Loyal, strong, and courageous, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a fierce family protector. They were bred to care for flocks and defend the home against wild predators in the rough Caucasus Mountain region. They’re also known as Caucasian Mountain Dogs, Russian Bear Dogs, Baskhan (Karachay) Party, Caucasian Ovcharka Dogs, or just CO, and there are many variants and types.
This giant breed is territorial and won’t back down from a fight, even against bears or wolves. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are intelligent, but their stubborn, independent nature can make them difficult to train. Their natural distrust of strangers and other animals can also lead to aggressive tendencies if an experienced trainer doesn’t keep them in check.
This breed is not a good choice for novice owners, and though they are fairly low-energy dogs, the sheer size of Caucasian Shepherd Dogs makes them poorly suited for apartment living and homes with small children. Still, with proper training and socialization, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can make strong watchdogs, family companions, and even therapy dogs.
While they may not appeal to first-time dog owners, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs will reward experienced, patient, consistent trainers with gentle love and affection that will make them excellent lifelong family members.
More About This Breed
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a loyal guardian to the core. These dogs were bred to help shepherds in the Caucasus Mountains region keep their flocks safe from predators like wolves and bears. They often use these instincts in modern times to act as watchdogs and protectors. However, they are sometimes overly apprehensive around strangers and don’t take well to other animals entering their territory, including other dogs. Smart but headstrong, the massive Caucasian Shepherd Dog needs an experienced trainer that can handle an independent attitude with firm boundaries and patience.
They are not high energy dogs, but their size demands space, making them ill-suited for apartment life. A yard with a solid, high fence is ideal. Although they aren’t known for barking more than most dogs, they will alert owners to any dangers, even in the middle of the night, and their bark is quite loud. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can make excellent family companions and should be indoors with their humans as much as possible. They should not be chained up outside, as this is a recipe for creating an aggressive, dangerous dog. They can make loving family pets and guardians with proper training, and some have even been trained as therapy dogs.
The Caucasus Mountain region is vast, and shepherds in the area had different needs, resulting in several breed variants that were created to provide whatever shepherds required. However, the Caucasian Shepherd Dogs from Georgia are generally considered the breed standard by most kennel clubs.
Female Caucasian Shepherd Dogs only give birth once a year.
Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are fierce guardians of their territory, but they are also fairly low-energy dogs. Weight gain is a strong possibility and should be addressed with proper diet and exercise.
The communist USSR used this breed to guard prisoners and kept dogs in army kennels to create new breeds for military use.
East Germany used Caucasian Shepherd Dogs to patrol the border created by the Berlin Wall. When the wall came down, dogs were given to German families to live out the rest of their days.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is one of the most ancient Molosser breeds. Some archaeological findings trace them back to Mesopotamia.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog coats come in three lengths and a huge variety of colours. They shed quite a bit, but their thick coats keep them warm even in extremely cold weather.
While they are naturally standoffish to strangers and don’t take care of other animals, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can be very gentle and loving. Some have even become therapy dogs with proper training.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is one of the oldest, most ancient Molasser breeds, and the origin of these gigantic, protective dogs is a bit of a mystery. They hail from the Caucasus Mountain region and have been around for more than 2,000 years. Some believe they came from domesticated wolves, while others believe their ancestry includes Mastiffs and other breeds. Many experts claim that the Caucasian Shepherd is descended from sheepdogs that migrated from Tibet, but some modern archaeological evidence suggests the breed dates back to Mesopotamia. Wherever they originally came from, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs made invaluable companions to the shepherds of the Caucasus region for centuries. They fiercely guarded flocks of sheep and their owners from dangerous wildlife such as wolves, jackals, and bears. They needed to be fearless, strong, and intimidating while resilient to cold weather and harsh conditions. Shepherds bred the qualities they needed into their dogs.
Because the Caucasus Mountain region is so vast, many different variants of the breed emerged. However, the Caucasian Shepherd Dogs that developed in Georgia became the breed standard recognized by most kennel clubs today. Sometime in the 1900s, the communist USSR started using Caucasian Shepherds as prisoner guard dogs and developed other breeds in army kennels. In the 1960s, East Germany put the breed to work as border patrol dogs along the Berlin Wall. When the wall came down in 1989, some 7,000 patrol dogs were dispersed, and many were given to families in Germany to live out the rest of their days. Today, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are mostly family companions, watchdogs, and property guardians, though shepherds still use them to tend to flocks. They have retained many of their cautious, standoffish, and sometimes aggressive traits, so they need early socialization and firm training to avoid incidents. Breeders will likely try to weed out some of the less desirable tendencies from the breed as it becomes more popular.
Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are massive. Males tend to be slightly larger than females and weigh in at 110 to 220 pounds, while females average around 100 to 180 pounds. Some dogs may weigh more or less, which can depend on where they come from or what type they are. Mountain dogs are more muscular, while plain dogs are a bit leaner. Males are about 27 to 30 inches in height at the shoulder, and females are between 25 and 28 inches. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are considered to be a giant breed.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is not for novice dog owners. While they can be loving, loyal family dogs and fierce protectors, they are also naturally distrustful of strangers. They do not take well to dogs or other animals that they aren’t familiar with. They are generally low energy and laid back, but they are also highly territorial and never back down from a fight, even if that means taking on a bear or a wolf. Although Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are intelligent, they can also be quite stubborn, making training difficult. They need firm boundaries, patience, and consistency.
This training should begin as early in life as possible, and socialization is practically a must. Proper socialization training has to be done to overcome the breed’s apprehension around new people and animals, resulting in aggression. However, the Caucasian Shepherd is quite loving and loyal and will make for a lifelong guardian and protector with humans they are familiar with.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is mostly considered a healthy breed, but like many giant breeds, they can be prone to hip dysplasia. They may also develop cataracts. One of the most common problems they face is obesity. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs should be fed an appropriate diet for a giant breed, but they do not have overly high energy levels, which should be considered. They will need to be exercised, and veterinarians should monitor their weight. To prevent obesity in your Caucasian Shepherd Dog, talk to your veterinarian or nutritionist about formulating an appropriate diet and creating an exercise regimen. Your vet may recommend feeding them smaller, more frequent meals during the day than large ones to avoid bloat.
The main form of care that Caucasian Shepherd Dogs need is weight control through appropriate diet and exercise. It would help if you discussed these with your veterinarian or nutritionist. Beyond that, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs should have their teeth brushed two to three times a week and cleaned professionally as recommended by your vet. Ears should be checked for signs of debris or wax build-up at least once a week and cleaned as needed. Failure to do so may result in ear infections. Nails should be clipped as needed to prevent breaking and injury. You may also need to keep an eye out for drool and wipe it away when necessary to avoid getting your home covered in drool.
Caucasian Shepherd Dogs should be fed a diet formulated for a giant breed with fairly low energy levels. You should ask your veterinarian or a professional nutritionist to help you find the right kind of food and portion size for your dog. The appropriate diet will change from puppyhood to adulthood and may be altered depending on medical needs. There is some risk that Caucasian Shepherd Dogs will overeat and gain weight, so make sure you stick to the appropriate recommended meal plan. Smaller, more frequent meals may be recommended to prevent dogs from developing bloat, a life-threatening condition.
Coat Color and Grooming
There are three coat lengths seen in Caucasian Shepherd Dogs–long, medium, and short. The longer the hair, the more pronounced the mane is around their necks, and the feathering is around their hind legs and tails. All three lengths of coat are quite thick. They are double-coated, with the undercoat being fine and soft, while the outer coat is coarse and longer. The Caucasian Shepherd can be grey, fawn, red, cream, tan, and even solid white.
Coats may also be brindle or have large patches of two or more colours. They often have white markings on the body and a dark “mask” around the face. The thick coat should be brushed at least twice a week to remove loose or dead hairs and prevent matting. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs go through a heavy shed once a year. Bathing and extra brushing can help move this shedding along more quickly. Bathing can be a chore with a dog this size, so it may be wise to bathe them as needed or rely on a professional groomer.
Children and Other Pets
Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can love very loyal family pets, even toward children, but it is very important to begin their socialization early. It is in their nature to be cautious around strangers, even to the point of aggression at times, and they do not take well to other dogs unless they have been properly socialized. Visiting children will need a clear, proper introduction with known humans present, and Caucasian Shepherds tend to be territorial and aggressive to other dogs unless they have been raised with them.
Their natural herding instincts can take over, causing them to be pushy toward children, and they may see the rough play from new kids as an attack on their human family member and respond accordingly. Remember, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog was bred to be intimidating and will not hesitate to spring into action to defend their home and family from perceived threats. As with any dog, children should be supervised during play and trained on handling animals to avoid an incident. Even with a well-trained Caucasian Shepherd, their sheer size may be an issue, and it is important to watch them, so play doesn’t get out of hand and result in injury. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs may be best suited to homes with older children and no other pets.