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
Weight Male 50–100 kg (110–220 lb)[1]
Female 45–80 kg (100–180 lb)[1]
Height Male 72–75 cm (28–30 in)[1]
Female 67–70 cm (26–28 in)[1]
Coat Tan Leather
Colour Any solid colour, piebald or spotted colour, except black and silver.
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 (Adyghe: Хьэпарий, translit. Kh'èparij, Adyghe: Адыгэ Мэлыхъуэхьэ, translit. Adygè Mèlykh"uèkh'è, Karachay-Balkar: Басхан Парий, translit. Baskhan Parij, Armenian: Կովկասյան հովվաշուն, translit. Kovkasyan hovvašun, Azerbaijani: Qafqaz çoban iti; Georgian: კავკასიური ნაგაზი, Turkish: Kafkas Çoban Köpeği, Ossetian: Аргъонахъ, translit. Arghonaq, Russian: Кавказская овчарка, translit. Kavkazskaya ovčarka) is a large breed of dog that is popular in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

Because the dog breed was registered by the USR, the FCI standard of this breed indicates that its origin is the USSR. However, the breed is native to countries of the Caucasus region including Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.[citation needed]


Also known as Caucasian Ovcharka or Baskhan (Karachay) pariy, Caucasian shepherd dogs are strongly boned, muscular, 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; however, there is no recorded maximum height or weight. 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 Caucasian shepherd is rather intelligent; however, they can be insolent and refuse to listen at times. They also can be fairly aggressive towards people they do not know and with incorrect handling this can be problematic. This can be overcome by proper training.


The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is generally healthy and long-lived, averaging a life span of 10–12 years. 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 Dogs 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]

Breed classification[edit]

Fédération Cynologique Internationale classification:

The American Kennel Club classifies the breed in the working group.[2]


A Caucasian Shepherd Dog guarding poultry.

The Caucasus mountains are home to one of the oldest living Molosser breeds, the Caucasian Mountain Dog. There is a great variety of types among the Caucasian dogs depending on their home region, but a single type has come to be favored in the show rings and literature, at the expense of other breed variants. Although its first official Show-Ring appearance outside the Caucasus was in the 1930s in Germany, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has existed since ancient times. They served shepherds in the Caucasus mountains as guard dogs, defending sheep from predators, mainly wolves, jackals and bears. They are still successfully serving in this job, especially in Georgia, and the shepherd's life is impossible without these dogs. The show dogs, also known as Caucasian Ovcharka, were created by the USSR during the 20th century. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a fully standardized breed, recognized by major kennel organizations, including the American Kennel Club, Fédération Cynologique Internationale, and the United Kennel Club.

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.[3] 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. 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.

As mentioned above, the modern working Caucasian dogs have established a civilization in Georgia. Historically, the Caucasian Molossers were used for centuries to protect properties, guard livestock, and kill wolves. Today, especially outside the Caucasus, they are widely employed as companion animals and watchdogs, while in their native Caucasus they are still protecting sheep as well. Most prized as a property guardian, the Caucasian shepherds are good protectors.

The Caucasian Mountain Dog 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, all Caucasians 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 aggressive nature of the Caucasian Ovcharka makes it one of the most risky dog breeds to own for if not trained properly it will routinely snap at strangers or anyone they perceive as a threat.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Caucasian shepherd dog" (PDF). FCI. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Caucasian Shepherd dog". AKC. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Description & Information". Armenian Gampr Club of America. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  4. ^ "World's Riskiest Dog Breeds to Bring Home | Page 5 of 60 | DailyForest | Page 5". Retrieved 2017-11-06.

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