Akbash Dogs - Beautiful, reliable partners in defense
When it comes to protecting your livestock, there are many methods out there. No one will deny the value of a good fence. The well-named no-climb fence seems to be the gold standard of protection. However, as your herd expands, your pasture needs will also increase, and this could become quite expensive. We have over 75 fenced acres, some with the old-fashioned but highly effective sheep fences (woven wire, to you old-timers out there), but most of it with high-tensile electric fence. That fence works well for keeping cattle, alpacas and sheep in, but not as effective against coyotes. A prominent llama breeder advised us that once you are under predation, it’s too late for llamas. We ruled out donkeys (while they eat the same feed, they can be loud and require hoof trimming). For some people, guardian dogs are a necessity.
Years of experience with Border Collies and Australian Shepherds made us appreciate good working dogs, but guard dogs are not the same animals. We went to the dogs, with caution.
First, we hate barking dogs. Night “sport barking” is irritating to everyone, and we farm in a fairly well populated area. Second, we have a LOT of visitors, many stopping in when we aren’t here, so the dogs needed to be people-friendly and trustworthy. Third, we were willing to spend the money only if we got dogs that actually worked, and not become attached to dogs that didn’t perform. Breeds that have also been used as pets or extensively in the show rings can become corrupted with bloodlines that no longer function as intended.
We selected the Akbash, a Turkish breed similar to the others but sufficiently obscure to be reliable on performance. We have been pleased beyond our expectations. Our source breeders were honest about what to expect, and how to handle any issues that came up. No dog is perfect, and you must be alert to the behavior especially while it is maturing. The alpaca dogs have grown up with the alpacas, and live there 24/7. They respect the alpacas, and for the most part, the alpacas ignore them. (Alpacas have more “attitude” than sheep do.) The sheep guardians have a tougher job – more acreage to cover and more animals to protect. We generally advise against putting unsupervised teenage dogs with very young lambs – since we lamb inside in January, this has not been a problem. By the time pasture is ready, the lambs are much bigger. Pups born here interact with all livestock as soon as they start crawling, meeting chickens, goats, lambs, and by 8 weeks the alpacas.
The dogs are quiet unless there’s a reason to bark, and those reasons do not include visitors, deliveries, or the neighbor’s dogs barking. Coyotes, intruding dogs, and anything else that does not belong in their pastures are in for trouble. They are intimidating when they are working. They are wonderful dogs.
We raise both puppies and started dogs for the alpaca and sheep communities; Akbash have also been known to do well in rural, non-working homes. Call for information on any planned litters. All pups are temperament-tested at 7 weeks; this gives us some guidelines for placement and helps you better understand your puppy. Occasionally we have young dogs available, under age 2, that have had some experience. We are honest about our dogs, and want every placement to have a good outcome.
Please note: There are two Akbash Dog associations; we have NO preference for either one. Breeders from both were helpful. Availability of dogs was the deciding factor.
Other Livestock: We also raise sheep (breeding stock, freezer lambs) and peacocks.
Alpacas: For sale (bred females, maidens, juvenile males, fiber males) stud services, boarding, and foundation herd.