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Large and in charge, the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd or Caucasian Ovcharka is one big pup you don’t want to mess around with. This beautiful breed comes from a long lineage of guard dogs, carefully bred with the intent to protect, lead and fight.
Standing tall with a thick, rich fur coat and muscular build, it’s easy to be impressed by the sight of a Caucasian Ovcharka. You may notice her sticking to her owner’s side, loyal as can be as she silently observes the surrounding area with a calm air of intelligence.
These dogs are known for their loyalty but don’t jump up and run to the next breeder to score your own puppy with dreams of the ultimate guard dog in mind.
This is a breed that takes a whole lot of time, dedication and training to achieve supreme obedience and manageable behavior. If you don’t have much time or space, the Caucasian Ovcharka can be a handful, as well as dangerous.
Ready to embark on a journey into the world of the Caucasian Mountain Dog? Come with me, our journey begins in the highlands of Georgia, where it first found its roots.
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1. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is Well Suited for Life Outdoors
Ferocious beasts ain’t got nothing on this dog! It can be found roaming the countryside of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and especially Georgia, its principal region of origin.
Tracing its heritage back to the Caucasus region, from which it gets its name, the Caucasian Ovcharka’s ancestor is said to be the Tibetan Dog ( NOT the Tibetan Mastiff). Over the centuries, the Tibetan Dog spread over Mongolia, Asia and into Europe via the Chinese.
When this breed migrated into the Dagestan region, the geography, climate, and overall environment caused this dog to adapt to harsh conditions and evolve accordingly. That’s what makes the Caucasian Ovcharka unique in its appearance and behavior from other similar breeds.
While human interference played a role in this dog’s present day look and demeanor, nature is what ultimately shaped its genetic makeup from the start, creating the perfect canine beast suited to dominate the rugged highlands of the Caucasus Mountain Ranges.
Isolation kept the Caucasian Ovcharka’s bloodline pure. Vestiges of its ancient roots can still be seen with its unusually long teeth– a lingering trait of ancient breeds.
2. If You Need a Guard Dog, the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd is Built Like a Tank
Are bears terrorizing your sheep? Got yourself a wolf problem? For livestock farmers across the Caucasus region, these were everyday issues they faced in order to protect their flocks and livelihood.
The Caucasian Ovcharka was the coveted solution to solve these problems (Kangal is another dog which was bred for such purposes).
Maybe you don’t need protection from bears so to speak, but if you’re looking for a protective breed with a strong disposition, the Caucasian Ovcharka could be a solid option.
Its skills are prized in Russia and they are commonly used for military work and to guard prisons. In the 1960s it was one of the breeds chosen to patrol the Berlin Wall.
A beast of pure muscle and brawn, this dog is huge, standing over 26 inches tall and weighing up to 100 lbs. It resembles a lion with its enormous head and shaggy mane, with deep-set, watchful eyes and ears that are traditionally cropped.
A thick coat of long hair covers the entire body, from ears to between the toes. It’s weatherproof and insulated, making the Caucasian Ovcharka well adapted to life in extreme outdoor temperatures. The typical colors of a true Caucasian Ovcharka are gray, tan, pied, brindle and white.
How Does it Compare To Other Dogs?
With a bite PSR of 550-700 PSI, the Caucasian Shepherd is a force to be reckoned with in the canine world. Add it’s strong will, fearless nature, and ferocity and it’s safe to say that this dog is the ultimate fighter.
Let’s see how it stacks up against some other big dog breeds.
Caucasian Shepherd vs Tibetan Mastiff
Both of these breeds share similar qualities, such as monstrous size, shaggy hair and the instinct to fight and protect. While the Caucasian Shepherd was tussling with bears in the Caucasus Mountains (this is where he got another his name, The Russian Bear Dog), the Tibetan Mastiff was guarding temples from leopard attacks in China and across Central Asia.
With a bite force of 500-650 PSI, it’s got around the same amount of power as the Caucasian Shepherd. If these two behemoths went up against each other, it would be a tough call to say who would win!
Caucasian Shepherd vs Pitbull
With a bite force of 235 PSI, the American Pitbull Terrier’s bite is no match for the Caucasian Shepherd’s bite, although it is renowned for its steel-trap jaws. If face to face, a Caucasian Shepherd is definitely the stronger opponent when it comes to size, disposition and bite.
Caucasian Shepherd vs Rottweiler
The Rottweiler is another strong dog bred with guarding in mind. It’s protective, loyal and can be aggressive. It also boasts a bite force of 328 PSI.
Though smaller in size with less of a bite, the Rottweiler is known to be a determined breed that doesn’t back down, even if its owner calls for it to.
The Caucasian Mountain Dog will fight to protect as seen fit to protect the pack. Still though, it’s size and bite reigns supreme over the Rottweiler.
Check out the power of the Caucasian Mountain Dog in this video:
3. It Might Not Be the Best Choice for a Family with Kids
Loyalty and obedience is hard won with the Caucasian Ovcharka. That’s why consistent training from the time it’s a puppy and into adulthood is highly recommended. Instinct drives this dog to be the leader of the pack, so you can expect it to treat your family and other pets as its own- within reason.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog can be highly protective and aggressive if it feels its pack is threatened. This is especially true for strangers, unfamiliar pets and children. A child should not be left alone with this dog, as it can be unpredictable during play.
It’s necessary to warn you about the strong-willed disposition of this dog breed, but it doesn’t mean you should say “no” completely. It just needs plenty of your attention. So ask yourself: Do you have the time to spare?
Besides investing in professional training to tame the Caucasian Ovcharka’s sometimes stubborn nature, it needs ample exercise to keep in shape and burn off energy.
That means taking her for a long walk or run, exerting control to not let her overtake you as the leader. It’s also recommended to have access to a large, well-fenced backyard for her to stretch her long legs and play.
An apartment is definitely not the best choice for this dog. It’s huge presence and energetic personality demands the outdoors, just like its mountain dog ancestors did as they roamed the wilderness with their sheep.
4. There Are a Few Common Health Problems to be Aware of with the Caucasian Shepherd Dog
There are always going to be some health problems with any dog breed- the same goes for the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd. Overall, this breed comes from strong stock, with a long lifespan of 10-12 years.
Having been bred to accommodate life in a mountainous environment, it’s body is thick and muscular, with the ability to handle cold climates.
Still, the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd has some health issues to take into consideration if you plan on buying or adopting. These include:
- Hip dysplasia: This occurs when there is an abnormal formation in the hip, causing excruciating arthritis in the joints or even lameness. When contacting a breeder about a dog, always check into the dog’s history, including the parents’ medical history.
- Cataracts: This is quite common with the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd. It’s a disease that affects the lens of the eyeball, impairing vision. If you notice a bluish/grey color on the eyes or if your dog is excessively itching them or stumbling, then the next best step is taking her to the vet for a checkup. Sometimes cataracts require surgery for removal but are not life-threatening.
- Obesity: You’re going to want to watch out for weight gain- another reason why you should only go for this breed if you have the time to invest. Monitor the weight regularly and put your dog on a healthy regime with planned meals and regular exercise. Your vet may recommend a specific diet to avoid bloat, such as feeding her frequent small meals throughout the day.
5. Don’t Forget About Grooming: Bring on the Hair and Drool
It’s here, it’s there, it’s everywhere! It’s a fact that with the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd, you’re going to get lots of hair. They sport an undercoat that consists of soft fur and a topcoat that is longer and coarse in texture. Sometimes (but not always), a mane surrounds the neck.
Once a year, caucasian mountain dogs go through what’s called “blowing coat”. This is a heavy shed. To speed up the process and reduce the amount of fur build up on your beautiful floors and furniture, it’s imperative to give your dog a warm bath and brush her thoroughly, at least two times a week.
Caucasian Mountain Dogs also tend to get a bit slobbery- something you definitely want to avoid in your home. A simple wipe of the jowls can keep excessive saliva from being flung onto your new leather couch.
With fur coming out of their ears (literally) and the appearance of long teeth, it’s important to take extra care with this breed. Wax buildup is common, so clean those ears out at least once a week to avoid ear infections. Dental hygiene is also important, with brushing recommended 2-3 times a week.
6. So, You’re All In and Ready to Find Own a Caucasian Ovcharka Puppy…
You’ve made it this far through our informative guide about the fluffy and sometimes ferocious Caucasian Mountain Dog. The excessive fur and intimidating guard dog persona have not dissuaded you from your love of the breed. You’re ready to find a breeder and bring home a puppy that looks more like a teddy bear than anything else.
But, we’ll tell you now…be ready to fork out anywhere from $1500 – $2000 USD for a puppy.
Finding a breeder in the US requires careful research and consideration. A trustworthy breeder should be able to supply you with detailed answers to all of your questions regarding temperament and health. They will take the time to go over the breed history, as well as family history.
Think about your lifestyle and determine what it is you are looking for in a dog. Do you live alone and want a relaxed companion? Or, do you spend a lot of time outdoors and are looking for a working dog? Discuss these thoughts and wishes with the breeder. Since they raise the puppies, they know them best and can make helpful suggestions.
How else can you tell if a breeder is legitimate? It’s a good idea to be wary if…
- You notice multiple puppy litters on the property.
- Puppies are always available for purchase.
- You have the option choose from any puppy at a lower price, without papers.
- You have the option to pay online with a credit card.
Keeping these tips in mind can help you distinguish breeders from puppy mills and reduce the chance of purchasing a sick puppy.
A good rule of thumb when you begin your search is to check if a breeder follows the Caucasian Ovcharka Working Dog Club of America (COWDCA) guide for ethical breeders, whose goal is to promote the versatility of the working Caucasian Ovcharka in America.
On the United Kennel Club’s website, you can also find puppies using their interactive search that spans the entire country.
7. You Can Also Adopt Caucasian Mountain Dogs
It’s true that puppies are cute, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider rescuing an older Caucasian Mountain Dog. There are multiple ways to search for your new friend. Here are some helpful steps to take when you begin your search.
The Internet is Always a Good Starting Point
From websites to social media, you have rescues at the tips of your fingertips. You can search for dogs nationwide or use websites that focus on specific regions.
Use the Canine Community to Search
A great way to find leads on rescues is to reach out to the doggie professionals. Visit your local groomer, vet clinic or pet supplies shop to inquire about potential adoptions.
Make fliers and let them know the breed you are looking for and ask if you can hang up a flier or two. Often times, when someone makes the decision to give up their dog, they’ll turn to dog-affiliated businesses for help.
Ask the Right Questions
You’ve found a beautiful Caucasian Ovcharka and you want to jump on those adoption papers. Hold on there amigo. The dog may be cute, but there are still some vital questions you’ll want to ask the rescue staff before signing anything.
Here are our top recommendations:
- Did this dog have any prior training?
- Has this dog ever shown aggressive tendencies?
- Does she do well with children?
- Does she do well with other pets?
- How old is this dog?
- Does this dog have any health problems?
- Is there any information on this dog’s background or family history?
When you’ve adopted your Caucasian Mountain Dog, make an appointment with your vet right away to check for any potential health problems.
Conclusion: Is the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd the Dog for You?
No doubt, this is a special breed with ancient roots that give it a strong bloodline and interesting history. A stunning sight to behold, when you’re out for a walk in the park with this majestic pooch, that thick fur and huge size will definitely render stares.
With the right training and time devoted to the Caucasian Mountain Shepherd, you’ll have a loyal companion that wants nothing more than to please you. But, let me reiterate: it needs the right training and time…a lot of time.
Without obedience training and socialization, this dog breed tends to be unruly and stubborn. It can also be aggressive. That’s why we recommend not to let it alone with children and to keep a lookout when unfamiliar people and animals come around.
This dog also requires special health attention when it comes to diet and exercise. An apartment is not an adequate living space for a dog of this size. It needs fresh air and long stretches of the yard to able to be active and patrol around the territory it considers hers.
Despite a high maintenance reputation, the love and admiration for Caucasian Mountain Shepherds can be found all over the world.
Their intelligence and ability to protect are legendary, making them not just a pet, but more like a partner, you can rely on. Give this dog the love and devotion it needs, and it will surely give it right back.
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