Made from Scratch Discussion 5 – Work dogs

A working dog is quite different from a pet. Working dogs need to do their job or their temperament suffers. Can you transform a pet into a working dog? What are your expectations for your animals on your homestead?

Jenna describes in beautiful, horrible detail the trauma she suffered when one of her rabbits was injured by her dog and how she had to steel herself to put the rabbit out of its agony. Sometime farm work is brutally cruel. Is it wrong to give up when the unexpected tragedy happens?


Here is a picture of Polyface’s working dog, Michael. He is an Akbash Anatolian Shepherd. Ferocious to wild animals and loving to people. Smarter than a Great Pyrenese, he was raised as a puppy with the chickens and has learned to guard them.

We have found that males are less aggressive than females so they do better with chickens. We had a female guard dog, but she just ate the chickens. Not a good thing when your guard eats a snack between meals. gulp!

Michael - Polyface Guardian Angel

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.
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11 Responses to Made from Scratch Discussion 5 – Work dogs

  1. Michelle says:

    We have two working dogs here at Spellcast Farm. One a Border Collie. He helps us move the milk goats, cattle, chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc. He’s worth his weight (and then some) in gold. We also have a livestock guard dog who guards the goats, cattle, chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc. It’s hard to say which dog is more valuable. We couldn’t run the farm without either of them.

  2. Jenna says:

    I am reading this before I head out for a herding lesson with my pup, Gibson the Border Collie. As a sherpherd-in-training we both get a lot out of working with classes and mentors in sheep herding. He’s a different kind of working dog than the Siberians, but just as important.

  3. Alec says:

    I have an untrained but helpful 11-year-old border collie named Dublin. He doesn’t herd but he sure knows how to scatter! Anytime to the goats try to come into the yard and munch on the flower beds he’ll take off like a bolt of black lightning. Judging by the goats reaction he must look like an angel of death swooping down on them! We also have an English Mastiff puppy named Jama but she’s just a big fat sack of potatoes compared to Dublin. She’s not good for much except licking and drooling over everything.

  4. Lisa K. says:

    We have an almost year old Anatolian Shepherd, and he is the best dog we’ve ever had. Luv him!

  5. CiJai says:

    My husband and I just started our natural Farm in January, and we brought our “city raised” border collie/healer mix dog with us. She has gone through an amazing transformation from city girl to farm girl. She helps us move our chickens (that’s all we have at the time) and not once has tried to eat them. She is still closely watched of course, but we can’t wait to get puppies that we can raise on the farm to guard and herd. Kera is a great start for now though!

  6. Alison says:

    Our pyrenees does a good job guarding the chickens and cows(coyotes will gladly snatch a calf), but I still had to smile when you said “smarter than a pyrenees”. These dogs are just not very quick to learn anything! They live at a relaxed pace, ambling through life, and as a result, are very hard to train. But Seneca, our second pyrenees is the sweetest dog we’ve ever owned. We’ve only ever had females and have always had to go through a chicken shewing phase. Mayeb we will try a male next time…

  7. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed now.

  8. Dawn Whitehead says:

    We’re “city folk” and have an eight-pound Brussels Griffon who thinks he’s a border collie. He “herds” my husband and I around our house, desperately trying to keep us both in the same room where he can keep a watchful eye on us. He also tries to herd us back into the room by lightly nipping at our ankles when we head for the door without “getting permission” to leave. If he were as big as he thinks he is, he’d be great on a farm!!

    I love all the stories, photos and unexpected nooks and crannies of this website. I’m sure it will take a LONG time go read everything. I am constantly reminded that even city dwellers can avoid the perils of “big box food” by shopping the farmers’ market and making more things at home. It’s really not that hard. Thanks so much for the info and inspiration ;-D