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Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Breed Characteristics

Compatibility With Children
Trainability (Learning Rate)
Energy Level
Exercise Requirements
Compatibility With Other Pets

1 paw - breed exhibits the least amount of this characteristic
5 paws - breed exhibits most amount of this characteristic


Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Other Names Caucasian Sheepdog, Caucasian Ovcharka, Kavkaskaia Ovtcharka, Caucasian Owcharka, Caucasian Mountain Dog, Sage Ghafghazi, Kavkazskaïa Ovtcharka. Caucasian Ovtcharka, Russian Caucasian Ovtcharka, Russian Caucasian, CO
Country of Origin Russia
Weight 99 - 154 lbs. (45 - 70 kg)
Height (at withers) 25 - 28 in. (64 - 72 cm)
Coat The thick, dense, weather-resistant coat has profuse feathering and is especially effective at keeping out the cold.
Colour Colours vary from gray, fawn, tan, pied, brindle and white. The FCI prohibits brown dogs.
Litter Size 7-13 puppies, Average around 8
Life Span 10 - 12 years
Origin & History The Caucasian Shepherd is a flock guardian developed from pre-historic molosser breeds in Caucasus by local herders. Caucasians are used to protect sheep from predators and thieves. These dogs always attract everybody’s attention due to outstanding working qualities and a striking appearance. The lack of organized kennel clubs and written standards partly explains why the Caucasian Ovtcharka varied in type from country to country and even from locale to locale. For centuries, flocks of sheep have existed in Caucasia, the mountainous land mass between the Black and Caspian seas and neighboring Turkey and Iran. Dogs similar to this superb guardian have protected these sheep from both humans and animal predators for at least 600 years. The Caucasian Shepherd is most popular in Russia. "Ovtcharka" means "sheepdog" in Russian. In Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, it is commonly shown at dog shows. In Hungary, Poland and the Czech and Slovak Republics, extensive breeding programs are ensuring that it remains a popular dog, even though its original use as a sheep guardian is declining. The Caucasian Ovtcharka arrived in East Germany in the late 1960s to serve as a border patrol dog, especially along the Berlin Wall. In 1989, when the Wall came down, the 7,000-strong band of patrol dogs was dispersed. Many of these dogs were given new homes with families throughout Germany. Careful breeding in Germany safeguards the future of this cautious and independent dog. It is likely that as its popularity increases, breeders will selectively breed out some of the fiercest protective personalities.
Personality The Caucasian Shepherd's original purpose was to protect livestock. The typical Caucasian Ovtcharka is assertive, strong-willed and courageous. Unless properly socialized and trained, the Caucasian Shepherd may exhibit ferocious and unmanageable tendencies. It is very brave, alert, strong and hardy. It does not accept people it does not know and it has a powerful urge to defend. Everything and everyone who belongs to the family, including children, cats, other dogs, etc., will be regarded by this dog as part of "its" family and will be respected and protected. This dog should not be left alone with children, because if play becomes too rough, the Caucasian Ovtcharka my feel the need to protect your child, and may do it extensively. It has no time for strangers, but it will greet family friends warmly. It can be rather dominant toward other dogs it does not know. Some German fanciers employ the dogs as foremost guardians and deterrents. This is not a dog for everyone. It requires an owner who knows how to display strong leadership and who is willing to spend a lot of time socializing and training. The objective in training this dog is to achieve pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in its pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly defined and rules are set. Because a dog communicates his displeasure with growling and eventually biting, all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. The humans must be the ones making the decisions, not the dogs. That is the only way your relationship with your dog can be a complete success.

Care Requirements

Health The Ovcharka is generally healthy, but the breed is susceptible to hip dysplasia and cataracts. At a minimum, ask the breeder to show evidence that your Ovcharka’s parents have hip evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), as well as eye clearances from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).
Careful breeders screen their dogs for genetic disease, and only breed the best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy can develop one of these conditions. In most cases, he can still live a good life, thanks to advances in veterinary medicine. But it’s still important to choose a reputable breeder, and insist upon seeing independent certification that a puppy’s parents have been screened for common defects and deemed healthy for breeding.
And remember that you have the power to protect your Ovcharka from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping him at an appropriate weight is a simple way to extend your Ovcharka’s life.
Grooming There are two coat varieties: short and long. The coat of the long-haired variety requires frequent brushings, paying special attention to the spots where tangles may occur. The shorthaired variety needs less grooming, but should still be combed and brushed.
Exercise This breed of dog is best suited to a family with lots of space surrounding the home where it can safely run free in an open area. When not working as a livestock guard, it should be taken for a daily, long walk where the dog is made to heel. It should never be allowed to walk out in front of the person holding the lead, as in a dog's mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human.
Other Considerations The adult Ovcharka has a low activity level, so he can live in small quarters, such as an apartment or condo. However, he prefers a home with a large yard enclosed by a solid fence that’s at least five feet high. This is a territorial breed, so he must learn boundaries. When his family is home, the Ovcharka should be indoors with them — despite his good guarding skills, if you keep your Ovcharka chained in the yard, he will become aggressive and destructive.

Caucasian shepherd dog in popular culture;
In a series of Scot Harvath novels by Brad Thor, a featured character known as "the Troll" has two Caucasian Ovcharkas which serve as his guard dogs. Harvath was also given a Caucasian Ovcharka by "the Troll", named Bullet.
In a series of Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher, Harry Dresden has a "Foo Dog" named Mouse that appears very similar to the Caucasian shepherd dog, so much so that a character asks if Mouse is one.
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