Are Bullies and Livestock Guardian dogs particularly difficult?
Molossers and Livestock Guardian Dogs stand out as groups especially when someone says the following things:
“You can’t train every dog with treats”
“They need a tough hand”
“You can only get ahead with rewards as long as you don’t have a Livestock Guardian Dog/Bully in front of you”
“A Livestock Guardian Dog is not for beginners”
“They need house/farm and a huge ground to guard”
But is this true at all?
Let’s take a look around these two groups to find out.
The Livestock Guardian Dog
This group of dogs was bred (often not so much intentionally but accidentally while walking with flocks of sheep) to defend a herd.
Some were to do this alone and always in the same place.
Some were also supposed to move from pasture to pasture with shepherds.
But what is this “protect the herd” actually?
The herd represents an important resource for the dog in this case. The dogs grow up very closely with the animals (otherwise the protecting does not work) and relationships develop.
Of course, these animals are then important to the dog and he defends them against potential enemies (humans, wolves, other predators, as the case may be).
In short, it is resource guarding behavior.
There is a small catch to this, however.
Dogs that tend to defend resources are often very creative in choosing one.
So if a Livestock Guardian Dog doesn’t have a herd, resource guarding may still be an issue… then it’s just with food, bowls, toys, places to lay, property, water, caregivers, etc.
So if you wonder why a Livestock Guardian Dog defends things at home, here is one explanation.
By the way, the same is true for so-called “Guard Dogs”, those chosen to guard property.
This includes again some Molossians (Cane Corso, Rottweiler conditionally,…).
But does this mean now that every Livestock Guardian Dog eats visitors, needs high security custody while eating and does not let the partner of the caregiver leave the living room alone?
Every dog is unique and so is every Livestock Guardian Dog and every Molossian.
In addition, the need to defend resources always has an insecurity component….
Because if I am 100% sure of my important things in the presence of others (people, dogs, other animals), I don’t need to defend them either 😉.
And… defending resources is also a normal behavior. I also don’t let my plate be taken away while I’ m eating 😉
Whether and how strongly resources are defended then differs again depending on how the dogs were socialized… so which living beings they have come to know as harmless or even great.
What we should not ignore is that many Livestock Guardian Dogs are very sensitive creatures.
By the way, they don’t always need a yard to guard.
Just because they can do something, doesn’t mean that all of them have to do it…
We humans can theoretically also climb well.
I haven’t met a human yet who got depressed because he didn’t have a climbing opportunity 😉
Molossians are extremely thrown together as a group.
If we go for example by the FCI (International Breeders’ Association), we find Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Cane Corsos and many more.
However, no bulky terriers (Staffordshire Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, etc.).
But if you ask around a little bit, a wide variety of dogs are counted among the molossoid breeds… actually all of them that are or look particularly strong.
Just as colorful are the original uses of the Molossians.
For example, some Bulldogs were used to handle bulls because they were strong, had a high tolerance for pain, and were enormously dedicated to their task.
The Rottweiler was originally used, for example, as a Cattle Dog (similar to an Australian Shepherd) and later for guarding property.
Mastiffs were used to help in battle, e.g. to throw mounted opponents from their horses.
Dogo Argentinos were used for hunting.
Cane Corsos were to guard properties independently.
So we have everything here.
Unfortunately, also those that have been abused for dogfighting, of course.
And some are not in the FCI group, but are definitely molossoid, such as the French Bulldog, the Pug or the bulky Terriers.
They all have very different origins, but they have one thing in common… they are strong.
This has given the better-known representatives, together with the bulky terriers a place on the various nonsensical dangerous-breed lists (not the frequency of biting incidents).
If we now want to find out special characteristics (= breed dispositions) we have to look even more into the respective breed with such a variety than with the Livestock Guardian Dogs.
For example, an owner of a Rotti would perhaps be less surprised that he definitely uses his mouth (legacy of the cattle dog), especially when playing.
Whereas the Mastiff owner might be more surprised.
But of course, every dog is different and should have a right to individual consideration.
But what about training now?
They are all stubborn and resistant to training, aren’t they?
Nope, absolutely not at all.
Of course, again, the mind of the individual dog plays a huge role. What he was allowed to know and experience in his life so far, how he is physically, how he is treated, how his parents were and which breed he belongs to.
Genetics and epigenetics (heredity and experience) cannot be separated.
Nevertheless, we can notice a tendency to brooding in these two groups.
So while other breed representatives will immediately respond “yes sir!” to a human request, a Molossian or Livestock Guardian Dog may be more likely to say “does that make sense?”. Have you thought this through, too? Does that do anything for me?”.
So they are more likely to be the thinkers and observers of the dog world.
Sure, every creature “functions” via different motivations, so it only does what seems to make sense to it.
But there are already dogs that prefer to think carefully before an action.
However, this is what makes them so wonderful in my eyes.
Because it also gives us a chance to pause and take our foot off the gas a little bit.
And not only that, many of the bullies are total clowns. Due to their low physical sensitivity, they have a lot of fun and are quite agile.
Training with treats is, to come back to the beginning, for most of them quite rewarding (from the dog’s point of view) and therefore no problem.
But sometimes we are allowed to be a little creative when everything around is mega exciting.
And if the stress level is too high, even a Molosser or Livestock Guardian Dog is often not really up for food.
Pressure, on the other hand, has no place in training here either.
Most Livestock Guardian Dogs react very quickly and intensively with counterpressure due to their sensitivity.
And the Molossian “closes down”… so refuses to cooperate. Whether you as a human really want to have a physical “fight” remains to be doubted.
It’s also no fun.
All in all, I would say, there are many myths about these two groups.
Most of them are simply nonsense.
Because no matter whether you accompany a Livestock Guardian Dog, Terrier
Cattle Dog or Molossian through life, the most important thing for a harmonious coexistence is understanding and fun.