Farm dogs, what exactly are they? Part 1

Farm dogs, what exactly are they?

Hey all,

Over the past several weeks, I have been meaning to write again, but life has been pretty hectic lately. However, for the last several weeks, I have had farm dogs on the brain. Partly because we are working on coming out with a course on selecting, raising and training your livestock guardian dog. One of the things that I would like to talk about outside of the course is the farm dog. I’ve spoken about the English shepherd specifically in this post: https://www.homesteadingedu.com/homestead-helpers-and-guardians-part-2/

But I’d like to further define what makes a farm dog a farm dog. Is it merely a dog living on a farm? Are there breeds that are more suitable than others to being a farm dog? The answer to the first question is that any dog can live on the farm, but that does not make it a farm dog.

A farm dog is a dog that not only lives on a farm, but has a specific purpose on that farm. That is why my boxer is not really a farm dog. He lives on our homestead, but has no purpose with the livestock. He is a great guard dog for my house believe it or not, but he is not a great farm dog. He’d rather kill the livestock than work them.

There are many breeds within the herding dog category that make great farm dogs. We will be specifically addressing the livestock guardian dog breeds in our livestock guardian dog course. There’ one breed in particular that interests me as a future breed for my family’s farm. I will be talking about different types of collies and the Australian Shepherd in future posts. The Australian cattle dog though is the one that I am currently considering as a future breed for myself on the farm.

I first really had the breed catch my attention when I met a wonderful ASD who belonged to a dear friend of mine. Sammy was an extremely helpful old girl for Denise, and I couldn’t help but really love that dog. I’ll let Denise tell you about her:

“When I was a young girl, I knew a rancher who’s daughter and I competed in rodeos. The rancher had puppies in his trailer that he wanted to sell and get rid of. He told me if I could sell all the puppies by the end of the rodeo which ever one i chose then i could keep for free. My parents okay-ed this thinking I would never get all the puppies sold for their friends’ asking price. To their shock I was able to find good homes for puppies. The puppy I chose to keep was the half blue heeler, half red heeler RUNT. She wasn’t even half the size of the other puppies but I was drawn to her. She was named Sammy. When Sammy became mine I didn’t have cattle or anything for her to “WORK” which being a herding breed they love the land and love to have a job. She loved attention but loved the attention more when working. She grew up hearing me yelling at the cribber in the barn, the kicker of the panels at feeding time and the runner out of the gate into the pasture in the morning. With no Cattle to herd, Sammy learned to bark at the horses bad behaviors which I normally yelled to the horse to “quit”when doing. So she would sit in the aisle of the barn and every time my horse would start cribbing, the kicker started kicking during feeding time Sammy would barn and jump at the stall. She would stalk my gate runner in the morning which made him walk. Some may think well this probably made the horses shy away from dogs. The answer is no, it didn’t. Trust me! I thought it might also. But the horses knew that if Sammy was watching, they had to have manners. She only would bark or act like a tough dogs at the horses’ behaviors I very often corrected. So having a herding dog is a lot of responsibility. The will and need to work is in their blood, which we as people shouldn’t deny them. If you don’t have cattle, horses or farm animals make sure to give them a job to work for. Sammy passed when she was 15 yrs old. When she passed I noticed how she not only changed my life but my horses also. My Cribber doesn’t crib in the barn, my kicker doesn’t kick during feed time and my gate runner does not run through the gates anymore in the morning. She is deeply missed, cherished and there won’t ever be another like my her. she was truly a smart one of a kind, that i even at times forgot just how lucky I was to have her. Love you Sam.

– Denise”

Picture of the dog in the story
Sammy the wonderful Australian Cattle Dog.

Sammy made me start considering eventually getting an ASD to help me out on the homestead with the work do with my animals, and keep me company when I take a horse out for exercise. They are a high energy, protective working breed. They are a great fit for a home that has a job for them to do.

Until next time,

Homestead in health ya’ll!

Emily

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