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East European Shepherd

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East European Shepherd
Other names
  • Vostochno Evropeiskaya Ovcharka
  • VEO
  • Russian: Восточно-европейская овчарка
  • ВЕО
Height Males 67–72 cm (26–28 in)[1]
Females 62–67 cm (24–26 in)[1]
Kennel club standards
RKF standard
Dog (domestic dog)
The VEO may be entirely black

The East European Shepherd, also called Vostochno Evropeiskaya Ovcharka or VEO (Russian: Восточно-европейская овчарка or ВЕО) is a Ukrainian and Russian breed of shepherd dog. It was selectively bred in the Soviet Union from the German Shepherd to create a larger dog with better resistance to cold conditions, and was intended for military and guard work.[2][3][4]


The East European Shepherd was bred in the Soviet Union in the early twentieth century. In the 1920s a number of German Shepherds were imported from Germany into the Ukrainian SSR, where a breeding programme was established with the aim of adapting the breed to the harsher Soviet climatic conditions. Over several decades of selective breeding, a distinctly different form of shepherd had been created from that known in the West;[2][3] from 1950 this was named the Vostochno Evropeiskaya or East European.[4] While initially the breed was centred in Ukraine, it soon spread throughout the Soviet Union, although its fortunes suffered during the Great Patriotic War.[2][3] At the end of the War there were substantial imports of German Shepherd dogs from Germany; importation had not been possible before the War.[4]

The East European Shepherd was used heavily by the military and police within the Soviet Union as a guard and sniffer dog. It was a favourite of the KGB, who only ever kept solid black examples; if a single non-black pup was born in a litter bred by the KGB the entire litter was destroyed and that breeding was not repeated.[2][3] A breed standard was approved in 1955 by the Central Committee of the USSR DOSAAF, and in 1964 by the Presidium of the Service Dog Breeding Federation.[4] The East European Shepherd is now among the most numerous dog breeds in Russia and several former Soviet countries.[3]

With effect from 1 January 2017 the Vostochno Evropeiskaya Ovcharka was recognised by the Nordic Kennel Union [da], and is thus recognised by the Danish Kennel Club [da], the Finnish Kennel Club, the Icelandic Kennel Club, the Norwegian Kennel Club [no] and the Swedish Kennel Club.[5][6]


The East European Shepherd is significantly larger than the German Shepherd and shows substantial sexual dimorphism: dogs typically stand 67 to 72 cm (26 to 28 in) at the withers although some can be as tall as 74 cm (29 in); bitches are typically 62 to 67 cm (24 to 26 in).[1][2] The coat is dense and of medium length, with a well-developed undercoat, and often with longer soft hair on the ears, neck, limbs and tail. It may be black-and-tan, sable or solid black; brindles or whites are rare.[2][3] The eyes may be brown, amber or blue; odd-coloured eyes are known. The ears are long and upright, and the paws are large with long toes, giving a snowshoe-like appearance.[3]

The breed is considered particularly intelligent, courageous, determined and tough, and owners often describe its temperament as similar to that of a Dobermann.[2][3]


  1. ^ a b c Стандарт породы (in Russian). Национального Клуба Породы Восточноевропейская Овчарка = Natsional'nogo Kluba Porody Vostochnoyevropeyskaya Ovcharka. Accessed March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Morris, Desmond (2001). Dogs: the ultimate dictionary of over 1,000 dog breeds. North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Publishing. pp. 446–447. ISBN 1-57076-219-8.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Wilcox, Bonnie; Walkowicz, Chris (1995). Atlas of dog breeds of the world. Neptune City, N.J.: TFH Publications. p. 351.
  4. ^ a b c d Немного истории породы ВЕО (in Russian). Национального Клуба Породы Восточноевропейская Овчарка = Natsional'nogo Kluba Porody Vostochnoyevropeyskaya Ovcharka. Accessed March 2020.
  5. ^ [s.n.] (24 October 2016). NKU välkomnar tre nya hundraser (in Swedish). Svenska Kennelklubben. Archived 25 August 2018.
  6. ^ Welcome to the Nordic Kennel Union!. Svenska Kennelklubben. Archived 3 March 2020.

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