The Caucasian Ovcharka, more commonly known as the Caucasian Shepherd, is a breed that was developed in the Caucasus mountains using ancient molosser breeds. These dogs were used by local herders as a flock guardian. This breed is very popular in Russia and the word “ovcharka” means “shepherd” in Russian. Although these dogs are not used for as flock guardians as much as they used to be, they remain a popular breed. During the 1960s these dogs were used as guard and border patrol dogs in east Germany. After the wall came down these dogs needed to be re-homed and then became popular in Germany as well. Some of these dogs are very aggressive and have been used in dog fighting. The Caucasian Ovcharka is known as a somewhat aggressive breed, which made them popular as guard dog, but some breeders have made an effort to lessen this trait as the bred becomes more popular as a companion. The Caucasian Ovcharka is not yet officially recognized by the AKC, but they are being recoded in the Foundation Stock Service. This service keeps track of records and breeder information for those that are working with rare breeds.
The Caucasian Ovcharka is a large and powerful breed, which makes them quite intimidating in appearance. They stand at about 25 to 28 inches tall at the withers and they should weigh between 99 and 154 pounds. The large head has a long muzzle with a well defined stop. The large nose is black and the medium sized eyes are deep set and dark. Although the natural ears are large and folded forward, they are sometimes cropped short, especially in Russia. The ears are covered in hair and well insulated. The long tail reaches the hock and is well feathered. The Caucasian Ovcharka has a thick and dense coat that is weather resistant. It is well feathered in order to keep out the cold. The puppies of this breed had a finer coat than the adults. Coat colors may include fawn, tan, grey, pied, brindle, and white. Brown dogs also occur, but are not accepted by some breeding clubs. The coat of the Caucasian Ovcharka can be either short or long. The short-haired variety needs relatively little grooming and should be brushed regularly. The longer-haired variety should be brushed daily with special attention payed to spots where the dog tends to mat. This breed is an average shedder.
Since the Caucasian Ovcharka was originally bred as a guardian dog, they have a tendency to be somewhat dominating strong-willed. When these dogs are not properly trained and socialized they can become aggressive and unmanageable, which means they are not a breed for everyone. They need an owner that has experience with obedience training dominant dogs and can be a naturally authoritative pack leader. These dogs should begin their obedience training while they are still puppies. As long as the training is firm and consistent and the rules are well established these dogs should be well behaved and obedient. The Caucasian Ovcharka should also be well socialized while they are young. They are naturally protective and without proper socialization that can turn into aggression. They will be protective of their home and their family, especially any children. However they should not usually be left alone with children since they have a tendency to play rough. Socializing the Caucasian Ovcharka is a process that should include taking them out to expose them to new people, places, and situations. This helps them to be more comfortable with anything new later on. These dogs usually get along with other animals as long as they have been properly socialized.
As a large breed, the Caucasian Ovcharka is not generally recommended for life in an apartment or other small home even though they aren’t a particularly active breed. They need at least a large yard to accommodate them and since their thick coat protects them from the weather they can even live outside as long as they have an adequate shelter. Have a large yard to run and play in will help these dogs to stay happy and healthy, but they also need to be taken on a walk every day. Make sure that they are taught to properly heel since this strong dog can be difficult to restrain if they get out of control.
Caucasian Ovcharkas are a relatively healthy breed, but they are known to suffer from a few issues. Some of the most common include hip dysplasia and cataracts. Although these dogs are large, one of the most common health problems is obesity and they should still have their weight properly monitored.
Overall the Caucasian Ovcharka is a unique breed that is known for its work as a guardian. They are somewhat dominant and stubborn so this breed is not for everyone. They need an owner that understands how to be a strong pack leader, otherwise this dog will be out of control.