The Caucasian Ovcharka or Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a large sized, heavy and muscular dog that was developed in the Caucasus area (Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia). The Caucasian Ovcharka is an ancient breed in the past was used for herding large flocks of sheep and protecting them from predators and robbers. The Caucasian Ovcharka of today is more of a family dog, but is occasionally still used as a protector of herds or as a watch dog.
Caucasian Ovcharka History
The Caucasian Ovcharka is a pre-historic molosser breed such as the Tibetan Mastiff and the Central Asian Ovcharka. It was developed in the Caucasus by local herders as a flock guardian. For centuries, flocks of sheep have existed with the nomad people in Caucasia, the mountainous land mass and the adjacent plains between the Black and Caspian seas and neighboring Turkey and Iran and areas of Russia. Which is the territory of the following modern states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia. In Russian "Ovtcharka" means sheepdog. The dogs of the Caucasians were used for at least 600 years to protect sheep from predators and thieves. In the area around the Ukraine these dogs were used to form the South Russian Ovcharka and in Moscow they used it to form the Moscow Watchdog.
These Caucasian Molossers were used for centuries to guard livestock and protect their owners and properties, as well as kill wolves and hunt bears. The dogs were selected for outstanding working qualities and to a lesser extent a powerful and striking appearance. As with all true working breeds, this explains why the Caucasian Ovtcharka varied in type from country to country and even from locale to locale. Also the lack of organized kennel clubs and written standards avoided a true standard or show type for a long time. Over time war, poverty and cultivation of the mountain lands reduced its popularity and numbers.
Nowadays the Caucasian Ovcharka is most popular in Russia and has also build a following in Germany where it was used decades ago to protect the Berlin Wall with 7,000-strong band of patrol dogs before it came down in 1989.
Today differences by location still exist but one could divide them into three main types. First, the working strain in the east, as a watchdog and here and there as protector of herds. Second, the show dogs in the west. Third, the fighting strains of the Caucasian Ovcharka that contain blood of some European breeds, from Mastiffs, Bandogs to pits. Especially outside the Caucasus, these dogs are employed as companion animals and watchdogs. Most prized as a property guardian, a fitting role for these good protectors.
Caucasian Ovcharka Appearance
Body: the Caucasian Owcharka is a large to very large, powerful dog with a coarse structure. The body is slightly longer than it is tall. The back is straight, broad and muscular, the short loins are broad and slightly arched. The wide croup is long, flat and muscular. The tail is set high, is curled and reaches towards the hocks. The wide and deep chest reaches towards or slightly below the elbows. The belly is slightly tucked. The upright legs are powerful and are parallel to each other. The feet are large, oval in shape and arched. The short and muscular neck is set moderately high.
Head: the head is massive with a broad skull, heavy cheekbones and a wide and flat forehead. There is a clear furrow and a slight stop. The muzzle and skull are of equal length. The lips are thick and fit well together. The ears are set high and carried down (in the country of origin, they are usually cropped very short). The small eyes are oval shaped and lie deep in the skull. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog has a scissors bite.
Height at Withers: the dogs have on average a shoulderheight of 66 up to 72 (26 to 28.3 inches) centimetres and bitches on average measure 64 up to 70 centimetres (25.2 to 27.6 inches). There is no maximum height.
Weight: for dogs it's between 50 to 70 kg (110 and 154 lbs) and bitches are between 45 to 65 kg (99 to 143 lbs). Much heavier dogs do exist, but as a rule this comes at a cost affecting the dogs health.
Coat: the Caucasian Ovcharka has straight, coarse hair with a well developed undercoat. On the head and the front of legs, the hairs are short. Hat breed comes in three different coat varieties: long haired, short haired and a type that has hair of a lenght in between. Long-haired dogs have distinct mane forming, a large hairy pants and a bushy tail or flag. The short-haired dogs have a very thick coat, but the bushy trousers, bushy mane and tail are missing. The middle type has medium long hair, with the longer hair on tail and mane pants missing.
Colors: the breed is bred in different shades of light gray-whitish to reddish shades, red, straw yellow, white, brown, brindle, black and mottled. A black coat color is, like spotted black and plain brown a serious fault.
Caucasian Ovcharka Temperament
Character: the Caucasian Ovcharka is a breed that is still very original, in its region of origin it protects herds against malevolent four-legged and two-legged. It is a very territorial established, independent and courageous dog. The breed is hardy, very dominant and has a lot of confidence. It is very alert and has a strong drive to protect. Their coat protects them from extreme weather. Therefore they are fine when kept outdoors.
Social Build: everything that belongs to the family, whether it's children, cats, chickens or whatever, is classified as their own and as such is respected and protected. Keep an eye on your dog when your children are playing with other children. When things get rough your dog will take sides with your children. Caucasian Ovcharka's take a very suspicious and very watchful attitude towards people they do not know. Compared with other dogs, this breed is quite dominant.
Caucasian Ovcharka Socially
Care: the longhaired variety should occasionally brushed and combed, especially in places where tangles form easily. The short-haired and the in between variety need relatively less coat care. In the shedding period, you can easily remove the loosened undercoat with a coarse metal comb.
Education: the prominent owner of a Caucasian Ovcharka should be a strong personality both mentally and physically. The breed is very dominant and it will not accept a premisive owner as its boss. A Caucasian Ovcharka should never be raised with a heavy hand. The right owner can create a bond based on mutual respect with a reasonably obedient and very loyal dog that will defend the family, the house and property with his life.
Activity: this breed has an average daily need of exersize. Walks outside the own area may provide problems because the dog's considers the surroundings as "his" own terrain. The Caucasian Ovcharka is really not at home in a residential area. In the most ideal situation, the dog has access to a very large garden or a well fenced area where he can partly satisfy his own activity needs.
Usability: this breed does best when its owners have enough (fenced) space around the house. When purchasing a dog like this one should take time to carefully think about it. The dog does not trust strangers and if you go on vacation or the dog needs replacing after a while, this can cause problems, because it accepts no leadership or even proximity from a stranger.
Caucasian Ovcharka Quotes / Trivia