Have you ever heard of the Caucasian Ovcharka?
If you’re in the market for a large, versatile and highly intelligent dog that can serve as both a protector and loyal family companion, you’ve come to the right place.
The Caucasian Ovcharka, also known as the Caucasian Shepherd or Caucasian Mountain Dog, is a breed unlike any other. Considered a giant dog breed with a decent lifespan, very few health issues, and an infectious spirit, it’s no surprise people are lining up to learn more about this magnificent and almost mystical canine.
But as tempting as it may be to invest in a Caucasian Ovcharka, there is a lot you should consider before you do.
With that noted, here are 12 things you should know about the Caucasian Ovcharka.
The Caucasian Ovcharka – A Breed Overview
The Caucasian Ovcharka is a giant herding breed from the mountains between Asia and Europe.
Origin: The Caucasus Mountains
Height: 2.2 to 2.3 Feet
Weight: 110 – 220 Pounds
Temperament: Calm, Devoted, Powerful, Protective, Athletic
Best Suited For: Experienced Dog Owners
Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 Years
Health Issues: Hip Dysplasia, Heart Disease, Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, Obesity and Cataracts
Other Names: The Caucasian Mountain Dog, The Caucaisioan Shepherd
1. The Caucasian Ovcharka Is A Working Breed With A Unique History
Caucasian Ovcharka dogs hail from the Caucasus mountains, which are nestled between Europe and Asia.
Named for the Caucasus mountains from which he hails, the Caucasian Ovcharka, also known as the Caucasian Mountain dog and Caucasian Shepherd, is a massive working dog bred for a variety of purposes.
He’s also an ancient breed, with a heritage dating back as far as the first century BC. It is believed these giant dogs are closely related to other massive breeds like Asian Mastiffs and Balkans Sheepdogs.
Originally, the Caucasian Ovcharka was bred as a formidable guard dog. His incredible size and fierce loyalty to his family and property made him the ideal deterrent for predators like wolves, and even people with anything less than pure intentions.
Throughout history, Caucasian Ovcharka dogs worked as herding dogs, livestock guardians, property guardians, and friendly family companions once their working day was done. They were utilized by a variety of cultures and have been found to span across a number of nations, including Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Turkey, Ossetia, Ingushetia, Iran, and Chechinia.
Though this breed has been in existence for centuries, he was not recognized by major breed clubs until around the 1930’s, when he was finally introduced into the Western Show-Ring.
Due to the Caucasian Ovcharka’s broad existence throughout the world, varieties of this dog will vary depending on the region each dog is from.
That said, as of now the Caucasian Ovcharka is available in just two official types, including the Mountain Type and the Steppe Type.
2. This Is A Giant Dog Breed That Requires Lots Of Space
Because of their massive size, the Caucasian ovcharka is not a good apartment dog.
As a giant dog breed, the Caucasian Ovcharka requires more space both inside and outside of the home. However, unlike his Great Dane counterpart, the Caucasian Ovcharka is more energetic, active and enthusiastic. He requires a good amount of exercise and activity in order to stay happy and healthy and will not do well in apartments or smaller homes without a large backyard.
If you are considering investing in a Caucasian Ovcharka, you should also consider this dog’s incredible strength and stamina. Built for endurance, the Caucasian Ovcharka is a dog that not only needs tons of space to roam, but also freedom to think for himself.
3. The Caucasian Ovcharka Is Sweet With His Family and Other Household Pets, Though He May Be Wary Of Strangers
These dogs are friendly and affectionate with their families, but may be suspicious of strangers and pets they don’t know.
Like many dogs bred for guarding, the Caucasian Ovcharka can be prone to protective instincts. Most experts describe him as a fearless and devoted protector who should be taken seriously by both owners and strangers alike.
While this dog is sweet natured and affectionate with his family and other household pets, he can be prone to wariness with strangers and animals he is not familiar with. This is especially true if the Causaian Ovcharka is not properly socialized. Bred as a guard dog to keep predators like wolves at bay, it’s also very important that the Caucasian Ovcharka is properly socialized around a number of other animals outside of the home.
This is not a dog that is ideal for very social families, unless of course he is very carefully trained and socialized at an early age.
With that being said, the Caucasian Ovcharka is, in spite of his massive size, a gentle companion for children and smaller pets he is raised with.
It is still imperative that owners with children monitor youngsters in the home around the Caucasian Ovcharka. We also recommend working with children to learn basic canine body language.
Not only will doing this help strengthen your bond with your Caucasian Ovcharka, it will also help reduce the chances of a dog bite and can even help curb future behavioral issues in the breed.
4. Training and Socialization A Caucasian Ovcharka Can Prove Difficult, As These Dogs Are Stubborn
Training your Caucasian Ovcharka early can help reduce behavioral issues down the road, however these dogs can be challenging to work with.
It is one thing to know you must train and socialize a dog, but it is quite another to understand how to properly implement these techniques, especially if you are dealing with a dog as stubborn as the Caucasian Ovcharka.
And while all dogs need to be trained and socialized at an early age to reduce behavioral issues, training and socialization are especially important for dogs with guarding tendencies.
Working breeds like the Caucasian Ovcharka can be prone to a variety of serious behavioral issues if they are not properly raised, so it’s vital that owners willing to invest in a Caucasian Ovcharka are also willing to commit time and energy to consistent training and socialization.
Socializing your Caucasian Ovcharka should begin in puppyhood and continue throughout your dog’s life. You can help ensure your Caucasian Ovcharka is properly socialized by making sure he is introduced to as many new experiences, people, animals, sights, sounds and places as possible during puppyhood.
You can’t always control how your dog views certain situations, but you can help your Caucasian Ovcharka have positive first impressions with new experiences by gently encouraging him with treats and praise.
Refrain from forcing your Caucasian Ovcharka into a situation that is obviously stressful for him. Doing this may lead to future issues and exasperate fears or behavioral problems down the road.
Along with socialization, training should also be taken seriously and continue throughout your Caucasian Ovcharka’s lifetime.
Unfortunately, the Caucasian Ovcharka dog is not for the faint of heart. These dogs are incredibly intelligent, stubborn and independent. They can easily outwit and overwhelm novice or impatient dog owners. With that noted, these dogs do best with owners who respect them and are willing to learn to work with their unique mindset.
Caucasian Ovcharka dogs, like all dogs, respond best to positive reinforcement training techniques. To better hold their attention, try and ensure training sessions are kept short, gamelike and fun. Use lots of enthusiastic praise and palatable treats, and avoid scolding or punishing them if they become bored.
And remember, experts warn that training a Caucasian Ovcharka will be a long-term endeavor, so get ready to commit.
5. The Caucasian Ovcharka Has A Dense Coat That Comes In Several Colors and Varieties
Caucasian Ovcharka dogs can come in a variety of coat types and colors.
Because the Caucasian Ovcharka is a dog that spans a number of cultures and regions, his coat type can vary depending on his lineage. These coats range from long to short, but are often dense, double-coated, weather-resistant and self-cleaning.
The Caucasian Ovcharka also comes in a wide variety of coat colors and patterns. In fact, according to experts, these dogs are available in:
- And Spotted
But while these dogs can range in color and coat type, they do have some consistency in characteristics. Their ears are long and floppy, they are large-boned and muscular, their tails are full, and their heads are large.
6. Caucasian Ovcharka Dogs Are Relatively Healthy, But The Health Issues They Do Have Can Be Serious
These are relatively healthy dogs in spite of their massive size, though owners should be aware of potentially serious health complications.
Like all dogs, the Caucasian Ovcharka can be prone to a number of genetic health issues. These health issues can be exasperated if you obtain your Caucasian Ovcharka through an irresponsible source, or if your Caucasian Ovcharka lives an unhealthy lifestyle.
The good news is that these dogs are generally healthy. They have a decent lifespan of between 10 and 12 years, which isn’t too bad for a giant breed dog.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Caucasian Ovcharka is most prone to suffering from health issues common to giant breed dogs including hip dysplasia, heart issues, cataracts, gastric dilatation-volvulus (Bloat), and obesity.
Ensuring you get your Caucasian Ovcharka from a reputable source like a responsible breeder or shelter can help reduce your chances of dealing with these potentially costly health complications.
You can also work to prevent health issues in your dog by ensuring you keep up with routine vet visits and by having your Caucasian Ovcharka health screened at an early age.
7. Caucasian Ovcharka Dog’s Require A Specific Diet To Ensure They Stay Healthy
A quality dog food can help keep your Caucasian Ovcharka living his best life.
Your Caucasian Ovcharka’s health will also be impacted by his diet. All dogs require a quality dog food from puppyhood in order to properly mature and to reduce their chances of developing serious health complications as they age.
It is especially important for giant breed dogs like the Caucasian Ovcharka to eat a diet specified for their age, weight and activity level.
Giant breed dogs should eat a dog food that is made with real meat protein and is rich in carbs, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and contains a good source of water. Dog food should be specifically designed for large to giant breed dogs to help aid in development and prevent bone and joint issues.
It’s especially important that your Caucasian Ovcharka eats a dog food specific for his age during puppyhood, as giant breed puppies tend to grow rapidly and their bones, joints and muscles need extra nutrients to reduce potential damage as they develop.
Caucasian Ovcharka dogs are also prone to a few health issues that can be compounded by diet, including obesity and Bloat.
Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV, is a life threatening complication that can come on suddenly. It is sometimes caused by an unhealthy diet, but it can also be caused by a dog eating or drinking too much too quickly, becoming overly excited, or eating or drinking immediately after exercise or play.
Bloat occurs when gas or air fills the stomach, causing the intestines to flip. When this occurs, blood flow is cut off to the lower part of the dog’s body, which sends the animal into shock. Bloat requires immediate emergency care by a veterinarian professional.
Unfortunately, large, deep-chested dogs like the Caucasian Ovcharka are more susceptible to complications like Bloat, but you can combat these issues by not only ensuring your dog is on a proper diet, but by also investing in a slow feeder like the one listed below.
Neater Pet Brands Stainless Steel Slow Feeder
The above slow feeder is a stainless steel slow feeder by Neater Pet Brands. We like this design for larger breeds like the Caucasian Ovcharka because it is likely more durable than plastic brands with a similar make.
We also like that this slow feeder is made with a straight forward design to help not only reduce the chances of Bloat in your Caucasian Ovcharka, but to also help encourage healthy eating habits that can help reduce obesity as your dog ages.
8. Exercise And Mental Stimulation Are An important Part Of A Causasian Ovcharka’s Daily Life
Caucasian ovcharka dogs require routine moderate exercise.
Some giant dog breeds don’t require too much exercise. The Caucasian Ovcharka is not one such giant breed. He needs daily exercise every day and will also enjoy free playtime in a large, securely fenced backyard.
This means that the Caucasian Ovcharka is best suited for active families who enjoy getting outside at least once a day for a good walk. With that being said, the Caucasian Ovcharka is not an overly active or energetic dog either.
He will do well with a good 40 minute to hour long walk or hike each day, but he won’t be too partial to intensive runs or other strenuous activities.
But don’t let this dog’s lumbering size fool you into thinking he is slow. If he wants to be, the Caucasian Ovcharka is capable of great bursts of speed and strength. He was a bred protection dog, afterall, and was keen on chasing off predators like wolves.
For this reason, it’s important to walk your Caucasian Ovcharka on a quality leash and harness made foto withstand the size and strength of giant breed dogs.
PetAge Tactical No-Pull Dog Harness
When it comes to the Caucasian Ovcharka, we recommend investing in a tactical dog harness like the no-pull dog harness above by PetAge. Because this dog harness is designed for tactical use, it is made with durable, quality materials that will not fray or break. It is also designed to reduce pulling and fit comfortably on your Caucasian Ovcharka.
And speaking of pulling, it’s best to refrain from using choke chains or prong collars on your Caucasian Ovcharka to gain better control. Not only has this type of equipment been found to be potentially dangerous for dogs, it has also been proven to be less effective than using positive training equipment like no pull harnesses.
Of course, physical exercise is not the only thing you’ll need to focus on when it comes to the Caucasian Ovcharka. This is also a highly intelligent dog that can be prone to boredom and behavioral issues if he is not kept mentally stimulated.
In order to ensure your Caucasian Ovcharka is happy both physically and metnally, try to ensure he gets outside a few times a day and offer him jobs to do around the house. He will enjoy helping you bring in the mail, sort the laundry or load the dishwasher.
9. Grooming The Caucasian Ovcharka Should Be Taken Seriously, Though It May Not Be As Difficult As You Think
Due to this dog’s dense double coat, it’s no surprise he’ll require some routine grooming.
Because the Caucasian Ovcharka comes in a variety of coat types, grooming may vary. That said, the Caucasian Ovcharka is generally easier to groom than many people initially think. His coat is weather-resistant, self-cleaning and waterproof.
This means that he only needs to be bathed once every six weeks or so, unless he gets particularly dirty in the meantime.
The Caucasian Ovcharka is a heavy shedder, however, and he sheds year around. During the shedding season his coat loses a profuse amount of hair, and you’ll be wise to brush your Caucasian Ovcharka once a day.
If your Caucasian Ovcharka has a longer coat, brushing should be maintained at least three times a week outside of shedding season. Otherwise, if you have a short-coated Caucasian Ovcharka, you can get by brushing him once or twice a week.
Like all dogs, the Caucasian Ovcharka will also need to have his ears checked regularly to keep them free of moisture and buildup that can cause ear infections. He should also have his nails trimmed often and his teeth brushed daily.
10. The Caucasian Ovcharka Is Adaptable To A Variety Of Climates
This dog’s dense, weather-resistant coat helps him withstand both hot and cold weather more easily.
In spite of his dense, double-coat, the Caucasian Ovcharka is surprisingly adaptable. His weather-resistant outer coat and downy undercoat provide him with a unique sort of insulation, which makes him especially capable of withstanding more severe weather.
This is one of the reasons it’s important to never shave a double-coated dog breed like the Caucasian Ovcharka, even if you live in warmer climates. Shaving a Caucasian Ovcharka can lead to an increased risk of heat stroke, sunburn, and other issues.
Of course, while the Caucasian Ovcharka is a hardy breed that is able to withstand a variety of weather types, it’s still important not to leave him unattained in severely cold weather or especially warm weather.
It should also be noted that, while these dogs do originate from working breeds who spent much of their time in open fields, the modern day Caucasian Ovcharka is a family-oriented dog that is best suited to live alongside his human family indoors.
11. The Caucasian Ovcharka Is Best Suited For Experienced Dog Owners
These dogs require routine activity and should be kept mentally stimulated. Without this type of activity, they can be prone to serious behavioral issues.
Caucasian Ovcharka dogs are gorgeous, but beneath that lush coat and behind those sweet eyes is a hard working dog with an incredible mind. He can be stubborn, athletic, and prone to some serious behavioral issues if his unique needs are not met each day.
For this reason, the Caucasian Ovcharka is best suited for experienced dog owners with plenty of time on their hands to commit to training, exercise, socialization and mental stimulation. It is also important that the Caucasian Ovcharka lives in a home with lots of space and an area outdoors where he can run and play freely.
When properly raised, trained and socialized, the Caucasian Ovcharka can get along with most everyone. He is gentle with children and other pets and makes a wonderful companion for the dog owner who doesn’t mind a challenging, clever breed.
12. Caucasian Ovcharka Puppies Can Be Quite Expensive
Caucasian Ovcharka puppies can sell for up to $6,500!
Are you considering investing in the Caucasian Ovcharka? If so, it’s a good idea to get your budgeting pants on. This is a breed that can range greatly in price, sometimes going for as little as $500 and other times going for as much as $6,500.
Most sources show that the average Caucasian Ovcharka puppy goes for around $2,400 to $3,000 when buying through a reputable breeder.
Working or show quality Caucasian Ovcharka dogs will cost much more. The price will also vary depending on your dog’s gender, with female Caucasian Ovcharka dogs often selling for more than males.
While the price of a Caucasian Ovcharka can vary greatly, experts warn against cutting costs upfront for a puppy at a bargain price. It is important that you go through a republic breeder, as this will likely save you more money in the long run.
When looking for a Caucasian Ovcharka breeder, look for professionals that are certified and have a history with the breed. Ask for paperwork proving pedigree and a health certificate that shows your Caucasian Ovcharka puppy was screened and cleared of any major health issues.
If you prefer to rescue a Caucasian Ovcharka, there are a few breed specific rescues and shelters in the United States that specialize in this dog.
When you do go through a rescue to adopt a Caucasian Ovcharka, you should still prepare to pay a fee. The fee to rescue a dog can vary but typically ranges between $250 to $750.
There are other benefits to adopting a Caucasian Ovcharka outside of price. These benefits include:
- Potentially getting an adult dog and skipping the puppy phase
- Finding a dog that has already undergone some basic training and socialization
- And rescuing a dog that might have already been spayed, neutered, or microchipped.
So, now that you know more about the Caucasian Ovcharka, what do you think? Would this be the right dog for you, or would you prefer a dog that is a bit more low maintenance?
Tell us what you think about the Caucasian Ovcharka below in the comment section.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.