The Best Five Dog Breeds to Keep on Your Smallholding

Chris Lesley
Monday, 21st September 2020

Thinking about getting a dog on the farm or smallholding? Here are five breeds that useful on your plot.

Before welcoming a furry friend into your home, you must first decide what breed will be the best fit for your lifestyle. Avid joggers pair well with high-energy runners like Weimaraners, for example, whereas those who prefer to lounge on the couch might be more suited to a bulldog. 

But what about if you live on a farm? What kind of dog breed will be a good fit for your agricultural lifestyle? This will depend on the needs of your specific smallholding. 

Will you need your dog to herd livestock? Do you have chickens that your dog should not chase? Are you looking for your dog to help with rodent and pest management? Decide first what your needs are, as these factors will determine what breed you ultimately select.

In this article, we go over five of the best dog breeds to keep on your smallholding. Once you learn the strengths of each, you’ll be able to determine what breed will best fit your needs. 

Australian Shepherd 

In spite of their name, these dogs actually originated in Spain, and gained popularity in the American West. 

Australian shepherds are born herding dogs and have traditionally been used by cowboys to drive cattle. 

Most puppies will cost around $650-850. The puppies of pedigree parents can cost as much as $1,800.

As one of the best herding breeds in existence and a happy family companion, the Aussie is an excellent all-purpose farm dog.

Kangal

The Kangal was first found in Turkey in the 12th century. Kangals were first imported to the UK in 1965, and only arrived in the United States in 1985. 

This breed has been used throughout history to herd sheep, and more recently, to herd cattle. They are guardians and will steadfastly protect their flock and family from predators.

Sheep and cattle, primarily. However, they can be adapted to protect other livestock as well, including chickens.

In the United States, a kangal puppy can cost anywhere between $800 and $1,300.

Kangals are natural guardians and are reliably gentle with sheep and humans. They will be sure to keep a watchful eye on your flock or herd.

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers were originally bred as hunting dogs in England. They were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1925.

Goldens are one of the most versatile and adaptable breeds. They can be family dogs, service dogs, working dogs, or like their original purpose, hunting dogs. 

All animals and people. Goldens are not a good choice if you need a guard dog.

Golden retrievers can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000. Always make sure you research and purchase from a responsible breeder. 

The golden retriever is one of the calmest, most even-tempered dogs. They are great with families, gentle with livestock, and are not likely to chase chickens. If you don’t need your dog to work on your smallholding but are looking for a family dog who will adapt well to a farm, the golden retriever is a great option.

Australian Cattle Dog

Also known as red or blue heelers, this breed hails from 19th century Australia. They were brought to the US during World War II and became an AKC recognized breed in 1980. 

These dogs are drovers. Whereas herders can corral livestock and move them in smaller pastures, drovers are better suited to covering longer distances.

They do best with bigger animals such as cattle and horses. They tend to have a high prey drive, so they may not do well with smaller animals such as chickens.

An Australian cattle dog puppy will cost upwards of $1,000.

Their strong prey drive means that an Australian cattle dog will be a great asset to your small farm if pest control is one of your goals.

Standard Schnauzer

Native to Germany, schnauzers were bred to be working dogs. Breed variations include the miniature schnauzer and giant schnauzer. 

Schnauzers are active, happy dogs who love to have a job. They are good ratters, and will protect your home from strangers.  

They are extremely gentle with chickens and other small fowl. They would not be the best choice if you need to drive larger animals. 

A schnauzer puppy will cost between $400 and $1,500, depending on the breeder.

If you are looking for a guard dog for your small farm, a schnauzer might be the breed for you. Additionally, their medium prey drive means they will chase away vermin but leave your chickens alone. 

Summary

Never forget that while certain breeds are more naturally talented at certain tasks, you always need to train your dog. Additionally, their traits are descriptive of the breed as a whole, and may not always speak to individual dogs – it’s possible to have a golden retriever with a high prey drive, for example, or a schnauzer who is bothersome to chickens.

That being said, these dogs have been bred for generations to be skilled at many aspects of farm work, and with proper training, any of these five breeds would be a great fit for a smallholding.

Useful links

Watch: Permaculture tips for controlling pests in the veg garden

Watch: The microsmallholding: grow 85% of your food on 8/10ths of an acre

Tips every backyarder should know

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