At the last special exhibition "la Nationale d'Elevage", the CBEI (Club
des Bergers de l'Est et Italiens = Club of Eastern and Italian Shepherd
dogs ) has introduced a new test to our dogs, at the moment optional,
"the test with the sheep".
Two female dogs from my kennel took part and so I got some pictures regarding
Since then, I wonder what conclusions the organizers can have from such
a test. As I already described in the first article of this series:
I already described in the first article of this series:
"All those breeds have the instinct of protection in their genetic patrimony.
The work of protecting from an adult dog will be the result of its heritance
and from its integration into the flock life assimilated to the “pack”.
To be a good protecting dog, the dog has first of all to act independently,
he has to be able to take decisions when needed, he should not at all
have the instinct of hunting in his heritance; he should not be too rough,
and not too playful towards the sheep. On the other hand the sheep should
be a breed which stays together, in a flock, not too much dispersed, otherwise
the dog will not get the feeling of living in the pack and will not enough
get attached to them.
The preparation of the puppy to its future task of guarding the flock
starts at the age of 7 to 8 weeks. The puppy will be separated from all
other dogs that made up its pack, as well from the shepherds family. It
will see the least possible humans. It will be put in a pen of about 15
m² with 3 to 6 lamb or ewe-lamb when lack of lamb and will have a
little corner for him, where he can eat and rest. It is necessary to change
the cohabitants, so that the dog can get used to other sheep of the flock,
which he will have to guard. In the first period, when a sheep is showing
itself too aggressive towards the puppy, it has to be replaced by another,
friendlier one. The purpose is that the dog is getting attached to the
flock, much more then to its master and his family, that he is not escaping
and going back to the house. Playing with the lambs will reinforce its
bond with them, but the game should not become too violent. The dog should
not follow other wandering dogs or those from the farm. On the other side,
it should correctly act in presence of the dogs who are conducting the
flock, who are not independent and work on the commands of the shepherd.
The difference between those two groups of dogs is that the herding dogs
of the flock consider the livestock as their prey but with an instinct
of inhibited predation while the protecting dogs consider the livestock
as equal species to themselves."
bitches who participated in this test have never had any contact with
the sheep. Judging from the behaviour of the sheep they neither were used
to dogs. One female dog was 4.5 years and the other was young, 1 year
When the adult bitch entered, the sheep positioned themselves in block
to be ready to attack the bitch. The bitch was clearly feeling uncomfortable
although she already many times proved to have an excellent socialization
in many situations.
The young bitch was first allowed to look at the sheep, through the fence.
The small herd had a different behaviour and after some time, Hodessa,
such is her name, has clearly shown the willingness to play with the sheep.
Unfortunately the test was stopped at that stage.
I think, as it were dogs that did not grow up among the sheep, you could
only judge if they show a big aggressive behaviour towards sheep, or not.
In other words, if it was possible to incorporate them in the herd while
knowing that those dogs will never be equal, in terms of their protection
job, to those who were prepared for this task from a very young age. For
that the bitches had to run free. These are bitches who perfectly obey
when you call them back and it was possible.
The final conclusion is that this test had added a bit of folklore, but
in practice it is quite useless, especially when there is no clearly established