Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Other names Kavkazskaïa Ovtcharka,
Circassian sheep dog,
Caucasian Ovcharka,
Armenian Khobun,
Georgia Nagazi,
Sage Ghafghazi,
Kars Çoban Köpeği
კავკასიური ნაგაზი
Kavkasiuri nagazi
Caucasian Ovcharka
Caucasian Mountain Dog
Kars Çoban Köpeği
Circassian Sheep dog
Адыгэ Мэлыхъуахь (Adyghe melekhuah)
Nicknames Bombor, CO,
Country of origin Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, former USSR, historic Circassia
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog (Azerbaijani: Qafqaz Iti, Georgian კავკასიური ნაგაზი "Kavkasiuri nagazi", transliterated Russian: Kavkazskaïa Ovtcharka) is a breed of dog that is popular in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Southern Russia and Northern Caucasus.




Caucasian Shepherd

Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are very strongly-boned, very muscular and even-tempered Molossers. Plain dogs have a shorter coat and appear taller as they are more lightly built. Mountain dog types have a heavier coat and are more muscularly built. Caucasian Shepherds have no maximum height. The minimum height for females is 64 centimetres (25 in), with a desirable height between 67 and 70 centimetres (26 and 28 in). They weigh at least 45 kilograms (99 lb). The minimum height for males is 68 centimetres (27 in), with a desirable height between 72 and 75 centimetres (28 and 30 in). Males weigh 50 kilograms (110 lb) and up.[1] Softness and vicious temperaments are considered serious faults for the breed. Dogs of this breed are generally healthy and long lived, but hip dysplasia, obesity and occasional heart problems are known to occur. The ears of the Caucasian Shepherd are traditionally cropped, although some modern dogs are unaltered. The preferred show-types are the long-coated grey dogs with some white markings. Black or black-and-tan dogs are often not acceptable in the show ring.


Caucasian Shepherds are typically assertive, brave, alert, strong, hardy and courageous to a fault. They are truly second to none in their bellicosity towards strangers. Unless properly socialized, they may exhibit unmanageable tendencies. They seldom have time for strangers (but will greet family friends warmly) and have extremely powerful guarding instincts. Everything and everyone who belongs to the family, including other dogs will be regarded by this dog as part of its family and as such will fall under its guardianship. Owing to their size and nature these dogs should not be left alone with children. Aggression and dominance toward unknown dogs should be expected unless the animal has been extensively socialized at an early age and even then some unwanted behaviors may occur.


Caucasian Shepherd guarding poultry
Caucasian Shepherd puppy

The Caucasus mountains are home to one of the oldest living Molosser breeds, the Caucasian Mountain Dog. There is a great variety of types among the Caucasian dogs depending on their home region, but a single type has come to be favored in the show rings and literature, at the expense of other breed variants.

Although its first official Show-Ring appearance outside the Caucasus was in the 1930s in Germany, the Caucasian Mountain Dog has existed since ancient times, like many Eastern Molossers.

Recent history

  • The Georgian Nagazi is tall, athletic and multicoloured. Another type of Georgian Nagazi, known as Tushetian Nagazi or Georgian Caucasian Sheepdog, which represents the original population of the breed, with the pure white dogs being the most valued.
  • The Armenian dogs are divided into the large, longhaired and often multicoloured type and the slightly smaller wolf-grey dogs of medium-length coat with longer muzzles.
  • Daghestan dogs are tall, wide-headed and athletic, short-haired and multicoloured.
  • Astrakhan type is found in the Kabardino-Balkarian region and is believed to be a cross between the Russian show type and the old Circassian and Kazbek dogs, but Balkarian Molossers are also rooted in the Sarmatian Mastiff.
  • The Turkish Caucasus dogs are divided into four types, those being the Garban, the Akhaltsikhe type, the Circassian variant and the Kars Dog.
  • The large, short-muzzled, shorthaired fawn, brown, red, with or without white markings and extremely vicious Garban (Gorban) was developed from the Kars and the Kangal, as well as other Turkish dogs being crossed with the Armenian and Kazbek types.
    • The Akhaltsihnske type was created from Garban crosses with the Georgian Nagazi variant and possibly Armenian and gomik turkey,resulting in longhaired, lightly built solid-coloured white, fawn and grey dogs. The Circassian variant is believed to be a result of crossing the Kangals with the Cherkes dogs introduced to Turkey after the Russian-Circassian wars.
    • The Kars Dog is a variety closely associated with the Kars Province of modern Turkey and is today seen as a separate breed. The Armenian Gamprs are smaller than the Georgian dogs and are shorter-necked and squarely built, and come in a variety of colors.
  • The Volkodav variant also comes in two types, with the longhaired mountain and short-coated steppe dogs both being smaller than Georgian and Armenian types, always having black masks.
  • A result of matings between the dogs of southern Kavkaz with the Sage Mazandarani and the Kars Dog of Turkey, the Iranian Sage Ghafghazi is a lean, powerful and richly coated mastiff, used as a caravan protector of the Shahsavan nomads, who have been breeding it since the 17th century. These Iranian Caucasians come in a variety of colours, both solid and bicoloured.
  • There is also a rare shorthaired Kavkaz mastiff, known as the North-Caucasian Volkodav, which is on its way to receive a separate breed recognition.

Even the legendary Alaunt, the breed considered to be the key progenitor of all bulldog breeds, is also descended from this Caucasian stock of mountain dogs.

As mentioned above, most working Caucasian dogs are hybrids between established types, as well as some lines of the Central Asian dogs, in effect making the Russian show type appear to be a superior-breed dog in the eyes of fanciers. There are two types, the working strain in the east and the show dogs in the west. The fighting strains of the Caucasian Ovcharka can contain blood of some European breeds, from mastiffs to Bandogs, but these crosses are a minority in the breed. Historically, the Caucasian Molossers were used for centuries to protect properties, guard livestock, kill wolves, and hunt bears. Today, especially outside the Caucasus, they are employed as companion animals and watchdogs. Most prized as a property guardian, the Caucasian Shepherds are good protectors. The Caucasian Mountain Dog is a low activity dog, seemingly lethargic when not working, but agile and convincing when it feels its family is threatened. Although certain strains are more vicious than others, all Caucasians are very territorial and dog-aggressive, needing early and careful broad socialization, as well as firm, but never forceful, handling. This breed can be a family dog, if well trained and socialized.


  1. ^ FCI breed standards, group 2, section 2.2, Molossian / Mountain type

See also

External links

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