Imported guard dogs deployed as part of US wolf-sheep study

ABC News
By: Keith Ridler, Associated Press
Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons   

Original content from ABC News.        

 Federal scientists are trying to decide if it's time to let the big dogs out.

Nearly 120 dogs from three large breeds perfected over centuries in Europe and Asia to be gentle around sheep and children but vicious when confronting wolves recently underwent a study to see how they'd react to their old nemesis on a new continent.

The dogs were gathered as puppies in Portugal, Bulgaria and Turkey and sent to the American West, where they spent four years guarding sheep.

"When we were first looking at doing this, a lot of people wanted to know: What dog do I use in dealing with wolves and grizzly bears?" said Julie Young, a Utah-based research biologist with the U.S. Agriculture Department's National Wildlife Research Center.

The department looked to areas where dog breeds developed to guard sheep against wolves and brown bears. Then scientists supplied Cao de Gado Transmontanos, a large though lean and agile dog developed in a mountainous region of Portugal; Karakachans, developed by nomadic sheepherders in a mountainous area of Bulgaria; and Kangals, another powerful breed with an instinct for guarding, this one originating in Turkey.

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