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Farm animals such as sheep and goats, which are most at risk from large carnivores, as well as cattle and horses, can be effectively protected in various ways. Together with shepherds, livestock guarding dogs are the most important players in dynamic livestock protection, and both have a long-standing tradition in many areas.

In the modern world, where different users lay claim to the cultivated landscape, social compatibility is almost as important for the livestock guarding dogs as its ability to protect the herd – as bodyguard so to say. This compatibility is achieved at a young age through close socialisation with the shepherd and other people.

In order to ensure that they can also be used in this environment, livestock guarding dogs are certified by authorised bodies in countries such as Germany, Switzerland and even Austria. This means that they have to show how they react in standardised situations. These situations include, for example, a walker crossing the flock of sheep, with or without their own dog, a cyclist riding past the flock, and the dog’s reaction to visitors on the home farm outside the grazing season.

An important part of this certification concerns not only the dog, but also its owner and all those who work with the dog. People must show that they can support the dog in such situations by being aware of its needs and behaviour.

In Austria, such certification is also a prerequisite for receiving funding for maintenance costs, but only for livestock guarding dogs that work together with a shepherd on a mountain pasture. The Austrian Centre Bear, Wolf, Lynx, a partner in our project, is responsible for the topic of livestock guarding dogs and is responsible for these certifications in Austria. In Germany, various livestock guarding dog organisations carry out this inspection.

Cost overview livestock guarding dog

The cost of a livestock guarding dog varies and depends on factors such as breed, age, origin and training.

The cost of purchase can range from a few hundred to several thousand euros. Items such as dog tax, insurance, food, veterinary costs and accessories must be included in the running costs for keeping the dog.

Reference price for the purchase: Puppy€ 500 – 1,000
Adult livestock guarding dog€ 1,500 – 2,000
Registrationapprox. € 100 for the chipping, the database registration, the EU pet passport
Veterinary costs per year€ 200 – 300 (regular 8-fold vaccination, worm control, tick prophylaxis, potential injuries/disease)
Dog taxDepending on the municipality
Insurance: Either agricultural business liability or household insurancebetween € 10 and € 50
Feeding costs per year up to € 1,500
can be reduced through co-operations with cheese dairies (whey) and slaughterhouses (slaughterhouse waste)
Accessoriesapprox. € 25 collar and lead

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