In this post You’ll be getting familiar with Guardian breeds and their benefits to their owners, One of the oldest known breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff, is a member of this impressive group of dogs.
History Of Guardian Breeds
Some argue that the first guardian dogs could date as far back as the middle Stone Age, when agrarian societies first found use for such protective animals to keep watch over their precious herds.
While possibly dating back much further into ancient history, this large dog was first documented in China in 1100 BC. Sometimes called Do-Khyi, meaning “tied dog”—these dogs were used to protect flocks of sheep, as well as homes and monasteries.
Although records are unclear, Asian nomads are thought to have brought the guardians with them as they migrated west the very dogs that would become the foundation for the original Molosser (named after the Molossian tribes who used them for protecting their flocks in the moun- tainous regions of Greece).
The appearance of certain livestock guardian breeds (such as the Kangal—a dog originating in the Kang territory lying between China and the Mediterranean) as early as 900 BC seems to support the theory that such dogs were introduced during the journey from their original home in the Far East.
It is also possible that other livestock
ere developed elsewhere in Eurasia separately to assist shepherds in the protection and migration of early domesticated sheep.
As they were traded beyond the shores of Phoenicia, these protective dogs were quickly appreciated for their tenacity in the face of predators and adversaries, some developed into highly prized “war dogs” in Greece and Rome.
Wars were won and conquests were waged for thousands of years with these brave and powerful dogs by man’s side.As the guardian dogs’ hardy and courageous nature became increasingly apparent, they spread across Europe in the first millennium.
Other types of working dogs such as hounds and herders were interbred with them for a variety of valuable functions.
While they continued to be used as livestock guardians and personal protection both on and off the battlefield, some of these dogs were also later developed for use as castle guards, powerful hunters capable of bringing down larger game, cart pullers, and bull-baiters.
Their exceptionally calm, tolerant, and steadfast nature continued to prove very adaptive to home and family protection needs as well, stewards to all that we cared to keep safe.
There appears to be a bit of a paradox within this type of dog. An animal descended from wolves that is passive enough to live peacefully with easy-to-kill baby herd animals, and yet is ferocious enough to hold its own
against a Roman soldier? How could this be possible?
Benefits Of Guardian Breeds
Amazing as it is, it’s quite simple: genetic diversity. An original guardian dog, bred to protect livestock from predators, represents an incredible and fascinating genetic divergence from the dogs’ predator ancestry through differences in their regulatory DNA (essentially switches that tell genes when to turn on and off, controlling how DNA is expressed).
While a proper wolf is a natural
hunter with an intact predatory sequence—following through from the initial orient step of the sequence (location of prey) to the end kill-bite (killing), and possibly even dissect/consume (eating the prey)—a true guardian dog lacks this predatory sequence.
He is a lemon of a hunter among predators. Scientists are still working hard to understand the exact mechanisms by which such a divergence could occur, but many epi-geneticists (scientists studying regulatory DNA) and other researchers believe that the differences in DNA SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that regulate this expression of genes could be responsible for changes such as this muting of the predatory behavior.
In other words, the natural “hunter” may technically still be in the DNA “hardware” of these dogs, but is silenced by the “software.”The result is a natural predator who will not hunt and kill the vulnerable herds and flocks it is charged to protect.
Suddenly, these dogs’ reputation as the wonderfully patient and tolerant gentle giants they are makes a whole lot of sense.
This difference was to the agricultural man’s advantage—the guardian’s total lack of engagement in the predatory sequence has been a blessing for humans as we put his other skills to good use.
If he were not so distinctly different from his ancestors, our flocks would not have been safe amid these guardians, but would, instead, have been their prey.
How could these good-natured dogs, merrily living among little lambs, possibly be later developed into war dogs and gladiators in blood-sport events?Again, the answer probably lies in the functions and effects of genetic diversity.
It’s possible that, by favoring certain dogs historically, shepherds managed to genetically mute the guardian’s predator behavior while strengthening his instinctually territorial and protective behavior.
A guardian dog’s incredible perception for potential threats his concern about dangers to his territory and social members—is the very nature and historical value of this kind of dog.
A concentrated manager of threats, he is cautious, deliberate, and capable when facing any opposition; yet he is no longer the traditional predator he once was.The difference is, somehow, in his DNA.
These dogs’ phenomenal physical and behavioral attributes have been employed, admired, and valued for thousands of years in a variety of conditions, and they still are today.
For those early months of your guardian’s life, you would be wise to go out of your way to provide a host of positive experiences for him involving friendly visitors to your home, as well as out and about in the world.
That is, if you don’t want him to default to his natural instincts to protect your family from your ninety-year-old grandmother who comes to visit the new baby, leaving you to bravely hold granny at bay at your front door.
To keep these kinds of awkward moments from occurring between you and your visiting family and friends for years to come, you’ll want to take every opportunity to raise your big baby to be relaxed and comfortable with the idea of people in your personal space.
In the critical socialization period in the first few months of your guardian’s life, you will have a special opportunity to buffer against the influence of his protective genetic instincts by teaching him how to take a backseat in your social interactions in and outside of the home.
While you want to be sure to respect the fact that your pup might not exactly want all of these people to invade his personal space, he can at least become happy about a certain arrangement.
Expose him to a wide variety of people doing all the weird people things that might set off the alarm down the road. And give him all his favorite goodies as you teach him how uneventful it can all be.
He may be a little reserved and suspicious about potential “threats” to his home and family no matter what you do, but you can minimize his protective instincts by showing him that it’s all good.
Do this by doling out the special stash of super snacks and squeakers upon the arrival of potential adversaries like Grandma, the UPS man, and the babysitter.
Interests and Hobbies
Guardian dogs can be pretty discerning when it comes to what will pique their interest.Most are not chomping at the bit to play silly games like fetch, and have little desire for what they perceive as unnecessary drama or a waste of energy.
They are generally wired to pay attention to a select number of things, reserving their interest for those really important moments deserving of their participation.
At the end of the day, your dog’s agenda is pretty much going to revolve around the fundamental well-being of his social group and territory.
On that note, he is likely to volunteer himself as household watch-man and supervisor, graciously enjoying the goings-on of family life as he patiently scans the scene for signs of trouble.
He will enjoy idling his days away covertly overseeing his domain from his chosen vantage point, feigning laziness.
When he can rest assured that all is well on the home front, he might humor the idea of cuddling, tug-of-war, wrestling, or couching it with you for binge-watching your favorite TV show.
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