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Caucasian Shepherd Dog

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Caucasian Shepherd Dog

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is giant sized breed from the Caucasus region which covers several European countries and regions as well as Asian, including Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia. For this reason there are a large number of names the dog is known by and it can be short coated or long coated. A few of those names are Caucasian Mountain Dog, Caucasian Ovcharka, Baskhan (Karachay) pariy, Russian Mountain Dog, Georgian Nagazi, Sage Ghafghazi, Kavkazskaya Ovcharka, Azerbaijani Shepherd Dog and Russian Bear Dog. It was bred and used as a guard dog and to kill predators like bear and wolves. It is especially popular in Georgia and the standard used for the breed is based on the dogs from that area. In some registries like the FCI the breed is listed as Russian but in fact its base is wider than that. This is not just any dog and takes very particular owners and care.

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog at a Glance
Name Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Other names Caucasian Mountain Dog, Caucasian Ovcharka, Baskhan (Karachay) pariy, Russian Mountain Dog, Georgian Nagazi, Sage Ghafghazi, Kavkazskaya Ovcharka, Azerbaijani Shepherd Dog , Russian Bear Dog
Nicknames CO
Origin Caucasus (a region that covers the border between Europe and Asia including the countries of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey, Georgia)
Average size Giant
Average weight 100 to 220 pounds
Average height 26 to 30 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Double, thick, short or long depending on the region its from
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, tan, brindle, grey, cream, black, rust, fawn
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Very good
Tolerance to heat Moderate
Tolerance to cold Excellent – built to handle even extreme cold
Shedding Heavy – expect a lot of hair around the home that will need to be cleaned up daily
Drooling Above average to heavy – will be slobber and drool to deal with
Obesity Above average to high – measure its food and make sure it gets enough activity or it does easily become overweight
Grooming/brushing Average – brush at least twice a week, if you brush more you control the loose hair more
Barking Rare – but when it does it is loud
Exercise needs Slightly active – needs regular exercise though to stay healthy and surprisingly agile when it needs to be
Trainability Difficult – needs experienced, firm and confident trainers
Friendliness Moderate – not the friendliest of dogs
Good first dog Low – needs experienced handling
Good family pet Moderate – not the best family dog
Good with children Moderate to good but needs good socialization and best with older children
Good with other dogs Low – socialization and supervision is essential they are very territorial and dominant and aggression is a real possibility
Good with other pets Low to moderate – some can learn to accept pets in the home
Good with strangers Low – can be aggressive towards them, introductions and supervision are needed
Good apartment dog No – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues include joint dysplasia, heart problems and obesity
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health needs and pet insurance
Food expenses $500 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $300 a year for things like miscellaneous items, basic training, license and toys
Average annual expenses $1285 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $2,000
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 1 Child victims: 0 Maimings: 1 Deaths: 0

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog's Beginnings

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is one of the oldest living Molasser type breeds and because the region it is from is broad can vary somewhat in type from one place to another. However in the show ring the common type seen tends to be the one favored in Georgia. It has been around since ancient times, thousands of years in fact. It was developed to be a flock guardian from pre-historic molosser breeds and was used to protect property and flocks from animal predators like wolves, bears and jackals and from thieves. It was bred to be hardworking, fierce, powerful, strong, protective and formidable.

Part of the reason there are different types is because for a long time there were no organized kennel clubs or a written standard in those regions. As a result different variants developed including the Astrakhan type, the Corcassian, the Dagestan, Armenian Gampr, Georgian Shepherd, Garban, Gerogian Akhaltsihnske, Sage Ghafghazi, Sage Gorgy, Volkodav, Kavkaz Mastiff to name a few! During the communist area of Russia (USSR) it was used as a prisoner guard dog, in army kennels to develop other breeds and it was shown also show in dog shows.

New Lease on Life

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog first appeared outside of its home region in the 1930s and that was in Germany. In the 1960s it was used in East Germany along the Berlin Wall as a border patrol dog. It has become popular as a working dog in police forces and as a guard dog across Europe and parts of Asia. It is recognized all over these areas and by the FCI, UKC and is in the foundation stock service of the AKC. In places like the Slovak and Czech Republics, Poland and Hungary there are strong breeding programs for it to keep it popular. While in many areas it is not kept as a flock guardian anymore it is still kept in other roles, and for some as a companion though it does take a particular type of owner to do this. There are also still some places in the Caucasus region where it remains in its traditional role.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

The Dog You See Today

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a giant sized breed weighing 100 to 220 pounds and standing 26 to 30 inches tall. It is a formidable and muscular and powerful looking breed though being there are several types some can be still large and strong but be more lightly built, and some can lean towards massive and strongly boned. That difference is often seen between mountain region dogs and plain region dogs and the coats are also different, the latter has a shorter coat and the former a longer thicker coat to make it more suited to the climate. The coat is weather-resistant and when younger the fur is finer. Colors can range from grey, brindle, pied, fawn, tan and white but for show dogs the FCI does not allow brown.

This dog has a tail covered in long feathered hair and has hips that a re slightly raised from the topline. Its front legs are straight and long and it has powerful back legs. Its paws are heavy and very large and have insulation from the cold in the form if hair in between the toes. Its eyes are somewhat deep set and are dark. The nose is large with wide open nostrils and is black. In some areas in its native region its ears are cropped short but that practice is being banned in many countries now. They are also well covered in fur to insulate them from the cold.


The Inner Caucasian Shepherd Dog


The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is fairly intelligent but very strong minded and strong willed and due to its size it can easily refuse to listen or obey and unless you have firm leadership over it, you will not be able to do anything about it. It is important to make it clear that while there are many kept as companions, they need a number of things to flourish in this role, a strong leader, experienced owner, training and socialization and plenty of activity. It is wary of strangers and can even be aggressive towards people it does not know so make sure it is introduced carefully and that socialization has covered this. Often when problems occur with aggression it is because of poor ownership and poor raising.

IIt was bred to be a protector and it is very good at that job. When in a family or kept as a companion it will protect you with its life. If there is an intruder it will not just bark to alert you it will act to defend you, the family and its home. Often though just its sheer size will deter most attackers and intruders. Again socialization is important to make those very strong protective instincts do not make it go too far. Introduce friends that will come over so it learns who are friends of the family but do it one person at a time and give the dog time to get used to them. As well as being brave, strong and alert it can also be very loyal, dedicated, happy when it has a job to do and affectionate.

Living with a Caucasian Shepherd Dog

What will training look like?

As mentioned this dog is not for first time owners or even just casual pet owners. It needs people experienced especially with this type of breed and its needs. Training is difficult, it will take a lot of time, commitment, patience and focus on specific areas. As well as giving comprehensive rather than just basic obedience training you will need to give it thorough socialization. Both should be started from a young age, as soon as possible before it gets so large and becomes entrenched in its ways and uncontrollable. It can be very stubborn and is a dominant breed so needs owners to be firm and in control at all times. No relaxing of rules and also no negative training methods, keep it positive. Make sure it is taught that not only are you the pack leader, other people in the family are above it in the pack too.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

How active is the Caucasian Shepherd Dog?

This is such a large dog it is certainly not suite to apartment life, it needs a large home where it has space to move around and at least a large yard. It comes from being a working dog so needs to be kept busy. It is not especially physically active but it needs a certain level of exercise to keep it healthy and it is surprisingly agile for its size when it needs to be. It does also need plenty of mental stimulation. It should be give one or two long walks a day, some time off leash somewhere safe where it can bound around, and training will need to include strict rules on walking on a leash so it never pulls at you. Its strength means someone strong needs to take out not a child or a senior member of the family.

Caring for the Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Grooming needs

The short haired type needs a bit less brushing than the long type, just because the latter can get tangled easily without attention paid. Given its size the long coat especially can take some time to brush through it all. It does shed a heavy amount so there will be a lot of hair around the home to be dealt with. Bathing a dog of this size is not an easy task so leave to times when it really needs one. If you do not have the room indoors another couple of options include a hose outside when it warm enough or looking into local professional dog grooming salons. Some have bathing stations people can use for all sizes of dogs. The problem with the latter option may be though that it does not tend to get along with other dogs so you would have to find a time when the salon did not have other dogs there.


Other needs include brushing its teeth with a dog toothpaste and toothbrush at least two to three times a week, checking ears for infection and wiping them clean with a dog ear cleansing solution, and clipping its nails when they get too long. The last thing needs to be done carefully so that it does not cause bleeding and pain if you cut through the quick of the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are. There will also be some drool to deal with especially after it eats and drinks.

Feeding Time

This dog will eat between 6 to 14 cups of a good to excellent quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals, or even 3 to avoid problems with bloat. Things that affect how much it eats will include its size, health, metabolism rare, level of activity and age. Make sure it also has access to enough water that is changed often.

How is the Caucasian Shepherd Dog with children and other animals?

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is not one recommended for families unless you have a lot of experience and it is especially not recommended for families that have young children already. It is a powerful large dog that can knock them over, and its tendency to herd means it will try to push them around to protect them. Supervision is needed and both the dog and the children need to be taught how to touch and treat each other respectfully. It is also important to note that should strange children come to visit, ie friends careful introduction and supervision is needed. It will not react well to things like rough play and may think it needs to protect its children and over react. This is also a very territorial and dog aggressive breed. It does not deal with other dogs well and that can lead to aggression. Pets can be tolerated if it has been raised with them and learned to see them as part of the family. Strange animals outside would not fair as well though.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Its life span is about 10 to 12 years and it is generally healthy but a few issues that can affect them include obesity, heart problems and joint dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of attacks against people that have done bodily harm by dogs in the last 35 years, in the US and Canada, there is mention of 1 incident for this dog. This was classed as a maiming and the victim, an adult, was left with permanent scarring, disfigurement or loss of limb. There have been no deaths or child victims linked to it in North America. There are likely higher stats in its home region though, as it just does not have that much of a foothold in that part of the world so statistics are not really reflective of the potential.

This is an aggressive dog, to people and to dogs, and it needs proper handling. It does not always have to be aggressive and out of control, but too many people over estimate their dog handling skills. When with smaller dogs at least he damage they can do is less usually, but a dog like this can kill easily. Make sure it is socialized and given advanced obedience training. Always supervise it when you are out, keep it leashed and avoid popular dog walking spots if that tends to set it off. Make sure it gets the attention it needs along with the stimulation and that you truly do have what it takes to care for this dog.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Caucasian Shepherd Dog puppy will cost about $2000 for a decent pet quality dog from a trusted and experienced breeder. That price can triple for something from a top show breeder. It is always best to take the time and look for breeders who have a good reputation and experience especially with this type of dog. Keep in mind since breeders elsewhere are rare you may then have to factor in transport fees too. Never buy from a puppy mill, pet store or back yard breeder. If you can move away from the idea of a purebred there are a lot of mixed dogs hoping for new homes in shelters and rescues. Perhaps you could see if there is one there you could adopt, fees tend to be $50 to $400.


Once you have found the dog you want and are ready to bring it home there are some things you will want to get for it. Food bowls, bedding, collar and leash, crate and so on. These will come to about $200. Then it will need to have a vet check up for some tests and such. Things like deworming, micro chipping, blood tests, shots, a physical, spaying or neutering for example which will cost another initial cost of $290.

Then there are annual costs to dog ownership, for its health basics like shots, physicals and flea and tick prevention along with pet insurance it will cost about $485 a year. Feeding such a large dog will cost more than smaller breeds. Expect to spend around $500 a year on a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Miscellaneous costs like good training, toys, license, miscellaneous items come to about $300. This gives an annual cost of $1285 as a starting figure.


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The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is not just a regular dog and that is not just because of its size. It has very strong protective instincts, it can be people and dog aggressive and needs to handled by people who are experienced, confident and strong, both strong willed and strong or healthy physically. It is used to being kept as a working dog and should be given jobs to do and kept physically and mentally challenged to keep it happy. Care should be taken around children and and it needs to be in a home with space and a yard.

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