Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Summer 2012 Developments in LPDs

Purebred Turkish puppies or started dogs
available to the right homes.
 As always, I'm behind -- particularly on line!!  We have exciting litters coming and a couple of started dogs for sale; however, there have also been developments in the field of livestock protection dogs that those who use working dogs -- or who support their use -- would certainly be interested in.

While I shared much of this information with Turkish friends on my 2010 trip there, I have now taken the liberty of reprinting information I wrote for the Fall 2012 ADAA Bulletin here.  This is copyrighted information but I am happy to give permission for reprinting. Just contact me.
In May of 2010 an article entitled “A Review: The Use of Livestock Protection Dogs in Association with Large Carnivores in the Rocky Mountains” by C. Urbigkit and S. Urbigkit was published in Sheep and Goat Research.

This article has been influential among government agencies, researchers, and livestock owners. It was the result of the Urbigkits’ travel through countries where livestock protection dogs are still used against large predators. Their travels were motivated by the need to find a better way for livestock producers here to discourage predation by northern wolves and grizzly bears. As Wyoming sheep ranchers, the Urbigkits were personally familiar with the problems facing livestock owners.

Spanish Mastiffs, Bulgarian Karakachan Dogs, and Turkish Kangal Dogs were three breeds that the Urbigkits focused on, in part because of their size or special reputation. They evaluated the way these breeds were used in their homelands and the way that livestock producers use lpds in North America.

A traditional Turkish iron collar from the Taylor collection.

The Urbigkits recommended that American producers using livestock protection dogs with sheep and cattle consider taking two steps in improve their effectiveness.

ONE - The first step is to avoid running lone dogs with herds. It has been observed that rarely do dogs encounter a lone wolf. Rather, wolves hunt in packs, and some packs as large as 15-20 wolves have been observed in Wyoming and Montana. It is thought that these extremely large packs are “relational” packs that sometimes join to hunt.

A gift to the author from a breeder who was exhibiting his Akbash Dogs
 at the Turkish National Akbash Dog Festival, 2010.
This is a new style web collar fitted with spikes.

TWO - The second recommendation the authors made is using spiked collars to make the guardian dogs less vulnerable to wolves. While in Turkey, traditional iron collars are often used, web collars like the one above from the 2010 Akbash Dog Festival in Sivrihisar, Turkey, are also becoming popular.

ANOTHER consideration not discussed in the ADAA Bulletin nor in the Urbigkits' article is whether or not to crop the ears of the working livestock protection dogs on range in North America.  
A Kangal Dog near Konya in 2007. Photo by Taylor.
  To my knowledge, no research has been done on the effects of ear cropping, which is done to prevent predators from gaining purchase (have a place to bite and hold) during a fight.  Ears are not a target in a serious fight; however, an ear is a vulnerable point that can be ripped and will bleed profusely.  It also is a potential infection site for dogs with minimal vet care, as is the case in some countries.   At the ADI Conference which focused on Livestock Protection Dogs in Helena, Montana, in June of 2012, Ilker Unlu addressed the question of cropped ears and commented that the ear cropping (which means cutting off the ears quite close to the head - as opposed to "shaping" them) seems to be a tradition that developed to reduce health risks to the dog. Not only do predators but also other dogs and, in fact, the iron spiked collars can result in injuries to the typical, rather heavy pendant ear of the Kangal Dog.  

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Hediye (gift) is home, home at last. She arrived safe and sound in Namibia and has become great friends with Cazgir, the other pure Turkish Kangal Dog at the Cheetah Conservation Fund facility. These girls, along with semen from two males from Turkmen, will be the foundation of the new breeding program at CFF, which has decided to focus on Kangal Dogs as their livestock guardians.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Today was the day! Trips to the vet. Trips to the United States Dept. of Agriculture 5 hours away. And now Hedi (Hediye)'s trip from Dallas to Frankfurt -- and on the Namibia and the Cheetah Conservation program. That's a trip of 10,000 miles. That's a long, long road, but Hedi is ready.

Last night there was a final romp in the pasture with mom and sibs (photos by Nancy Rix and Drew). The goats had already gone to the barn for grain.

Wednesday morning, there was a first and final bath before she was loaded in her crate, but Hedi wasn't alone. Dad Davut traveled with her as Nancy and Tamara drove to meet Donna Erickson, her escort to the Cheetah Conservation facilities, Paula Martin, U.S. Executive Assistant and Outreach Coordinator for CCF, Will Taylor, and compadre photographer Drew. Hedi and Davut attracted a lot of attention at the American Airlines International ticketing area.

One older traveler approached the group to see what was going on and told Nancy that he was leaving his Westie at home and already missed him. She suggested that he just needed to pat a dog -- he agreed and did. Davut got his head patted and scratched.

Once inside, Donna, who once flew with Flying Tigers and told us tales of hauling live whales, carefully marked Hedi's crate. Nancy, Tamara, and Paula looked on. Donna and Hedi will meet up after their non-stop flight to Frankfurt, where Hedi will be free to exercise in the airport "Dog Lounge," a special kennel facility with a resident veterinarian. After a long layover, they will board an Air Namibia flight to their final destination.

How is Hedi taking this? If her behavior is true to Kangal Dog disposition, she will take it all in stride.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Davut x Raki litter are now up and active. Scroll down to see their beginning. They accompany their mom, Raki, around the perimeter (puppy proof fencing) and spend time on their own meeting the goats and chickens that share their "pasture."

While several of the pups are going to companion homes where they won't be expected to live 24/7 with livestock like they would here, everyone gets the same experience. This pup appears to be watching these yearling Saanens with great composure -- ignoring their curiousity over such a SMALL guard dog!

This puppy is Turkmen Hediye (gift). She is going to the Cheetah Conservation Fund farm in Namibia, Africa, where she will be an important addition to their Kangal Dog breeding program. The CCF were using U.S. Anatolians but after receiving a donation of two Kangal Dogs from Turkey and learning more about the Turkish classification of their own native dog breeds, CCF is now focusing on pure Kangal Dogs.
This is another shot of Hedi. Her tail may well end up like her father's distinctive tight double curl!

Her brother, to the right, is a pretty serious fellow. He will be co-owned with the Malone Ranch, where Zara (pictured below with Dost) has been successful in stopping rural dog attacks on the Malone Angus during calving times. While the Malones were reluctant to turn Zara out by herself to protect the mother cow herd, the loss of two registered calves gave them little choice. Within a few months, this male pup will be large enough to provide formidable backup to Zara, however.

This is our March 2009 litter at about 10 days of age. Sired by Davut (Ch. Turkmen Davut Bey) and out of Ch. Turkmen Raki, one of our last Ch. SVF Kaptan of Turkmen offspring, these pups have depth and breadth of pedigree. They have some of the most consistent pure Turkish lines available in the breed today. .
It's exciting to watch a litter develop, particularly when you can remember watching parents and grandparents at the same stages. At four weeks the pups are beginning to be mobile and will venture out of the nest. In fact, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . . . Hey! somebody's missing!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's 2009? Already?

Things have been busy on the farm. The two girls -- Kangal Dog girls Ch. Arzu and Ch. "Glam" -- in the previous posts are still here. In 2007 they were joined by two of our three imports from Turkey - Dost and Tecer. Kaya, the third of the Musketeers, went to his home with Ruthann Brucato of Camp-Hil farm.

These boys are big and have the breed traits that distinguish the breed from the general population of mixed "sheepdogs" in Turkey. These males were selected by me in Turkey because they have many of the traits we admire -- have admired -- since 1988 when we got our first Kangal Dogs as a gift from a Turkish friend.

Dost is shown lying in the pasture with Zara, who know resides on the Malone Angus Ranch in Arkansas. Dost has sired one litter since his arrival - the dam was Zara. We are getting great reports back from the owners in Oklahoma, Florida, Montana, New Jersey, and Missouri.

BEARS - Oh my!
The Dost son, Cenghis, was purchased as a small farm guardian and companion by a family in New Jersey. While walking near the heavily wooded farm, he and one of his owner's adult daughters came upon an adult black bear, which he promptly treed. Then -- to the shock of the young woman (who is accustomed to bears) the 350 lb. bear began coming down the tree. The woman retreated, concerned for not only her safety but that of the 5.5 month old Cenghis! Cenghis responded to his mistress' distress by attacking the bear, grabbing and biting at its hindquarters. The bear came down the tree only to run away, dragging Cenghis a few yards.

When Don, Cenghis' owner, recounted this story, first I was shocked that the dog was not smart enough to avoid physical contact with the bear. However, when I learned of his daughter's distress and understood that she was calling to Cenghis (probably NOT in a calm voice), I understood. Cenghis only knew that his human was distressed -- he had no experience with face to face bear encounters. His only instinct was to protect his distressed companion -- by attacking the bear if that was what was needed.

Over the years we have learned a good rule of thumb. If you want to "disengage" your dog from a threatening situation, you have to be calm and "disengage" yourself. A respected dog trainer and breeder friend, Malinda Julien, summed up the situation for me: If you are yelling, your dog thinks you are a cheer leader!

West Coast Bear

Cenghis is not the only one of our Kangal Dogs to have protected his owner from bears. The Deviny's live in Washington, surrounded by forrest, some of it National Forest. Rita loves to trail ride and specifically got a Turkmen Kangal Dog as a riding companion. "Dev" (Turkish for "giant") first encountered and treed a black bear that was just a few yards from their backyard.
"Dev had been outside all day; in fact, I couldn't get him to come in. Finally it was really getting dark and I knew I had to make him come inside. We have too many large predators for me to leave a 5 month old puppy outside." Rita was tired of Dev's coy "keep away" game, but she was shocked by her pup's behavior this time when she called him. He was staring at her (she thought) and suddenly his hackles went up, he showed his teeth, and he charged!!! Directly past her -- into the trees, where she heard crashing. Used to bear sounds, Rita understood instantly what was happening. Her young Kangal Dog had treed the bear that had been in the area of the house all afternoon.

That was in 2004 - today Dev is still his owners' pride and joy. In fact, Rita and Bill have a reservation for a second Kangal Dog to join Dev. Their puppy is one of our current litter by Ch. Turkmen Davut and out of Ch. Turkmen Raki. Davut is a 1/2 brother to Dev. Their mother is the wonderful Ch. Turkmen Tasi's Mystique (Missy). Dev was sired by another one of our Turkish imports -- not a dog from Germany or England or even France where Kangal Dogs are registered with (and certainly bred to) Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.

That sire was Ch. SVF Kaptan of Turkmen. Though he is now gone, he has left us with some of our best individuals. He was not perfect but he outproduced himself in his offspring. He was selected at the age of 10 weeks in 1999 in Turkey out of a sire and dam that I was familiar with and had first met in 1996.


In the meantime, Tecer, one of our other 2007 imports, has proven to be very attached to his goats. He has sired one litter out of GCH Arzu -- we have gotten back such great reports from the two pups that the mating produced that we are looking forward to repeating that mating this fall.

One of the Tecer-Arzu pups went to Georgia where she protects poultry, miniature goats, and the Swafford family from intruders. She is bonded to her livestock but is equally protective and devoted to her owners' young son.

Jess wrote in an email about Ceyda. In it he said, "I wanted to tell you that Ceyda is doing great. She is beautiful. Her structure is flawless. She has really become a wonderful part of our family. I need to take some pictures and send them to you. She has really started to be protective of things. She barks at strangers and can be very intimidating to someone walking near the fence. That is exactly what we wanted. She is so sweet though. When I go in the fence she comes to me with her head down submissively until she sees that I want to play and then she gets very hyper and we have a big time playing together. I feel like she really loves me (and the whole family). I feed her only once a day and she would rather play with one of us than to eat her food. She'll take a bite or two and then she wants to play while we're back there. I already feel that she would do what it took to protect us. "

Ceyda's sister, Keeva, is in Arizona where she is the protector for an Orthodox Abbey. She is the guardian for the Sisters as well as the goats and property there. This summer a second Turkmen pup will join Keeva.
This is our purpose: to place the right dog in the right home. It benefits the dog, the owner, and us - because we will always take our dogs back. A Turkmen Kangal Dog should NEVER be found in a shelter or other rescue situation. When life changes occur, we will take our dogs back and keep them here or work to rehome them in the right home.
Please note that all of the dogs mentioned here are neutered. Neutered dogs are as brave and devoted and protective as or, in certain situations, even more so than intact dogs. This is true of all breeds.

Monday, October 16, 2006

News From Owners: Kangal Dogs and Children

One of the things that we have learned over the years is that our owners teach us a lot about the breed. Dogs, like family members, are unique. What works for one may not work for another, but when you work within a breed, you have a better chance of extrapolating based on another owner's experience and another dog's behavior.

One of our owners in New York has called his Kangal Dog the "do anything" dog. Baskin is a family/farm companion that accompanies his owner or his wife when they go riding. He never strays far from them in their woods and is typically responsive to voice commands (don't try this in high traffic -- people, cars, or other dogs -- areas!). We have photos of him taken at Niagara Falls and at shows (where he earned his championship by winning points in group placings!) as well as on the farm.

Another couple who had bought a Michigan farm that had once been a horse farm contacted us about a puppy about 2 years ago. They seemed like a wonderful potential home. The fencing -- decorative split rail -- concerned us. They put invisible fence in behind it -- I still voiced my concern. Last week we had a great conversation -- Nala loves the new baby -- and by the way, the invisible fence has proven perfect. She never challenges her boundaries.

Another family here in Texas has a new baby and a very attentive Kangal Dog! No sign of jealousy but concern if the baby sounds unhappy! We have long observed with our dogs that the protectiveness they show toward their livestock charges translates into a similar response to children.

The experience of our young buyers mirrors our own -- with our children decades ago and now with our grandchildren! The photo above is of "Glam," one of our imported (from Turkey) Champions. We were fortunate when the family who imported her decided that her protective instincts were more than they needed in a suburban situation (they kept their male and sent us Glam). She is protective of her goats and her children! The photo was taken by Nancy Rix on her Florida farm.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Taylor Farms and Turkmen Kangal Dogs
In the late 70s we, my husband and I, moved to the country and began a family. A milk cow, some chickens, then some goats and some geese were all a part of our life. Then when we both began working off the farm and being gone all day, we found that maurading dogs -- and ocassional coyotes -- were a threat to our animals.

In time, our veterinarian talked us into finding an Akbash Dog. Then a Turkish friend told us that we needed "the famous dog of Turkey" and asked if we would accept a Kangal Dog if he brought us one as a gift. We said yes, and he did, and we did. That was in 1988, and we have had Kangal Dogs ever since.

Livestock guard dogs are as unique as herding dogs are. We use both and are continually amazed by both. The purpose of this blog is to share some of our ongoing experiences with the Turkish livestock guardians -- and those of our less communicative owners and fellow Kangal Dog enthusiasts!

Now the question is: Where should we start?