Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Loyal, strong, and courageous, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a fierce family protector bred to care for flocks and defend the home against wild predators in the rough Caucasus Mountain region. They are also known as Caucasian Mountain Dogs, Russian Bear Dogs, Baskhan (Karachay) Pariy, Caucasian Ovcharka Dogs, or just CO, and there are many variants and types. This massive breed is highly 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, and their natural distrust of strangers and other animals can lead to aggressive tendencies if they are not kept in check by an experienced trainer. 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 be 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.

See below for full list of Caucasian Shepherd Dog characteristics!

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Breed Characteristics:

Adaptability
Adapts Well to Apartment Living2More info +

Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make — plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

See Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living

Good For Novice Owners1More info +

Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

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Sensitivity Level2More info +

Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

See Dogs That Have Low Sensitivity Levels

Tolerates Being Alone3More info +

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

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Tolerates Cold Weather5More info +

Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

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Tolerates Hot Weather2More info +

Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Hot Weather

All Around Friendliness
Affectionate with Family4More info +

Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

Incredibly Kid Friendly Dogs2More info +

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

See Dogs Not Kid Friendly

Dog Friendly2More info +

Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

See Dogs That Are Not Dog Friendly

Friendly Toward Strangers2More info +

Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

See Dogs That Are More Shy

Health Grooming
Amount Of Shedding4More info +

If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

See Dogs That Shed Very Little

Drooling Potential4More info +

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.

See Dogs That Are Not Big Droolers

Easy To Groom2More info +

Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

See Dogs That Require More Grooming

General Health3More info +

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

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Potential For Weight Gain4More info +

Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

Size5More info +

Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right large dog for you!

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See Small Dogs

Trainability
Easy To Train2More info +

Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

See Dogs That Are Challenging To Train

Intelligence4More info +

Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

See Dogs That Have Low Intelligence

Potential For Mouthiness4More info +

Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Prey Drive3More info +[caption id="attachment_55015" align="alignnone" width="680"](Picture Credit: Haydn West - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images) (Picture Credit: Haydn West - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)[/caption] Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by — cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars — can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.See Dogs That Have Low Prey Drive
Tendency To Bark Or Howl3More info +

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

See Dogs That Are Mostly Quiet

Wanderlust Potential2More info +

Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

See Dogs Less Prone To Wander

Exercise Needs
Energy Level2More info +

High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

See Dogs That Have Low Energy

Intensity4More info +

A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

See Dogs With Low Intensity

Exercise Needs2More info +

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

See Dogs That Don't Need Tons of Exercise

Potential For Playfulness3More info +

Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

See Dogs That Are Less Playfull

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group: Working Dogs
Height: 24 to 34 inches
Weight: 80 to 220 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years
  • The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a loyal guardian to the core. These dogs were bred to help shepherds in the Caucasus Mountain 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, though 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. With proper training, they can make loving family pets and guardians, and some have even been trained as therapy dogs.
  • Highlights

    • The Caucasus Mountain region is vast, and shepherds in the area had different needs, resulting in several variants of the breed that were created to provide whatever shepherds required. However, the Caucasian Shepherd Dogs from Georgia are generally considered to be 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 Molasser breeds. Some archaeological findings trace them back to Mesopotamia.
    • Caucasian Shepherd Dog coats come in three lengths and a huge variety of colors. 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 well to other animals, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can be very gentle and loving, and some have even become therapy dogs with proper training.
  • History

    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 wolves that were domesticated, while others believe their ancestry includes Mastiffs and other breeds. Many experts claim that the Caucasian Shepherd Dog 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 being resilient to cold weather and harsh conditions. Shepherds bred the qualities they needed into their dogs, and because the Caucasus Mountain region is so vast, many different variants of the breed emerged, though the Caucasian Shepherd Dogs that developed in Georgia came to be the breed standard that is recognized by most kennel clubs today. Sometime in the 1900s, the communist USSR started using Caucasian Shepherds as prisoner guard dogs and used them to develop 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 they are still used by shepherds 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. It is likely that breeders will try to weed out some of the less desirable tendencies from the breed as it becomes more popular.
  • Size

    Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are massive. Males tend to be a bit 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, and this 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.
  • Personality

    The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is not for novice dog owners. While they are capable of being loving, loyal family dogs and fierce protectors, they are also naturally distrustful of strangers and do not take well to dogs or other animals that they aren't familiar with. In general, they are 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, which may make 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, which can result in aggression. However, with humans they are familiar with, the Caucasian Shepherd is quite loving and loyal and will make for a lifelong guardian and protector.
  • Health

    The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is mostly considered to be 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, and that should be taken into consideration. They will need to be exercised, and their weight should be monitored by veterinarians. 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 rather than large ones to avoid bloat.
  • Care

    The main form of care that Caucasian Shepherd Dogs need is weight control through appropriate diet and exercise. You should discuss 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 slobber.
  • Feeding

    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 individual 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 are sticking 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 Dog can be gray, fawn, red, cream, tan, and even solid white. Coats may also be brindle or have large patches of two or more colors. 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 just bath them as needed or rely on a professional groomer.
  • Children And Other Pets

    Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can be loving family pets that are very loyal, even toward children, but it is very important to begin their socialization training 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 calm, 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 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 how to handle animals to avoid 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.
  • Rescue Groups

    If you're interested in adopting a Caucasian Shepherd Dog, you may want to keep an eye on Caucasian Ovcharka Rescue Rehome USA on Facebook, as they specialize in finding homes for the breed. You can also check local shelters near you or check out our adoption page, which lets you search for adoptable dogs by breed and location.

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