Contact: Päivi Nurmi Karhinkulma 55, 12240, Hikiä, Finland e-mail:


What is caucasian ovcharka?


The Caucasian Mountain Dog is a powerful, athletic dog, strongly muscled, and well-boned in proportion to height. While gentle and demonstrative with family members, the Caucasian's active defense reaction and strong territorial instincts make this breed very suspicious of strange people or dogs. They are steady and even tempered but will protect their flock, family, and property from danger-real or perceived-with lightning-quick speed.


(An extract of the Caucasian Ovcharka's breed standard.)


The Caucasian Ovcharka is a thousands of years old guarding breed. In spite of the fact that is is sometimes named a "shepherd dog" it doesn't herd, but guards the flock. It has developed in the regions of the old Soviet Union and Caucasus, under natural selection. Because the breed has lived a long time separated within those regions as a working dog, is is rather rare in other countries outside Russia. FCI recognized it as an official breed only in 1984 and the breed was allowed to be exported from the Soviet Union in 1987. The first Ovcharka arrived to Finland in 1988. The Ovcharka is definitely a breed for experienced people. In my opinion, it is not suitable for life in flats or row-houses, it needs at least a yard to guard. Our caucasian's brother guards a foxfarm. It is not a pet dog, but a working dog. Even though Caucasian Ovcharkas have the opportunity to compete in working dog-tests in Finland, there have not been many Caucasians competing. Because they have been bred as independent workers, they are hard to motivate to absolute obedience. It is not a working dog in the sense a German Shepherd is. By character they are gentle (which means for e.g. they have very good memories), calm and attached to their families. Outside their territory they are calm and indifferent, if they have the right character. Stressful dogs act restless, bark etc. Those are seen also. The socialization of Caucasian is really important. One does not have to physically punish them, it ruins the relationship between the dog and the owner. Either the dog becomes indifferent to the owner or very aggressive. Consistency, determination and calmness when training a Caucasian are essential.


Caucasian mature around 4-5 years age. The Caucasian's territory has to be properly fenced. Some Caucasians like to widen their territory. They cannot be unleashed everywhere and they are not dogpark-dogs. The Caucasian Ovcharka is an energy-saving breed, which means that they may lie calmly, but suddenly burst into running and barking if a guarding situation occurs. In hard cicumstances strenght has to be saved for real situations. Our Caucasian lives outside our house, and he grows a thick undercoat in winter, which comes off as big tassels when the the weather warms up in Spring. If Ujo wants to come inside he is welcome, but this happens very rarely, only in winter when it is very cold and only for about half an hour. At nights Ujo may bark at strange noices and during daytime passing bicycles or rollerskaters. Suspiciousness ends when he sees that his household accepts the guests. It is no use to try to suppress the barking because it is part of the guarding behavior, it just has to be accepted. Ujo gets along with my sighthounds very well. I have noticed that he uses calming signals a lot and does everything to avoid conflicts. When thinking about getting a Caucasian Ovcharka, you have to think if you have the necessary energy for this kind of breed. It is advisable to get to know the character of the puppy's parents, to see what kind of character they will pass down to their offspring. Breeders should carefully choose the puppy-buyers. Character should come first when breeding Caucasian Ovcharkas. One should concentrate on quality, not quantity. There are too many Caucasians in the wrong hands, who have discovered this breed only to enhance their own ego, and do not understand the Caucasian Ovcharka's behavior.


Päivi Nurmi


Articles on Caucasian Ovcharkas (in Finnish): Koiramme- magazines 1-2/96, 5/96, 9/00, 7-8/01 (Ujo's brother Lystikäs). Venäläiset Owzarkat Association's (http://www.ovcharka.nic) magazine. Kaukasianpaimenkoirat Associations www-magazine: