South Russian Ovtcharka

Type: Herding

Height: 24 - 26 inches.

Weight: 110 - 155 lbs.

Life Span: 9 - 11 years.

Litter Size: 5 - 10 puppies.

Country of Origin: Ukraine

Activity: High. They like to inspect their guarding territories, thus providing adequate exercise for themselves.

Watch-dog: High

Guard-dog: Very High

Description: The South Russian Ovtcharka is a large, furry breed that is native to Southern Russia, as the name indicates. There are three close relatives of the South Russian, being the Mid-Asian, Steppe, and Transcaucasian. The Steppe is the rarest of them all. The South Russian Ovtcharka remains rare to this day, and its numbers remain low. They are large dogs with profuse hair that is mostly white, grey or beige. They have strong bodies that are well muscled, and drop ears. They somewhat resemble the Old English Sheepdog in appearance. As for temperament, it is sometimes unstable. This breed is rather territorial, protective and aggressive toward strangers. They "require a kingdom to defend" in order to live their purpose, and prefer to guard their property, family, and other animals. The South Russian Ovtcharkas are intelligent but strong willed. They need a strong and dominant leader who will not spoil them, as some have states, "You can spoil this breed into a murderer." They are quick for their size, and can react aggressively with little or no warning towards a threat. Fearless and brave, this breed is not usually kept as a pet.

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Other Names: Youzhnorusskya ovcharka, Ioujnorousskaïa Ovtcharka, South Russian Sheepdog, Ukrainian Ovcharka, Yuzhak, South Ukrainian, Ovcharka, South Russian Shepherd Dog

Colors: White, beige, or pale grey, with or without small white or fawn spots.

Coat: The double coat is profuse, long and dense.

Temperament: The South Russian Ovcharka is intelligent, easy to train but strong-willed. They are fearless and protective. This breed is very temperamental, and is not the best kept solely as a pet. They are willful and independent, but can be affectionate with family. The Youzhak should not be approached by strangers, but rather should be allowed to approach them. This breed is very wary with strangers and is said to be the most biddable of the four Russian Sheepdogs. These dogs are rather quick to attack with little warning. Owners need to be firm and dominant with this breed. Other owners have warned,

With Children: Yes, as long as it isn't bothered.

With Pets: Yes, if introduced as a creature they need to guard from puppyhood. They should be brought up with these animals and socialized in order to protect them. They will be very protective of the animal, but generally do not get along with cats.

Special Skills: Guardian dog.

Care and Training: This breed needs extensive grooming in order to keep its long, shaggy coat in shape. It should be brushed often to avoid tangles and mats. This breed also requires abundant exercise, but will most likely get it simply from inspecting territorial grounds by itself. This breed needs a very dominant and leading owner who will not spoil it. They become very unstable if not given a strong leader. They do best if trained when they are young with a firm but positive hand. They should never be spoiled, however, as they can attack with little warning. This breed needs space, animals and its human family to protect. Training should be based on a relationship of mutual respect, not completely domineering, but firmly letting the dog know you are the boss. Training should be fair and consistent.

Learning Rate: Medium. Obedience - Low.

Special Needs: Firm training, fenced yard, leash, a job or activity, moderate exercise, extensive socialization and grooming.

Living Environment: This breed is not suited to be around a lot of strangers and it needs a lot of space, and should therefore never be kept in an apartment. They are actually quite weatherproof. They would do best if they are given a job to do, animals and a property to guard, and firm training from a dominant person. The best owner for this breed would be a dog-experienced owner living in a rural home with a yard. In most circumstances, this breed is not suitable as a pet.

Health Issues: This breed is rather healthy, there are none known health problems specific to this breed.

History: Being one of four types of this breed, the South Russian Sheepdog is said to be the most biddable. They stem from three other breeds, the Mid-Asian, Steppe and Transcaucasian Sheepdogs. All four breeds are different in that they have adapted to the different climate changes in which they live. This breed originates in the Crimean region of Askania Nova, South Russia, greatly resembling the Old English Sheepdog. The South Russian Ovcharki are said to have developed from the heavily corded breeds that came from Tibet or the East. Where smaller herding breeds failed to protect sheep against wolves, the South Russian Ovcharka prevailed. They were bred very protective, aggressive, and territorial to do the job. Used in the Red Army of Russia, this breed soon became a successful military dog in which they train them to be even more fierce. They had often been left by themselves to guard industrial plants, or to stand guard with the troops. Although the Russian military forbids exporting this breed, fanciers have found ways to integrate them into other countries. During the mid 19th century, the breed's numbers declined due to lack of wolves and use of agricultural land. They were close to extinction after the Russian Revolution. After World War II the breed was brought back up a little, but soon began to decline again. It is still on the decline today, even though Komondors were used in its development to bring it back. Today it is a rare breed.

Class: Herding

Registries: FCI (Group 1), UKC (Guardian Dog)