The horseman’s favorite companion and helpmate in hunting, guarding, and ridding the property of vermin is the dog. The two go together like bread and butter. Most farms, horse or otherwise, have at least one dog whose job, in addition to a faithful companion, is usually to sound an alarm when anything is amiss.
The guard dog can be almost any breed, small or large, or a mixed breed. Almost any dog will bark when they hear someone coming. Large dogs are of course more menacing, but the smaller dogs like terriers will certainly raise a ruckus when someone arrives on the farm. You want to be sure your dog is well-trained and will come and sit when you give it the word. You don’t want a dog to attack and bite visitors.
The Great Pyrenees is a devoted guard of livestock and the homestead. The big white, hairy dog is very territorial but gentle with the family and animals in its protection. This dog does well protecting small livestock and even chickens. They do need to be contained with a good fence as they like to roam and explore. They bark at almost everyone on two and four legs that come onto the property.
Dalmatians guarded the coach and horses while drivers ran errands back in the days when that was the main form of transportation. They were used to run ahead of horse-drawn fire engines and shoo people out of the way. This white and black spotted dog still makes a good guard of the stable and horses. They are particularly popular with owners of driving horses who love the tradition of the Dalmatian and carriage horse relationship.
Herding breeds, like Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs, whether they are used to working cows or not, make excellent watchdogs. The tradition of these breeds being used to herd cattle makes them especially popular with stock horse owners and livestock farmers.
The first dog that comes to mind when speaking of horses and hunting is the foxhound. We see them pictured in paintings of the foxhunt and they have long been associated with horses. There are several hunt clubs in central North Carolina.
Field trials are bird hunting dog competitions in which gaited horses are the mode of transportation for the people involved. Pointers, setters, and retrievers are all used in this sport. The handlers and dogs are judged as a team.
Beagles are also fine hunters. They are hunted singly or in packs and are most often used for rabbit hunting. They are known for their excellent sense of smell and have the stamina to stay with the hunt. The friendly beagle also makes a good pet.
Rodent Hunting Dogs
When speaking of rodent hunters, terriers have a particular passion for hunting, catching, and killing rats and mice. Most have tons of personality and will let you know when people arrive, as well as being diligent on mouse patrol. The Rat terrier comes by its name honestly having been developed for that job. The Jack Russell, a close relative, was first used in fox hunting, but now it is best known for hunting vermin.
The Corgie is actually a herding dog, a heeler, which means it nips at the heels of the cattle to move them along. They’ve become popular with the horsy crowd because they are also talented mousers and great companions.
Dachshunds are built for going to ground after mice and other rodents. They were bred originally to find, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals. The miniature dachshund was used to hunt smaller animals such as rabbits and mice.
Whichever dog you choose is only as good as its training. One of the best ways to find a suitable dog is to attend dog events in your area. Meet people with dog breeds that you prefer, and ask about breeders and trainers near you. This website lists some of the dog events in central NC https://www.bringfido.com/event/state/north_carolina/
Dog rescue organizations may also be a good source for a good farm dog.