Also popularly known as the Caucasian Ovcharka or Baskhan (Karachay) pary, this bear like dog is native to the caucuses of the countries of Armenia, Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Although technically nicknamed the “Russian Bear Dog” by many worldwide its important to note that its name stems from where it was adopted in the western world, and while it is a widespread specie across the Russian state, its nativity goes far beyond the country.
The Russian Bear Dog has been modernized in the western world as a fluffy pet, but it originally was used as a working dog to guard sheep from wolves in the hilly plains and mountains of the Caucuses. These Shepherd Dogs would work in teams to stand up against a wolf or a pack of wolves, which peaked their alertness and efficacy in doing their job.
Russian Bear Dog Size & Appearance
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 Shepherd Dogs are normally shorter in stature than their male counterparts, with their minimum height being 25 inches, but just as effective. Training the dog was essential however, so that instead of being burdened down by their weight, they learn how to use it to their advantage.
These dogs can be identified by their strong, rugged and muscular molosser type body, covered in their thick heavy coat that helps them to withstand the harsh weather conditions in the mountains.They vary in colours, from light brown, tan, grey, cream and even black.
Character & Temperament
Without proper socialization and training, the Russian Bear Dog may not be the best pet for you, but with proper time and socializing, this pup will be sure to take your breath away. While being highly intelligent and receptive to training, this Shepherd Dog can be disrespectful and refuses to listen at times. Another less than admirable trait is that they become irritable and aggressive around strangers very quickly.
The advantages though far outweigh the disadvantages, as Russian Bear Dogs are known for their loyalty, care and protection of their owner. In order to make this pup more hospitable to strangers and other animals and dogs, simply take him out more when he is younger, so that he naturally adapts to the idea of having people around him, making him a lot less hostile than he naturally is.
Activity & Exercise
Because of its very large body structure, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs require loads of physical activity, especially to help ward off physical illnesses such as diabetes. These dogs love to run and jump, and can become very playful, so be sure to engage them in lots of exercise and physical activity to increase their health and their lifespan. If taken care of correctly, these dogs can live naturally long, happy and healthy lives.
Limited physical activity may cause your beloved Russian Bear Dog to become easily irritable and agitated, and can also cause his mood to go from being loving & caring, to being independent and hostile, and stop taking directions and pointers from his owner. This makes for a very unhappy household for both the pup and owner, so ensure you spend lots of outdoor time with your furry friend.
Health Concerns & Issues
Most Caucasian Shepherd Dogs live healthy and happy lives with very little health implications if any, but because of their size, they are prone to a variety of health issues. Other health 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 there 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 health condition.
- Eye Problems – It is said that Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are also directly prone to eye problems than many other breeds of pups, and conditions such as uveitis may become a pressing health 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 cancers 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 Dog gets adequate exercise as needed.
Lifespan of your Russian Bear Dog
The health issues above, though serious, are very rarely life threatening. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs have a lifespan of around 12 years, which is also the average lifespan for most 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, resulting in extreme obesity.
Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are an investment, but if you choose to get one, make sure that they are very active, and ensure to have them socialised early as a young pup. If you live on a farm or ranch, allow your pup to help you when it comes to tending to your animals, so they do not get bored.