The Caucasian Shepherd is known by many other names, like the Caucasian Mountain Dog, Tatar Shepherd Dog or the Caucasian Ovcharka. This large bear-like dog has been used for centuries to guard sheep and for military work. Today, however, the large headed dog breed is a much loved family pet and companion. Let us study some characteristic features of this lovely working dog breed.
These enormous bear like dogs are perhaps some of the biggest dogs around, averaging 110 pounds in weight and up to 30 inches in height for the average male. Female dogs are normally shorter in stature than their male counterparts, with their minimum height being 25 inches, but just as effective. Training the dog is essential however, so that instead of being burdened down by their weight, they learn how to use it to their advantage.
- This is a large breed. It resembles a bear due to its hairy coat. The head and legs have little fur making the animal appear broader.
- Life span of the Ovcharka is 11-12 years.
- Coat colors vary from fawn, rust colored, white, earth colored, brindled or piebald.
- The Caucasian Shepherd originated in Russia.
Where to find a Caucasian Mountain Dog
There are several places where you can get a Caucasian Shepherd but avoid puppy mills and stores. The best place to find a Caucasian Shepherd is from reputed breeders. You can find registered breeders on the official website here. Owning an Ovcharka is a serious responsibility owing to their highly aggressive and reactive nature. It is important to observe the pup in its litter and, if possible, meet its parents before you adopt.
- While calm, this dog does not get along well with other dogs other than those of its own species.
- He is extremely agile and protective towards its family. Being territorial he can be extremely wary of strangers.
- Keeping this dog is a huge responsibility-owners need to know about the breed’s history and temperament before tackling the task of raising an Ovcharka.
- The Caucasian Shepherd is one of those autonomously working, livestock guardian dogs. He does not belong in the city.
- The mighty Ovcharka has no equal when it comes to intimidation and protection.
- This breed’s barking frequency is average. He may even seem lethargic and lazy when not working.
Training the Caucasian Ovcharka
The good news is that your Ovcharka is more trainable than most livestock guardian breeds. However, he will need early training and socialization and firm handling is an absolute must if you want a loving companion. Never be forceful while training this pup. Training should be fun for both you and your Ovcharka. Never train when your puppy is hungry, sleepy or tired. Also avoid training when you are in a hurry or have less than an hour to dedicate. Positive training is crucial for building a positive rapport between you and your Caucasian Mountain Dog. Keep training sessions short and fun else your pet could lose focus and get bored. Avoid training your pet in a busy area filled with distractions.
- The sooner you train your Caucasian Shepherd puppy, the better.
- Keep rewards fun and positive. Dried bits of liver, pieces of chicken or cheese are good rewards. You might want to reduce your pet’s meal sizes accordingly unless you want to end up with an obese dog.
- Combine the food reward with statements like ‘good dog’.
- Never use punishment in training; reward all wanted behavior and ignore unwanted behavior.
- Teach your pet basic commands like sit walk nicely, heel, down and stay.
- Short term close confinement helps. It prevents accidental urination and soiling as puppies inherently know not to defecate near their sleeping quarters. Provide plenty of chew-toys filled with food to keep puppies quiet for a long period.
- You also need to learn to predict when your puppy needs to go. Show him the right spot to defecate and urinate and reward and praise him when he goes in the right spot.
Like all other herding and working dog breeds, the Caucasian Shepherd needs plenty of exercise – at least 2 hours per day. This is a necessary trait in this breed and is even expected of herding breeds. Think carefully before you adopt an Ovcharka-you need to dedicate time and space to him. This dog is definitely a good choice for someone dedicated to providing for its needs and engaging in dog sports.
The Caucasian Shepherd needs weekly grooming of 30-45 minutes. This is necessary to keep his coat in good condition and free from parasites. Start the weekly grooming by observing its ears and eyes for infection, discharge etc. If foul smell is emanating from the ears, fungal infection could be the culprit-it needs prompt veterinary attention. Use vinegar and water solution to clean the ears. Invest in a rubber brush or glove to brush your pet’s coat. You can mist the coat slightly while brushing. This will prevent the undercoat from flying about. Avoid too-frequent baths as this would strip the natural oils. Only use a vet approved product to shampoo and follow up with a conditioner. If needed, use scissor around the feet to give a compact look. Caucasian mountain dogs shed annually with a bi-annual molt. This process is called ‘blowing the coat’. Use a blower or fine toothed brush to catch loose hairs and prevent them all over your furniture.
All domesticated dogs need a balance of vitamins, proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates and the Caucasian Shepherd is no different. Today, there is a wide array of healthy, balanced and complete nutrition available for pets and your vet and/or breeder can recommend the right dry, moist or wet food to feed your puppy/adult Caucasian. Here are some dietary don’ts to follow:
- Never feed raw eggs to your pet.
- Do not feed cow milk in large quantity-your pet does not have the enzymes to digest it.
- Avoid feeding table scraps or human foods especially tomatoes, raisins or chocolate to your pet. They can be toxic to your fur baby.
- Also avoid feeding cooked bones as they can easily splinter.
Regardless of what type of food you feed your Caucasian Mountain dog; do not forget the water. Keep plenty of fresh water available for your pet.
Health concerns and issues
Most Caucasian Shepherds live healthy and happy lives with very little implications if any, but because of their size, they are prone to a variety of health issues. Other conditions are hereditary and may be passed from mother to puppies during the birthing procedure. These include but are not limited to hip dysplasia, diabetes, eye problems and even heart problems.
- Hip Dysplasia – This condition is used to refer to an unusual formation of the hip socket, and is one of the health conditions that can be passed from mother to pup. In its worst case, it can cause severe arthritis of the joints and crippling lameness. The best way to identify such a condition is to take your pup to the vet annually for a regular checkup, or if he begins to start limping.
- Diabetes – Because of their massive size, these dogs are prone to many medical issues such as diabetes. The reality is that their obesity may make the cells in your dog more resistant to insulin, resulting in an inability for the dog’s body to properly break down important nutrients. Studies also show that mixed breed dogs have a higher ability to acquire diabetes than their purebred counterparts, so watch out for this condition.
- Eye Problems – It is said that Caucasian Shepherds are also directly prone to eye problems than many other breeds of pups, and conditions such as uveitis may become a pressing issue as your dog gets older. Uveitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the uvea which is the dark tissue at the front of the eye, and can be caused by diseases and infections. A trip to the vet would provide all the help you need to take care of this condition.
- Heart Problems – Because of the size of your pup, heart problems may become a bigger concern, as without proper nutrition and exercise, your pup’s body might find it harder than usual to supply the body with blood. To prevent this, make sure your Caucasian Shepherd gets adequate exercise as needed.
The issues above, though serious, are very rarely life threatening. Caucasian Shepherds have a lifespan of around 12 years, which is the average lifespan for many dogs. It’s important to note however that hip dysplasia may cause sudden mortality, as this would limit the ability of your pup to get enough physical exercise and possibly resulting in extreme obesity.