Supporting livestock guarding dogs - September 2020

Visiting a local farmer and his dog

We have joined forces with our partners at Rewilding Portugal to support the use of livestock guarding dogs in a project that is designed to prevent wolf attacks and help reduce conflict between humans and a threatened Iberian wolf subpopulation. In our first field visit after the vote we went to meet Nero, a 5-month-old Serra da Estrela that was given to a local farmer as part of this project. This was an opportunity to check on him and bring him the food sponsored by our members.

Nero is healthy and happy

As a Serra da Estrela dog, Nero belongs to an ancient Portuguese breed that has been selected for centuries for the task of protecting livestock from wolf attacks in this region. On our visit, we brought food which the farmer will use to satisfy his voracious appetite and a vet to give him a health check-up. As expected for a Serra da Estrela, he is already huge despite being only 5 months old!

Sara AliƔcar assisting the vet in giving Nero a quick health check up.
Besides bringing food for Nero we were also joined by a veterinarian that gave Nero a quick health check-up.

Guarding behaviour

The attachment between a livestock guarding dog and its flock forms the basis for the dogā€™s defensive behaviour in the event of a wolf attack. To encourage Nero to start forming this bond with the sheep from a young age he lived in close proximity with them as soon as he was handed over to the farmer. On our visit, we also had the opportunity to see him interact with the sheep and noticed that he preferred to stay close to them. From his behaviour he appears to be adapting well and that he will be doing a great job as a livestock guarding dog. Stay tuned for more news from Nero and from the other livestock guarding dogs that Mossy Earth members will be supporting.

Nero is a 5-month-old Serra da Estrela that livestock guarding dog that will be helping to prevent wolf attacks in this area.
Nero is a 5-month-old Serra da Estrela that is learning to become an effective livestock guarding dog. Although he was mostly focused on watching the sheep he couldn't resist greeting Ria as she captured a photo of him.