Gender, Guardians & Sex

 

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These are, by far, the most common questions about gender and sex in guardians.  

1) Which gender makes the best guardian?

2) Do pairs of the same gender or pairs with one of each work better?

3) What about Spay and Neuter?

     a) Is same gender aggression really a problem?

     b) Do intact and altered dogs work equally well?

     c) Why do you charge more for pets and intact dogs?

 

1) We strongly believe that the gender of a guardian makes no difference at all in the performance of their duties.  We also acknowledge that people sometimes have very strong personal preferences; we respect the right of those people to have them and will not try to dissuade them from their choices.  

2) The question of pairing is tied to the issues of spaying and neutering.  Since those will be addressed below, this question will deal only with altered dogs.  With Great Pyrenees, any combination will work well although in any grouping of two or more dogs, one of them will be the leader.  In same gender pairings, sometimes the alpha discussions are slightly louder and recur about every six months to a year.  They are not terribly serious and don't seem to interfere with the performance of the dogs' guardian duties.

If you are reading this and have a breed of LGD other than Great Pyrenees, the answer is somewhat different.  Unless the same gender pair has been raised together, or both are new pups and will be raised together, we recommend one male and one female.  Many breeds of LGDs have an identical degree of same gender aggression when they are altered as when they are intact.  Introducing (especially when done casually) two adults of the same gender of these breeds can possibly result in a lethal fight.

If you are using an LGD pack, usually 3-5 dogs, which is a virtual necessity in areas with a high density of major predators at least one of those dogs should be female; it may and probably even should be spayed.  An LGD pack when pressed in a fight may work a little harder to protect their females.  

3) Spaying and Neutering can be an emotional subject.  We do believe there is a great value to the breed in preventing casual, careless, and unwanted matings and therefore we do spay and neuter our dogs not specifically planned as breeders.  We do NOT and never will agree with mandatory Spay/Neuter laws as we feel personal responsibility on the part of the breeder and the buyer is the answer to a growing rescue population, mongrelization of any breed, and the placement of poor performing dogs as guardians.

   a) Yes! Emphatically yes!  With Great Pyrenees, intact dogs of the same gender may well kill each other when meeting for the first time as adults, if both are strong alphas, they're equally matched physically, and they're on the farm.   At the very least, the confrontation will be bloody.  Non Great Pyrenees LGDs may very well behave just like this whether intact or altered so this is an item that should always be considered.  Intact dogs meeting in public, off the farm, on a lead, should be civil to each other but don't always count on it.

   b) Intact dogs usually work well as guardians, especially if they're female.  Females have a periodic heat cycle and during that time may become distracted, even to the point of leaving in search of a male.  They also attract males to them and may be the cause of the increased presence of strange dogs around the farm.  What happens if these dogs enter the farm to mate is the subject of many different anecdotes with a mixture of good and bad endings.  Females also stop guarding entirely when they whelp their litter.  For up to two weeks they will be preoccupied with their pups and keep both other dogs, including their mate, and stock animals from getting close.  They do return to work quickly and the best ones train their pups in the process.

Male dogs, on the other hand, remind us of nothing less than the average pubescent human male.  Sex is usually on their mind and the wafting odors of a bitch in heat will usually turn their attention away from their duties.  This is not to say they will ignore intruders or predators, the problem can become one of them being in the right place at the right time. 

What we call testosterone poisoning can also become an issue.  When the bitch(es) is(are) in heat; the does are in heat; and the bucks are rutty, the pressure can just become overwhelming for an intact male dog.  Lest you think this is apocryphal, we have a great dog who was a stud for four years with absolutely no incident marring his record.  In the Spring of 2005, when everyone in the pasture and barnyard was either in heat or in rut, he apparently couldn't handle the pressure and savaged one of our bucks.  After trying several different remedies to no avail we had him castrated and are holding him for a year so he will go through the same environment of sexual pervasiveness before we can offer him for sale as a guardian and guarantee him.

Anytime you opt for intact dogs as guardians you're rolling the dice.  It only takes one moment of inattention to let a predator kill your animals or one moment of being overwhelmed by raging hormones for the dog itself to wreck havoc.

c)  We charge more for pets and breeders because we sell Livestock Guardian dogs.

 Pets demand additional socialization and we feel it is our responsibility to provide it.  This means a month of living in the house and, although they are cute and loving, it's also additional work.  We don't sell too many pets but those who buy one of our pups as a companion animal are very pleased with them.

Breeding dogs carry with them, we feel, a great responsibility on the part of the breeder to insure careful, planned matings.  Since we guarantee our guardians and we just explained above what some of the pitfalls are to owning an intact dog, we want to insure that the buyer is seriously interested in, as well as educated about, owning an intact guardian.  The additional money is to help insure seriousness in the buyer and to discourage casual owners from getting an intact dog.  We do sell on contract and try to screen all of our buyers but we have decided on the price differential as an effective part of our procedures. 


Dan & Paula Lane
Copyright 2005 [Bountiful Farm]. All rights reserved.

 
 
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