Caucasian Sheepdog (Ovcharka)

AKC Group: Foundation Stock Service

These Russian stunners developed from pre-historic molosser breeds. The Ovcharka guarded the local sheep of Caucasia, the mountainous mass between the Black and Caspian Seas, near the Russian borders with Turkey and Iran. Ovcharka have been guarding sheep for at least 600 years. “Ovcharka” means “sheepdog” in Russian. As Ovcharkas made their way into Europe, especially in East Germany, they were used as border patrol along the Berlin Wall. (When the Wall came down, they were re-homed into German households as pets.)

Size: 20 to 35 inches tall, 100 to 200 pounds

Color: For the show ring, grey with white is preferred. Golden yellow, fawn, brindle, red/brown, creamy white, pearl white and various piebald patterns occur.

Life span: 10 to 11 years

Health problems: Watch for hip or elbow dysplasia.

Ovcharka have deep, dark eyes. They have a thick, dense weather resistant coat that feathers profusely. The tail is feathered with heavy hair. Ovcharka have large paws that have hair between the toes. The nostrils are large. All this helps the Ovcharka to survive Russia’s harshest of winters (and now winters anywhere). In Russia, the extra furry ears are often cropped short. Ovcharka puppies feature a finer coat than what they’ll sport later.

“Designed” to protect livestock, an Ovcharka remains an assertive, strong-willed dog destined to win medals for bravery. If an Ovcharka is not socialized properly (or trained properly), he will  become unmanageable and dangerous. They do not tolerate interlopers and will protect its family (adults, children and pets) at any cost. Your children should not engage in rough-housing with each other or him because the situation can escalate out of control. (As a natural instinct, you cannot train it out of him.) Modern Ovcharka are used most as guard dogs or as a deterrent. Despite this, an Ovcharka truly adores his family and will greet you most affectionately and genuinely.

Training must be firm and patient. He needs a strong trainer that will establish that he’s the leader of the pack. Clearly define and set rules. When an Ovcharka is not happy he will growl and may bite. He needs to know that all his human family members are in charge and he’s not making the rules. If not, life will be a nightmare. Ovcharka are highly trainable and able to think independently. They are slow to mature and very headstrong until about 2 1/2 years old. Thankfully, they (somewhat) mellow as they age. An Ovcharka will keep you entertained. They are always able to find a new way to get into mischief.

Ovcharka have two kinds of coats: short and long. Long-haired Ovcharka need more brushing, but both coat varieties need more attention where the coat feathers to avoid tangles.

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