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Livestock Guardian Dogs on the Farm

Being a small, rural farm with livestock, Boltz to Nutz employs livestock guardian dogs. In our case, two Great Pyrenees brothers protect our sheep, chickens, barn cat and crops. Rio and Tinto are integral to the farm whether acting as ambassadors to visitors or watching out for predators in the air and on the ground. They also scare off the deer that would otherwise feed on our produce!

Here is an interesting fact: guardians are not herding dogs. Herding is the act of moving domesticated animals and so herding dogs are used to move livestock from one place to another. Guardians are part of the herd. They imprint with their charges and blend into the flock or herd. They watch for threats from within the flock and if necessary will confront predators; generally, just having the guardians around keep predators away with their barking and aggressive behaviors. Being in the herd also makes it quick and easy for the dogs to respond to the calls of their charges – especially when our rooster Big Red sees a hawk by the coop! It is a beautiful thing to watch instinct in action. 

Great Pyrenees originated in the mountains of France. They are strong willed and smart, often deciding when and what they want to do. They are working dogs and do best with a job to do. Rio and Tinto want nothing to do with being in a house – they have the whole farm to protect and roam, mostly patrolling all night and sleeping all day in the forest. 

Rio and Tinto can be intimidating when called to action by the sound of coyotes in the distance or the approach of an unknown canine, but they are overall gentle and loving with their charges and family. When they were puppies, they would flank toddlers visiting the farm to protect them!  As they grew, their personalities came shining through: Tinto being a very active and slightly neurotic guardian with his head on a swivel always watching and Rio being a bit more laid back, always ready to let Tinto take the lead while he naps. They have a division of labor with Tinto being ground forces and Rio as air patrol. No vulture flies overhead undetected!

-Yvonne, Chief Nut

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