It is no secret around our blog that we adore our farm dog, Tundra. As far as we are concerned he is the most valuable animal on the farm.
As he is getting older and his face is starting to grey we have begun contemplating the fact that he might not have many years left. Since he is so awesome, we want him to have the chance to train the future farm dog to be as awesome as he is. We will, of course, train the dog as well, but there is something to be said for allowing a wonderful older dog to help raise a new pup. We also do not want there to be any gap between him and the next dog, because we wouldn’t be able to safely free-range the chickens nor the lambs without a guard dog with them.
Tundra is a mixed breed that we got from a cardboard box in front of a department store when he was a pup. His wonderful farm-dog traits are just something he happened to have inside him. He is super-intelligent and lives to please my husband. If he sees my husband caring for something, he cares for it. If he sees my husband being aggressive towards something (ie a predator or vermin) then he is aggressive towards it. He has learned what my husband needs from him and he does his work very well. We are very blessed to have ended up with him. But we think that he is unique in his personality and just getting another mixed breed and hoping it will turn out well is not a very wise plan of action.
So we began researching dog breeds to fill the position of farm dog.
We looked at many breeds of LGD (Livestock guardian dogs) but ultimately decided that they were not what we wanted because of the small size of our little farm. We also read that they are supposed to bond more to the livestock and we want a multi-purpose dog that can do the many jobs around the farm and household. Lastly, the LGDs can have trouble with smaller livestock like chickens, and we definitely didn’t want to end up with a dog that killed chickens.
We also researched many of the herding breeds. I love the herding breeds and have owned a few different cattle dogs in my life. They are super intelligent dogs. The problem we see with getting a herding breed is boredom. While our farm dog does work hard when there is a predator nearby or vermin, he also has a LOT of down time when he is just laying up on the hill watching over everything. We are concerned that a herding breed would get bored and unnecessarily chase and badger the livestock to deal with that boredom. That’s not good for the dog nor the stock.
After much research and seemingly no answers we were very excited when we finally landed on two breed descriptions that were exactly a description of our dog Tundra’s behavior. They were the English Shepherd and the Scotch Collie. These two dogs are the farm dogs of old. Back in the early 1900s these were the dogs living on many farms across America. They were guarding the stock, killing vermin, saving the kids from danger, rounding up the stock when needed, and lazing about in between their duties. They are described to be very intelligent and have a desire to please their owners. Just like Tundra! The blog posts I have read about these dogs describe them as learning from watching their owners just like Tundra did. Everything about them sounds like what we want. Both of them are heritage breeds that are way down in number since the early 1900s. Breeders are trying to bring back these breeds before they are lost forever.
We finally decided to go with the Scotch Collie and we began researching the breeders in order to pick one that would be a good match for us. We are excited to announce that we chose a breeder and are getting our puppy soon!
We are getting a male, and because of this breed’s status we are hoping to eventually breed him out or get a female and have a breeding pair here at the farm.
We are very excited to have found what will hopefully turn out to be another excellent farm dog for Willow Creek Farm. And we are looking forward to sharing pictures with you of the cute new pup when he comes home.