Many backyard farm owners enjoy having dogs on their property for companionship and protection. If you own goats already or are thinking about adding them to your farm, you may be concerned about whether or not goats and dogs get along together.
Goats tend to be rather social farm animals that can get along with many farm dogs. Some goats are more cautious than others, just like dogs may be, so there is a chance your goats may not get along with certain dogs on your farm. There are also some dog breeds that are better suited for living with goats.
There are specific dog breeds that are bred to live with and protect farm animals like goats. There are also some dogs that should probably not live around goats, based on their breeding or history. The more you know about these dogs and understand their natural instincts, the more easily you can find a dog that will get along great with your goats!
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How Well Do Goats and Dogs Get Along?
Goats and dogs typically get along if both animals are naturally friendly and accepting. Sometimes, there will be situations where your goats and dogs will not get along no matter what.
Goats are herd animals and they prefer to be with other goats. Goats can usually form friendships with dogs, but they will not necessarily become best buddies!
What Would Make Goats and Dogs Not Get Along?
The main factor that determines if a goat and a dog will get along is whether or not your goat feels threatened by the dog in question. If a goat has a bad history with dogs, they may not trust any dog, no matter what. Some goats just are not friendly to any animal, especially a dog. For these goats, time may help but there is a good chance their feelings will not change.
On the other hand, if a dog has never been around a goat, they may not know how to act around a goat. They may want to chase and even unintentionally harm the goat if they haven’t been trained how to behave around livestock. Some dogs just instinctively want to chase down animals that run from them!
What Are “Livestock Guardian Dogs”?
There are certain dog breeds that will get along with goats far better than others will. Livestock guardian dogs, or LGDs, are dogs that are bred specifically to protect herd livestock like goats.
These dogs spend their day guarding the herd of goats, sheep or even cows to make sure that no predators attack them. It is a part of their natural instinct to protect goats and livestock. LGDs will sleep near or among the herd of goats, and face off or even attack any predators that get too close to the herd.
Typically, farm owners do not have many issues with well-bred LGDs getting along with their goats.
Livestock Guardian Dog Breeds to Consider
Originating from Turkey, the Anatolian shepherd dog is a noble and trustworthy livestock guardian dog. They are large and extremely strong which makes them ideal for protecting animals like goats.
The Anatolian shepherd dog is fast and can chase most predators down. They are smart, loyal and they have excellent hearing.
The Great Pyrenees is a well-known dog breed among livestock farmers. They are typically white, although they can have grey or tan coloring. They have a double coat of fur, making them capable of handling cold winters.
Their thick fur also helps protect them from the bites of predators. They are large dogs, weighing up to 130 pounds. The Great Pyrenees dog is smart, loyal and truly loves to protect its herd from predators.
They are strong-willed dogs but they are known to get along well with goats.
Introducing Your Goats to Your Dog
Here are some steps to take to help successfully introduce a dog and a goat.
- Take your time and stay patient. Whenever you bring a new dog or goat to your farm, you should always introduce the animals slowly to get a feel for their reactions. You do not want to ambush your goat with a dog they are unfamiliar with!
- You should first introduce your dog on a leash to the goat, for both animals’ protection. Keep a fence between the animals and let them get acquainted in a safe environment. Pay attention to their reactions – you may need to introduce them a few times and let them get used to each other’s smell for a few days.
- Let them interact freely, but with you nearby. Once you are comfortable that both animals are being friendly, you can remove the leash. Only let the dog off the leash as long as they are well-trained to obey your commands. You need to be able to call the dog back to you if things go awry between the goat and the dog!
- If your dog is still a puppy, make sure they maintain a safe distance from the goat’s feet or horns. You do not want your puppy to get hurt and have a bad experience with goats. Typically, if a dog grows up around friendly goats, and you teach them to not chase or agitate the goats, then they should continue to get along great with goats throughout their lives.
Dogs to Be Careful With Around Goats
There are some types of dogs that you may want to avoid if you have pet goats. Keep in mind, this does not mean that these dogs will necessarily be aggressive to your goats.
Every dog is different, however, the more you know, the safer your goats will be.
Dog breeds that are bred for hunting may not be ideal to keep with goats. These dogs may see goats as a prey animal; one that they need to hunt and chase down.
This does not mean these dogs will definitely be aggressive, but it does mean that you should always keep your guard until you know your goats are safe.
Dogs Unfamiliar With Farm Animals
You should also be wary of any dogs that have never been around goats or farm animals before. Even if a dog is sweet to you, if they have never seen a farm animal or a goat, they may chase it and possibly hurt it, not understanding that it is your pet.
Be careful bringing any adult dog around your farm animals that is not bred for livestock protection or has never been around livestock before.
The black dog in this picture is Hurley, my adopted shelter dog (the one wearing the belly band). Luckily, he does absolutely fine around cats and goats, but he can’t be left alone with rabbits, for example.
Even so, his interactions with the goats (and cat) were supervised for a very long time until we were absolutely sure he would be safe around them. Even then, I used a wireless camera to “watch” him the first few times he was alone with them.
Herding dog breeds like Australian shepherds and Australian cattle dogs are bred to herd livestock. This means that their primary instinct will be to chase and move your goats.
Granted, if your dog is trained properly, they should only do this when you tell them! Sometimes these dogs will make good livestock protectors, but their main goal is to herd the livestock.
As you can see from my pictures, my Australian Shepherd, Handsome, gets along just fine with goats. He can be left unsupervised with them without a worry. But, he was raised around farm animals of all kinds.
They may or may not get along with your goats, but that does not mean that they will attack them. Just keep an eye on them and make sure they are only herding the livestock when asked, not just for their own entertainment!
Things to Watch out For
Regardless of your dog’s breed, pay attention to how your goats behave around your dogs, even if they have been fine with them previously. Sometimes, if you have a male goat, they may decide that they do not like your dog at certain times.
Be especially careful when adding new goats or dogs to your farm. If you notice any issues brewing, separate the animals and try to see if anything can be changed to make the situation better.
You should also be careful when new goat kids are born. A doe will protect her kids from any animal she deems a threat, even a dog she is used to being around.
You may need to stop your dog from getting too close to, or entering the goat’s enclosure altogether if the tensions do not subside. Your main goal is to keep both your dog and your goats safe, even if that means they cannot be together all the time.
Goats and dogs are not always friendly with one another, however, they will usually get along under the right circumstances. The best dogs that get along with goats naturally are livestock guardian dogs, but that does not mean they are the only ones. Any dog has the potential to get along well with a friendly goat, it just depends on their history, training, and demeanor.