First let me say I am not a dog person, but there are some good reasons to have them on the homestead. When my husband wanted dogs I grudgingly obliged recognizing this. We now have a Lab/Border Collie mix and an Australian Shepherd. Different dogs are good for different things and both of our dogs are considered good herding dogs. That being said, they are multi-task dogs on our homestead and often do double duty as home protectors. I personally think you can train most mutts to do the jobs you want them to if you are willing to put in the time. There are specific dogs that have been bred for the traits that work well on a homestead, however. So what do you need your homestead dog to do?
Guard dogs need to protect livestock and you from unwanted intruders. Some live outside with the livestock year round to protect them. Others live closer to the home. If you have a larger homestead far away from municipal complications it is more likely you will want a livestock guardian dog. The urban homesteader would be more likely to need a home guard dog to protect your animals and garden from larger hands and stray dogs. Some good guard dogs are the Great Pyrenees, Boxers, German Shepherds, and Great Danes. A lot of dogs have a natural guardian instinct so you are by no means limited to those breeds.
Herd dogs help move livestock from one location to another. Blue Heelers for example are known for doing this by nipping on the heels of whatever it wants to move (even if that is you). The best herding dogs whether you are herding chickens or cows are those that listen to your commands. They take charge when you aren’t around but they listen to you when you are around. Common bred herding dogs include Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, and the Blue Heeler. A lot of dogs can be taught to herd, however, with proper training. Please introduce herd dogs to your chickens and rabbits slowly. If their training is not complete do not leave them with a picnic.
Pest Control Dogs:
Our cats primarily do this job for us but if for some reason you don’t want to have both there are dogs that are really good at this. They include Dachshunds, German Pinschers, and Shnauzers. These breeds are often good with moles, coons, and badgers as well as rats and mice. I don’t know much about having dogs for pest control so if this is your intent I encourage you to do a little more research elsewhere on the topic.
This post is by no means an in-depth guide to homestead dogs but hopefully it gets you on the right track. Have fun bringing your dogs home and training them!