cardimom: Are the Tibetan Mastiff and the Ovcharka breeds related?
The Ovcharka is sometimes (and apparently incorrectly) referred to as the Caucasian Mountain or Shepard dog.
Answers and Views:
Answer by I Love My Pets
It isn't incorrectly reffered to as the mountain or shep, its just known as different names in different places. Mostly cause the english cant pronounce the Ovcharka word. Its russian. SO they came up with a quick and easy term. They are one and the same. Also no, they are not related. Mastiffs are some of the oldest breeds of dogs in the world, and there types are found all over the world. So they tend to have the same characteristics but they are not related.
There origins are TRUELY unknown due to the isolation of the breed and history. Due to the similarity in looks PEOPLE ASSUME that the Tibetian Mastiff was used, its could be likely but there is no PROOF there is nothing that states there ever was one used. Only certian breeders will say that Tibetians were an anscestor mainly because they USE the Tibetian to beef up there breeds in the past. Thats why some sights will say that are related. To back up there claims that the Ovcharka looks and is the size of a Tibetian. Orginal Ovcharka's were not that massive. Breeders that couldn't find enough stock for them added this breed. So I for one, would say they are not with out solid proof of it, and we wont know. Though probably half the United States Ovcharka's may test with some Tibetian blood because of the past breeders.
Photo Credit: Lelik/Flickr
Answer by rob
Misinformation is very common with the Caucasian Ovcharka. The answers on this page reinforce that unfortunate fact. Sadly, the inaccurate answer does not even apply to the question posed!
My answer requires an explanation but the best conclusion that can be drawn from years of research is that they are indeed related. First let’s deal with the inaccurate response first posed on this question.
The name Caucasian Mountain Dog is correct for 1 of the 4 types of Caucasian Ovcharka. The name Ovcharka is of Russian origin and therefore could be considered inaccurate for a dog that originates from a non-Russian speaking area of the planet. The most common name in North America with breeders and registries is Caucasian Ovcharka or CO for short. Read on if you need more information.
There are four types of Caucasian Ovcharka. The Georgian type (a.k.a. Bear Type) is the only one known as the “Mountain Dog” due to the mountainous nature of its point of origin.
The Russians stole or killed most of the dogs in the area when they incorporated the Caucasus region into the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union then bred the dogs (and most will say destroyed the gene pool) by cross-breeding with St Bernards. The result is a dog often passed off to westerners as a CO that is commonly known as a “Moscow Watchdog”. When you see a Caucasian with St. Bernard like spots of colors be wary. Some registries actually reject colors and spots that are similar to the St Bernard for this reason.
Now back to the question posed… are they related? No one really knows the true origin of the CO, however. If you accept (the often disputed claim) that the Tibetan Mastiff (TM) is the oldest domesticated dog then it is reasonable that as the TM migrated west into Europe that the dogs left behind for all these centuries to guard sheep in the Caucasus Mountains could well be descendents of that original breed.
After researching this breed and the Tibetan Mastiff exhaustively (going as far as to interview local Georgians) I believe it is more accurate to say that the modern day TM is bred from the CO. Now that everyone is frantically typing in objection, here is my perspective.
I accept the TM as the oldest breed. I do believe the CO was left behind in the Caucasus Mountains as a working breed. Since the dog was only used for utility and not bred for consumer tastes, the CO is actually what the TM would have been when left behind hundreds of years ago. Since that time, the TM’s “in demand” trait is that it looks like a lion…. this was intentional and this breeding has destroyed much of the dogs ancient traits and actually introduced many weaknesses that a pure-bred CO still maintains. From this perspective the CO is the original TM and the TM of today is a “pretty dog” with physical and temperament issues.
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