What type of dogs to have if you live in the land of big carnivores

Angel, the injured dog.
Angel, the injured dog. | Source
A cougar is more than a match for a single medium, large, or even a giant size dog.
A cougar is more than a match for a single medium, large, or even a giant size dog. | Source

Austin Forman, 11 years old, was hauling firewood in his backyard on the weekend, when his golden retriever, Angel, began acting weirdly. Father of the boy was watching both of them.

This behaviour explained itself when a hungry cougar came out of forest and charged Austin. However, Angel was ready and challenged the cat. The boy escaped inside his home while the two animals battled for several minutes. The cougar had the dog by her head. They could hear both the dog and the cougar screaming. Then it went silent.

RCMP Constable Chad Gravelle rushed to the scene. He stepped into the backyard and saw that the cougar, a young, skinny female, had dragged Angel under the porch. He shot the cougar. The dog was laying there lifeless. As the family gathered, consoling Austin, the dog suddenly sprang up. She coughed a bit of blood, started wagging her tail, snuggled up to Austin and licked him.

These two LGDs (Maremma) warned K2 and us as we walked on the trail close to their home territory. These two never crossed their boundary.
These two LGDs (Maremma) warned K2 and us as we walked on the trail close to their home territory. These two never crossed their boundary. | Source
Two Great Pyrenees guarding a flock of sheep.
Two Great Pyrenees guarding a flock of sheep. | Source

Keeping a dog for protection against large carnivores

In this horrible incident, Angel and her humans got lucky.

Cat Urbigkit, in her book 'When Man becomes prey' has taken up the subject of increased attacks on humans by 5 top predators of North America – black bears, grizzlies, cougars, wolves and coyotes. Her premise is simple:

1. The increased interaction of humans and these predators, specially in and near the protected areas, is resulting in an increased attacks of these predators on humans.
2. Because of these increased attacks, humans likely to confront these predators need to take precautionary measures.

I believe those of us who have chosen to live in areas, where an encounter with any one of these top predators is more likely, need to take extra precautionary measures to protect ourselves in case of an attack. Since the large carnivores are going to be protected species, and very rightly so, I believe large-sized agile guard dogs can be a deterrent against such an attack on your premises. And if you decide on having a dog, two or more dogs are always better guards than one.

K2 and I were challenged by this mid-sized dog (a small shadow in the far background) that we couldn't determine the breed of at a trail side home in Caledon Hills. This dog is an easy prey for coyotes and black bears.
K2 and I were challenged by this mid-sized dog (a small shadow in the far background) that we couldn't determine the breed of at a trail side home in Caledon Hills. This dog is an easy prey for coyotes and black bears. | Source

Coyotes and bears

During my hiking trips in areas where coyotes and black bear flourish, I have observed big trail side homes where K2 and I are greeted or scorned by small and medium size dogs roaming free on the property while the children are playing nearby. This insouciance of home owners toward safety of their furry friends makes me wonder. Agreed that these dogs never crossed the boundary to pose any threat, a coyote or a bear doesn't necessarily know and obey the "Do not enter the premises" and "no trespassing" rules. Living in risk prone areas with smaller dogs can become life threatening for both humans and their dogs.

Let me remind the readers that not all dogs are capable of thwarting an attack by a large predator. Without any rigmarole, I will state that to take on a large carnivore, you need to have dogs who are bigger, are agile, and have greater fight drive (see reference # 1).

The two kuvaszok at Brantwood Farms can not only protect the smaller dog, but also other pets, hobby farm animals, and children.
The two kuvaszok at Brantwood Farms can not only protect the smaller dog, but also other pets, hobby farm animals, and children. | Source

What type of dog(s) then?

When we moved into our new home near a conservation park and a network of large interconnected ravines and green belts that were populated by packs of coyotes, we started looking for a dog for protection. We wanted to have a large size dog that had high guarding instincts and defense capabilities, especially against threats to life from attacks by humans or coyotes near our home.

Kuvasz like this one were originally bred in Hungary to protect livestock against bears and wolves.
Kuvasz like this one were originally bred in Hungary to protect livestock against bears and wolves. | Source

After our research, our search was narrowed down to category of dog breeds known as livestock guardian dogs or LGDs. This group includes pure breeds like Turkish Kangal, Akbash, and Anatolian Shepherd dog, Central Asian Ovcharka, Caucasian Ovcharka, Serbian Sarplaninac, Bosnian/Croatian Tornjak, Great Pyrenees, Italian Maremma, Polish Tatra, Hungarian Komondor and Kuvasz, etc. and their cross breeds. I am listing these breeds only because these are active on guard duties in the USA, Canada, and Europe. And because in Europe, LGDs had to protect livestock against bears and wolves, they were bred for large sizes, intimidating deep and booming barks and valour. These 3 characteristics are what all LGDs should display to thwart the advances of an intruder.

Other guard dogs

But LGDs are only one group that I am mentioning because they have low prey drive, meaning that they won't go out challenging everyone within their reach perceiving them to be a threat. There are other great breeds also, mostly for tropical climates, that can serve the purpose equally well - Fila Brasiliero, Dogo Argentino, Pressa Canario, South African Boerbol, Italian Cane Corso, Japanes Tosa Inu, Pakistani Bulli Kutta, Pit Bulls, etc. This video shows 5 of such dog breeds.

However, a characteristic that I mentioned earlier that you need to have in the dog(s) is agility. The agile dogs are better able to harass an intruder and defend themselves and their charges - humans in this case.

As a family, we decided on Kuvasz breed after lot of research work. One factor that we were looking for was the ability of the breed to cope with summer and winter extremes of southern Ontario and friendly temperament toward children and guests. We could have easily chosen one of the several other breeds of LGDs and even cross-breeds if they were available.

K2, the Great White Kuvasz, gets up as a warning to a coyote that was present in the vicinity.
K2, the Great White Kuvasz, gets up as a warning to a coyote that was present in the vicinity. | Source

Our encounter with a bear

Our decision to have a large size dog like Kuvasz by our side during hiking adventures was proven wise.

Once I was hiking with K2 on the Bruce Trail section in the the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Turning a bend, K2 stopped in his tracks looking straight ahead with a nervously curious look, ears cocked backwards, body motionless. When I reached him, I was overwhelmed by the site too. There, just 20 meters ahead on the trail, stood a black bear staring at us.

All three of us had just frozen. I begged K2 in my heart not to make any move.

For the first time in my hiking adventure I realized how unprepared I was for such an occasion. I had no hiking sticks to act as a defense tool, no bear pepper spray, no advance warning to bear on our approaching it , e.g. having a bear bell on my backpack or on K2 to let bear know that an intruder is coming, etc.

If bear attacked, I could have let K2 go off leash to at least act as a deterrence, or so I hoped. Having a big puppy on the leash had an advantage, as it turned out. The bear decided to break the stalemate. It moved off the trail and disappeared in the thick undergrowth.

Our encounter with coyotes

If I had a yapping small or medium sized dog, the turn of the event could have been different.

On other occasions, coyotes took off their heels at the sight of a giant dog looking at them with warning look.

K2 and I were once hiking on a lonely road running by the conservation park late at night when we heard a pack of coyotes yapping and howling. I think 3 or 4 of them were picking on a young intruder, who was fearfully protesting. K2 growled in low pitch and all of a sudden it was all quiet in the dead of the night. I believe just one warning growl was enough to make them run for their lives.

In case of wolves

First of all, I believe one or two LGDs should not be expected to keep wolves at bay. In this situation, if a wolf pack moves near your home, the best bet is to keep hobby livestock, persons, and dogs within the confines of a fenced area. It should be ensured that dogs and little children do not roam alone over large areas, where they can be tackled by pack of wolves and injured or even killed. In addition, spiked collars should be put on the dogs as this video shows.

Although wolves are a beautiful animal and need to be protected for our future generation, they are after all wild animals and will kill a dog to feast on it or as a defense if they are denning in the area. They cannot and should not be demonized for this.

Also, not all LGDs are capable of providing a deterrent against wolves. Cat and Jim Urbigkit recommend (see reference # 2) employing the services of canine aggressive LGDs like Central Asian Ovcharkas, Turkish / Kurdish Kangals, Portuguese Transmontano Mastiff, Bulgarian Karakachans or mixes thereof for protection against wolf predation and I think these dog types can also provide protection for residents of areas where conflict with wolves is possible.

Do remember to use dog's senses to your advantage.

Dogs’ vision is roughly as good as ours, but they have better night vision, peripheral vision and motion detection that can be helpful while hiking in the dark. Their smelling and hearing senses are much better than ours and can be used to a distinct advantage. Their olfactory sense, especially, provides a window to recent past, present and therefore, near future. They can smell presence of a danger much before humans can.

Your dog(s) behaving nervously when outside may well indicate presence of danger lurking nearby.

This happened with Kelly Murray of Barriere, British Columbia. Her kuvaszok incessantly barked and acted extra protective when Kelly was out in her fields and continued barking from inside the home throughout the night. Kelly discovered the next morning that a cougar had spent a major time of the previous day and the whole night hidden in the bushes nearby.

A livestock guardian kuvasz of Brantwood Farms watches over sheep.
A livestock guardian kuvasz of Brantwood Farms watches over sheep. | Source

As I am writing this hub, I am aware that Ontario has a confirmed population of 500 cougars, 85,000 to 105,000 black bears, and several thousands gray wolves, eastern wolves, great lakes boreal wolves, and eastern coyotes. Since my family and I are routinely hiking in the forest trails, we have a high probability of an encounter with these wild animals. And an encounter may not turn out to be friendly or harmless. For this reason, our best bet is to keep well trained large size dogs by our side for protection. These dogs may also turn to be a better protection against those urban mischievous urchins who we are routinely meeting on the trails. So let us see what type of dogs K2 ends up as having his pets.

More by this Author


Comments 42 comments

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Chuck,

I left many dog breeds out, unintentionally of course, and I agree that pit bulls can and should be included. The message was to keep large dog breeds who are agile to defend against large carnivores and any dog that fits the bill qualifies.

Thank you for sharing from your experience. I will add pit bulls in my article.

Regards,


Chuck Rhoads 2 weeks ago

First of all, I found your article to be very interesting, as well as informative. I do agree that these larger breed dogs are a good deterrent, but, I am curious as to why you left out Pit bulls. From my own personal experience, my dog has run off and/or fought mountain lions, coyotes, wild boars, bears, snakes, badgers, etc. My dog was once attacked by 6 coyotes on our property, he got chewed up pretty good, but recovered quickly. Of those 6 coyotes, he killed 3, and sent the others limping off. I must add that he is 110lb male Staffordshire that is extremely fast and muscular. I would take that dog hiking or hunting anywhere.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Cynthia,

In Russia, Central Asia, Turkey, and even southern Italy, they put spike collars on their dogs to protect them from other predators. Btw, I am thankful to you for adding so much value to my article.


techygran profile image

techygran 4 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

wow, Suhail, more information I didn't know-- so the spiked collars are not just a PitBull fashion statement! Sounds really practical! I'll tell my friend about the amenability of the LGD dogs for apartment living, but I rather suspect that she lives in a NO PETS place, since that is the way it is in this community. All the best, Cynthia


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Cynthia,

First of all, I apologize for a delayed response to your comments as I was vacationing.

Thank you so very much for leaving a detailed response to my article. I think you have been doing a great job of allaying the fears of people against large carnivores. People are unnecessarily fearful of as small a carnivore as a coyote. It is just that I know for sure from personal experience now that the probability of running into a large carnivore in new territories like northern California and even Ontario has increased a lot due to increasing number of carnivores, thanks to our conservation efforts.

I would just like to say that an apartment is not really a bad place to have large dogs, because these LGD breeds tend to be lazy inside the home, as long as we are able to take them to long distance walks.

Second thing is that conservationist are telling us that Ontario now has about 500 cougars (pumas) too. Since cougars attack their victims on their necks, I am about to buy a spiked collar for my dog. Spiked collars were not invented as a fashion statement. They have a definite purpose.

Thank you again for leaving encouraging comments.


techygran profile image

techygran 4 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

Hi Suhail,

I certainly found this article informative, and thank you for the "reviews" of some large dog breeds that can be protective of people when one lives and/or hikes in areas where there are large carnivores.

Unfortunately, your article also evoked guilt on a couple of counts: (1)Our little dog, Zoe, who died this past Spring, accompanied the family hiker on several forays into isolated terrain with potential for attack by carnivores. If we acquire another small dog-- and I am sure we will eventually do that-- I will not allow the little dog to go with the family hiker on dangerous hikes. (2)I recently minimized our new pastor's wife's concerns about running into a bear or cougar in the area of the city where she goes to the park to walk. She is from urban Venezuela and looked quite comically terrified of meeting up with bears or cougars as she tried to find the language to describe her fear. I heard that there was no reason to be fearful, but now that you pointed out that research shows that there are increased confrontations between large carnivores and people, who am I to insensitively dismiss her fears? There actually seem to be increased sightings of cougars in all parts of the valley we live in, including the area of the city where she and her husband live. They live in an apartment, so these large dogs are out of the question, but she and I can do some problem-solving to help her feel anxious and helpless.

Thank you for this great article! ~Cynthia


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 7 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Joao,

Thank you for the link. Portuguese Cao Gado Transmontano is indeed a terrific breed for protecting livestock, thereby ensuring protection of predators as well.



Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 9 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi truthfornow,

Thank you for reading and leaving a nice comment.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 9 months ago from New Orleans, LA

I didn't know about all these types of dog breeds. Very nice read.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 12 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you for reading this hub, Mel.

Small dogs can be good company, but they can become a liability in the land of large carnivores, unless supervised very closely outside or confined to home and well protected backyard.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California

We have plenty of coyotes out here in suburban Southern California, and as far as I know they haven't attacked any humans, though they will eat small dogs that are left out. We have had cougar attacks in the mountains, but I haven't heard about any bear attacks. A good dog would definitely be an asset. Great hub!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 14 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thanks, Akriti.


Akriti Mattu profile image

Akriti Mattu 19 months ago from Shimla, India

Yes absolutely.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 19 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Akriti,

With protection accorded to large carnivores, we, the homo sapiens sapiens, will be wise to use our furry friends for protection.


Akriti Mattu profile image

Akriti Mattu 19 months ago from Shimla, India

This is actually a very useful piece for me.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 20 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Chris, for reading the article and for liking it.

I hope it makes you decide on right kind of furry friend. I have found large breed dogs from pastoral group or cross breeds thereof to be a good choice for our kind of lifestyle :-)


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 20 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Outstanding article, well written and informative. I travel for a living, staying in each location from three months to a year. I take full advantage of whatever outdoor opportunities exist at the time. In a year from now, I want to have a dog traveling with me as I plan to have purchased a travel trailer to live in rather than renting apartments. My plan has been to have a medium sized dog that would "travel well." My first choice is a mutt from a shelter. Second choice is a border collie/Australian shepherd mix. I know they need lots of exercise. I also like Redbone coonhounds. Because I go deep into Grizzly and mountain lion territory when out west, I'm wondering if I should rethink the breed. Good food for thought. Thanks.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Moonlake,

I agree with you on wolves, hence, I wrote along the same lines. However, I do believe that 2 or more of these dogs will ward off a threat from a lone ranging wolf.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Peggy,

You are absolutely correct. Only the livestock community knows them well or the people from those countries where they originated from.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 21 months ago from America

Wolves kill dogs here, I don't know if you can find a dog that can fend off a wolf attack. My little Chihuahua will sure not be any help. My cat did try to run off the bear. Enjoyed your hub. Voted up and more.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

What an informative article! Living where you do especially where you like to do a lot of hiking, it is good that you have a Kuvasz by your side. They are beautiful dogs as well as protective. I have never heard of many of the breeds of dogs you mentioned. Pinning this to my dogs board and will share.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Deb! My only regret is that I don't have enough time to give to K2. I hope when my brother and I start our hobby farm, he will get lot of company.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 21 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Suhail, you made a very wise choice of dog, as has been proven any number of times while you and your family are out hiking. K2 seems like such a wonderful dog, too.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Stella,

Ridgebacks are very athletic dogs. I am sure they are capable of harassing the biggest carnivores due to their quickness and agility.


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 21 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

I use to keep a Rhodesian Ridgeback, she was great for keeping unwanted animals away from my home. We had a lot of wild hogs and coyotes in our woods. A really enjoyable hub.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Ray.

Large dogs that I mentioned are a win-win situation for protecting us, as well as large carnivores by keeping them away from harm.


Ray 21 months ago

I have an Australian Shepherd. I love this dog breed, but thank you for educating a dog lover like me on so many unheard, or shall I say less known, breed of dogs. Large dog breeds do look intimidating and I think your article educates the readers well on why and when to have them.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi DrMark,

I agree and I will add a video of Filas on this hub asap. You may remember from my previous shares on your various hubs that I love those Filas. They are so elegant, look so gentle, yet very good guard dogs.

Fila deserve a video devoted to them and I will find some space on this hub to do just that. Give me a few hours.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi craftybegonia,

Thank you for sharing a story of your great pyr mix. He must have been a very energetic dog as well due Australian shepherd ancestry.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Adrienne (Alexadry),

Thank you for the comments and sharing a beautiful story. Btw, I didn't even know that javelinas are capable of attacking. They appear to be very cute pig like mammals. See, one can learn at any stage of life hahaha. I know that wild boars would do that though.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Adrienne (Alexadry),

Thank you for the comments and sharing a beautiful story. Btw, I didn't even know that javelinas are capable of attacking. They appear to be very cute pig like mammals. See, one can learn at any stage of life hahaha. I know that wild boars would do that though.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Linda (AliciaC),

Thank you for the kind words.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Linda (AliciaC),

Thank you for the kind words.


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 21 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

Thanks for this informative article.

I do want to mention a livestock guard dog suited for a tropical environment. (The Kuvasz, Great Pyrenees, and Komondor would not make it where I live.) The Fila Brasileiro was developed to guard cattle from jaguars, and we also routinely have cougars invading metropolitan areas (because of the destruction of their jungle environment). Anyone living where they cannot keep these excellent dogs you recommend should look into the Fila.

I shared some of your photos on my Pinterest page and put this on my Twitter. Thanks again.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Bill,

I myself came to know about livestock guardian dogs and many others only after reading books and articles, watching videos, and visiting farms for researching on how to protect both livestock and large carnivores prone to prey on them.

Thanks for leaving an encouraging comment as always.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 21 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi Larry,

Good to hear from you after a long time. Thanks for reading my article.


craftybegonia profile image

craftybegonia 21 months ago from Southwestern, United States

We had a Great Pyr mix (with Australian Shepherd), his name was Buddy. Died of old age. He was the most amazing, intelligent, loving and faithful dog you can imagine. He had a few battles with rattlesnakes, and held his ground like a trouper. They are VERY brave dogs! We will never forget Buddy, he was incredible!


alexadry profile image

alexadry 21 months ago from USA

I loved this hub, so informative and helpful. Where I live, one big threat are javelinas, I heard they attack people at times, and they will attack dogs as well. One day there were a few, and my Rottie went by the fence with his hackles up trying to scare them off, instead one came closer and tried to charge. Luckily, there was a fence in between!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is both interesting and informative. I enjoyed learning about the Kuvasz and the other dog breeds very much.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

Great information my friend. I have never heard of that breed of dog before you mentioned it. Great read!


Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 21 months ago from Northern California

Hi Suhail,

I love medium and large size dogs. Thanks for educating me about LGDs as family protectors. Voted up and beautiful.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working