Four Letters Re: The Best All-Around Dog Breed for a Retreat?

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James:
Dogs are something I know a little about. I'm glad to finally be of some potential help to readers. I have owned dogs, and raised dogs, for as long as I can remember. The dogs we have been blessed with run the gamut of breed, from German Shepards, to Australian Shepards and Blue Heelers, to Rottweilers and various hunting dogs ranging from English Setters to Redbone coonhounds to Plotts, to the dog I am going to recommend: The Drahthaar. As many have probably not heard of this dog,
I have included a link so that it can be studied: http://www.vdd-gna.org/
If I could only own one breed of dog for my retreat, it would be a Rottweiler of the line I choose. This is because I believe the need for absolute guarding outweighs the need for hunting and "all-around" ability in my situation. The Rottweilers I have owned have been stunning animals. Hard, yet very capable of being trained by family, brave and protective yet sensitive to each situation. Our male is trained, massive, has incredible prey drive and protection skills, but our children and their young friends look upon him as a dog that is just as happy to spend the day laying in the shade watching them play---or fetching tennis balls until nobody has the arm left to throw again. Our female is equally skilled, and adept at all social occasions.
Again, if protection and guarding of livestock is #1? I go with the Rottweiler. Raise it from puppy with your stock and it will believe them family. As intelligent an animal as I have ever encountered http://www.vdd-gna.org You need to find the right bloodlines and breeder. I would never buy a guard animal from a puppy mill. Seriously, if you take any advice...take that piece of advice. Find a breeder that has personally bred the line of his / her choosing back at least 20 years. You will pay more, yes, and get more.

Now, onto the Drahthaar. I have owned and hunted with Drahts for approximately 15 years. I would urge you (in order to save space here) to read the section on "testing program" at my link, to see what this dog is capable of, and tested on at the highest levels. A Drahthaar from a good breeder [if real estate is about location, location, location---dogs are about breeder, breeder, breeder!] will hunt upland birds with the best of bird dogs. I have taken (over their point) quail, pheasant, chuckar, grouse...all retrieved to hand. I have also taken many ducks and geese in very cold conditions, again, fetched to hand. They enjoy hunting close to their master, are terrific retrievers (on land AND water), extremely durable, comfortable in frigid
weather and cold water (though they do not have all the protection of a Lab or Chessie), and the good ones are blessed with an outstanding tracking nose and desire to work. Once they understand what you are asking, they can blood track wonderfully. Ours have proven to be wonderful watch dogs (by that I mean "alert" dogs...barking when strangers enter upon the property, moving themselves between owner and stranger naturally) and LOVE to work, work, work. Our Drahts have taken to obedience training like ducks to water. Again, read the testing program. A Draht is not an animal to be taken lightly. They are tough, have a gator-type set of teeth and jowls, and the large males will not be outdone by any feral dog in a fight---a reality folks, not a sport. Fact is, while it may strike some as cold...my dogs must be capable of protecting my children from feral dogs...and this means capable of dispatching the threat, not just barking at it. If what we believe may
be coming does come, I believe that whatever dog you have must be capable of following through (as opposed to "wanting to") on driving from your place feral dogs, coyotes, etc., or dispatching the same if necessary. They are what I would consider to be a naturally suspicious dog. They love their pack and distrust all else until the alpha (you, if you are the owner and smart) lets them know there is no need to worry. They, as the Rotties do too, love children...at least ours have.
As with the Rotts, raise these from pups with the stock you want them to guard and tolerate. Both breeds will be protective of your "space", and provide you with years of love and comfort. One final thing---buy a pup. Yes, it will take awhile before it is
fully capable as a guard / watch / hunter, but dogs raised from pup on with a family form a bond that is unbreakable. And, it allows you to cure any bad habits while still young. I would not buy an adult Rottweiler. I have bought adult Drahthaars, and they have worked out well---but nothing beats the hand-raised puppy. May God Bless each of you in 2006, - Straightblast.

 

Mr. Rawles,
As a dog aficionado I have several recommendations regarding the best dog for a retreat. Firstly, I believe most hunting dogs are affable companions and lack the true guard/watch instincts, the Ridgeback being the notable exception. My heart lies with the herding family of dogs. Many have impressive size and strength, natural protective instincts and alertness, wariness of strangers, and almost all make excellent family dogs as they view the family as their flock to protect. When it comes to dogs the most important thing is to research a breed before buying it so you can match a breed to your lifestyle/habits/realistic expectations of training and time spent with the animal. This is important because breeds will have different temperaments and predispositions which you should match to your own. Someone who never gets out of the house for exercise should never own a Malamute; someone who lives in Arizona should try to avoid buying a long hair dog, etc.
Some recommended breeds

Rhodesian Ridgeback
Belgian Shepherds (aka Malinois, Tervuren, Laekenois; names which denote coat type)
Briard
Anatolian Shepherd
Mastiff
Bullmastiff
Giant Schnauzer

(Additional purebred information can be found at www.akc.org, the web site for the American Kennel Club) Best Regards, - Brian

 

 

I am partial to the Doberman Pinscher. Regarded universally as one of the easiest breeds to train, these guys are very user-friendly. They can be trained with little trouble to behave and do what the owner wants. I've seen them in the capacity of guard dogs, but my last Dobie was the friendliest animal I have ever seen, because I socialized him when he was young and never rewarded any aggression. He barked, and that's the only "tactical" use he had. That, and helping me lighten up those heavy bags of dog food. That was his specialty. Like rottweilers, doberman are portrayed as mean, violent dogs in the media. A big black dog with his teeth bared is a strong psychological deterrent to anyone wanting to cause trouble. If taught properly, they can be mean and violent to intruders. They are fast and strong, and have a good sense of pack. Multiple dogs will cooperate if they are put together when young. Dobies have the proper territorial and predatory instincts you want in a protective dog. When I was very young, my mother had an old Doberman from before she got married. He was a great companion for me when I was young. He was friendly with his owners, but hostile to those he did not know or like. A good
protector for a single woman living in a less-than-desirable neighborhood. Regards, - Ben J.

 

Mr. Rawles,
I'd suggest considering a flock guardian breed: Anatolian Shepherds (I've owned one); Kuvasz; Great Pyrenees, etc. They are natural guardians of their herd (two or four-legged) and have not become so popular that they've been over bred to the point of genetic apotheosis. They are big, strong and healthy dogs. Also, Anatolians, at least, eat as much as a dog only two thirds their size. For small rodents? I'd add a couple of small terriers. One dog can't do it all, any more than one weapon can. See the URLs for some FAQs:

http://www.anatoliandog.org/thebreed.htm
Picture of: Anatolian at the beach: http://www.anatoliandog.org/ALPSEA.JPG
http://www.anatoliandog.org/history.htm#List

OBTW, I second your recommendation on the Daniel Tortora book! ("The Right Dog for You.") - Tom A.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim Rawles published on December 28, 2005 2:14 PM.

Letter Re: Critical Capabilities for Retreat Defense: "Move, Shoot, and Communicate" was the previous entry in this blog.

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