Caucasian Mountain Dog

Massive and Protective "teddy bear"

Caucasian Mountain Dog

Also known as Caucasian Ovcharka or Shepherd Dog, this Massive and Protective Pet Can be a big "Teddy Bear" but Needs a Dominant Owner in Control.

Large and powerful, the Caucasian Mountain Dog (or Shepherd Dog), also called the Caucasian Ovcharka (or Ovtcharka) among other names, is warm, loving and friendly to those it knows, but can be distrustful of strangers. Muscular, powerful, and large, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog can be too much to control for novice owners, but is a fiercely protective companion and "teddy bear" to those who know how to handle this independent, sometimes stubborn breed. When socialized properly, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog shows lifelong devotion to an owner it respects.


As one of the oldest surviving Molosser-type dogs, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog comes from the Caucasus Mountains between the Caspian and Black Seas. There, it has historically been used to guard flocks. This imposing Mountain Dog is also excellent as a formidable foe to thieves, trespassers and predators. Possibly in existence for more than 2000 years, this breed may share ancestry with the Anatolian Shepherd and/or the Tibetan Mastiff.

Incredibly strong, the powerful Caucasian Shepherd Dog is often used for police work and other similar functions in addition to being companion dogs throughout the Soviet Union and Europe. The breed can vary somewhat in appearance depending on where its ancestors have lived in the mountain range, and what the dogs were originally used for. Dogs from the trans-Caucasus regions are more massive, while those in the steppe regions have longer legs, are somewhat rangier in build, and generally have short coats.

Most popular in Russia, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has also gained a firm foothold in the Slovak and Czech Republics, in Poland, and in Hungary. Careful, widespread breeding programs there have ensured that the breed remains popular, although its use as a sheepdog is in decline. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog found its way into East Germany in the late 1960s to become a border patrol dog, especially for the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and shortly after the 7,000 patrol dogs were dispersed and given new homes, many with families in Germany. Carefully controlled breeding practices have ensured that the Caucasian Shepherd Dog remains true to its original characteristics. However, since the Caucasian Shepherd Dog can currently be very fiercely protective in certain situations, many experts believe that future breeders may attempt to breed out some of this ferocity.

The first Caucasian Shepherd Dog was first imported into the United States in 1990 by Stacey and Russell Kubyn of Ohio. They formed the Caucasian Ovcharka Club of America in 1991. The breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1995, and in 1996 was accepted into the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs have competed in AKC events since 2008.


Thickly furred, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has a double coat that's short, medium, or long-haired and can come in shades of brindle, white, yellow, rust, or gray. The head is wedge-shaped with a muzzle that is oblong, and has high-set ears that are covered with thick fur for insulation; the ovalshaped eyes are deeply set. The overall impression given by the Caucasian Shepherd Dog's appearance is of a massive, determined and somewhat menacing guardian, with its dense fur and thickly muscled, large-boned body. In adulthood, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog stands 25 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 99 and 154 pounds or even more. There is no maximum height or weight for the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, and some have been known to reach as much as 200 pounds.


The Caucasian Shepherd Dog has gained a somewhat unfair reputation of being a ferocious and uncontrollable dog. This is somewhat inaccurate, because although Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can be fierce when protecting their loved ones and CAN be uncontrollable with inexperienced owners, most owners with dog-training skills consider this breed more like a large teddy bear – truly devoted and impeccably obedient to its master, as long as it has been gently but firmly given clear guidelines. Notably, the AKC considers both "softness" and viciousness to be significant character flaws.

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog can be insolent because of its innate intelligence and genetic background of working alone as a herder and guard dog. The breed can also be very aggressive toward people it doesn't know, or if it feels you or your child may be threatened or intimidated by a stranger. While Caucasian Shepherd Dogs love children and are very devoted to every member of your family, prudence is advised to make sure your pet can be safely left alone with visitors or small children it may not know well.


Caucasian Shepherd Dogs live 10 to 12 years on average, and are generally healthy as a breed, but can develop cataracts, bloat and hip dysplasia. They also have a tendency toward obesity and will easily become lazy if allowed to, so it's important to make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise.


There are three coat types with the Caucasian Shepherd Dog: long, medium, and short, and all three have dense under coats to protect them from harsh climates. Dogs of all three coat types go through heavy shedding once a year, known as "blowing their coats." With this, fur can simply come off in handfuls and it may look like your dog is molting. Brush very frequently to cut down on the amount of fur that ends up all over everything, and bathe with warm water if necessary. When the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is not blowing its coat, shedding is moderate, but dogs with long coats especially can develop mats or tangles if you're not careful. Again, regular brushing is always a must. Ears should also be cleaned regularly and nails trimmed as needed.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Caucasian Ovcharka. mountain_dog/index.cfm

Retrieved January 25, 2014.

Caucasian Ovcharka.

Retrieved January 25, 2014.

Caucasian Ovcharka Dogs.

Retrieved January 25, 2014.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog (Caucasian Sheepdog) (Caucasian Ovcharka) (Kavkaskaia Ovtcharka) (Caucasian Owcharka) (Caucasian Mountain Dog) (Sage Ghafghazi) (Kavkazskaïa Ovtcharka) (Caucasian Ovtcharka) (Russian Caucasian Ovtcharka) (Russian Caucasian).

Retrieved January 25, 2014.

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