Dogs have many roles in everyday life, from household pets to hunting companions to pillars of internet culture. When it comes to their place on the farm, dogs play another role that’s just as significant. Livestock guardian dogs can be considered an upgrade of any old farm dog. They are intelligent, loyal and brave in keeping predators at bay.
Davi: How did you get your name?
Tator: I picked it for myself. My mom had lots of name suggestions which all sounded cool, but when I heard Tator,
I leapt for joy and spun in a circle.
What’s the most interesting thing about you?
I have an extra-keen sense of sight and hearing, so I can detect the faintest sounds and quivering movements from miles away. Then I bark until I feel the threat has gone.
Tell me something about livestock guard dogs that would surprise people.
Believe it or not, we’re some of the calmest breeds around. Plus, we love the great outdoors and will happily venture out to the most exposed locations even in the harshest conditions, which means winter is no problem.
What qualities make a good livestock guard dog?
Trustworthiness, so we don’t roam away or act aggressively toward livestock; attentiveness, so we’re aware of threats from predators; and protectiveness, so we attempt to ward off predators.
What is your daily routine on the farm?
I get up at the crack of dawn, gulp down breakfast, and patrol the pastures. My mom often visits and brings special snacks, and the pet dogs sometimes tag along. It’s nearly impossible not to run and play with these pups, but I can’t let it distract me from my responsibilities and tank my performance. After my evening chow, I pull the night shift before moseying into the barn and hitting the hay.
What do you love most about your job?
Lying under the big shady trees where I can keep a close eye on the farm and actively look for predators. It’s not laziness—it’s a way to conserve energy so I am able to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
Which predators are most intimidating?
I am not afraid of anything. I was bred for this kind of work, but I’d say coyotes may be the most daunting.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
The pig. He doesn’t really like me, so I’ve learned to give him a wide berth. But it’s fine. I do respect him, and he was here first.
What’s the biggest difference between a livestock guardian dog and a pet dog?
We spend our days and nights roaming the areas around the farm and responding to potential threats. We sleep outside of the house and, unlike other dogs, we don’t show devotion by wagging our tails and fetching slippers. Instead, we show it in our own way—by being alert and protecting our family from danger.
Not just any dog has the instincts needed for this job. Livestock Guardian Dogs are uniquely wired and must be treated and handled differently than pet dogs. They work around the clock, sleeping for short stints but all the while ready to protect the stock on the farm and keep an eye out for you and your family, no matter where you are.