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Critter's picture
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Another Worry, Sheep Protection Dogs

I was wondering after reading a story on a Denver TV stations web site about the breed of sheepdogs that are being used now to protect the sheep.  Here is the story

I personally have ran into them a few times while out scouting and can tell you that they are quite protective.  I have even had a couple chase me back to my truck when I got out to open a gate on BLM land with the herd of sheep being fairly close but not close enough to get through the gate while I had it open.  It seams that now the dogs are starting to chase or at least scare tourist down around Silverton but I had it happen up on the Flat Tops above Glenwood Canyon, and another time above where I live.   

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sheep dogs

This is nothing new. Sheep have been protected by a variety of dogs including Akbash for quite some time here in Colorado. What is new, is the increased number of people out recreating in areas where sheep graze. Basically if I see a herd of sheep, I'm on the lookout for dogs. And yes, I've been chased off as well when I got too close. 

With the predators ranchers have to deal with, they have no choice but to use dogs or any other means to try and protect their sheep when they're out grazing. The breeds need to be large, fierce and loyal to the sheep, or they don't stand a chance against a lion, bear or coyote, and in some areas even wolves. 

Tourists in the back country simply need to be made aware of the dogs and stay away from them. 

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dogs

If,you are being ran off buy dogs then the dogs are not staying away from you,and need to be trained.

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The thing that I would be

The thing that I would be worried about is if someone came upon them before either of them knew that the other was there.  If you read the story and click on the Durango Herald or Akbash it will bring up the whole story.  It is interesting in that they say that they are trying to teach the dogs to be used to people and that if you just talk to them that it may help.  I do know that the ones that I ran into could of cared less.  They acted like they wanted a piece of me.  The sad thing is going to be when one of them gets too close to a hiker/hunter that has a firearm with them and the dog gets shot.  That would be a lot of money down the drain for the herder or the one that owns the dog. 

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I did read the article, and

I did read the article, and was in fact familiar with several names mentioned. We have sheep ranching family in the Montrose area and they have Akbash dogs, however they don't graze on public land, it's all strictly on private land. 

Akbash can never be completely socialized, they are loyal to sheep. But as the article stated, talking to them does help. That's what I do when I get around them. 

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I have run into several sheep

I have run into several sheep dogs in unit 12/23/24 while deer and elk hunting. 2 Years ago while muzzle loader hunting the area one ran towards me and my son checking us out to protect its heard. My son and I both drew down on the dog but lucky for the dog it stopped about 40 yards or so from us and we did not fire. Not sure the breed but it was very large and white. It watched us for awhile, pacing back and forth. After 3-5 minute of sizing us up it went back to his duties. I guess he did not see us as a threat to the sheep. I was not happy seeing the dog and all the sheep in the woods during hunting season and really was not happy seeing it come that close to me and my son. I understand why ranches have the dogs but also will not hesitate to shot one if I feel threatened by one regardless the cost/loss to the rancher. I take the inherent risk while in the woods from bears, lions, wolves etc but I/we do not need more risks from potentially aggressive dogs and certainly do not need these dogs on our public lands pushing the game out of the area. 

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Free Excitment

I've mentioned on a different thread about comming into a sheep herd and being confronted by a pair of sheep guard dogs with a single shot muzzleloader in hand.  No shots were taken & I probably would have missed anyway, transforming my Hawken into a poorly balanced club but there was most definitely a major shot of adrenalin into the system.  As I recall these two pups were called comodors having extremely curly white coats, weighing every bit of 120 lbs and were not in the least bit sociable.

From what I know of the training of these dogs, there is absolutely no effort put into getting them to being at least accepting of people.  If a sheep rancher is saying that they are blowing smoke and likely trying to avoid a law suit.  Not that I necessarily blame them as these dogs are bred to protect, not herd.  That said, it wouldn't bother me if every herd of mountain maggots permanently left the open range.

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Sheep dogs

So now the media is trying to turn the reputation of a herding/protective sheepdog  (Akbash sheepdog) into a dog that's a man eating mongrol? 

Hmmm.....lets see. Confused   The media in order to have a story has destroyed the reputation of several high quality working breeds over the years.  Dobermanns, American Pitbull Terriers, Rottweilers, etc. 

Rottweilers were traditionally used to protect both sheep and cattle.  Too bad that breed has been ruined here in the USA.  You now have to have them imported from Germany if you want a true working Rottweiler.  Plus the media's irresponsible non-fact based reporting tarnished the breeds reputation as well.

American Pitbull Terriers, many people don't know, are actually breed to be people friendly, It was one of the strongest original traits bred into this breed by oldtime breeders.  Yes the same breeders who originally bred them for pit fighting.  But they are also strongly bred to do what their master wants them to do and that over loyalty has lead to the breeds downfall, when irresposnible people own dogs like that.  A true well bred APBT is one of the most versatile working breeds in existance.

Same thing goes for the oldtime southern country bulldogs, like the one pictured in my avitar.  What many call today the American Bulldog.  Those old bulldogs were actually the foundation stock for the creation of the American Pitbull Terriers.  Those old bulldogs are another excellent working farm dog if you get one with old southern blood lines in them (no modern Johnson lines in them). Probably one of the most prolifically used catch dogs for hunting razorbacks and wild boars in the deep south.

 

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I don't think that the media

I don't think that the media is unnecessarily calling attention to these dogs and or the problems that a hiker or someone else that is in the high country might encounter.  As I said I have had a couple of encounters with these dogs and if I hadn't of had my truck near by I don't know what the outcome would of been.  One thing that I didn't mention is that when I was out opening a gate the dogs (2 of them) came from over a couple hundred yards away toward me on a slow lope.  I don't know what I would of done if I would of been somewhere that I didn't have a way to get away but those times I usually have a pistol of some kind on my hip and it wouldn't of been good for the dog. 

I do agree with people changing the way that the breed of dog was originally bred for, and it can be said for all the breeds and not just for a few.  It is also funny in that in my 33 year job in the telecommunications field of jumping fences and going into peoples yards and homes I only had problems with 2 dogs.  One was a German Short Hair that tried to take a piece of my leg off while I was talking to its owner who said that he wasn't dangerous, and another to a ankle nipper that came out of a apartment, nipped me on the calf and then ran back into the apartment.   

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dogs,training

It is not the dog or dogs.It is owners with that mentailaty:the "I dont care" attitude that gets people hurt. Dogs pay the priece though. Is this not the truth?

 

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There's a sheep rancher not

There's a sheep rancher not far from here that has huge white dog's and they will run you off. He told me that when it was a pup, he left it out with the sheep and fed it out there as well, almost like it was a sheep. I can't remember what breed he said it was but it was bred to do exactly what is was doing. They kept them around because of looses in the spring. The sheep lamb and the coyote's train their pup's to kill on lambs. At least that's the story. Thoes dogs are extreamly protective of the herd.

If I happened upon one on public land, if it came down to being bit or killing the dog, I'd certainly kill the dog. I strongly suspect that one of those dog's is not gonna be happy with a bite and let by gones be by gones.

 

Justg came to me. I think he said they were Pyrnees.

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