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Book Review by Jennifer Floyd


Livestock Guardian Dogs: Using Dogs, Donkeys & Llamas To Protect Your Herd

by Janet Vorwald Dohner (229 pgs., Storey Publishing, 2007) $24.95

This is an ambitious book, that looks at the use of various kinds of livestock protection animals in North America. It includes sidebars with facts, charts, interviews with protection animal users sprinkled throughout, and begins with an overview of types of predation and the more common methods of prevention (ie., fencing, collars, and other barriers or deterrents).  

However, I feel that it falls short of what it was attempting to do; a lot of information seems like "filler", thrown in to bulk out the book, which is sort of like an oversized, poorly bound "lite" version of the original flock guardian reference, Livestock Protection Dogs: Selection, Care, & Training by Orsyia Dawydiak & David Sims (244 pgs., Alpine Publications, 1990, 2004) $22.00. 

Dohner's book has a sort of "the deadline is approaching, hurry up and get something out" feel to it, versus the very professional and in-depth book by Sims & Dawydiak.     

I really wanted to like this book, as Storey Publications has put out some stellar livestock and country living guides, and while I did enjoy Dohner's The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds, her book on livestock protection animals is pretty much a rehash of information that's already out there. Nonetheless, I might have set out to add it to my reference library just because I collect livestock guardian dog information, except for a really egregious fault; the author allows her personal preferences to show a strong bias against the Anatolian Shepherd breed.

While I understand that the author may be consciously or unconsciously promoting her breed (she is the vice president of the Kangal Dog Club of America), trying to tear down other breeds is not the way to go about it. She questions the breed validity of Anatolians, takes issue with the name, repeatedly states how variable Anatolians are ("well, they can look like anything" would paraphrase it pretty well), talks about how there's sooo many in shelters and rescue, and makes leading comments about how an Anatolian "who is not raised appropriately may become overprotective, aggressive, and difficult to control." (p. 150) To top it all off, the accompanying line drawing illustrating the Anatolian Shepherd depicts something that looks like a skinny, misshapen, crossbred St.Bernard (it even has a short, straight tail). There are other more accurate sketches in the book, and a very nice photo of Anatolians in the center color plate section; so it wasn't for lack of decent models.   

Anyhow, while not entirely without merit, I certainly can't recommend this book; other books do the job better - and don't show a prejudice against our breed.

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