Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Other names: Kavkazskaïa ovtcharka
The Caucasian Shepherd dog is a guard dog; a task this breed was most probably always destined to do. Their attitude, appearance and character highlight their use for defence, and not for herding flocks, although they have had to perform these two roles in the past. Today, the Caucasian Shepherd dog is strong, stable and calm, yet extremely responsive. Although very courageous dogs, who are obedient to their owners and indifferent towards strangers, they can bite when provoked.
Key facts about the Caucasian Shepherd Dog
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Origins and history
As with all other Russian breeds, we know practically nothing regarding the Caucasian Shepherd Dog due to the great difficulties that dog breeders encounter when trying to obtain information regarding the origin and history of dogs from the former Soviet Union. Contacts are now much easier; but the Russians themselves have no accurate information because this dog was mainly bred by Caucasian shepherds and were virtually unknown outside this habitat. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog began appearing on international rings from 1979 and are now a rather widespread and appreciated breed. They are most likely descendants from ancient Tibetan mastiffs (see Central Asian Shepherd).
Physical characteristics of the Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Female : Between 26 and 28 in
Male : Between 28 and 30 in
Female : Between 99 and 132 lb
Male : Between 110 and 143 lb
All uniformed coloured, black and white or speckled, are official, apart from all shades of black, blue or liver brown.
Type of coat
The coat may be long, mid-length or short.
Their coat is straight, coarse and spread out. Their undercoat is dense.
Long-haired Caucasian Shepherd Dogs (Mountain type) have a mane on their neck, fringes on their legs, a petticoat on the backs of their thighs and a bushy tail.
Short-haired Caucasian Shepherd Dogs (Mountain type) do not have manes, long hairs on their tail, fringes or petticoats.
Mid-length haired Caucasian Shepherd Dogs (Intermediary type) also do not have manes, fringes or petticoats.
Their eyes range from dark brown to hazel.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a solid, robust dog with a very strong build and muscle structure. Their head, with a broad skull and well-developed zygomatic bone, resembles that of a bear. The muzzle is shorter than the skull, slightly slender; the nose is large and black. Their eyes are small, oval-shaped and sunken; their ears are floppy and set high on top of their head. They have a straight, broad and muscular back and their limbs are straight and parallel, with a long bone structure. The tail, high-set and reaching to the bottom of the knee, hangs as a plume, a sickle or curls in a ring-like shape at the end.
Good to know
Difficulties are sometimes encountered in Caucasian breeding because this breed is very prolific (litters of 15 to 16 are considered “normal”) and it is naturally difficult for the mother to oversee such a large offspring.
Mountain type (long hair)
Steppe type (short hair)
Intermediary type (mid-length hair)
Although very independent, the Caucasian is very attached to its social group (to the point of defending them without hesitation). They need, despite their appearance, the presence of their master, even if they’re measured with their demonstrations of affection.
If invited, this giant will come and play. But beware of their large size, which can sometimes cause unwanted injury, especially to children.
Under the appearance of a very calm dog hides in reality a great reactivity. The Caucasian Shepherd is a balanced dog, but you must not threaten them.
The intelligence of this Sheepdog is revealed on the one hand through their great capacity for adaptation and on the other hand by their observational and analytical qualities. Indeed, they can integrate into any type of home (single, couple with or without children) and judge the dangerousness of a situation before you can say a word.
Initially the guardian of flocks, this dog does not make the best hunter. The only prey they hunt (outside the home) are the thoughtless intruders who try to enter their familiar territory.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Highly protective, the Caucasian is naturally suspicious of people they don’t know. If they do not feel provoked, they will simply ignore the stranger. On the other hand, if they feel a threat, they can be very virulent, dissuasive and even bite if necessary.
Although they are devoted to their masters and committed to protecting them at all costs, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is still considered an independent dog. However, this must be taken with a pinch of salt because, behind their occasionally casual attitude, is a sensitive dog who appreciates the members of their social group.
Behaviour of the Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Loneliness does not scare this big buddy. They’re very calm dogs who could easily spend their days lying outside their house while pretending to sleep. In reality, they keep a watchful eye on any sort of abnormality.
Easy to train / obedience
The Caucasian Shepherd can be dangerous if they are not well educated and socialised. In fact, they must be accompanied by experienced owners who are sure of them and aware of any particularities of the breed.
Training should start as soon as the puppy arrives home and should be consistent, firm, coherent and most of all, caring. No power struggle will be tolerated by this giant dog.
Walking on a lead without pulling or call-back are the crucial educational bases that make walks enjoyable, both for the owner and the dog.
Attention to socialisation must be given in the early stages of training the Caucasian Shepherd in order to prevent them from becoming too aggressive. They must understand that strangers (human, canine or any others) are not all threats.
It is recommended to hire a professional in order to choose the right direction, adopt the correct attitude and prevent any serious mistakes from being made.
The Caucasian Shepherd can be a barker, but this great mountain dog has, in light of their physique, no need for their barking to be more of a deterrent than their appearance already is.
Tendency to run away
If they live in the countryside, it’s necessary to close off the outside space; this is not to keep them from escaping, but rather to prevent them from extending their guard zone to outside of their owner’s property.
A very calm-natured dog, this dog does not behave badly, strictly speaking. However, if you give them a toy, it can quickly be destroyed due to the strength of their jaw, but this is very rarely voluntary.
Greedy / Gluttony
A very good eater, this dog never shies away from their bowl. Treats are also welcomed to use for educational purposes.
Brave, vigilant and very responsive, the Caucasian Shepherd was born to guard; it’s in their blood and they would risk their lives for their loved ones.
Beware, this dog is not just a form of “deterrent”; they will actually attack if they feel it’s necessary in order to protect their social group. Their aggressiveness must in no way be reinforced or maintained by unsuitable training.
A dog of this size is generally not recommended for novices because training failures could have very serious consequences and could unfortunately lead to abandonment.
However, if the owners are aware of this breed’s characteristics and call upon professionals to help with their training, the Caucasian can be quite the choice for a first adoption.
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Caucasian Shepherd Dog in a flat
Life in an apartment or in a town is strongly discouraged for a dog of this great size.
Rustic, they need the space and freedom to flourish. A house with a big garden is perfect for them.
In order to feel good and to fulfil their purpose of being guardian, this dog must live outside.
Need for exercise / Sporty
The daily walks that are essential to maintain the Caucasian’s physical, social and psychological stability must not be neglected.
Despite their large size, they’re tough dogs, if not energetic, who can safely accompany their master during walks.
Travelling / easy to transport
The giant size of the Caucasian Shepherd is not really compatible with seamless transportation. However, if the car allows for it, this dog will be happy to climb in and follow their master anywhere.
However, on public transport, their presence can take up too much space, annoy or even scare the most avid neophytes.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog and cats
If the Caucasian puppy is accustomed to interacting with cats from a very young age, then they will be able to live calmly with them, otherwise the harmony could be difficult.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog and dogs
Only with socialisation at an early age can the Caucasian encounter other dogs calmly. Watch out for their teeth, which can do a lot of damage.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog and children
Children are welcome around Caucasians, but make sure the dog doesn’t mistake them for stuffed toys! Parents should always be vigilant; do not leave children alone with the dog, do not allow them to aggravate the dog, teach them to leave the dog be when sleeping, etc.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog and the elderly
Quiet-natured, this dog can indeed integrate into a home of elderly people, but in no way should they succumb to a sedentary lifestyle. This would only reinforce their guardian instinct and they can become rather dangerous and difficult to control.
The price of a Caucasian Shepherd varies according to its origins, age and sex. A pedigree usually costs around £1030.
Regarding the average budget needed for a dog of this size, it costs around £60 a month.
Kavkazskaya Ovtcharka, as called in its native country, needs regular upkeep to maintain the beauty, cleanliness and especially the protective qualities of their magnificent, thick fur. Long-haired varieties will need to be brushed several times a week.
Hair loss is quite important, especially during the two annual moults, throughout which brushings must be done on a daily basis to get rid of the maximum amount of dead hair.
Nutrition of the Caucasian Shepherd Dog
This dog’s diet is proportional to its weight and size. During their development, a strict veterinary follow-up is to be established in order to ensure a solid growth.
Not particularly fussy, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog can eat dry foods (high quality biscuits), raw foods (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods – BARF), or home-cooked meals.
Given their size, the daily ration should be divided into two meals: a light meal in the morning (could be wet food, such as from cans) and a larger meal in the evening.
Health of the Caucasian Shepherd Dog
The life expectancy of this breed is around 10 years.
Strong / robust
This mountain-looking dog is particularly robust and generally healthy.
Water must always be available to them. In the summer, it is best to set up an area in the shade (an outside kennel) or for them to go into the house in order to keep cool.
Their thick fur and highly developed undercoat give them excellent protection against the cold and bad weather. They are able to live outside with no problem.
Tendency to put on weight
The Caucasian can easily gain weight if they don’t keep moving. In fact, staying enclosed in the garden without ever really being able to exert themselves physically can lead to risks of becoming overweight.