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Livestock Protection Dogs

   
 

 Livestock Protection Dogs

As the U.S. population grows and continues to spur development throughout the country, new residential communities are springing up in areas that were traditionally only farmed or ranched. Many farms are now surrounded by houses and subdivisions, and once-quiet country roads are being enjoyed by bikers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. These changes have created new challenges for today’s sheep farmers. Getting to know your farming neighbors and whether they use livestock protection dogs (also known as guardian dogs) on their land can help reduce potential problems that may arise between people, domestic pets, and livestock protection dogs. 

Livestock protection dogs are a primary and traditional means of protecting sheep from predators, and they have become an important means of reducing predator attacks on sheep. If unprotected, sheep are vulnerable to a variety of predators including coyotes, foxes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, and domestic dogs. Livestock protection dogs live with the sheep, patrolling the perimeters of sheep grazing areas to ward off potential predators. 

Livestock protection dogs have been used around the world for centuries and are an essential management tool in the United States. Without them, thousands of sheep and lambs would be injured or killed by predators in the United States every year. 

Wildlife Services (WS) supports the use of livestock protection dogs for predation management and develops and distributes informational resources for livestock producers and others. Additionally, WS’ National Wildlife Research Center conducts research to improve the use of livestock protection dogs for predator and disease management. 

To learn more, please see Livestock Protection Dogs on Private Lands: Protecting Sheep From Predators developed by WS and the American Sheep Industry Association or visit our website. For more information, please contact, nwrc@aphis.usda.gov.

 



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