I was on the phone for nearly an hour yesterday with a particular agency up north that reports livestock losses in the state. I called to introduce myself and my kennel and my breeding program and was given a most avid reception with promised followup and regular contact and strong opportunity for puppy placement with ranchers up there for sheep and cattle operations. In this state the wolf losses are mounting up to astronomical figures - we are talking wolves taking down three grown head of cattle only 20 miles from a major city.
One of the horror stories I heard was four wolves took out ELEVEN LGD's in one fatal attack.
Now, what's wrong with this picture?
The LGD's were mostly Maremmas. So let's look at the Maremma for a minute - a rustic, large, aggressive, thick boned, husky breed in its native country of Italy. But here in America, what do you see? Thin boned, slender, small, fine featured Maremmas. So why is this happening? And why are these American bred Maremmas not standing up to predators?
Again, here we go: the degradation of a great breed of dog by the American show ring/pet enthusiasts. If there was ever a case of pointing out why I personally am so against LGD's being swept up into the show world, this is it.....
By breeding for conformation and looks, the dog's intrinsic guardian instinct and courage and ferocity against threats has been diminished.
I told this person, if it had been 11 adult Boz, fresh out of Turkey, the wolves would have been shredded to bits. Or Kangals - and I don't mean some of the show ring or inbred / over-linebred Kangal strains in this country...... I mean Kangals like Trefino of Kangal Mex in Mexico puts out, or Turkish Kangals. And, although I have no experience yet to back this up, maybe a few rugged tested adult Spanish Mastiffs thrown in who are battle savvy.
If there was ever an argument for the way I raise my dogs - in a pack, breeds and sexes intermingling - this is it. Because my dogs do and will fight. And this gives them experience. They are not coddled in that regard. And here again, is where I run rogue from many LGD breeders who will pen up pups inside a field so the sheep can come see the puppies.....no not here. My pups run with the big dogs....they go into the stock when they want....nothing is held back....they run literally like a wolf pack. When there are fights here, dogs will team up and help one another. And although of course, I break it up to prevent too bad of injuries, what am I allowing these dogs to learn by doing this? They are in a similar situation as would be encountered outside if they were suddenly attacked by wolves.....they are learning how to fight as a TEAM. And this is absolutely CRUCIAL if they are to survive an attack by a wolf pack!
I don't know of anyone else who raises their LGD's the way I am in this country. It is common to do like this in EU and Turkey. But lets look at the pack dynamics in a fight again with an example.
My Kangal bitch once jumped one of my Pyr girls, a kind hearted soul. She got Petra down and was going to kill her. Well here come's Petra's brother and sister - to the rescue. Pinta got on top of my kangal and got her by nape of neck and began pulling her off and lacerating her ears - meanwhile, 160 pd brother Peso comes in doing 'drive by body slams' - he literally would come charging in, slam Elmas my kangal on the side, throwing her off balance, then keep going as to not be bitten. Then he'd make a U turn, and here he'd come again, slamming her. By siblings attacking her in unison I was finally able to pull her off of Petra and save Petra's life.
Were the two fighting dogs hurt? You bet! Did they live? Of course..... Was this a lesson? YES. I have seen by example how my dogs would fight off wolves if on the range and a pack arrived to get my goats.
I have to wonder, how many people even think about this, this way? How many people who raise LGD's even study how their dogs fight, or do they just panic and hose them down or break it up and punish them? My punishment is short and sweet, I grab the offender and snarl and perhaps shake or throw down on back to show superiority, then that's it.....the fights don't last long here anymore - if a minute that's an eternity in a dog fight - most are under 60 seconds long.
But how many people even understand or try to understand that fighting like this, teaches your dogs what they have to do to keep stock protected? How many breeders keep studs away from females all the time because they're afraid of fights? And actually......afraid of their dogs?????? Hmmmmmmmmm.......
Running a pack like this, is not for faint of heart. I have become almost blase, pragmatic, about fights. Even Coban, her males go at it all the time. But guess what? If a coyote were to come through her fences in there, don't think for a minute, her two males, fight savvy and wise to combat, won't have the edge over other LGD's who are coddled......
But back to four wolves killing eleven dogs. Unthinkable.....a true statement of breeder failure and the demise of a great breed. I would be embarrassed if those had been my dogs..... They obviously did not know or never learned how to defend in a pack.
I would like to hear what others think about this.