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Subject: rec.pets.dogs: Caucasian Mountain Dogs Breed-FAQ
This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:22:37 GMT
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
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It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
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Caucasian Mountain Dogs
This information is copyrighted (c) 1995 by the author,
Stacey Gether Kubyn.
Table of Contents
* Introduction to The Caucasian Mountain Dog
* Character/Temperament, Training, and Successful Ownership
* Frequently Asked Questions
* The Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) Club of America
* Breed Standard
Introduction to The Caucasian Mountain Dog
Tucked between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea lies the Caucasus, a
land of towering mountains and winding valleys. From the earliest
times, the Caucasus has been a region of high romance. To the
ancients, it was the end of the known world, beyond which all was
fable and mystery. Here, more than a millennium of geographical
isolation and natural selection has produced a most spectacular
guarding breed, the Caucasian Mountain Dog.
The Caucasian Mountain Dog is called the _Kavkazskaya Ovcharka_ in its
native land. The word _ovcharka_ does not have an exact English
language translation and means something between shepherd's dog and
sheepdog. However, the Caucasian Mountain Dog is not of the
shepherding dog classification. It is a flock guardian which has
served the peoples of the Caucasus as a livestock guard, a home
guardian, and historically a fighting dog as well.
Standing a minimum of 26 inches at the withers (dogs), preferably
larger, the Caucasian Mountain Dog is handsome and powerfully built,
with a medium to long double coat, often with abundant ruff and
fringing. The coat color can be a range of shades of agouti gray, from
dark gray to light, to reddish to fawn, with white markings and
usually a distinctive dark facial mask. The head is massive and
wedge-shaped. Shortly after birth, shepherds crop the pups' ears
horizontally and bluntly close to the head, thereby eliminating the
demise of the ears by the teeth of a predatory wolf. The appearance of
the Caucasian Mountain Dog is best characterized as a _bear-like
view_. While some type differences exist across the mountain range,
the breed is bred to a single standard of soundness.
Character/Temperament, Training, and Successful Ownership
The Caucasian Mountain is strong-minded, well-balanced, and
even-tempered. They are territorial and suspicious of strangers, and
will protect their flock, family, and property from danger--real or
perceived--with lightning-quick speed. The breed is said to have an
uncanny ability to discriminate between true threat and benign
interference. In other words, the Caucasian Mountain Dog is able to
exercise good judgment provided he has been given the proper
socialization, training, and experience on which to base this
Socialization, training, discipline, control
These are the factors to successful ownership of the Caucasian in
today's fast-paced society. Formal obedience training beginning with
puppy classes is necessary. The Caucasian should be included to
participate in family activities and should accompany the owner off
home turf 2 to 3 times per week even for just a quick jaunt to the
bank or grocery. Just as a child should not be raised in a closet, so
too the Caucasian should receive consistent, diverse exposure to the
outside world, so that he may grow up to be a good canine citizen.
The Caucasian should be contained in a fenced yard or run when not
directly supervised by the owner. This breed should never run loose
and should not be tied out. Due to the Caucasian Mountain Dog's
territorial and protective nature, they may be aggressive towards an
unannounced visitor or the UPS delivery person carrying that
strange-looking package which could be a threat to the family.
Training must be firm, patient, and inducive. Due to its close
association with man, the Caucasian Mountain Dog breed is one of the
most willing of the flock guardians and is very trainable. However,
the Caucasian is still a more independent thinker than a shepherding
type dog such as the German Shepherd Dog. Because the Caucasian is
slow to mature, the hundred-pound yearling with the mental maturity of
a 3-month old can be quite a challenge. And the Caucasian can be very
head strong, especially during the first 2 1/2 years of life. Very
highly intelligent, the young Caucasian Mountain Dog will find many
creative ways to get into trouble!
The Caucasian Mountain Dog has a keen sense of hearing and is quick to
alert to strange sounds. This means that the breed is often noisy and
barks a lot, especially at night. These traits must be carefully
considered by the potential owner. Because the Caucasian Mountain Dog
has functioned as a livestock guardian and a predator animal, he will
protect the yard from a wolf, a coyote, a mountain lion, and the
The properly socialized and trained Caucasian Mountain Dog is gentle
and loving with his family. He is good with children and the family
cat and is so loyal that he will sacrifice himself to protect his
family. The Caucasian is sweet and charming--downright beguiling most
of the time!
In general, the well-bred Caucasian Mountain Dog is vigorously
healthy. As with other large breeds, the Caucasian should be at a
minimum screened for hip and elbow dysplasia. Life expectancy is
believed to be 12 years or more.
Frequently Asked Questions
_Does the Caucasian Mountain Dog make a good family member?_
Yes, the Caucasian Mountain Dog, if properly socialized and
trained, is a devoted family member. He is good with children and
enjoys participating in family activities especially outdoor ones
such as hiking.
_Do they get along with family pets?_
The Caucasian Mountain Dog will get along with family pets in a
pack situation as long as he is "second in command". But keep in
mind, this breed has a history of fighting off with wolves and is
very, very large and strong. If a fight breaks out amongst family
pets, the Caucasian can easily hurt another family pet. An owner
must be the alpha figure in the family, in other words, the "top
dog" and must lay down the law to the pack.
_Do they shed and do they need a lot of grooming?_
The Caucasian Mountain Dog sheds "fur storm" twice a year and loses
some coat in between. The luxurious coat is maintained by frequent
brushing. Aside from routine bathing and nail clipping no other
specialized grooming is needed.
_Do they drool?_
The breed standard requires a tight flew and no drooling. However,
some dogs are faulted in this area and do slobber somewhat. If this
is of special concern, let your breeder know about it.
_How should I choose a breeder and what questions should I ask a
breeder before choosing a puppy?_
Be very sure that the breeder is a member of the Caucasian Ovcharka
(Mountain Dog) Club of America, Inc. (C.O.C.A.) and is listed under
current approved breeder list. This is your only guarantee that the
dog you are getting is an authentic, purebred (see History) and
that strict breed practices have been followed. Be sure to get
details about the temperament/character of the parents, whether
they are working farm dogs or family pets, and also the results of
the hip x-rays.
_How do I get a puppy?_
Because the Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) Club of America, Inc.
advocates a careful breeding, they are difficult to acquire. The
best approach is to subscribe to C.O.C.A.'s newsletter, _C.O.
respondence_, and to contact an approved breeder. Quality pups are
available by reservation so it's wise to shop early.
Lack of written records result in speculation as to exactly how and
when the Caucasian Mountain Dog originated. Western writers suggest
that Mastiff-type dogs were purposely crossed with sheep herding Spitz
to produce a hardy breed resistant to the cold with sufficient size
and fierceness to protect the flock. However, Russian experts contend
that the breed naturally evolved from a group of dogs originating from
Tibet approximately 2,000 years ago. As these dogs accompanied nomadic
people during their trek across the continent, some of this group
settled into the Caucasus mountain area. The dogs bred for centuries
in a half-wild state, geographically isolated from other breeds. Hard
natural selection has resulted in the Caucasian we know today. Thus
the Caucasian is considered a natural or indigenous breed which
retains strongly-developed primitive instincts. Conscientious modern
breeders have successfully preserved the naturalness of the aboriginal
Because the Caucasian is trainable and territorial, and makes and
excellent reliable guard dog, the Soviet government utilized the
Caucasian in straight-run kennels for guarding service throughout the
former Soviet Union. As a result of this role, the Caucasian gained a
reputation steeped in mystery as to its aggressive character. Here in
North America, the Caucasian Mountain Dog is earning a reputation as
being a trustworthy service dog and is capturing the hearts of dog
fanciers across the continent.
Russian experts estimate that 70% to 80% of the Caucasian Mountain
Dogs are cross-bred with St. Bernards and other breeds. Aware of this
situation, in 1990 the FCI (the European registering body) suspended
automatic registration of the breed and individual dogs must now be
examined by a panel of FCI judges to be registered.
The Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) Club of America
U.S. Breed Founders for Preservation
Here in the United States, the Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) Club
of America, Inc. was founded in 1991 for the preservation and
responsible promotion of the authentic Caucasian Mountain Dog. Working
with licensed judges and breed experts in the former Soviet Union, the
C.O.C.A. maintains the National Registry USA and abides by a strict
Code of Ethics. As of January 1, 1995, the United Kennel Club accepted
the Caucasian Mountain Dog with full privileges, and C.O.C.A. dogs are
eligible for dual registration.
Buy only from a breeder who upholds the high standards set forth by
the C.O.C.A. and join us in the preservation and protection of this
very precious breed!
The authentic Caucasian Ovcharka (accurately referred to as the
Caucasian Mountain Dog) is a livestock guarding dog of greater than
average size and power possessing a robust constitution and exhibiting
an inherent distrust of strangers.
The Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) is indigenous to the mountain
regions of the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani Union Republics; the
Kabardino-Balkar, Daghestan and Kalmyk Autonomous Republics, and the
steppe regions of the northern Caucasus and the Astrakhan district.
For hundreds of years the Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) has
functioned as a guarding dog, herding dog, and historically as a
fighting dog. Their faithfulness, protectiveness, and ferocity when
called upon to defend is legendary.
The breed's intrepidity, hardiness, and tolerance for different
temperatures and climates have made it possible to utilize the
Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) in almost all the regions of the
Type varies geographically throughout the mountain range, and also
varies according to the purpose for which the dogs were utilized.
Generally, dogs of the transcaucasus regions are more massively built,
while those found in the steppe regions have a somewhat rangier build,
are leggier, and are often short-coated. Modern breeding conforms to a
Particulars of deportment
Highly developed nervous system - strong, well-balanced and
even-tempered. Well developed defensive reactions, professed in
the active form (ADR). Suspicion and aggressiveness toward
strangers is characteristic.
NOTE: Characteristic aggressiveness should be tempered by
careful socialization and training without suppressing natural
instincts to guard and protect. Behavior in the show ring
should be controlled, willing and adaptable. The dog should be
trained to submit to "Hands On" examination. Only the handler
shall show mouth. Mild hostility exhibited towards other dogs
should not be penalized; however, the judge should dismiss from
the ring any handler who does not have control over the dog.
Type of constitution
Despite regional differences, the ideal Caucasian Ovcharka
(Mountain Dog) is powerful and athletic, sturdy and well-boned
in proportion to height (see index of bone), with very strong
Height at withers
Dogs: 65 cm. (25.6 in.) minimum; 69 cm. (27.2 in.) - 85 cm.
(33.5 in.) preferred.
Bitches: 62 cm. (24.4 in.) minimum, usually much larger; 65 cm.
(25.6 in.) - 75 cm. (29.5 in.) preferred.
Proportional to height giving the Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain
Dog) an imposing, symmetrical appearance.
Index of bone
Dogs: 21-22; bitches: 20-22.
NOTE: While the ideal Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) is
"well-boned", this breed is not as large-boned as some of the
giant mastiff breeds.
Index of format
102 - 108
Well expressed. Dogs are more powerful and more massive than
bitches. Bitches are slightly smaller, lighter in build, more
Thick and elastic.
A double coat, slightly off-standing, formed by straight and
coarse guard hairs and a well-developed undercoat. Coat on the
muzzle, forehead, and the front of the legs is short and
smooth. Coat on the top and back of head is longer and slightly
off-standing. Three types of coat lengths are accepted without
1. Long coats with very long outer coat hairs. The hairs on the
neck form a "mane," and extensive feathering on the hind legs
gives the appearance of long, silky "pants". The long hairs
feathering the tail on all sides make it look thick and
2. Intermediate coats covered with longer hair on the body, but
with a lesser degree of "mane", leg "pants" and tail
feathering than the long coat variety.
3. Short coats covered with thick hair, somewhat shorter than
the long coat variety. The neck "mane", leg "pants" and tail
feathering are absent. This coat type is seldom seen.
Agouti gray - dark, light, silver, reddish, or yellowish - with
or without white markings; white, creme, fawn, reddish fawn,
tan, reddish tan, fulvous, or any of these colors with white
markings; brindle, piebald or white with gray patches. The
undercoat is light colored. The head often has a distinctive
Massive, with a broad skull and strongly developed cheekbones.
Skull and gradually tapering muzzle form a one piece blunt
wedge-shape. The forehead is flat, broad and level, divided by
a slight centerline furrow. The stope is gently defined but not
abrupt. The muzzle is shorter in length than the forehead and
tapers to a large, broad, black nose. A brown nose is
acceptable in white and light fawn colored dogs. Lips are
thick, dry and tight.
NOTE: The head of the dog is more massive and masculine
compared to the more refined and feminine head of the bitch.
Hanging, highset, cropped short.
Dark brown or brown, medium-sized, oval-shaped, deepset,
slightly slanted. Eyelids rimmed with black pigment.
White, strong, well-developed, fitting closely one to the
other. The points lie in one line. Scissor bite.
Powerful, short, moderately set at an angle of approximately
Broad and deep with a well-sprung, slightly rounded ribcage.
The brisket curvature should be at the elbow line or slightly
Broad, muscular, clearly distinguishable above the backline.
Broad, straight, muscular.
Short, broad, gently arched.
Broad, long muscular, almost horizontally set.
Highset, hanging downward, reaching at least to the hocks in
repose. Carried as a sickle-shaped hook or ring when raised in
excitement and when gaiting.
Viewed from the front, the forelegs are straight and parallel.
Measured from the shoulder joint, the angle between the blade
and humerus is approximately 100 degrees. The forearms are
well-boned, straight and moderately long. The length of the
lower arm to the elbow is slightly greater than half the height
at the withers. Index of leg height is 50-54.
Short, strong, perpendicular. From a side view they may appear
slightly sloping. Circumference of metacarpals for dogs: 14-17
cm (5.5-6.7 in.); bitches: 13-15 cm (5.1-5.9 in.).
Viewed from the rear the hind legs are straight and parallel;
from the side they are slightly straightened from the stifle
joint. The shins are short, the hocks strong, broad, and
slightly straightened. The metatarsals are well-boned and
perpendicular. The hind legs are not extended backwards. A
perpendicular line, drawn from the hip, passes through the
center of the hock and the metatarsus.
Large, oval, well arched, compact, firm. Dewclaws, if any,
should be removed from the hind legs. Foreleg dewclaws should
Free, usually unhurried. The characteristic gait is a short
prancing trot, shifting to a rather heavy gallop as the dog
gains speed. The legs should move in a straight line with the
limbs converging slightly toward the center line of travel. The
joints of both the fore and rear quarters should flex freely.
The back and loins should be elastic and springy. At a trot,
the withers and croup should lie in the same plane.
1. Substantial deviation from correct scissor bite - overbite,
underbite. Missing teeth (other than isolated premolar).
2. Monorchid or cryptorchid dogs.
3. Soft, wavy coat, absence of double coat.
4. St. Bernard red and white, solid black, black and tan, or
solid brown coat color.
5. Blue, green, or yellow eyes.
Overall structure and soundness have priority over color and
flashiness. Regional variations shall be judged under this
single standard without preference.
The authentic Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) has been
extensively crossbred with other breeds in the former U.S.S.R.
and throughout Europe (such as the St. Bernard, Great Dane,
German Shepherd Dog, Leonberger, Tibetan Mastiff, Sar Planina,
and others). These cross-breeds often possess a pedigree
stating that they are "Caucasian Ovcharka" or "Caucasian
Shepherds", and it may be extremely difficult to differentiate
these cross-breeds from the authentic Caucasian Ovcharka
(Mountain Dog) type. Incorrect coat type, disqualified coat
colors and lack of distinctive blunt wedge-shaped head are
strong evidence of mixed breeding; therefore, dogs exhibiting
these traits should be strictly disqualified.
*Other names include: Kavkazskaya Ovcharka; Caucasian Shepherd
or Sheepdog; Kaukasischen Owtscharka; Kaukasischer Schaferhund;
Copyright (c) 1992 Abbreviated Breed Standard by Caucasian Ovcharka
(Mountain Dog) Club of America, Inc., United States Breed Founders for
In the words of Marina Kuznetsova, licensed judge-expert in Russia,
the Caucasian Mountain Dog is distinguished for its beautiful
character and well-balanced nervous system. And, if you treat a dog of
this breed with love and patience, you will get the best friend and
protector, fearless and faithful, who will stand by you through
anything and everything.
For more information and a FREE CLUB NEWSLETTER contact:
_Caucasian Ovcharka (Mountain Dog) Club of America, Inc._
U.S. Breed Founders for Preservation
P.O. Box 745
Painesville, Ohio 44077
(216) 350-1900 days 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST
(216) 975-9333 eves and weekends
Caucasian Mountain Dog FAQ
Stacey Gether Kubyn, COCACLUB@aol.com.