Homestead dogs, the best breeds for every job. A good dog on your homestead can make such a difference! But not every breed is suited to every job on a hobby farm or homestead. Dogs have been companions and co-workers for thousands of years and can make the homesteading life more rich and rewarding… they aren’t called man’s (woman’s) best friend for nothing!
Homestead dogs are amazing partners. Some offer they skills in guarding and protection, others can herd and keep the livestock contained while others will help you keep the pest population down. Sure, many breeds offer a combination of those qualities as well. And almost every dog can work hard and still be a loyal friend and family companion.
For this post I am going to group homestead dogs into 4 general groups: Livestock Guardians, Home Protection, Herding and Pest Control.
Homestead Dogs The Best Breeds for Every Job
Homesteading Dogs – Livestock Guardians
Most livestock guardians grow up and live with the very livestock they are meant to protect. These animals become their pack and they naturally become protective of them. Livestock guardians can live among chickens, goats, sheep and more. You want to make sure you get your pup from a reputable breeder who has their moms teaching the pups from the get-go.
Breeds to Consider:
- Anatolian Shepherd
- Great Pyrenees
Homesteading Dogs – Home Protection
Home protection, whether you’re out in the country or an urban homesteader, is an important consideration. I won’t say much on this topic, except to say do your research on this topic. Your needs may be different than another homesteader. You want to make sure that the breed you choose closely matches your needs concerning home, animals and family.
Breeds to Consider:
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- German Shepherd
- Great Danes
Homesteading Dogs – Herding
Herding dogs will help you gather and move groups of animals to your desired location. Most of these breeds do this instinctually, but will need training to follow your commands. You may be able to find a dog that is already trained and ready to work but the price of such a dog will be significantly more expensive; however so is training. Many of these dogs will offer your animals protection as well though most will not be accustomed to living with the animals. They need to know that they are in command of the flocks they herd.
- Australian Shepherd –we have had miniature Aussies since 1995 and they are amazing animals
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Border Collie
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Welsh Corgie
Homesteading Dogs – Pest Control
Most people think of cats when they think “pest control” on the homestead. But many dog breeds were developed to rid properties of rodents. They are excellent hunters and will exterminate as well. These breeds can also be useful with other pests like foxes, badgers, moles and more. Again most of this will be on instinct but better performance can come through good training.
- German Pinscher
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Rat Terrier (or almost any other terrier)
How to Find the Right Breeder
- Get recommendations from fellow homesteaders
- Focus on breeders with working animals vs show dogs
- Check the breed standard websites
What About Mutts & Rescues
Mutts and rescues and be a great addition to the homestead. But because you may never know the breeds, history, etc of these animals you will want to proceed with caution. I am not a breed snob in any way but there is something to be said for a animal that has been selectively bred and raised for the purpose or job you need them for. So if you decide to go with a mixed breed or a rescue dog for work on your homestead make sure you get as much history on the animal as possible. Do not give him or her free access to your animals until you’ve done some test runs with them; and be prepared for them to NOT want to live outside with your livestock if they’ve never done that before.
How to Care for Your Homestead Dog
I recommend you offer:
- Good veterinarian care
- Have a dog-specific first aid kit readily available
- Be cautious and know if your neighbors are setting poisons out for pests; too many dogs lose their lives to this means of rodent control
- An excellent quality dog food or a raw diet for prime health and wellness and plenty of water
- Time to rest
- Working dogs still need love from their family
The homestead dog will quickly become your partner and another member of the family. Choose wisely and make sure the breed you choose meets your needs and never chosen on looks alone. A working dog needs a job; without one they can become bored, destructive and a down right nuisance.