Survivorship and causes of mortality for livestock-guarding dogs on Namibian rangeland

  • July 1, 2005
  • by Marker L. L., A.J. Dickman, D.W. Macdonald


This paper reports upon the survivorship of 143 livestock-guarding dogs placed on Namibian rangeland between January 1994 and January 2002 as part of a study of techniques that could be used to reduce stock losses on commercial ranches and communal farms. During the study period, 61 (42.7%) of the dogs placed were removed from working situations. Deaths accounted for 49 (80.3%) of removals, while the remaining 12 (19.7%) were transfers out of the program. Causes of death varied by both farm type and age group. The most common cause of death for working dogs, especially young ones, was accidental, which accounted for 22 reported deaths, while culling of the dog by the owner was the reason for 12 working dog deaths, all of which occurred on commercial ranches. The mean survival time as a working dog was estimated as 4.16 (±0.40) years for males, 4.65 (±0.45) years for females, and 4.31 (±0.31) years for all dogs placed. Survival distributions differed slightly (P = 0.049) between farm types, with adult mortality less common on communal farms than on commercial ranches. There was no significant difference (P = 0.612) between the sexes regarding survival distributions. With good care of the dogs and sufficient information provided to farmers, guarding dogs can act as an effective and economically beneficial method of livestock protection, with implications for range management both in Namibia and elsewhere.

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