Guard goose

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An Emden goose displaying aggression

The guard goose is a domestic goose that is used as a guard animal both on farms and in other situations.

Goose behavior[edit]

Geese are considered to have excellent eyesight[1] and to be "watchful and inquisitive",[2] with strong territorial instincts. Goose attacks on humans are commonly reported. One case in 2001 set a legal precedent, resulting in a workers' compensation payout of over $17,000 for an injured delivery person, the first Illinois workers' compensation claim due to wildlife.[3] In another case, several geese protecting their goslings knocked an Englishman off his bicycle resulting in hospitalization.[4] One Buffalo, New York resident claimed over $2 million in damages for a goose attack while on a neighbor's property. At times, park rangers have killed entire flocks of aggressive geese.[5] Canada geese in Cincinnati parks have been responsible for knocking people down and breaking their bones, and called "spitting, hissing, biting attack missiles".[6]

The same aggressive, territorial behavior can be utilized in the guard capacity. Geese are intelligent enough to discern unusual people or sounds from usual stimuli.[7][8] Their loud honking will alert humans when the geese are alarmed.[1]

History of use[edit]

The geese of the Capitol by Henri-Paul Motte, 1889

Guard geese have been used throughout history, and in modern times. In ancient Rome, geese are credited by the historian Livy for giving the alarm when Gauls invaded (see Battle of the Allia).[9][10][11] Geese were subsequently revered in the supplicia canum annual sacrifice, and the Romans later founded a temple to Juno, to whom the geese were considered sacred.

On modern farms, geese are said to be good deterrents to predators of other domestic fowl,[1][12] and against snakes. A 2006 handbook on industrial security recommends them for protecting warehouses and other isolated physical assets.[13] They are reported to have been used to guard United States Air Defense Command installations in Germany;[14] as the Scotch Watch at Ballantine's Distillery in Dumbarton, Scotland;[15][16] and to protect a police station in Xinjiang, China.[7][17][18]

Due to their tendency to make noise when approached by strangers, about 500 geese were used to supplement dogs, drones, and humans to patrol the 533-km boundary between Chongzuo and Vietnam during the COVID-19 pandemic. An official commented that the birds, one of the most common livestock in the region, are sensitive to sounds and can sometimes be more aggressive than dogs.[19]


A publication by the United States Department of Agriculture lists the African goose, Roman goose (Tufted Roman), Pomeranian goose (Saddleback Pomeranian), and Chinese goose as the best breeds for guard duty.[8][13] Chinese geese are said to be loud, and African geese both loud and large.[20][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Susanne Hugo, Geese: The Underestimated Species, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
  2. ^ a b Ashton 2015, pp. 25–26.
  3. ^ Gary Wis (October 3, 2001), "Worker gets $17,000 check in goose attack Delivery man was hurt on the job in a case of fowl play", Chicago Sun-Times, archived from the original on November 6, 2018
  4. ^ "Cyclist Hurt in Attack by Angry Geese", The Mirror, June 6, 2013, archived from the original on November 6, 2018
  5. ^ Rangers kill flock after goose attack, Associated Press, July 10, 2003, archived from the original on November 6, 2018
  6. ^ Andrew Conte (April 25, 2000), "Geese overstay their welcome", The Cincinnati Post, archived from the original on November 6, 2018, Canada geese appear majestic and serene...the next moment they become spitting, hissing, biting attack missiles, knocking people to the ground, breaking bones and opening head wounds ... threatening to overtake every available waterway in Southwestern Ohio - are dominating public parks and golf courses, spreading diseases and attacking humans at an alarming rate.
  7. ^ a b Marc Silver (July 27, 2013), Honk If You Think Geese Are Good Guard Dogs: Some cops in China now use feathered friends instead of canine companions, National Geographic, archived from the original on July 27, 2013
  8. ^ a b Jacquie Jacob (May 5, 2015), "Which goose breed is best for small and backyard poultry flocks?",, United States Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
  9. ^ Kee Malesky (May 6, 2012), "How Swiss Guards And Sacred Geese Saved Rome", NPR
  10. ^ Ashton 2015, pp. 14–15.
  11. ^ Ekarius 2016, p. 210.
  12. ^ Kirsten Lie-Nielsen (September 19, 2016), "Raise A Goose To Guard Your Flock: Large and loud, geese will keep many chicken predators at bay and alert you to other trouble", Hobby Farms
  13. ^ a b Subramanian 2006, p. 67.
  14. ^ "West Germany: Enter the Goose Patrol", Time, May 26, 1986, gaggles of geese will soon begin guard duty at American military installations in West Germany. Eventually, 900...will take up posts at 30 sites run by the U.S. Army's 32nd Air Defense Command.
  15. ^ "Dumbarton distillery geese given their matching orders". February 24, 2012.
  16. ^ "Distillery geese retired | Whisky Drinker".
  17. ^ Kirsten Lie-Nielsen (October 13, 2015), "A History of Geese as Guard Animals and for Weed Control", Mother Earth News
  18. ^ Ekarius 2016, p. 203.
  19. ^ Zuo, Mandy (February 24, 2022). "Chinese border city turns to out-of-the-box ally to help contain imported Covid-19 cases: geese". South China Morning Post.
  20. ^ Kirsten Lie-Nielsen (January 16, 2017), "Choose The Right Goose Breed For The Job", Hobby Farms

Book sources[edit]