South Russian Shepherd Dog

Other names: South Russian Sheepdog, Yuzhak, Ukrainian Shepherd Dog, South Russian Shepherd Dog

South Russian Shepherd Dog

The South Russian Ovcharka is a sheepdog native to the Russian steppes. It is supposedly an ‘undemanding’ dog but one that is bred to defend its flock with zeal and independence. It is known as an intimidating dog but also as a loving companion. The dog is classed as ‘dangerous’ under Danish law and ownership is prohibited. 

Key facts about the South Russian Shepherd Dog

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Temperament :


Size :

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Origins and history

There is little evidence of the exact origin of the Ovcharka. However, some evidence shows a development of the breed in 1790. The Russian Ovcharka is thought to have been born of various mixes of Austrian shepherding dogs and Russian sighthounds. This dog is rarely seen in the United Kingdom. 

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)


Section 1 : Sheepdogs

Physical characteristics of the South Russian Shepherd Dog

Adult size

Female : Between 24 and 30 in

Male : Between 26 and 30 in


Female : Between 95 and 104 lb

Male : Between 110 and 132 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



This long-bodied and elegant dog is strong-boned and muscular. It does not have a stocky appearance and looks to be well-proportioned. There is a significant size difference between the bitch and the dog. This is a quick and agile dog. 

Good to know

This dog is not easy to train. It will learn instructions quickly but it is likely to prefer to do its own thing. Repetitive training is called for in order to reinforce commands learned in previous lessons. 


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    The Ovcharka has a pleasant personality and is affectionate but it will not suffer fools. Training is required to eek out the best side of this dog’s temperament. 

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    An active dog that likes to play and interact but will do so in its own time and on its own terms.

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    This dog does not enjoy surprises, loud noises or sudden movements, which could cause him to be agitated and aggressive.

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    This is a highly intelligent dog. Its training needs to be varied and done so in a forthright manner. 

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    The Ovcharka is a herding dog. Generally speaking, it does not have an inherent wish to chase and to kill. 

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    Fearful / wary of strangers

    This dog is exceptionally nervous around strangers and will either be aloof or defensive. 

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    Ovcharkas are independent thinkers. They are loyal but they enjoy roaming and will do so with little or no instruction. 

    Behaviour of the South Russian Shepherd Dog

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      Tolerates solitude

      Ovcharkas do not tolerate solitude. If left alone for long periods of time this dog becomes agitated.

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      Easy to train / obedience

      The Ovcharka is a challenge to train. A confident and dominant master who consistently varies the dog’s training is needed. Ovcharkas have a tendency to test the pecking order of the pack. 

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      The Ovcharka is not considered a very vocal dog.

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      Tendency to run away

      The Ovcharka can be manipulative. If its owner has allowed the dog to think of itself as being ‘in charge’ it will do what it likes when out for a walk. 

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      The Ovcharka can be very destructive if it is stressed or lonely. 

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      Greedy / Gluttony

      Ovcharkas are not known to be prone to greed.  

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      Guard dog

      Ovcharkas are exceptionally alert and quick to fright. They will bark to let you know if a stranger is nearby.

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      First dog

      The Ovcharka will not do as a first dog. It needs a firm (humane) hand during its formative years. An experienced owner who can manage the stubbornness and dominant nature of the dog is called for. 

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        South Russian Shepherd Dog in a flat

        A large garden is required for this dog to roam. It will not be happy to live in a flat; it is far better suited to living in the country. 

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        Need for exercise / Sporty

        An exceptionally energetic dog is the Ovcharka; outdoor adventures are called for. 

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        Travelling / easy to transport

        Because it is easily frightened, it is assumed the Ovcharka will not travel well. 


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          South Russian Shepherd Dog and cats

          Although an Ovcharka is not known for its high prey drive, it will still be interested in small scurrying animals and will enjoy chasing anything that moves. 

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          South Russian Shepherd Dog and dogs

          Ovcharkas generally exhibit aggression when they meet other dogs.

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          South Russian Shepherd Dog and children

          The Ovcharka is a nervous dog and will not tolerate being played with roughly, taunted or deliberately scared. It may also try to assert dominance over small children. 

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          South Russian Shepherd Dog and the elderly

          Because it is a dog that requires lots of exercise the Ovcharka may not be the perfect choice of dog for someone of senior years. 



          The average price of a South Russian Shepherd dog puppy is between £600 and £730. It will cost £50 to £80 per month to keep this dog.


          Daily brushing prevents the dog’s long and thick coat from becoming tangled and matted. The dog’s ears must be regularly checked for signs of fungal and parasitic infections. 


          The Ovcharka sheds throughout the year. 

          Nutrition of the South Russian Shepherd Dog

          It is always worthwhile to feed a Ovcharka a high-quality and specially formulated dog food rather than human food. 

          Health of the South Russian Shepherd Dog

          Life expectancy

          The Ovcharka is generally healthy and robust. Its average life expectancy is between 10 to 14 years. 

          Strong / robust

          A Ovcharka will not care what the weather is like as long as it is outdoors. This is a brave and adventurous dog that can walk for miles at a time.  

          Withstand heat

          The Ovcharka tolerates hot weather reasonably well. 

          Withstand cold

          The double coat of the Ovcharka keeps the dog warm in bad weather. 

          Tendency to put on weight

          Weight gain can be a feature of the Ovcharka. If your Ovcharka is not exercised as regularly as it should be and is fed too much human or substandard food it will become obese. 

          Common illnesses

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