Karst Shepherd Dog

Other names: Krasky Ovcar, Krasevec, Krazski Ovcar, Karst Sheepdog, Istrian Sheepdog

Karst Shepherd Dog
Karst Shepherd Dog

The Karst is a livestock guardian dog. It was originally bred in Slovenia and is still mostly used by Slovenian farmers. It is rarely seen out of its native lands but its popularity elsewhere in the world is on the rise. It is used as a herder and a guardian of livestock due to its alertness and protective nature. It is a fearsome watchdog, but an unlikely sensitive companion about the house. 


Key facts about the Karst Shepherd Dog

  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 14 years
  • Temperament : Intelligent
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Long

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs


Section 2 : Molossian type

Physical characteristics of the Karst Shepherd Dog

Adult size

Female dog Between 21 and 24 in
Male dog Between 22 and 25 in


Female dog Between 55 and 82 lb
Male dog Between 66 and 93 lb

Coat colour

A mix of iron grey, light grey and sandy colours. 

Type of coat

The Karst has a long and abundant topcoat and undercoat. Its head and front parts of its legs are covered with shorter hair. Thick and long fur around the neck forms a mane. 

Eye colour

Dark brown or chestnut.


A muscular and robust dog. The head is slightly large proportionally than it should be; nicely shaped and wide from the skull to the muzzle. The ears are relatively high on the head but hang against the cheek. Its sabre-shaped tail is broad and well-feathered. 



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An affectionate dog is the trained and well-socialised Karst, but it tends to choose one favourite from its pack.  


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This is a dog that will play on its own terms and when it wants to. It will want to be in control of any playtime that ensues. It may become possessive of its toys.


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This is a fiercely alert dog who will not sit still for long periods of time. Among its family it will generally be calm and relaxed.  


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An intelligent dog, the Karst feeds off exercise and commands. Left to its own devices the Karst will become troublesome. 


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The Karst is a herding dog rather than a hunter. It is not likely to exhibit predatory behaviour but it will exhibit aggressive defence of its owner. 

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Karsts tend to be very wary of new people and take some time to warm to a visitor in their home. The dog may even adopt a defensive behaviour because it feels threatened by the new arrivals. 


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The Karst has a strong and wilful individuality. It does not take well to being told what to do. 

Behaviour of the Karst Shepherd Dog

Tolerates solitude

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The Karst will tolerate solitude up to a point.  

Easy to train / obedience

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A firmness and confidence are needed of a trainer of this dog. The Karst is easily distracted, easily bored and will always seek to take control of a situation. 


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Because this dog is always alert and has a strong instinct to protect it tends to bark at anything it thinks is threatening the household. 

Tendency to run away

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Even well-trained dogs of this breed may not respond to a recall. It will consider itself the pack’s leader if given the opportunity to roam. 


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If it is not properly looked after the Karst can cause extensive damage inside the house. 

Greedy / Gluttony

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The Karst is not known to be a glutton. 

Guard dog

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The Karst is an excellent watchdog. Its bark is backed up by fearless defensive behaviour and sharp temperament. 

First dog

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The Karst should not be considered as a first dog. The dog requires the type of rigorous and structured training more associated with that of service dogs.  


Karst Shepherd Dog in a flat

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A well-fenced garden is an insufficient provision for this dog, and a flat is too small and confined a space in which to keep such a highly-strung animal. 

Need for exercise / Sporty

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The Karst needs a great deal of exercise in order to stay healthy and calm. 

Travelling / easy to transport

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A well-trained Karst will tolerate travel. 


Karst Shepherd Dog and cats

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This dog is not suited to a household where a non-canine pet already resides. 

Karst Shepherd Dog and dogs

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Generally speaking, other dogs are not the friend of the Karst. This dog is very territorial. 

Karst Shepherd Dog and children

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On the whole this breed may be gentle with older children, but its dislike of boisterous play and teasing makes it an unsuitable playmate of young children.  

Karst Shepherd Dog and the elderly

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Because it is a dog that requires a lot of exercise the Karst is not a good choice for people of senior years. 


The average price for a purebred puppy of this breed is around £730. It will cost between £80 and £110 per month to keep this dog.


This dog should be brushed two or three times a week with a pin brush and metal comb. Bath this dog only when necessary and use a mild dog shampoo. 


The Karst sheds continuously throughout the year. 

Nutrition of the Karst Shepherd Dog

You should feed this dog a dog food formulated to support the health of an active dog. 

Health of the Karst Shepherd Dog

Life expectancy

Overall the Karst is a healthy breed of dog. Its average life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.

Strong / robust

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This dog is robust, fearless and confident. 

Withstand heat

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The Karst is reasonably tolerant of hot weather. 

Withstand cold

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The Karst is very tolerant of cold and wet weather. The coat must be dried thoroughly after a wet walk. 

Tendency to put on weight

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If a Karst is not exercised as regularly as it should be and is fed too much human or substandard food it will become obese. 

Common illnesses

Good to know

The Karst has a want to be the dominant dog of a pack. If it is not taught from a young age to respect the boundaries of the hierarchy, this dog will seek to take control of the household. Consistency from its owner is required. That is not to say that the Karst should be treated unpleasantly. 

Origins and history

Records of the Karst show a lineage dating back several centuries; it is mentioned in a Slovenian chronicle of 1689. The breed was officially recognised in 1939. 


Anton, Andrej, Luna, Lila

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