Out of all the different specialized dog breeds out there, there’s a good chance that one of the most popular groups out there are the working and herding dogs. After all, these breeders want to make sure that they have the strongest and the healthiest bloodlines to ensure that any and all guard dogs that come from them are capable of defending your family and farm in the event of a true emergency.
Because of this, many working and herding dogs have similar features. For example, most guard dogs are large and have stocky, muscular builds. Most dogs have their origins in working on farms. Finally, most of all, these dogs are known for getting along with their families.
One type of guard dog that you may not have hard of is known as the Caucasian shepherd. Sometimes these dogs are referred to as the Caucasian Ovcharka, the Caucasian Sheepdog, Kawkasky, Owtscharka, and the Kaukasische Schaferhund. While these dogs are not good for novice owners or families who are looking for a cuddly teddy bear, these dogs excel at getting their job done.
Whether you are herding and guarding livestock throughout the night, or you simply want some extra protection inside your home, the Caucasian shepherd dog will be one of the best dogs to get the job done.
What Is the History of the Caucasian Shepherd?
As the name might suggest, this breed is said to have originated from the Caucasus Mountains and is thought to be one of the oldest Molasser breeds around. Many people believe that this breed has been around for over 2,000 years, although some people doubt this extreme claim. No matter what you might believe, there is some degree of archeological evidence of these dogs that dates all the way back to the Mesopotamia times. Other experts believe that the Caucasian Shepherd dog is directly related to the wolves that they came from, while other people believe that this breed was an amalgamation of other breeds that primarily included mastiffs.
More often than not, this breed of dog was bred to guard large flocks of sheep from the dangerous wildlife of the mountains. This means that this dog had to be fighting off jackals, bears, and wolves. With enemies like that, there is no wondering why breeders focused on creating a dog so strong to handle their attacks. To ward off a bear, of all things, these dogs had to be intelligent, fearless, and intimidating. Without these traits bred deep within the bloodlines of this breed, this dog would have died out a long time ago.
These dogs have been used historically as guard dogs as well. In the 1900s, they were used as prisoner guard dogs throughout communist USSR. In the 1960s, border patrol agents used this breed of dog to make sure that people were doing things the way they should in East Germany, when the Berlin wall was still up. One of the largest sources of these dogs is actually from the border patrol agents’ dogs. When the Berlin wall finally collapsed in 1989, border patrol agents suddenly didn’t know what to do with the guard dogs they had. Therefore, approximately 7,000 dogs were sent out to families all across Germany.
What Does the Caucasian Shepherd Look Like?
The Caucasian shepherd is a foreboding dog, fearsome in stature, height, and weight alone. These dogs are quite large, but this is understandable when you remember why these dogs were originally bred in the first place. Generally, these dogs tend to be between 23 and 30 inches in height. Their weight can reach between 100 and 180 pounds. With a size like this, it is easy to scare away any wrongdoers that might be trying to get into your home. As with most other dogs, the females tend to be lighter set and have a smaller stature than their male counterparts.
These dogs have a very heavy coat that protects them from the cold, harsh winters of where they were originally bred. There are two main varieties of the Caucasian shepherd to be aware of if you are thinking about what kind of dog coat you want to deal with.
Some Caucasian shepherds were even built for the mountain environment. This means it has longer fur to protect it from the cold and a heavier body. These dogs are known as the Mountain Type of Caucasian shepherd. There are also “Steppe” versions of the Caucasian shepherd. These dogs tend to have a shorter coat and a lighter body. The shorter coat will be much easier for you to keep groomed. It will be important to note the difference between versions, as they will have massively different grooming requirements.
How Does the Caucasian Shepherd Behave?
As much as many people out there want a massive and fluffy dog to cuddle, the Caucasian shepherd is not a dog that does cuddles well at all. In fact, this dog can often seem cold and aloof at times, however, this is mostly because the dog is working and is more focused on making sure that there are no threats closing in on the dog’s territory.
These dogs can even come across as overprotective a lot of the time, as they are not quick to welcome strangers into their family. If you have guests over at your house, you might even have to consider locking the dog in another room until the guests leave. Do keep in mind that with the people that your dog has deemed “family” (often this includes you and any livestock that the dog guards) they will not be treated as roughly. When a Caucasian shepherd decides that you are family, this dog turns into a gentle giant who is ready to receive a moderate amount of pets.
In a nutshell, this dog can be described as devoted. It is devoted to its work when it comes to guarding and herding an area. Only when your dog is home alone with you and the rest of its “family” will your dog begin to show its softer side.
What Kind of Care Does the Caucasian Shepherd Need?
This dog can be described as high-maintenance in a number of ways. For one, it needs to spend a fair bit of time moving around. If your dog was bought to guard and herd farm animals and livestock, then you will not need to worry about taking your dog on extra walks.
However, if your dog is simply a family guard dog, then you are going to need to make sure that you take your dog out either several times a day or for one, very long walk. Because of the independent and aloof personality these dogs have, it is not likely that playing with most traditional toys will be the best use of expending energy from your dog. They are also very stubborn dogs and require someone with a firm hand to teach them proper training,
On top of this, the long-haired variant of this breed requires a considerable amount of grooming. You should aim to groom this dog either two to three times a week, potentially more if your dog has longer fur that is more susceptible to tangles. Shorter coats and the Steppe variant breed do not require as vigorous grooming, but you will still need to brush your dog’s fur at least twice a week to keep things looking good. This dog also goes through a once-yearly heavy shedding period. During this time, you will need to give your dog warm baths (if it will tolerate them), and you will need to brush your dog on a daily basis. If you are particularly unlucky, you will need to brush your dog multiple times in a day during shedding season. Thankfully, this only happens once a year for the Caucasian shepherd.
How Is the Caucasian Shepherd’s Health?
Unfortunately, the combination of being a massive dog and a purebred dog lead to a fair few complications with the Caucasian shepherd’s health. These dogs are prone to hip dysplasia, obesity, and heart problems as they grow older. Because of their status as a purebred dog, there is an increased chance of your dog picking up a hereditary disease from its parents. A responsible breeder will go over this with you when you are purchasing a puppy. Due to its large size, the average life expectancy of these dogs is only 10 to 12 years.