The Caucasian Ovcharka is a rare breed of dog that has been using for guarding property and livestock for thousands of years. The Caucasian Ovcharka is an ancient breed, and is still used for its original purpose by shepherds to this day.
A large breed of dog, they were bred to have the bravery, strength, and skill to defend a flock against wolves and even bears. Yet the Caucasian Ovcharka has come down from the green hills of Georgia into our homes, and can now be found as show dogs and pets as well as working dogs.
If you’re considering getting a Caucasian Ovcharka, is this breed right for you? To find out, we sat down with the owner of RebaSpike Photography, who is also the owner of a Caucasian Ovcharka. Here are a few questions we asked, so you can get to know the breed a little better.
What made you decide to get a Caucasian Ovcharka?
I have been involved in training reactive dogs (Or to many casual dog owners ‘Aggression issues”) and rescued a German Shepherd who changed my life. She was named Reba and she was abused making her personality interesting. She was independent, highly protective and had many pros and cons I missed when she passed away. I knew an older ally who had a Central Asian Shepherd and knew one who had Filas, which lead me to Caucasian Ovcharkas.
What experience did you have with dogs before getting Karma?
Grew up with Malinois, German Shepherds, worked with mixes, pitbulls, filas, owned and raised a BYB Central Asian Shepherd as well before Karma, Named her Kaos. She took a year to help .
What is Karma’s basic upkeep like, as far as grooming, food, etc.?
Food depends, They do not utilize energy unless on guard or walking and playing, so not as much as I thought, I feed half raw and half kibble. He eats probably combined when not in a growth spurt about 4 cups of food a day.
How did you decide on a breeder?
I followed many breeders whose dogs were health tested and found a few puppy buyers to watch them grow. Different lines have different problems and traits. I wanted a defensive dog less prone to animal aggression. I had ruminated on importing one as well. I found an older lady on Facebook who owned breed since early 90s and asked her about her experiences, told her what I expected and she sent me my breeders way. My breeder had a small puppy born weak, Did not like previous family and his temperament was more defensive.
Now, I want to pause and get into temperament for a minute: Dogs are on a scale in personality of soft to hard. Soft is “I like people… and dont mind them in my home with my owner” And hard is “I do not like people but will ignore if i have to, also no one is allowed in my home.”
That being said, not every family can handle a harder temperament, I can. Due to Kaos’s BYB experience and her back legs and hips being so bad she will be unable to use them in future and hardly able to walk, I was fine with a smaller CO, He had temperament, I paid in full when she said first family did not work out, Asked her to hold him for socialization for one more month and she agreed.
Is there something you would do differently now that you’ve had experience getting one from a breeder?
I learned from my BYB experience. I felt I did all I could have 😮
What would you recommend a person interested in the breed know about the breed?
I feel people should have the lifestyle and not change it for a dog. Seek a dog which already fits. DO NOT use forceful training, so many CO people believe in alpha theory, this dog will not handle this well. Respect is earned and it is given. Future owners should also be aware that this is NOT an offleash dog. You can have amazing obedience but one day some person or animal may seem a threat and nothing can call this dog off. Better safe than sorry.
What sort of person is NOT right for the breed?
Most people haha.
But active social lives. Extroverts. People who are always leaving and having everyone in their home. Ceaser Millan training method followers. People who want a “big bad dog” for looks. People who cannot handle a serious guardian.
What kind of person would be great for the breed?
People needing a serious guardian dog. People who do not have many guests in their home. Experienced dog owners with body language knowledge who enjoy vocal dogs.
What sort of medical problems is Karma prone to, and how do you look out for them?
So far there are two major issues not counting unstable dogs: DM and heart issues and hips. Otherwise generally healthy .
What is Karma like as a dog?
I see Karma as a gentle soul, He loves almost everything but has a good judgment of character. He is quick to notice changes…. Even if that change is your desk being moved 2 inches or the fact your boyfriend got the new Fallout Game instead of playing an old game. He notices small obscure things I do not, Like who has a new car down the road. He alerts to weed smells in parking lots and I have been asked if drug sniffing dog a few times. He is more playful than most his breed and he is strong willed. Highly intelligent.
What are some problems in raising an Ovcharka?
They ARE strong willed, They require creative training solutions. He once smelled blood in sink from earlier in drain and kept me up, no puzzle, no game, no exercise, no command could keep him calm from barking at counter. Finally I thought “could it be smell?” and bleached drain. Settled down instantly. They DO test boundaries at times so it may take 40 more time to reiterate fact you want something versus 20 times with a herding dog. Some commands they will not learn as there is no way to explain why they should. A change in schedule can bother them.
What need do you have for a serious guardian?
I am in entertainment industry thus have stalkers who went as far as killing stray cats i fed in 2013 and overall my state isn’t the best. I need a dog to alert me if needbe and have a display.
What is the breed like at its best? At its worst?
At it’s worst is a nervous uncontrollable dog who meets anything with aggression first. Listens to nothing but itself and would meet anything with force as nothing is normal to it due to lack of socialization and bad nerves. This is from breeding nervous dogs together and/or in the wrong hands who hide it in a backyard on a chain and do not bother to spend time or train it.
At the best, a clear minded sport dog who is able to go out in public and love all sights and sounds, yet guard when needbe. A dog who is capable of working (There are some for search and rescue now, two are service dogs i know of but do not agree with, and some are active in apprehension work and IPO) but not easy for most.
Yes, they can do many sports but not all, so maybe not lurecoursing as not all have that “it is not in my land? why chase ? drive. and many cannot do a staged ipo or protection sport as it is not a game to them and they know staged senarios. Also an off is hard to train… almost impossible. I know of a few in barn hunts. Herding is not for them, no drive to do so. Agility is a yes but not the fastest so dont expect wins. But yes, they can watch tv if they get in daily exersize in yard or you can bring them on 4 hours of hiking XD But again, needs all needs met for couch like any dog.