Caucasian Ovcharka
Caucasian Ovcharka
Caucasian Mountain Dog

(Caucasian Ovtcharka, Caucasian Mountain Dog, Kavkazskaya Ovcharka, Caucasian Shepherd, Caucasian Volkodav, Caucasian Wolfhound)

     This web site is dedicated to Caucasian Ovcharka, one of the best breeds of dog in the world. In Russian language, this breed uses to be called Кавказская Овчарка or Кавказский Волкодав. This resource gives you many useful information, although it does not deal with such things like breed standard or training tips in any detailed way.
     As for the inception of this breed, Caucasians were used not only on the Mountains of Caucasus but also in other All-Russian regions to protect flocks, premises and their owners against wolves and hostile strangers. Later this breed has also been used in wars, for example between Russia and Turkey, and to guard factories, storehouses, but also laagers and prisoners in jails.
     Today's Caucasian Ovcharka is more or less the original Wolfhound, but already little changed (this change uses to be called a modification by “The Red Star”, which was a large Russian kennel “Красная Звезда”). Apart from it, its shorter-coated form still lives on the Caucasus and is most often called Caucasian Volkodav.
     A couple of words on the Caucasian Ovcharka history by О. Красновская:

     Полвека назад, когда после Великой Отечественной войны для нужд армии и различных ведомств, использовавших кавказских овчарок для несения караульной службы, начали завозить собак с Кавказа, основные закупки племенного материала были произведены в республиках Закавказья - Азербайджане, Грузии, Армении... С этих собак и началось заводское разведение кавказских овчарок в СССР.

     Half century ago, when after Great Patriotic War the dogs from the Caucasus began to be imported for needs of army and various authorities using Caucasian Ovcharkas to carry a guarding service. The main purchases of breeding material were made in the republics of Overcaucasus - Azerbaidzhan, Georgia, Armenia... From these dogs also started the “racing breeding” (заводское разведение) of Caucasian Ovcharkas in Soviet Union.

     Большинство кавказских волкодавов имеют коротко купированные хвосты. Делалось это на Кавказе исстари и вовсе не для красоты или большего удобства в бою с хищниками. Наоборот, в бою, если собака поднимается на задные лапы, хвост помогает удержать равновесие, являясь своебразным балансиром. Все гораздо проще - зимой кавказский волкодав спит, прикрывая от мороза нос пушистым хвостом. Чабаны считали, что так собаки хуже чуют хищников, и хвосты удаляли.

     The majority of Caucasian Wolfhounds have shortly-dropped tails. It used to be did on the Caucasus since time immemorial and not because of a beauty at all or a higher comfort in a fight with beasts. Oppositely, in a fight, if the dog rises on its back paws, the tail helps to keep balance, being a distinctive counterpoise. All is much simpler - during the winter, the Caucasian Wolfhound sleeps, covering up the nose from the frost by a hairy tail. Sheepmen assumed that the dogs smell the beasts worse that way and they were removing the tails.

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     On the following pictures there are several Caucasian Wolfhounds. First goes Georgian type, then long-coated and shorter-coated aboriginal Caucasian Ovcharkas (also called Caucasian Volkodav) of kennel Хранитель гор and the last two pictures is the Caucasian Volkodav of kennel Пять гор:

                              

                              
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     How the story described here began? Years ago, I have had a male CO, but finding this breed of dog too dangerous to people, I switched to different breeds that are more suitable for life in a modern human society, especially in bigger cities. After I gained a lot of experiences and info about diverse breeds of dog, I have been comparing them with one another. Then I reappraised the hierarchy of all the important values and I realized, that there is nothing like the Caucasian Ovcharka, who has the most important qualities listed bellow in the highest possible extend:

     1) Distrustful and aggressive behavior toward strange people.
     2) Resistance against colds and bad weather to be kept outside all the year long.
     3) Height 70 cm at withers and above to be higher than most of other breeds of dog and to be able to easily reach the upper part of the human enemy's body and his head to quickly bring him down.
     4) Weight 50 kg and more to have a sufficient mass in order to overpower both other dogs, wolves and people.
     5) Swiftness similar to that of German Shepherd to be capable to use its mass quickly and effectively.
     6) Sense to hit the enemy on his weakest and most vulnerable place.
     7) Good coat that would protect the dog in a fight.
     8) Little tiredness to be able to go ten miles without exhaustion.
     9) Not much demanding as far as its need for food* concerns.

     There are two main and most important things:

     1. Protection work - Dog's ability to protect its owner, his family and possession against human enemies.

     2. Dog fighting - Dog's ability to protect its owner, his family and possession against wolves and endeavor to dominate the other dogs.

     I have found out, that the above-mentioned qualities are mainly presented in large Wolfhounds (also sometimes called wolfdogs). These "livestock guardians" (so-called LGDs) are Akbash, Caucasian Ovcharka, Central Asian Ovcharka, Kangal and other. However, considering their ability to fight human enemies, too, one of these breeds (out of which mainly two are trained against human enemies – Caucasians and Central Asians) is better at that than all the other and it is the Caucasian Ovcharka!
     It is used both by security services and by army against human enemies, and not rarely as a true Wolfhound against wolves as well. The CO is more or less the original true Overcaucasian Wolfhound, whose aggression against people, however, has purposely been evolved. One way or the other, this breed of dog needs both protection work training and dog fighting experience.

     We can read about the Caucasian Ovcharka's dominance in the defense tasks in a book entitled “Дрессировка отечественных волкодавов” (Training of Native Wolfhounds) by Mr. Валерий Высоцкий:

     Кавказец - лучшая охранная собака в мире.
     С этим не согласиться очень трудно. Территориальность, неприхотливость, недоверчивость к посторонним, ярость и бескомпромиссность в борьбе - это не похвала, это действительность!
     Однако не следует думать, что сама породная принадлежность может гарантировать безукоризненное решение охранных задач любой сложности. Специальная подготовка необходима, и нет ничего более вредного, чем мнение, будто бы кавказца дрессировать не нужно. Еще как нужно! Просто эти собаки предрасположены больше других именно к этой работе.

     Caucasian – the best protection dog on the world.
     To disagree with this is really onerous. Territoriality, modesty, suspiciousness toward strangers, ferocity and intransigence in a fight – it isn't a praise, it is a fact!
     However, it isn't good to think, that the appurtenance to this breed itself can guarantee errorless solution to defense tasks of any difficulty. Special training is necessary and there is nothing sicker than the opinion, that there is no need to train the Caucasian. Still, how necessary! Simply, these dogs are destined more than the other mainly to this work.

     Кавказец или Азиат?
     Мы уже писали, что в большинстве случаев азиат более покладист, кавказец отличается более взрывным характером. Но кавказец более эффектен внешне и более надежен как охранник.


     Caucasian or Asian?
     We have already written that in the majority of cases the Asian is more pervious, the Caucasian distinguishes by a more explosive character. But the Caucasian is more effective externally and more endued as a protector.

     Caucasian Ovcharka is a Wolfhound used against people more than all the other Wolfhounds (and therefore better at that than they). Every proper Caucasian should be aggressive toward strangers including even a referee on a dog show too, when he tries to touch the dog.

     It seems, that the Central Asian Ovcharka is a more "reasonable" breed of dog than the Caucasian Ovcharka. The CAO can have a better-balanced or calmer character, whereas the CO isn't that well-rounded. And considering the cases when the owner could not handle his dog that even attacked him, then out of the two breeds, the Caucasian Ovcharka is the more problematic one.

     The Caucasian Ovcharka we speak about is “заводская кавказская овчарка” (shortly "заводская КО"), a newer form of the old Overcaucasian Wolfhound (a so-called Transcaucasian Ovcharka).
     Ancient types of the All-Russian Wolfhound like Central Asian Ovcharka, aboriginal Caucasian Ovcharka and Caucasian Volkodav are steady breeds having a very long tradition and their character is said to be stable. The modern Caucasian Ovcharka we deal with is not so stable, but usually it is more aggressive toward humans than all the other wolfhounds. However, they can also be extremely explosive toward strangers, and excellent protectors and defenders.

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     The pictures of this female Central Asian Ovcharka originate from kennel Rusky medved:

          
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     The following table originates from Varlay. It shows the results of comparison of Caucasian and Central Asian Ovcharkas in protection work. As we may see, the Caucasian Ovcharka stands on the best positions. However, it also occupies the last positions. Older and well-balanced breed of the CAO occupies the medium positions, the center. It will never be as best as the CO, but it will always stably be very good. However, every examination has different results, but this one is a good example of what I have said.

     Average height of male working Caucasians is 72 - 75 cm at withers and usual weight 50 - 60 kg. Ideal weight is about 55 kg by 74 cm, 60 kg when a more massive skeleton. If a higher dog, then even more. However, we speak about a working dog that is more or less slim, oppositely the weight could reach 70 kg.

     The height and weight of Caucasian Wolfhounds is well explained in book "Кавказская Овчарка" by О. Красновская:


     "Вес взрослых особей колебается от 40 до 80 килограмов, половой тып выражен хорошо. Высота в холке у кобелей от 64 до 84 см, у сук - от 62 до 75 см. Слишком легкие и мелкие собаки, так же как и чрезмерно крупные и тяжелые, не соответствуют основным задачам породы, ибо проигрывают и в турнирных боях - тренировках, и в схватках с настоящими хищниками. Большой рост и вес нецелесообразны, т.к. такие собаки требуют большего количества пищи для поддержания жизнедеятельности, кроме того требуется большая прочность скелета и связок, и, главное, у тяжелых собак ухудшается способность управлять в бою своим телом, выдерживать длительную нагрузку. Все известные на Кавказе лучшие волкодавы имели среднюю высоту в холке от 70 до 76 см."

     The weight of adult individuals vary between 40 and 80 kilograms (most large Wolfhounds weigh from 45 to 75 kg - comment), sexual type expressed well. Height at withers in dogs is from 64 to 84 cm, in bitches from 62 to 75 cm. Too light and tiny dogs in the same way like excessively big and heavy ones do not correspond to the primary tasks of the breed, since they are losing both in tournaments - trainings - and in brawles with real beasts. Big growth and height are unsuitable, because such dogs require large amount of food in order to keep viability, apart from it a big strength of skeleton and connective tissues is needed, and, most importantly, in heavy dogs worsens the ability to operate with own body in fight, to bear a long-lasting load (for example, famous warrior Габо had allegedly weighed 55 kg - comment). All the well-known Wolfhounds on the Caucasus had an average height at withers from 70 to 76 cm.

     Appendix: Do you wanna buy a Caucasian puppy? If yes, then there is a question for you: Will your future Caucasian live on a premise with sufficient space, will you let him display aggression toward strange people and other dogs and will you let him materialize in this respect? If your answer is negative, then please don't buy the puppy. You would spoil him by the suppression of the two things most important to him.
     I would like to discourage you from a purchase of any puppy originating from "bulk breeders" having famous kennels and excellent pedigree, who raise more dogs at once often nicely-looking, but with lowered individuality and affected character, which were tested neither in fight with a human nor in fight with some other dog. Many bulk breeders are accepting much money for puppies descending after spoiled dogs, which is however sick. I recommend the purchase of a puppy originating from small kennels having tested dogs, living in a natural environment.


     *This breed should preserve its modesty in physical requirements of food and stay somewhat less-demanding in contrast to most of the other breeds of dog. From this reason, modern fodders full of vitamins seem to be less suitable with the exception to those, having a lower amount of artificial food supplements. Many authors of dog-related books advertise this or that modern artificial food, mainly because its producers use to be the sponsors of their books or their partners, so the financial aspect can be the main reason, why some authors propagate some fodders so much, although sometimes they themselves do not believe in them any much (but they pretend that they do).
     I believe that a smaller amount of dry food (given to the dog such as it is), a medium amount of dry food (which was put into the water or into a bouillon before given to the dog) should alternate with a normal food (cooked meat with some pasta, exceptionally an egg, bread, milk, now and then a raw meat). However, one famous Russian breeder said, that on the Caucasus there are these dogs fed by corn (steamed by hot water) and milky whey. They eat also mouses that they dig up on the pastures and sometimes they are given a fallen sheep or its tripes. In conslusion, I believe that better is to top up a lower-nutritive and usually also cheaper types of dry food with the normal food, than to use a high-nutritive dry food only.


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     Legal disclaimer: This is educational web site that only represents the personal and subjective opinion of its author. His view on this breed of dog and related information does not match the officially-valid opinion of the country of its origin and is not any recommendable instruction how to treat these dogs. The author does not warrant or assume any responsibility for the damage caused to anyone by using of and/or manipulation with the text of this web site and he does not warrant the completeness, trueness, safety or usefulness of any information introduced in it. As for the quality of the language and translations posted in this web site, it is amateurish work only, which can contain some errors. Please note that regardless of what is said within this web site, everybody must obey all the valid laws of the country which citizen he is and/or which he lives in. It is also valid for dog fighting that is forbidden in the majority of countries and on the territory of which it must not be arranged.