Caucasian Shepherd Dog

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Caucasian Shepherd
Large heavy set dog standing in front of trees. Medium length thick hair, white base with orange/brown spots on back and top of head. Reminiscent of a Saint Bernard.
Other namesCaucasian Mountain Dog
Caucasian Ovcharka
Caucasian Mastiff
Origin Russia[1]
Weight Male 50–100 kg (110–220 lb)[1]
Female 45–80 kg (100–180 lb)[1]
Height Male 72–90 cm (28–35 in)[1]
Female 67–78 cm (26–31 in)[1]
Coat Straight, coarse, stand-off coat with well developed undercoat.[1]
Colour Any solid colour, piebald or spotted colour, except liver, blue and solid black.[1]
Life span 10-12 years [2]
Classification / standards
FCI Group 2, Section 2.2 Molossian: Mountain type #328 standard
The AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS) is an optional recording service for purebred dogs that are not yet eligible for AKC registration.
UKC Guardian Dog standard
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog (Russian: Кавказская овчарка, translit. Kavkazskaya ovčarka; Georgian: კავკასიური მეცხვარე ძაღლი) is a large guard dog breed from the Caucasus Mountains.[3][4][2]


Adult Caucasian Shepherd Dog

The Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are strongly boned, muscular, but harmonious built and even-tempered molossers. Plain dogs have a shorter coat and appear taller as they are more lightly built. Mountain dog types have a heavier coat and are more muscularly built.

Caucasian Ovcharka are large dogs. The minimum height for females is 64 centimetres (25 in), with a desirable height between 67 and 70 centimetres (26 and 28 in).[1] The minimum weight for females is 45 kilograms (99 lb). The minimum height for males is 68 centimetres (27 in), with a desirable height between 72 and 75 centimetres (28 and 30 in).[1] The minimum weight for males is 50 kilograms (110 lb).[1]


The Caucasus Mountains are home to many of the oldest living molosser landrace dogs, such as the Armenian Gampr dog and the Georgian Shepherd Dog.[3][4][5][6][7] During the 20th century the soviets selected some of these varieties among the caucasian dogs and created the Caucasian Shepherd Dog breed.[3][4][5]

The breed first official Show-Ring appearance outside the Caucasus was in the 1930s in Germany[4].

In ancient times its ancestors served shepherds in the Caucasus mountains as livestock guardian dogs, defending sheep from predators, mainly wolves, jackals and bears. The Caucasian Shepherd Dogs served as guard dogs, bear hunting dogs and today they work as prison guard dogs in Russia.[4][8]

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a fully standardized breed, recognized by major kennel organizations, including the Fédération Cynologique Internationale and the United Kennel Club.[1][3]

The Caucasian Ovcharka Working Dog Club of America is seeking for fully American Kennel Club recognition.[2]


The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is an extremely independent, self-confident, fearless and intelligent dog. It is a highly protective territorial dog averse to unfamiliar people.[2]

It is a low activity dog, seemingly lethargic when not working, but agile and convincing when it feels its family is threatened. Although certain strains are more vicious than others, they commonly are very territorial and dog-aggressive, needing early and careful broad socialization, as well as consistent, but never forceful, handling. This breed can be a family dog, if well trained and socialized.


The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is generally healthy and long-lived, averaging a life span of 10–12 years.[4][9][2] Some dogs may have health issues in the form of hip dysplasia, obesity and occasional heart problems, but the majority of these dogs are healthy if taken care of correctly. Good dog breeders use genetic testing of their breeding stock to reduce the chances of diseases in the puppies.

The ears of the Caucasian Shepherd Dog are traditionally cropped, although some modern dogs are unaltered, as many people believe that this practice is unethical and cruel. If brought up by someone with extensive knowledge on the needs of a Caucasian Shepherd Dog, the chances of health problems should lower dramatically.

Exercise and play time are a crucial part of the Caucasian Shepherd Dog's life to help prevent obesity. Outdoor activities such as hiking, chasing balls and retrieving flying discs can be a good outlet of releasing energy.


Caucasian Shepherd Dogs require very specific and detailed training.[citation needed] From the ages of 0–9 months the obedience of the dog has already been formed.[citation needed] It is recommended that an expert begins to train the dog from the ages of 7–8 months old.[citation needed] The training that is involved in this early stage should be light guidance on the teaching of obedience.[citation needed]

Puppy school has been described as a bad option for the Caucasian Shepherd Dog.[citation needed] They do not tolerate other dogs very well and get out of control easily.[citation needed] This can be difficult to manage even if they are still young. After the early stages and training of a Caucasian Shepherd Dog's life, they can move on to learn about how to herd different types of livestock and defend them if the situation arises.[citation needed]

It is important to expose the dog to extensive amounts of socialization to teach it that not all humans are enemies, starting this routine from a young age could be helpful.[citation needed] Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are not recommended to be adopted into families with young children because of their guardian instinct and powerful bodies.[citation needed]

Variants and co-existing Molosser breeds[edit]

  • Astrakhan type is found in the Kabardino-Balkarian region and is believed to be a cross between the Russian show type and the old Balkarian and Georgian mountain dogs, but Balkarian Molossers are also rooted in the Sarmatian Mastiff.
  • A variant of the Circassian sheepdog (also called shepherd or mountain dog) was also introduced to the Ottoman Empire after the Russo-Circassian wars. As a result of crossing Ottoman, Kangals with the Circassian mountain dog (not to be confused with the Circassian wolfhound), the mixed Cherkes dogs emerged.
  • Dagestan dogs are tall, wide-headed and athletic, short-haired and multi-colored.
  • The Armenian Gampr dog is a breed different from the Caucasian Shepherd Dog.[10] In general, Armenian dogs are divided into the large, short-haired and often solid-colored type and the slightly smaller wolf-grey or multi-colored dogs of medium-length coat with longer muzzles.
  • The Georgian Shepherd is a related dog breed. It is muscular and athletic and is divided into two types: the short-haired Kazbegian dog, also known as "Nagazi", and the long-haired Georgian mountain dog. They are wide-headed, tall, often pure white colored or multi colored. However, the Georgian Shepherd is not recognized as a standardized breed by any major kennel club.
    • The large, short-muzzled, shorthaired fawn, brown, red, with or without white markings and extremely vicious Garban (Gorban) was developed from the Kars and the Kangal, as well as other Turkish dogs, being crossed with Armenian and Georgian dogs. The Georgian Akhaltsihnske type was created from Garban crosses with the Georgian Nagazi variant and gomik Turkey, resulting in longhaired, lightly built solid fawn, gray, and white dogs.
    • A result of matings between the dogs of southern Kavkaz with Iranian Sarabi and Sage Mazandarani and the Kars Dog of Turkey, the impure Sage Ghafghazi is a lean, powerful and richly coated Mastiff, used as a caravan protector of the Shahsavan nomads who have been breeding it since the 17th century. These dogs come in a variety of colors, both solid and bicolored. A short-haired version of this dog with a very aggressive attitude towards anyone other than the caretaker is called a Sage Gorgy (Wolfdog). Its color is usually black or mixed with black and yellow. This dog is used for home protection, farm animal protection, and other efforts. This dog is often kept as a solitary dog because of its aggressive temper.
  • The Volkodav variant also comes in two types, with the longhaired mountain and short-coated steppe dogs, always having black masks.
    • There is also a rare short-haired Kavkaz Mastiff, known as the North-Caucasian Volkodav, which is on its way to receiving a separate breed recognition.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Caucasian shepherd dog" (PDF). FCI. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Caucasian Shepherd Dog". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d "Caucasian Ovcharka Breed Standard". United Kennel Club. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Russian prison guard dog: Caucasian ovcharka". Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Breed history". Caucasian Ovcharka Working Dog Club of America. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  6. ^ Armenian Gampr. Access 12 March 2019
  7. ^ Qualities of Georgian Shepherd – First ever Georgian dog breed. Georgian Journal. Access 12 March 2019
  8. ^ "Caucasian shepherd dogs bred for hunting Russian bears go on sale in Northern Ireland for first time". Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Caucasian Ovcharka". Embrace Pet Insurance. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Description & Information". Armenian Gampr Club of America. Archived from the original on 2016-11-27. Retrieved 8 December 2016.

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