The East-European Shepherd, often called the Russian German shepherd, is a Soviet dog variation of the German Shepherd. This Russian dog breed is larger and heavier built than its German ancestor. It has a powerful and muscular frame, a massive head with dark, oval shaped eyes, and long, vertical ears. Its medium length double coat is more dense to allow this Russian dog withstand cold winters. The usual coat colors are black, black and tan, black and red, brown, gray and red, sable, sometimes with a dark facial mask.
With its Russian name Vostochnoevropejskaya Ovcharka (sheep dog in Russian), the East-European Shepherd remains one of the most popular watch and guard dogs in its native country. Outside Russia it is still not widely recognized and considered to be a rare dog breed.
The East-European Shepherd originated in 1920s-1930s as the result of crossbreeding German Shepherds with such Russian dog breeds as Caucasian dog, Central Asian dog and Laikas. The Soviet military, impressed by the German Shepherd’s working abilities, wanted to create a similar Russian dog more suited for the climate, with stronger body and bite. The development of this Russian German shepherd started in the Byelorussian region, and the breed was initially called the Byelorussian Owtcharka.
After the WWII the careful and systematic breeding was resumed, resulting in a new Soviet dog breed, the East European Shepherd, distinctly different from the German Shepherd. Its first standard was approved in 1964, while the new Russian dog became the main military and the KGB service breed.
The East European Shepherd is probably the most intelligent of the Russian guard dogs (Caucasian dog, Central Asian dog, Russian Sheepdog, Russian Terrier, and Moscow dog). It has not only an honorable protective instinct but also a very well-balanced character. This Russian German shepherd is resistant and aggressive to strangers as well as fiercely loyal and affectionate to its family. It is very devoted and will protect its master at all costs.
When on guarding duty, the East European Shepherd usually keeps silence, which makes it a perfect watch dog. It is very trainable and obedient, making this breed a favorite of many professional dog trainers.
This Russian dog doesn’t have major health concerns though it may suffer from hip dysplasia and other common large dogs’ issues. Its life span is 10-14 years.
Owning the East European Shepherd doesn’t create big problems for an experienced owner. Anyway, this Russian guard dog should be socialized early and is not recommended to apartment families with very small children. It is rather a very good companion for active people, especially in a rural environment.
East European Shepherd Size:
Height: 24 to 30 inches (males 26-30, females 24-28)
Weight: 66 to 132 pounds (males 77-132, females 66-110)
Breed Names: East European Shepherd,Russian German shepherd, Russian Ovcharka, East European Ovcharka, Byelorussian Ovcharka, Byelorussian Owtcharka, Vostochnoevropejskaya Ovcharka, Owczarek Wsohodnioeuropejski, East European Ovtcharka, VEO