a healthy life for one of their babies. Since Covid, many ethical breeders will no longer allow on-site visits before puppy pick up. In this case, they will provide you with videos and lots of updates on the puppies.
Characteristics of Ethical Livestock Guardian Dog Breeders
When buying a livestock guardian dog, an ethical breeder will stand out in the following aspects:
- They will be knowledgeable about their livestock guardian dog breed. They will provide comprehensive, knowledge of the breed standard, temperament, exercise, nutrition and grooming. Ethical breeders will answer your questions. They will make sure that you understand what you are getting into before selecting their breed.
- They will not sell you a livestock guardian dog puppy before it is eight weeks old. Run from anyone persuading you to take puppies before the age of 8 weeks. Puppies younger than that need their mother, and it would be unhealthy to separate them. Many breeders send puppies home between 8-10 weeks of age, and some breeders keep them as long as 12 weeks.
- They will ask you about your lifestyle and family. They want to ensure that the livestock guardian dog puppy is going to a loving and suitable home.
- They will provide the puppies’ health documentation. For example, the vaccines and tests that have been done. They will also give you specific details on training, nutrition, and vet care.
- They will ensure the safety of the Livestock Guardian dog. Ethical breeders sell their puppies on contracts. Contracts guarantee the safety of dogs and hold their owners responsible for caring for them and giving them the life they deserve.
- They will insist you let them take the dog back if you can no longer keep it. Breeders who care about their dogs will never let them be placed in shelters or abandoned. They will insist that you return the dog to them if you can no longer care for it or give it a home.
While ethical breeders will stand out in these aspects, unethical breeders will show shortcomings in their care for the breed.
Shortcomings of Unethical Livestock Guardian Dog Breeders
Puppy mills, commercial dog breeding, and backyard breeders are the most common unethical dog breeders.
In general, unethical dog breeders fall into two categories: Breeders who use their dogs as ATM machines at the expense of their welfare, and breeders who do not understand the basic form and function of their dogs.
Here are some of the features that will define unethical breeders:
- The breeder shows a lack of knowledge about their Livestock Guardian dog breed standard and all issues related to the breed’s nutrition, exercise, grooming, and health.
- Breeder owns only 2 dogs and repeatedly breeds those 2 dogs without considering compatibility or goals.
- The breeder owns an excess of dogs and breeds them again indiscriminately for profit.
- Breeders will not provide any documentation of the dog’s health testing and will not guarantee the possibility of the dog being returned under any conditions.
- The breeder claims that the dogs are fine to breed at a year old or less.
- The breeder will not ask about you, your lifestyle, your family, or the reason you are interested in a Livestock Guardian dog.
- The dams may be continuously bred at the expense of their health.
- The puppies will be taken away from their mothers early, and sold in pairs.
- The breeder will not take the time to answer your questions about their breeding standards and the lineage of their dogs.
- Both puppies and adult dogs may show signs of disordered behavior such as fear of the breeder.
With comprehensive knowledge about who’s an ethical Livestock Guardian dog breeder and who isn’t, you are now ready to find that reliable breeder, buy your new LGD, and bring them home.
5. Consider the Price and Your Budget
When you think of buying a Livestock Guardian dog, the buying price is one of the key aspects you should consider. It will not matter if you find the right puppy from the most qualified breeder if you don’t have the purchasing power to purchase it.
So, how much is your stock worth and what are you willing to pay to ensure its safety? What is the price of a Livestock Guardian Dog? And what is the price of not owning one?
An average livestock guardian puppy costs an estimated price of $1000. Puppies range in price from $500 to $5000. Prices are determined by lineage, litter size, color, breeder qualifications, breeding costs, and location. Puppies with the highest prices are from rare breeds, sought-after pedigrees, and show lines.
My in-depth article, How Much is a Livestock Guardian Dog Worth? Will give you more information and examples of how much you’ll have to spend to buy an LGD puppy. It will also break down the lifetime benefit of your guardian over time.
Instead, if you browse through breeder websites via Google search, you will find a wide range of price differences. For example, on the Good Dog Breeders website, you will pay $3000-3500 for a Maremma Shepherd puppy from Prancing Pony Farm and $3000 for an Anatolian puppy from Apex Anatolians.
Alternatively, if you decide to adopt from rescue centers, you will certainly pay a lot less, but some rescues will not adopt lgd puppies out to working environments. Please read the fine print on the rescue contract and understand the requirements before committing to an lgd dog from a shelter.
6. Choose the Sex, Type, Color, and Coat of the LGD
You now know how to buy your livestock guardian dog with all the above information except for a few additional details. These are significant because they involve the specific characteristics you want to find in your new puppy. Let’s discuss these characteristics.
Show, Working, or Companion LGD breed dog?
Being clear about why you want to own a Livestock Guardian dog breed is key to making the buying decision. This is also helpful so you can inform your breeder whether you are looking for a show prospect, a working guardian, or a companion dog. You can learn about Livestock Guardian Dog breeds that make good companions in this article.
Even though an entire litter will have the same bloodline, knowing the purpose of acquiring a dog will inform your choice to go for ethical breeders keen on issues related to health, temperament, and other traits that would be wise to keep in mind when making a purchase.
Should You Get a Male or Female Lgd?
While male and female LGDs are similar in many traits, they are also different in a number of them, which might affect your choice when buying.
Consider what you want the dog for and your experience when determining whether to purchase a male or female Livestock Guardian dog. If you’ve never had a dog before, a female may be more submissive and easier to train. If you want a single guard dog, consider a male because they are more dominant and often stronger and larger.
Consider the following when making your choice:
- Male livestock guardians are larger in both weight and height while females are smaller. Of course all dogs will vary. To give you an example of this, my FCI registered female Estrela Mountain dog weighs 105lb (47kg), and she is tall, standing 30″/76cm.
- Males will display a masculine build as opposed to the delicate features of a female.
- Female LGDs will be in heat twice annually. If you do not intend to breed your dog, we recommend spaying so she can focus on her job and you do not have to worry about a surprise stray litter.
- Female LGDs may be more intuitive. But they will need backup if you have predators like a coyote or larger.
It is NEVER advisable to get two puppies at once. Male and female pairs do well, but should always be staggered in age, to avoid immature bonding issues. Male vs female traits may not be distinctly pronounced in young puppies, but it is imperative to bear them in mind. Whether you choose to buy a male or a female pup will depend on your circumstances. The temperament of a puppy is far more critical than its sex.
You can check out this article, How to buy an Estrela Mountain dog puppy. It has loads of info to help you make a sound puppy choice.
LGD Coats; Length and Colors
Some LGD breeds like the Great Pyrenees only come in one coat color and length. While others like the Karakachan will be available in several colors. A few breeds like the Serra da Estrela will come in both multiple colors and short and long coat variations. The temperament of a working dog is always more important than its physical characteristics.
Color is both non important and very important, for livestock guardian dogs. In reality, it doesn’t matter if the dog is blue, purple or orange, if it does it’s job correctly. But many LGD breeds only come in one color phase or a few. It is crucial to know which color phases are acceptable for the breed you are looking at.
If an owner is selling maremma puppies, but they are merle color, you will know the pups are clearly mixed and not purebred LGD. ( Mixed guardian breed dogs with non LGD dogs are instinctually confused and not trustworthy with stock. ). This is why it is crucial to know what is acceptable in the breed you are looking for. Another Example: if you find black and white Great Pyrenees puppies, you should know that they are fake. Great Pyrenees do not carry black.
With all of the mixing occurring in the LGD field, be sure to research the accepted colors of your selected breed. Any pure black puppies, merle puppies, blue puppies and black pointed puppies should be carefully researched. These are not common color phases in the popular LGD breeds used in the United States.
You will also need to decide what length of coat you want. Always try to choose a coat that is functional for the breed you are interested in. Some of the show coats are cotton-like and matt easily on working dogs. Regardless of the breed, most LGDs shed moderately to heavily.
Owning a livestock guardian dog is a dream that many people have, but there is a lack of information about basic buying knowledge. To learn how to buy a Livestock Guardian dog, here is a summary of the key points:
- Study LGD breeds and talk to people while you decide which type of breed will fit your expectations best.
- Consult national kennel club’s and national and regional breeder clubs to identify reliable breeders who are ethical, knowledgeable, and care about their dogs.
- Be prepared to spend an average of $1,000 or more when buying your LGD puppy.
- Before purchasing, weigh up your buying choice on factors such as the sex of your livestock guardian breed, the coat color, traits, and the reason you are opting for the breed.
- Consider adopting a rescue dog where you can meet the dog and learn about his traits beforehand.
I hope you have found my buyer’s guide helpful. Good luck with getting your quality livestock guardian dog, who I know will be a treasure for many years to come!
Related Posts You May Like:
· How Much is a Livestock Guardian Dog Worth
· Costs of Owning a Large Dog Breed- 21 Examples
· Livestock Guardian Dogs as Companions: The Ultimate Guide
· How to Adopt a Livestock Guardian Dog?