Caucasian Sheperd Dog breed: the brave guarddog opponent of the bears
Jóvári Krisztina, 2023. May 9 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary
A powerful-looking, brave guard dog who will protect his owner and his property in all circumstances. His determination and resilience are outstanding. He is a loyal companion with a balanced and determined owner.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog has a long history, with moleskin dogs being used in the Caucasus as early as the first century BC. Its excellent working stamina, physical strength and self-confidence enabled it to protect the animals and territory entrusted to it, even in harsh weather conditions.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog comes from the former Soviet Union. Although its name refers primarily to the Caucasus. It was nevertheless a widespread breed in the southern Russian steppe areas. At the time, the Armenian ruler Tigranes II used such dogs in his wars against the Roman armies. These dogs were probably the ancestors of the Caucasian Shepherd Dog.
Their hardiness was a result of their harsh lifestyle. They grazed their flocks on the steppes in the spring and then moved up into the mountains. The dogs thus had to be able to withstand different climatic conditions and had to have excellent physical strength and work endurance. As the steppe is a large area in Eurasia, different types of Caucasian Shepherd have evolved depending on the area. The mountain (Georgian) type is more robust, with stronger bones and longer hair, and was typically used for guarding in the mountainous areas. The Steppe variety is slightly different, with longer legs, a slightly lighter build and shorter fur.
In the 17th century, during the Russo-Turkish wars, the ancestor of the breed was also mentioned in written records, due to the frequent clashes in the Caucasus. Until the Second World War, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog was little known in Europe, but it was highly regarded in the Soviet Union. It first appeared in Europe in the 1930s, in particular in Germany at exhibitions. Unfortunately, the Second World War caused great destruction to the breed’s numbers. On the one hand, the fighting thinned the population, and on the other hand, the Caucasian was used for military purposes.
The conscious selection of the Caucasian Shepherd dates back to the 1920s. The breeding process focused on the breed’s values, i.e. excellent working ability, resistance to harsh conditions, confidence, courage and physical strength. In the Soviet Union, the famous Red Star kennel was responsible for the selective breeding of the Caucasian Sheepdog, where the strongest, most vigorous, hardy and intelligent specimens were selected. During the Second World War, these dogs were also bred and trained for military purposes. During the siege of Sevastopol, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs were used as war dogs.
Large, powerful looking dog with a massive bone structure. Muscles well developed, harmonious conformation. Male dogs have a minimum height at withers of 68 cm (desirable height at withers 72-75 cm). Females have minimum of 64 cm (desirable height at withers 67-70 cm). The body length of the Caucasian Shepherd exceeds the height at withers by about 3-8 %. The breed is characterised by a broad, strong trunk with a long, broad and deep chest. The limbs of the Caucasian are muscular, strong and parallel. The paws are large, closed and rounded.
The head of the Caucasian is large, massive and, when viewed from above, resembles a broad-based wedge. The forehead is broad and flat, divided by a shallow groove. The breed is characterised by oval eyes, not too deep set, set apart and giving the dog a searching, serious look. In Russia, the ears of the Caucasian Shepherd are trimmed, but not in our country.
Its movement is free and smooth, with good rear thrust. The limbs move in a straight line and parallel. Marten and rump remain level when moving. The tail is high-pinned, sickle or wheel-shaped. When it droops, it reaches the hock joint. The minimum weight of a Caucasian Shepherd Dog is 45 kg for bitches and 50 kg for males. However, some dogs may weigh between 70 and 80 kg and others up to 100 kg. Life expectancy is 10-11 years.
The Caucasian Shepherd has a balanced nature and is a confident dog. It is active, fearless and powerful. It is affectionate and loyal to his owner and instinctively defends his property and possessions from strangers. A brave and resistant breed, fear is a serious fault and has been a major selection factor in breeding. It is an alert, independent dog, ready to act if it detects an intruder.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog was a guard dog, so basically they did not herd the flocks. Their main role was protection: protecting livestock, the owner and property. Alongside the shepherds, they often fought hard against bears, wolves and even strange people, all on the rugged steppes or mountainous terrain. The harsh conditions and the many dangers of their way of life meant that only strong, resilient and confident dogs survived, because they could protect the animals entrusted to them. As a result, the breed has excellent guarding and protection skills, and does not need to be taught to protect itself, as it acts instinctively.
The Caucasian Shepherd is for a calm, balanced, confident owner who has the physical strength for such a large dog. Conscious, consistent training is very important. What is expected of the dog as an adult should be taught from puppyhood onwards. Socialisation should be emphasised in the breed so that it becomes a balanced adult.
It is also necessary to pay attention to the need for exercise, especially physical exhaustion during daily walks. Large areas are ideal for the Caucasian Sheperd, so keeping it in a garden house or on a farm is recommended. It has excellent guarding and protection qualities, making it particularly suitable for protecting houses, grounds and objects.
The Caucasian’s grooming is simple, the dead hair is combed out of the coat during the moulting period. The coat can be very varied, any solid colour except black is allowed, as well as patchy or mottled colours. The coat should be coarse and straight, with the topcoat and undercoat not shorter than 5 cm. In show dogs, the hair on the paws is at most trimmed, but in general the breed does not require any special cosmetics.
Common health problems
In the breed’s original working environment, health, fitness and resistance to harsh conditions were very strong selection factors. For this reason, the Caucasian Shepherd has relatively few typical diseases. Arthritic and cardiovascular diseases typical of large dogs may occur, but they are essentially a healthy breed.
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