Caucasian Shepherd Dog – Breed Information and Details

The Ultimate guard dog?

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a strong willed, loyal, and fearless dog. He is a formidable guard dog who is really only suitable to protect property such as large commercial estates, military installations, and to work in prisons.

Despite looking like adorable gentle giants – this breed is not a family pet, at least not without thorough and early socialization and proper training. This dog belongs to the Giant Breeds group of dogs.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog Temperament

These large dogs will fiercely protect whoever they believe is family (including small children, other dogs and even cats) but may attack everyone else including friends of your children who may come to visit and play.

A dark brown and black Caucasian Shepherd dog standing outdoors, with a green hedge in the background.
Dark brown and black Caucasian Shepherd

The Caucasian Shepherd is not a breed for the first time dog owner. It is for experienced dog owners only, who can dedicate a lot of time to train and socialize this majestic and powerful breed. 

Also known as the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd, he is a happy dog when he has a job to carry out, and when he is employed to do what he is naturally born to do; ie. guard and protect.

As a member of his family, and, provided he is well socialized and a lot of care, patience and attention has gone into his training, you can expect unfaltering loyalty and complete peace of mind from any intruders and total devotion from your Caucasian Shepherd Dog.

Caucasian Mountain Shepherd

A Caucasian Shepherd Dog standing outdoors on a wooden deck, barking and showing his teeth.
Picture courtesy of Lelik on flickr

Breed History

As livestock guardian dogs, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a very ancient breed. They have been guarding livestock such as sheep in the Caucasus Mountains (the mountains between The Black Sea and The Caspian Sea) for at least 1000 years.

During this time, the breed hasn’t changed too much. In fact, their teeth are longer than any other breed, which hints at their ancient past. Some authorities believe the Caucasian Shepherd is a distant relation of the Tibetan Mastiff, and other mastiffs of Asia.

The Caucasian Ovcharka (as he is also known) are natural protectors who will readily fight and take down any intruders be it humans, wolves or even bears. They are a working breed and need to have a job to do to keep busy.

It’s perhaps a sign of the times that they are now becoming more popular domestically to protect property from thieves, and in prisons to deter the inmates.

However, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is now one of Russia’s most popular dog breeds, and these dogs are frequent visitors to the Show Ring there, and throughout other parts of the former Soviet Union.

A Caucasian Shepherd Dog standing on his back legs with his front legs on a woman's shoulders, in an autumn setting.
Photo courtesy of cracked.com

Vital Statistics

  • Height: 64 – 76 cm ( 25 –  30 inches)
  • Weight: 36 – 80 kgs ( 80 – 180 lbs)
  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12  yrs

Colors

  • White
  • Pied
  • Tan
  • Brindle
  • Rust
  • Fawn
  • Grey
  • Cream with black mask
  • Puppies are born black and gradually lighten

Also available in brown but this is prohibited by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale – AKA World Canine Organisation)

The breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in the United States in 1995, and is also listed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

You can find out what life with a Caucasian Shepherd is really like by reading our interview with Mario about living with his gorgeous Caucasian Shepherd dog, Mike.  He has some funny little quirks – especially when he is being groomed!

A Caucasian Shepherd dog standing on snow, facing the camera, with some snow on its face.
Caucasian Shepherd dog in winter

Ease Of Training

This is an intelligent breed. However, he must be properly trained as an uncontrollable Caucasian Shepherd is extremely dangerous. He may be stubborn and unwilling to learn but you must be in control at all times. Use strong leadership, but also positive training methods and not aggression as these are proud dogs who don’t take kindly to being beaten or threatened.

The Caucasian Mountain Dog will take it for granted that he is the alpha dog and will assume this role. However he must be taught that ALL human members of the family are above him in the pack status. You must take every step to make the dog understand that he is subordinate to humans.

The best way to socialize your puppy is to take him out as soon as your vet says it is safe to do so, and introduce him to new sights, sounds, smells, and humans in a controlled environment. He must learn that other people are not necessarily threats. Then enrol in puppy training classes.

After that I strongly recommend engaging the services of a professional dog trainer, one-on-one. We are not trying to teach the dog to do tricks, we are trying to teach the dog to accept new situations and people as non-threatening. We are trying to reduce the natural guarding instinct.

A Caucasian Shepherd dog sitting down on snow, facing the camera, looking left.
Caucasian Shepherd dog

When out walking, make sure you keep your Caucasian Shepherd Dog at heel level or slightly behind you, and never out in front. To a dog, the pack leader walks ahead and so you must make sure this is you and not the dog. This is of paramount importance!

The Caucasian Ovcharka is very strong so definitely not suitable to be taken out on walks by children or the elderly.

He has boundless energy and will quite happily go ten miles without showing any signs of exhaustion. Even after his daily walk, he prefers to have a large yard or open space to prowl around and guard, like his ancestors protecting sheep. This breed does not lie around sleeping the afternoon away!

They are better suited to a rural setting, NOT in town or a city.

A Caucasian Shepherd Dog baring his teeth in an attack posture
Photo courtesy of cracked.com

Further Reading on Training

Specific advice for training your Caucasian Shepherd, and it’s a really cheap buy. Check it out!

Protection

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog isa natural guardian breed, and may be the ultimate guard dog. Very little training is required to teach him to guard. If he feels threatened or feels that his property or family are in danger, then he won’t just bark. He won’t bother with intimidation. He will attack.

He attacks by running at the intruder and knocking them to the floor before attacking them whilst they are down. This mountain dog instinctively knows where the most vulnerable part of his victim’s body is and will aim for the throat. If needed, this massive dog will stand on his back legs to reach over six feet in height in order to attack someone’s face.

Puppies begin displaying their natural aggression at 3 weeks old. It is crucial that you socialize your dog from an extremely early age. He must have a balanced view of humans and realize that just because a person is not a member of his family, it doesn’t make them an enemy.

This video below will give you a good idea of the high level of aggression in these stunning dogs.

A big brown Caucasian Shepherd dog standing in a yard in the sunshine, looking to the left
Shaggy Caucasian Shepherd

Grooming

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog has a thick coat with a double layer, which protects him from the cold and from moisture. His coat is long and feathers out on the tail and around the legs. He also has a very luxurious mane of long hair around his large head, and loads of fluff between his toes.

Frequent brushing is needed to keep his coat from matting, and to control the heavy shedding. His heavy coat means he works best in cold, outdoor climates.

A Caucasian Ovcharka dog standing sideways to the camera, in snow, with bare trees in the distance.
Caucasian Ovcharka in snow

Health Issues and Conditions

These dogs have few health problems! I could only find one mention of something to look out for:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia

These are relatively common conditions in larger or heavier dogs, although they can occur in any breed, and they are hereditary. Basically, the joint surfaces become worn, and the joint function becomes limited, causing discomfort to the dog.

Although a vet can make an educated guess at hip or elbow dysplasia from a physical exam, the final diagnosis is from an X-ray of the joint. A reputable breeder will always have his breeding stock checked regularly.

A Caucasian Ovcharka with a trimmed coat standing in a street setting.
Trimmed Caucasion Ovcharka Shepherd

Famous Caucasian Ovcharkas

Bassa the female Caucasian Shepherd Dog from Bassa’s Blog – a very funny and touching blog written from the viewpoint of Bassa. 

“Mouse” – Harry Dresden’s “Foo Dog” (Harry is the main character in the novel “Blood Rites” by Jim Butcher).

Here is a link to the Caucasian Ovcharka Club USA.

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