Tatra Shepherd Dog

Other names: Polish Tatra Sheepdog, Tatra Mountain Sheepdog, Owczarek Tatrzański, Owczarek Podhalański, Polski Owczarek, Polish Podhale Sheepdog

Tatra Shepherd Dog
Tatra Shepherd Dog

The Tatra Sheepdog, more commonly known as the Polish Podhale Sheepdog, is a very strong, quiet dog, used today as a watchdog. They are very gentle with their master, but act suspicious around strangers. They have a calm temperament, are poised and balanced; and their independence makes them easy to train as long as the training methods are respectful. They are particularly fond of children and have a great protective instinct.


Key facts about the Tatra Shepherd Dog

  • Life expectancy : Between 10 and 14 years
  • Temperament : Calm, Intelligent
  • Size : Very big
  • Type of coat : Long

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)


Section 1 : Sheepdogs

Physical characteristics of the Tatra Shepherd Dog

Adult size

Female dog Between 24 and 26 in
Male dog Between 26 and 28 in


Female dog Between 66 and 88 lb
Male dog Between 66 and 88 lb

Coat colour

Their coats are white.

Type of coat

Their coats are long.

Their coat is short around their head and long on their body. The hair is usually straight (although can sometimes be slightly wavy), dense and hard to the touch. Their undercoat is thick and they have a mane around their necks.

Eye colour

Their eyes are dark brown.


The Tatra Sheepdog is a large, imposing dog, similar to Newfoundlands but they’re completely white! The head is large with a slightly arched crown and a marked stop. Their eyes are medium sized and slightly almond shaped. They come across as intelligent and they look sweet and dreamy. Their ears are at the same height as the outer corners of their eyes, are medium sized, triangular and covered in hair. Their tail is attached in the middle and goes down to the back of their knees.



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Aside from their affection, Tatra Sheepdogs are particularly faithful to their masters and social group.


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The Tatra Sheepdog gets on very well with children and loves to play and spend time with them. However, their relaxed and calm nature means they do not generally like playing for too long.


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Quietly forceful perfectly describes this dog. They are certainly quite imposing however they are big softies and are totally composed. However, be careful not to rush them as they do have a prominent protective instinct.


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Lively, brave and intelligent, as well as making great pets, Tatra Sheepdogs are great working dogs.


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Their predatory instinct is superseded by their guard dog instinct. The only “prey” they hunt are people who try and enter their home!

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Particularly vigilant, Tatra Sheepdogs are naturally suspicious of people they don’t know, without being fearful or aggressive. They are well balanced and intelligent and they have the ability to quickly analyse dangerous situations.


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Tatra Sheepdogs can easily go about their own business independently. However, they always keep an eye out for others and give them protection if necessary.

Behaviour of the Tatra Shepherd Dog

Tolerates solitude

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Tatra Sheepdogs can happily stay at home alone where they are also happy to guard their home whilst their owners are absent.

Easy to train / obedience

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Although it can be difficult to motivate these large dogs, they are generally docile dogs who want to please their master.
On the other hand, you should start training them as soon as they arrive home as a puppy, because given the size of them as adults, you need to learn to control them, especially in towns, or when guests arrive, for example.


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They use their bark to intimidate intruders, however usually their mere presence is enough to keep individuals away.

Tendency to run away

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Their watchful nature means that they generally won’t leave their property without permission.


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Tatra Sheepdogs are very calm and quiet, nevertheless as a puppy they can be quite boisterous...but they do settle down quickly!

Greedy / Gluttony

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They are good eaters who rarely refuse food and love a good treat as a reward.

Guard dog

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Traditionally sheep herders, Tatra Sheepdogs are ideal guards. They do not need to be trained or forced into this because it’s their natural instinct.

First dog

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Although their size requires special attention, (particularly when they are being trained as puppies to ensure healthy development), these dogs are suitable for first-time owners. Their kind, intelligent and gentle nature makes them very good companions.


Tatra Shepherd Dog in a flat

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It is impossible for these dogs to adapt to life in an apartment. The Tatra Sheepdog needs space and will prefer to live and roam outdoors to keep an eye on their surroundings.
It is recommended to treat these dogs to rural environments, in houses with enclosed gardens.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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These dogs are surprisingly agile for their size and can even show off endurance and stamina. However, too much intense activity can harm their joints.
They like long walks in the countryside.

Travelling / easy to transport

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Public transport is very difficult due to the size of this dog. On the other hand, their calm nature means they are happy and quiet in the car as long as they get used to it at an early age.


Tatra Shepherd Dog and cats

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Their natural protective instinct may also apply to the family cat, particularly if they grew up together! However, this does not mean that they will get along with other cats, especially those running loose in their garden.

Tatra Shepherd Dog and dogs

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Socialisation with other dogs is required from a young age in order for them to learn how to get on with them. They are generally quite tolerant when it comes to other dogs, unless they feel threatened.

Tatra Shepherd Dog and children

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This dog gets on very well with children and can even act as a nanny to them. However, owners  must be careful as they do not like to be rushed. Although they are patient, children must learn to communicate and play with them respectfully.

Tatra Shepherd Dog and the elderly

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Despite their calm and quiet nature, their strength can be unmanageable for people who are no longer able to physically control them.


Polish Tatra Sheepdogs prices vary according to their origin, age and sex. We do not have enough information to be able to set an average price for this dog breed.
It will cost, on average, £50/month to meet the needs of this breed.


These dogs normally don’t need to be groomed, unless their white coats get particularly dirty. Bathing them twice a year should be enough to maintain a healthy coat.
Weekly brushing is sufficient to maintain their coat and their eyes and ears should be inspected and cleaned regularly.


When moulting, this dog loses a lot of hair and daily brushing will get rid of most of the dead hair.

Nutrition of the Tatra Shepherd Dog

A rustic, traditional diet (BARF [bones and raw food/biologically appropriate raw food] or household food) is most suitable for these big mountain dogs. However, they can also be satisfied by high quality dry food.
Given their size, two meals a day are recommended to prevent it from ingesting too much food at once, and helping to prevent stomach upset.
In addition, during their youth, they need regular veterinary care to ensure solid growth and good physical development.

Health of the Tatra Shepherd Dog

Life expectancy

Their life expectancy is about 12 years.

Strong / robust

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This dog does not fear much, aside from other large dogs.

Withstand heat

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Their undercoat allows them to be protected from the heat as well as the cold, however their owners must pay attention when it is particularly warm. If they live outside, make sure they have somewhere shady to rest.

Withstand cold

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Their origins and thick coats mean they can easily tolerate bad weather. They can live outdoors and are not afraid of the cold.

Tendency to put on weight

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In general, the only members of this breed that become overweight are those who never leave their gardens. Although they’re not the most athletic, they still need some exercise to maintain a good physical and mental balance.

Common illnesses

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Bloating/torsion of the stomach

Good to know

In the mountainous regions of Poland, Tatra Sheepdogs wear metal collars or studded necklaces to protect them from wolf attacks that are always aimed at the throat or neck.

Origins and history

Tatra Sheepdogs originated as dogs imported by Phoenician traders from the East and probably arrived in Europe via Africa. The Phoenicians used these dogs as exchange items, trading them for valuable products such as silver, glass, or cloth. The Romans also used them in wartime to watch their prisoners. They were also pet dogs for aristocrats. The World Canine Organisation officially recognised this breed in 1963.


Good names for a Tatra Shepherd: Bubble, Opal, White, Zoe

Find out more dog name ideas here


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