Living in a homestead without a dog, is like living in a house with no electricity. It just doesn’t feel right. Homesteads are renowned for having a four legged buddy around for security, hunting, or herding purposes.

I can boldly attest to the popular line that says “a dog is a man’s best friend.” Truly it is – running a homestead is a labor intensive endeavor, and having a dog around can make your life so much easier.

There are many different types of dog breeds you can choose from, however be warned: choosing the right type of breed is as critical as choosing your life partner.

Some dog breeds are so beautiful on the outside whilst they can be so aggressive on the inside. They might spread their love to you “the owner” but rack havoc upon your most delicate farm animals, such as poultry and young livestock, so choose wisely!

How To Choose The Right Dog Breed For Your Homestead

Just to get this clear from the get-go: there is no right or wrong dog breed, though there are ones that are more right than others to have around in your homestead. This is about what you want and what your needs are. Also please note that the dog breeds mentioned in the article are selected from my point of view; opinion based from my experience with dogs and from my homestead.

The first thing to consider when choosing a dog breed is this:

The Purpose Of The Dog

Are you looking for a dog to:

  • Help you hunt.
  • Protect your livestock against wild animals.
  • Alert you of unwanted guests.
  • Or just to be a companion.

The Question is: Why?

Whatever the reason, note it down and go to the second consideration, which is:

The Type Of Farm Animals You Have

Which type of farm animals currently reside on your property?

Chickens? Sheep? Cows? Or you don’t have any?

Some dogs are said to have a high prey drive which is the tendency of a dog to want to chase, fight, grab, play with, or mistakenly or purposefully kill your small animals.

Examples of these types of dogs are: Boston Terriers, Australian Cattle Dogs and Whippets. Try to avoid these if you do have small or delicate animals, such as poultry and rabbits.

dog watching poultry

Best Dog Breed For Hunting

Hunting dogs often have a high prey drive, so choosing one to accompany you at your homestead is a tricky equation. From my experience and biasness, I have only one that I consider “the best” which is:

The Norwegian Elkhound

Feeding: 6 cups of dog food a day (1 cup is about 1 lb.)

Energy levels: High. A Norwegian Elkhound has very high energy levels that it spends most of its day upright; walking, or running around. Make sure you create some regular time to play fetch, or better yet, have two Elkhounds so they can spend the day playing together.

The Norwegian Elkhound’s hunting skills are unparalleled in the dog community in my opinion. They are like no other.  If you want to hunt something big and not just some ducks, your best bet of catching the big one is with a Norwegian Elkhound. 90% of all hunted elks in Norway are taken down with the assistance of a these dogs.

Though tenaciously brutal in the battlefield, these four legged beasts are the total opposite when it comes to home life. They usually get along well with other farm animals, and would never lift a paw to hurt any of them.

Their undying love and loyalty to you, “the owner”, causes it to handle anything that you love with the same utmost care and respect that you give it. The only downfall I have noticed about this type of breed, is that their loyalty is often attached primarily to the alpha of the human family.

norwegian elkhound in backyard

Best Dog Breed For Protection

If some kind of disaster will come, who can you trust to give you a heads up when SHTF?

You’re right: your watchdog.

This type of breed will protect you and try as best as possible to deter the danger away from you and your assets. The best example I can give you here is:

The German Shepherd

Feeding: 5-6 cups of dog food (1 cup is about 1 lb.)

Energy Levels: Medium to high. German Shepherds are high energy dogs who tend to act like medium energy dogs. They remain calm and relaxed when they are not working, but often display their high energy levels in the line of duty.

Have you ever wondered why the police choose German Shepherds to help them guard against criminals?

Because that is their specialty. Having had a German Shepherd called “Spotty,” I never had to worry about any fox or wolf ravaging through my livestock.

German Shepherds are very trainable, they are athletic and most of all they are a good family dog. They will do whatever it takes to protect you, your family, your farm animals, and assets as a whole.

best dog breeds for homesteaders

Best Dog Breed For Herding

Herd dogs, like watchdogs tend to be very trainable. They are usually very eager to please you, by learning your commands very quickly.

Any dog with the words “shepherd, cattle, or sheep” all probably fall into this category. This type of breed is characterized with having a lot of fur around the body. Why? I don’t know. Maybe to be able to stay all day into bad weather.

If your homestead has livestock, you must consider choosing this breed.

The Australian Shepherd

Feeding: 6 cups of dog food a day. (1 cup is about 1 lb.)

Energy levels: High. Australian Shepherds hate being in a confined area. They need space to run from one corner to another. They are often very eager to work, and if there isn’t any, they’ll often find one for themselves.

Australian Shepherds tend to have exuberant amounts of energy. They usually take the livestock to the pastures and back, in a much more orderly manner than a human could. They can easily fight off and scare away wild animals trying to prey on your livestock

Their stamina, strength and determination for a cause to listen and execute your instructions, make them an invaluable part of any homestead.

australian shepherd herding sheep


Best Dog Breed For Alerting

Alert dogs are often small, noisy, and have a very bad temper towards outsiders. They double down their alerting capabilities by being a great companion to the owner. Alert dogs are often allowed in the house as well as sleep in it in most cases. A good example I can give here is:

The Chihuahua

Feeding: 2-3 cups of dog food a day. (1 cup is about 1 lb.)

Energy levels: Medium. Chihuahuas are often calm throughout the day, until there is something out of the ordinary that happens. They really love to play and spend time with the human family

There is one trait that you get from a Chihuahua that you don’t get from any other type of dog breed, and that is: attention to detail. If anything happens that it is not used to, you will surely know by their noisy bark. This bark often alerts you, as well as the other bigger dogs to stand guard. Nothing goes unreported when the “dog dwarfs” are around.

angry chihuahua

Related: Easy DIY Winter Doghouse

Even though I have phobias of dog breeds such as the Pit bull and Boer bull because of their reputation, I have learned from my best friend Bernie who happens to be a dog trainer that any dog can be trained to do anything, and that you should not have preconceived ideas.

A hunting dog for example, can be trained to be a protection dog, though it would be difficult, it is not impossible. True or not, my advice to you is this:

Do some extensive research on the breed that you want, coupled with using the formula I gave you at the beginning of this post, as well as asking other fellow homesteaders for recommendations. Then, surely you’ll make the right choice.

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