Caucasian Shepherd is one of the most dangerous and dominant dog breeds in the world. However, this powerful dog can become a reliable protector and a good family member.
The strength and dedication of this dog have made it a popular working, police, and guard dog in Russia and in Europe.
The breed is recognized in most countries, including the United States (AKC) where they often call it the Russian Bear Dog. In Russia, its usual name is Caucasian Ovcharka that means Caucasian sheepdog in Russian.
Height: 26-29 inches (67-75 cm) Weight: 88-180 lbs (40-82 kg) Lifespan: 9-11 years
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- History of the breed
- Personality and temperament
- Ownership and training
- General FAQ
- Books and movies
- Breed names
Russian Bear Dog
Caucasian Shepherd is called the Russian Bear Dog mostly due to its appearance. It is a large, even-tempered dog with a powerful and muscular body, bear-look face, deeply set oval dark eyes, round-shaped ears and low carried long tail. The ears are usually cropped. (click for video)
It has a thick and water-resistant double coat in shades of gray, brindle, yellow, rust, red or white. The coat may be longer or shorter depending on the region the dog comes from.
Why Caucasian Ovcharkas Are Called the Russian Prison Dogs?
During the Soviet communist era, the severe Caucasian Ovcharka guarded prisoners of the Soviet Gulag camps and served as a border patrol dog along the Berlin wall. It was widely used by the Russian army's kennels to develop new Soviet dog breeds (Black Russian Terrier, Moscow Watchdog, Moscow Waterdog).
Being a fearless fighting dog, the Caucasian Shepherd is still employed in some former Soviet republics for dogfighting, alongside the Central Asian dog. In Europe and America, this big Russian dog is mostly a companion and a family protector.
History of the Breed
The Caucasian Shepherd, known also as the Caucasian Mountain Dog, is one of the oldest mastiff-type breeds, originating from the Caucasus Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and southern Russia). It was used for centuries to guard flocks, kill wolves, hunt bears, and protect properties against trespassers and thieves. Its type differs a little from region to region.
The modern show class Caucasian Shepherd is a hybrid of established Caucasian types, selected and bred by Soviet Russian breeding kennels. The official standard of this dog breed is fundamentally based on the Georgian shepherd dogs (Nagazi) that are the largest, muscularly built dogs with attractive long hair.
What is the Personality and Temperament of a Caucasian Shepherd?
Softness and timidity are considered as serious faults for this working dog breed (FCI). The Russian Bear Dog is suspicious and aggressive towards any strangers including dog show referees. If not properly trained and socialized this vicious dog may demonstrate fierce and uncontrollable reactions (click for video).
On the other hand, this dog can be extremely loyal to its owner and will stand by and defend him to the very end in any situation.
Caucasian Shepherd's temperament suits well a reliable guard dog. Their main temperament features are:
Height (at the withers):
Males: 28 - 29 inches (72-75 cm), minimum 26.5 inches (68 cm).
Females: 26 - 27 inches (67-70 cm), minimum 25 inches (64 cm).
Males: Minimum: 110 pounds (50 kg);
Females: Minimum: 99 pounds (45 kg).
Is Caucasian Shepherd healthy?
The Caucasian Ovcharka can live as long as 12 years with just a few health risks, though sometimes may suffer from large-dog problems like hip dysplasia and heart conditions.
Its heavy shedding coat needs occasional brushing.
Should I Own a Caucasian Shepherd?
Owning a big Russian dog-like Caucasian Shepherd is not an easy task. This independent and strong-willed dog will obey only a dominating and equally-willed owner whom it respects. Obedience training and early socialization are mandatory for this breed.
Forming a strong protective bond with its owner, the Caucasian Ovcharka would not raise other family members to the same level. It mostly suits active singles, experienced handlers as well as farmers and ranchers.
Caucasian Shepherd Owner's Experience
Kathryn Nissen: My husband and I have a female Caucasian Mountain Dog and she is the most amazing dog we have ever had. She was rescued from Romania and was fully grown and huge when we homed her. After being extremely wary of us for about the first month and flinching when I tried throwing a stick for her she is now a confident family member who trusts us absolutely.
She is very steady, kind, and loving. She moves forward and center to stand between me and other dogs when they bound towards us. She stands calmly waiting for them to reach her and then plays like any other dog-friendly dog. She barks very little. She accepts attention from strangers calmly though never effusively. Children adore her and she is gentle with them and careful never to knock them over.
She immediately recognizes when a stranger means no harm and returns no harm. Her first action to keep us safe is to firmly push someone back away from us with her nose. Her second action is to grasp clothes and pull them away from us, never growling or showing aggression but simply using the minimum force necessary to keep us safe. I have no doubt that if we were truly threatened she would employ whatever means necessary to protect us.
She always remains calm and placid and totally in control of herself. She ignores dogs who bark at her, She never chases or lunges at any animals, birds, or person. She has never pulled on the leash. With dogs who bark at her from fear, she sits calmly and waits for them to realize she is no threat… she calmly ignores dogs who growl or bark at her and never retaliates. She adjusts her demeanor in accord with other dogs' willingness to play or to their fear of her. Romping with the former and being still and calm with the latter.
She is truly amazing and wise and impresses me every day. We feel privileged to share our lives with her.
Are Caucasian Shepherds good with children?
Caucasian Shepherd is a one-owner dog that respects only the “leader of the pack”. It will love and protect its master’s children but it will not obey “puppies” and may try to teach them to behave.
Are Russian Bear Dogs aggressive?
Caucasian Shepherd is naturally territorial and aggressive towards strangers and intruders. To escape problems, the Russian Bear Dog needs early socialization and proper training.
Do Caucasian Shepherds shed a lot?
Caucasian Shepherd is a heavy shedder, particularly in spring and fall when it blows its thick undercoat.
Why are their ears traditionally cropped short?
Caucasian Ovcharkas are livestock guardian dogs that were also used in dogfighting. Their ears were cropped short to prevent predators or rivals from grabbing onto them.
Caucasian Shepherd Books and Movies
There are many good books and a few movies dedicated to Caucasian Shepherds.
“Stormheart”, a movie. The father of a Finnish family brings home a cute puppy, whose parents had served as guard dogs at the Berlin Wall. Pearl, his 7-year-old daughter, takes the puppy under her wing, and Stormheart, who grows up to the size of a bear, undertakes the task of removing all dangers, threats, and obstacles from the path of Pearl.
"Caucasian Mountain Dog (Comprehensive Owner's Guide) " is a great book written by one of the best Caucasian Shepherd breeders in the U.S.
Stacy Kubyn shares her insight into this remarkable breed and offers a candid view of Caucasian Shepherd's temperament, including her sound advice about owning this powerful and demanding working dog.
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