The Guardian Dogs of LoveTree


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We have been farming in northwestern Wisconsin since 1986 and have been running LGDs (livestock guardian dogs) since 1994.

While traveling through Spain in 1998 visiting with the commercial sheep cheese ranches, we had the fortunate opportunity to also become acquainted with their working flock guardians, the Spanish "Ranch" Mastiffs. These dogs were similar in appearance and temperament to our dogs,(Maremma X Tatra crosses ) with the exception that they carried heavier bone mass, had a bit more height and came in colors other than white. The dogs on the ranches in Spain were not overly bulky, they had a very athletic and streamlined build and they did not posses more than a modest dewlap.

According to the Spanish shepherds that have been raising these working dogs for generations, they are representative of the true Spanish Mastiff before it was altered by crossing in other breeds, such as the St Bernard, which was common place among breeders a little over 30 years ago in order to "improve" on the overall mass of the dogs and to create a more "impressive" dog in appearance.

However, the working shepherds have their own very intense culling practice and only breed from dogs that possess excellent guardian abilities, they do not select for cosmetic characteristics. They believe if the dog is a good athlete and has the correct temperament, then nothing else really matters. Due to lack of selection pressure placed on cosmetic characteristics the dogs will vary widely in color and even the length of their tails and in their height. These dogs are also known in Spain as the Mastin Ligero ( the agile mastiff). In fact, the dogs that we saw on the working ranches were more similar in appearance and in temperament to the Portuguese Cao de Gado Transmontano than what you will see on modern day "Spanish Mastiff" websites. http://www.caodegadotransmontano.org.pt/site_i.php?menu=7 This is the main reason why we use the term Spanish "Ranch" Mastiff in order to differentiate these dogs ( the Aboriginal Mastins) from the bulkier and heavier dogs that are typically seen on websites and in show rings and to acknowledge their original working source.

We were extremely impressed with their calm demeanor and with their ability to move over large distances very quickly, and a very confident no nonsense attitude, which is exactly what we needed on our working farm in northwestern Wisconsin with increased predator pressure, especially from wolves and large packs of coyotes. In 2003 we returned to Spain and picked out Mastin pups from working bloodlines to bring back to our region to cross with our Tatra/Maremma LGDs which we originally sourced from Janet McNally. http://tamaracksheep.com/

Twelve years later, in our heavily predator populated region, our dogs are still constantly being tested for their guardian abilities and are selected based strictly on their performance, their health status, and most importantly...their even temperament. Our intense predator region is fed by a wildlife corridor that begins at the Governor Knowles state forest http://www.stateparks.com/governor_knowles_state_forest_in_wisconsin.html and the wild St Croix Riverway http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/watermgmt_section/wild_scenic/wsrivers/stcroix_upper.html and ends up winding it's way through the center of our property resulting in a highway of wildlife traffic which is followed by many different species of predators including wolves, coyotes, black bears and even cougar.

Our dogs' bloodlines have been selected for their amiable traits around humans by dairy shepherds for the past two thousand years. Although they are extremely gentle around family and friends, they still present a mighty fortress of protection when challenged by strangers and predators. The Polish Tatra, Italian Maremma, and the Spanish "Ranch" Mastiff all share the similar "tight" flock guarding style. This guarding style is very desirable when dealing with predators such as wolves and and coyotes and if you live in in a more heavily populated or tourist visited area and don't want a dog that ranges outside of its territory.

LGDs playing with one of our interns.

LoveTree's Livestock Guardian Dog "Triple Cross" are the direct result of our deliberate effort to breed for a reliable guardian for the varied livestock (including poultry) on farms and ranches in our predator intense region, a very mellow dog that is relaxed and confident in his/ her strength and is very trustworthy around family members and friends. Our dogs have an excellent long standing reputation as working livestock guardians for a variety of different livestock, easy to handle and built for performance.

    

Pups with poultry

   

For more info on the LoveTree Livestock Guardian Dogs, please contact:

Mary Falk

3715-3488-32966 Phone

(NOTE: you must remove the "3" to get the phone number, the extra 3 has been added to confuse "spammers")