The Great Protectors of Patterson Farm
Here at Patterson Farm, we have two Great Pyrenees dogs in our livestock pasture. These dogs are trained to monitor and protect our animals from predators. Gretchen, the mom, and Millie, her pup, are the two great protectors of Patterson Farm. Gretchen and Millie are not full-blooded Great Pyrenees, they are mixed with other Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) breeds. They are mostly Great Pyrenees, but you can tell they are mixed due to the colored spots they have on their fur which can be seen below in pictures. Typical Great Pyrenees are easily recognizable due to their thick, white coat that is used to protect them from the sun and insulate them in colder weather. Because they have such a thick coat, during the summer months it is normal for them to spend their days relaxing and napping in the shade.
This is Millie when she was only a few weeks old!
Great Pyrenees are known for their majestic appearance and large stature. These dogs can stand as tall as 32 inches and weigh more than 100 pounds! They are also known as the most familiar livestock breed in the world and are now slowly becoming a common household dog breed. This breed tends to be nocturnal and patrols their territory to spread their scent and urinate around borders to ensure that predators or unwanted trespassers are aware that there are guardians on the farm. Gretchen and Millie not only patrol the borders of the farm, but they also alert the Patterson’s if there is an issue with the livestock. For example, Victoria Patterson recalls a time when the pigs had escaped from the barn, and Millie and Gretchen sat at the door waiting for someone to come to help them. Victoria also mentioned that Millie and Gretchen were never taught to do this, their protective instincts just took control of the situation. These dogs are very independent and spend their days roaming around wherever they please. They visit different livestock stalls and patrol the 1-2 acres of Patterson Farm playing, soaking up the sun, and napping!
This breed is known to be protective and territorial at night, but the least aggressive to humans and livestock making them excellent choices for farms that receive a lot of new visitors, like ours! Gretchen and Millie are definitely missing all of our visitors on the farm and all of the pets and head scratches that they normally receive!
Millie doing her job on the farm!
Livestock guardian dogs, like Gretchen and Millie, are dogs that are bred for the purpose of protecting livestock from predators. Great Pyrenees are just one of many LGD breeds that are found on farms around the United States. LGD’s are introduced to the stock at a young age and form a bond with them like they are their own family. This is when their protective instincts kick in and protecting their property and livestock becomes their number one priority. For this reason, this breed is not a typical breed that is recognized for being a household pet.
Although Millie and Gretchen have very important jobs, they are also still just regular dogs at heart! Gretchen’s favorite food is Chick-Fil-A breakfast biscuits and Millie loves to try to play with her mom, but in typical mom fashion, Gretchen quickly shuts it down to get back to work. These dogs might have a loud bark and are tall in stature, but they are truly the gentle giants of Patterson Farm.
Gretchen with her pups!
It is important to note that these dogs are territorial, and their jobs are simply to protect. For this reason, we do not allow outside pets at Patterson Farm. Service dogs are accepted but are not to be confused with emotional support animals who we ask to be left at home. Due to their protective nature, there is a chance that the Great Pyrenees may mistake your pet as a threat or predator. We also ask that you do not approach the dogs and remain in your car if you are visiting our new drive-thru pickup services.
These gentle giants play such an important role here at Patterson and we could not do what we do without them. They love protecting the farm and we love them as part of our family. So, if you see Gretchen and Millie while visiting the farm, don’t be alarmed! They are just doing their jobs like all of us to ensure that Patterson Farm can supply the freshest products to our visitors!