Dogs have always been a vital part of a working farm. On the fiber farm, you’re likely to want more than just canine companionship, though. Many types of dogs have been bred specifically to guard or to herd sheep or goats. The handsome Great Pyrenees above was bred to be a livestock guardian dog as well as a family companion. Some LGD breeds prefer to be alone with their flock, but Pyrs revel in the company of humans as well as sheep. Besides guarding and herding, dogs can also be used as a fiber source of their own.
A new twist on the ole’ classic farm dog, some fiber artists who want to grow their own wool for spinning are looking at dogs instead of sheep. Wool from dogs, known as “chiengora,” is a beautiful fiber, lofty and warm. Not every breed of dog grows wool appropriate for spinning, but many do. Even if the only space you have for farming your own fiber is inside your apartment, you can take advantage of this luscious fiber.
Any dog with an undercoat that is more than 2″ long can be brushed out for fiber that can be spun into yarn. Samoyed, Chow, American Eskimo, Pyrenees, Keeshond — these are some favorite breeds for spinning.
Although you can spin the wooly undercoat of many dogs, their use doesn’t end there on a fiber farm! Livestock Guardian Dogs can be invaluable companions and protectors of a wooly flock. Some breeds are happiest being a companion to their human but still take their job very seriously, too. Great Pyrenees are one of those who bond with their human families and protects the sheep vigorously. Other breeds, such as the Akbash, tend to bond more closely with their flock without so much need for human interaction.
Herd dogs can be another fantastic addition to the fiber farm. Intelligent, active and personable, herd dog breeds like Border Collies can make a shepherd’s job much easier when properly trained.
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