OVCHARKA


■ OVCHARKA (オフチャルカ)原産国・ロシア・中央アジア

■ オフチャルカは、ロシア、中央アジア原産の牧羊犬でガードッグで現役の闘犬です。Caucasian Ovcharka( コーカサス・オフチャルカ)(コーカサス・シープドッグ、コーカサス・シェパード、コーカサス・マウンテンドッグなどとも呼ばれます)と、Central Asian Ovcharka(セントラル・アジアン・オフチャルカ)と、South Russian Ovcharka(サウス・ロシアン・オフチャルカ)の3種類に分けることができます。

■ 毛が長くて黒や茶色の毛色がコーカサスオフチャルカで、毛が短いのがセントラルアジアンオフチャルカです。両方とも牧羊犬でガードドッグですが、現在でも闘犬が盛んに行われています。白くて長い毛のサウスロシアンオフチャルカは牧羊犬です。


OVCHARKA / CENTRAL ASIAN OVCHARKA / CAUCASIAN SHEPHERD DOG / SOUTH RUSSIAN OVCHARKA


■ OVCHARKA

Ovcharka is a term of Russian origin used to describe the working dog specializing in working with sheep. Originated from ovcharka (sheep in Russian), ovcharka (sheep herder, or farm employee maintaining sheep).

Through the term itself does not specify, whether the dog is a herding dog or a livestock guardian dog, it rather refers to livestock guardian and protection breeds of dogs of Russian origin for the simple reason that there is no herding breeds that originated in Russia. At the same time, it is used as a part of breed name in Russian for shepherds or sheepdogs imported to the country.

When Russian cynologists named dog breeds, they often used a combination of country of origin and term Ovtcharka, meaning that this shepherd’s dog came from this region. For example, a shepherd of German origin is Nemetskaja Ovtcharka is in Russian, what means the German Shepherd.

Over years, term Ovcharka became common outside Russia and other countries where Russian language is common in relation with 3 livestock guardian breeds of Russian origin: Caucasian Ovcharka, Central Asian Ovcharka and South Russian Ovtcharka. The reason for continuous use of this term instead of sublimating it for easier to pronounce “shepherd” or “sheepdog” is a necessity to underline differentiation between a livestock guardian dog (especially of Russian origin) and a herding dog (that is commonly called Shepherd in English). All 3 breeds have different mentality and way higher protection instincts than a German Shepherd or other popular herding dogs and use of a different breed name avoiding common potentially misleading term helps to distinguish such traits.

■ Central Asian Ovcharka

The Central Asian Ovcharka (known by its Russian name as "среднеазиатская овчарка") is recognized by FCI, the European Kennel Club, as a breed of Russian origin. Most breed representatives reside in Russia, and local Kennel Club officials refer to Central Asians as one of the most popular dog breeds in the country, often rating it as the breed

■ History

Central Asians most likely originated in a geographical area between Ural, Caspian Sea, Asia Minor, and the Northwest border of China. Aboriginal Central Asians as well as mixes still can be found in its countries of origin, such as Kyrgyzstan,Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and surrounding countries. Some serve their duties as livestock guardians, some protect their owners, and some are used for dog fighting, which is a national sport in most countries of that region.

Russian biologists and scientists have studied the local dog population since the 18th century. After the Communist revolution, the Soviet government focused on working dog breeds for the Red Army, and imported the best breed representatives to Russia as per military dogs' and guard dogs' requirements. Over the decades, this practice harmed the local population. As well, the introduction of new breeds to the region led to crossbreeding in some areas. At some point, in most areas purebred dogs were only left at herders, breed enthusiasts and farms, while crosses surfeited in access. However, Central Asian Shepherd Dogs population survived the communist intrusion, and still stable in general, reproducing same true quality dogs praised for working abilities, regardless of country of origin. Trading bloodlines and purchasing unrelated breeding stock between Russia and countries where CAO still at aboriginal stage, is a common practice nowadays.

This breed consists of numerous breed types. They differ in size, color, head types, hair types. As well, Central Asians tend to form a social group, consisting of different members bearing different duties, thus puppies with different working qualities are normally born in the same litter. These breed features, as well as different traditional names for the breed, give grounds for complications with breed standard. Most important, purebred Central Asians have unique breed characteristics. Breed specific dog anatomy includes exclusive features, such as very noticeable extremely flexible joints, false ribs, specific head set, very strong neck with massive dewlap they can extend at no time into different directions. Special true and beyond expressive mimic and almost human eyes, revealing the inimitable intelligence finish the portrait.

By working qualities, modern Central Asians had been bred into different directions, depends on the demand for their abilities. Traditional dog fights had always been a national tradition in places of original habitat, but they had never been cruel and destructive as pitbull-type fights. All herders from the same area annually met together, and fought their strongest sheep guardian male dogs to pick the winner. It was about the dominance rather than destroying their own kind. Most dogs evaluated each other when met at the field and the weaker or more submissive dog left, taking the loss. Dogs seldom injured each other, mostly minor scratches within short period of time. Only true leaders actually had to determine, who is the strongest dog via real fight, but this still minor compare to their everyday labor duty, facing predators and venomous snakes every day.

Modern dog fights differ from traditional as much as livestock guardian dogs differ from fighting dogs. There are different rules, and different breeds involved. Most Central Asians used for modern fights come from fighting lines. Vast majority of breeders are aware of their dogs’ background, and will tell, if the dog comes from lines used for fighting, or not. And one can always expect high level of aggression towards other dogs from CAOs with dog fighting background.

Livestock guardians still in demand, but not nearly as much, as they used to be. These dogs differ in terms of being protective against human intruders, very territorial, safe with children, love and respect elderly people, protect all small animals from predators, and very gentle with family members.

Personal protection, or working dogs originated from livestock guardian dogs, being selectively bred by Russian breed experts for working abilities. As a result, they excel in obedience, territory protection and personal protection, very intelligent, and make perfect house dogs. They do not need any complicated training to learn basic house rules, and treat the owner with the same great respect, their ancestors treated the herder. These dogs were introduced to sheep breeding community worldwide with a great rate of success. Dogs must be able to work as a team, protection sheep against predators, thus excessively dog aggressive CAOs, as any other dogs, cannot be members of the pack, and will not pass this simple test revealing compliance of modern generation with breed origination purpose.

To conclude temperament differences description, Central Asian Shepherd dogs can come from working lines, fighting lines and livestock guardian lines, and behave accordingly, regardless of the country they come from. Simple pedigree research and conversation with the breeder will reveal what basic instincts one can expect from the dog. Central Asians from pure show lines still very rare, because most registries require working test prior to breeding.

Selected for centuries for their abilities to destroy predators, praised for their power and stamina, Central Asians sometimes are called " Volkodav", "The Wolf Crusher" in Russian. It is very important to select only stable dogs for breeding purposes, and avoid starting protection training of dogs of this breed at early age.

■ General appearance

Robust dog greater than average size of great strength and power. Independent, curious and alert, yet imperturbable. Dog is as long as tall at the withers, or slightly longer than tall. Short or moderately long hair with heavy undercoat. Ears are cropped very short, tail is docked moderately long (exempt dogs from countries where cosmetic surgeries for dogs are illegal). Most common colors are black/white; fawn of different shades, from almost white to deep red; brindle. Head is very solid, without pronounced stop or sculls. Neck is low set, short, dewlap. Body is fairly broad, proportionate, muscles are rather flat. Ribcage appears very long, because of developed false ribs. Straight legs, heavy boning, moderate yet defined angulation. Leg bones must be in proportion, and shall never give impression that any bone is short. Tights, and rump are broad. Typical trait is gallop, however CAO can trot for hours without wearing herself. Shy or uncontrollable aggressive dogs are not typical and must be disqualified.


■ Caucasian Shepherd Dog

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a breed of dog that is popular in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Southern Russia.

■ Appearance

Caucasian Mountain Dog are strongly-boned, muscular and even-tempered Molossers.

MEOW breed has two types: mountain and plain. Plain dogs have a shorter coat and appear taller as they are more lightly built. Mountain types have a heavier coat and are more muscularly built. The breed's weight range is 102~180 pounds (46~82 kg.), although individuals over 220 pounds (100 kg) are not uncommon, and the height range is 25~29 inches (64~78 cm.).

Softness and vicious temperaments are considered serious faults for the breed. Generally healthy and long lived, hip dysplasia, obesity and occasional heart problems are known to occur. The ears of the Caucasian Ovcharka 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 not acceptable in the show ring. The minimum height is 24.5 inches with no upper limit.

■ Temperament

Caucasian Shepherds are typically assertive, brave, alert, strong, hardy and courageous to a fault. They are probably the most aggressive natural guard dog bred in domesticity and truly second to none in bellicosity towards strangers.

Unless properly socialised, they may exhibit ferocious and unmanageable tendencies. They seldom have time for strangers (but will greet family friends warmly) and have powerful guarding instincts. Everything and everyone who belongs to the family, including children, cats, other dogs, etc. 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 socialised at a young age and even then some unwanted behaviours may occur.

An ovtcharka needs an "intelligent highly experienced" owner as it can easily kill a large man. It requires an owner who knows how to display strong, calm and balanced leadership and one who is willing to spend a lot of time ensuring the development of a well-balanced animal.

■ History

Located between the Black Sea on the West and the Caspian Sea on the East, the Caucasus mountain range represents a true melting pot of various cultures due to a number of nations calling it their home through the ages. Today these influences are still strong and a rich source of cultural wealth of the region, as well as numerous political conflicts. Encompassing the territories of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Circassia and Armenia, the Caucasus mountains are also home to one of the oldest living Molosser breeds, 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 Western Show-Ring appearance was in the 1930s in Germany, the Caucasian Mountain Dog has existed since ancient times and, like many Eastern Molossers.

■ Recent history

The Georgian dogs are divided into the large, longhaired and often multicoloured Mkinvartsveri Kazbek type and the slightly smaller wolf-grey Nagazi dogs of medium-length coat with longer muzzles, but there is also a separate breed known as Tushetian Nagazi or Georgian Caucasian Sheepdog in Georgia, which represents the original Georgian population of the breed, with the pure white dogs being the most valued.

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 Akhaltsihnske 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 Turkish Akbash, 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-bred dog in the eyes of the West. 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. The Caucasian Molossers were used for centuries to protect properties, guard livestock, kill wolves, hunt bears and the green for many other duties, but today and especially in the West, they are employed as companion animals and watchdogs. Most prized as a property guardian, the Caucasian Ovcharka 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.


■ South Russian Ovcharka

A South Russian Ovcharka, also known as a South Russian Sheepdog, is a large, long-haired (12 centimeters), white sheepdog. Breeders have not yet developed a precise theory of the dog's origins. However, it is agreed that its ancestors lived in the Crimea region between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. About 26 inches tall it has a long head, with dangling, small, triangular ears. Its coat constists of long, usually white (although sometimes white with yellow, or with shades of grey), thick coarse hair, that is bushy and slightly wavy. An undemanding dog, it can adapt to most weather conditions.

■ Description
■ Appearance
The South Russian Ovcharka is robust and lean, with massive bone structure and strongly developed musculature. The coat is long 4-6 inches (10-15 cm), coarse, thick and dense. It is of equal length on head, chest, legs and tail, with a well developed undercoat. The coat colors are most often white but also white and yellow, straw color, grayish (ashen gray) and other shades of gray; white lightly marked with gray, gray speckled. The head is an elongated shape with a moderately broad forehead; the occipital crest and the zeugmatic arches are strongly pronounced. The stop is barely visible. The nose is big and black. The ears are relatively small, of triangular shape, hanging. The eyes are oval shape, set horizontally, dark; the eyelids lean, tight. The teeth are white, big, fitting closely. The incisors are set regularly and close in scissor bite. The neck is lean, muscular, of moderate length, set high. The chest is reasonably broad, slightly flattened, deep. The belly is moderately tucked up. The Loin is short, broad, rounded. The withers are apparent but not high. Back straight and strong. The tail is falling at rest, reaching the hock, with the end curved upward. The front legs are straight, parallel, relatively long. The angle formed by the shoulder bone and upper arm bone is about 100 degrees. Pasterns are strong, wide and long, with a slight slant. Hindquarters are powerful, wide set, parallel. Well-angulated. The upper thighs are well-muscled. Stifle bones are long, inclined. Hock joint is clean-cut, angular. The hock is strong, long, slightly inclined. The feet are oval shaped, strong, well arched, covered with long hair.
■ Temperament
The South Russian Ovcharka is not for everyone. This very large breed can be dominant, wary of strangers, and is very lively making him difficult to care for. It is a great guardian breed however and would do well guarding cattle or flocks of sheep. The South Russian Ovcharka is a dog of robust constitution, of above average size; it is fierce and distrustful of strangers, not very demanding and can adapt easily to diverse climatic conditions and temperatures. This is most evident according to its sex. The males are more dominant, stronger and larger than the females. They are usually highly nervous when engaging in sports activities; strong, balanced and are also very lively. They have a dominant reaction: active way of defense. As guardians they extend themselves to include their families, their home and as much land as they can scent fully call their own. The possessive nature of this dog requires extensive property, a sizable family, and preferably other animals that it can protect. It has a dominating personality and can enforce its will upon other dogs with ease. This breed needs an owner who knows how to display strong leadership. It socializes best while still young.

■ Training
The South Russian Ovcharka requires firm and consistent training as he can be very independent and can have a short attention span. Given a dominant trainer/handler, this breed can do exceptionally wel.

■ Care
The coat of this breed requires daily brushing down to the undercoat, accepting grooming from puppyhood. As this breed is very active, his coat has the tendency to become matted quickly. hair Around the mouth should be cleaned daily. The coat plays an important role, protecting the dog against cold and warmth. It is "self cleaning". Even when the weather is dirty and rainy, the coats will be bright white when dried. It is possible to spin and knit the hair. It used to be done in Imperial Russia, and the knitting was used as a form medical treatment of rheumatism.

■ Health
South Russian Ovcharkas can become quite old. 10 - 12 years is not uncommon. In general, they are healthy dogs.

■ History
■ Origins
Historians and kinologists have different versions about the South Russian Ovcharka's breed origin. Some believe, South Russian Ovcharka is developed from pra-slavics - arias dogs. Those resided at South Russian Ovcharka place of origin at 4 millennium BC and used the original pre-historic bearded (“broudasti” in Russian) dogs as herd dogs and guard dogs. Those were described by L. P Sabaneev as 'Russian Shepherd' or 'Russian wolf-killers'. As arias moved west and north, and those tribes were named Slavic; the bearded dogs were referred as Russian Shepherds. Dogs were kept in quantity by Russian aristocracy. This is a Russian Native Breed, completely developed by 1790.

By another version, South Russian Ovcharkas originated from European herding dogs of the same hair type known as Austrian Shepherd. South Russian Ovcharka and European herding dogs of similar hair type look alike and have the same ancestors. Several herding dogs with long, woolly hair were imported to Russia from Europe. In Russian Imperial Law Books (XXVI volume, 1830) mentioned a special breed of dogs imported at 1797 from Spain with merino sheep. Those dogs were used for both herding and protection against predators, highly praised for their abilities. Law books recommended to breed these dogs. Russian scientists specializing at southern steppes before 1797, wrote that local sheep herds are protected by wolf-looking dogs and hounds.

Small Austrian shepherds were not suitable for Russian steppes. Sizable territory and natural merino sheep's instinct, keeping the herd together, excluded the need for small herding dogs. There only was the great need to protect from predators. So Austrians were crossbred with “tatar” shepherds (similar to Caucasian) and sight hounds, the most common breed in the Crimea area at that time. Offspring selected were large, aggressive, hardy.

So, arguments about the South Russian Ovcharka's ancestry are endless. However, there are facts nobody can argue with. SRO definitely have wolf as the direct ancestor. A South Russian Ovcharka skull is built almost identical to wolf’s with only slight differences, what could be explained by domestication.

■ Recent History
Starting in 1797, flocks of sheep were transported from Spain to Russia for sale. These sheep had to be brought to the steppe so they were driven over land, all the way on foot; sometimes up to 2500 or 8000 sheep. Transports like these could take two years and were accompanied by shaggy haired sheepdogs. Once the sheep arrived in Russia most of them were brought to Askania Nova, a large area in Crimea. The small sheepdogs were crossed with local dogs such as the Tartar (Caucasian) Ovcharka, the Crimean Greyhound and the Hungarian Komondor, because there was a strong need for larger dogs which were suitable to guard and protect the herds against wolves and other predators. The ability to drive sheep wasn't as relevant anymore.

Askania Nova was the largest and best-known "sheep colony" in Russia. For a long time the breeding of SRO was in the hands of the Falz-Fein family that owned Askania Nova. By 1850 the SRO was already settled and widespread. Records show about 2000 Ovcharkas, permanently working, with 4 or 5 dogs for every 1000 sheep.

In the 1870s the South Russian Ovcharka reached its greatest numbers, after which a decline set in, due to steppe reclamation for agriculture, growing grains etc, and with a rather fast decline in the number of wolves, the need for dogs also reduced. When the Russian Revolution took place, Askania Nova was almost completely plundered and destroyed. Most of the dogs were killed or stolen, and many were shot because they did not accept new masters. Thanks to the famous biologist Prof. A. Brauner the SRO still exists. When he came to Askania Nova in 1923 he only found a few young Ovcharkas. With the help of military kennels, shepherds and other enthusiasts he collected them. In 1928, after the foundation of a state breeding center in Dzhankoi (Crimea), a successful resurrection of the breed took place. The number of dogs increased and they even found their way to other cities like Moscow. In 1930 there were some official Russian entries at a German dog show and in 1939 there was a special breed exhibition in Simferopol.

When WW II started, the main kennels including the one in Dzhankoi were fully destroyed. Only a few South Russian Ovcharkas were left in state kennels, in Crimea and in Moscow. In Leningrad just 5 South Russian Ovcharkas remained. To maintain some semblance of breed and bloodline, these pure-breds were crossed with dogs of SRO-type but unknown heritage. In 1947 the Komondor was used to acquire fresh blood; in the 70's another Komondor cross was made. South Russian Ovcharka numbers have once again decreased drastically in the last decades due to the bad economic situation in Russia and also by fashion. Lots of dogs died because of a lack of medication and food. Lots of people can't afford a South Russian Ovcharka; people who can want to have a fashionable breed of non-Russian origin. Recently some new clubs in and around Moscow are trying to popularize the South Russian Ovcharka in Russia. In 1994 100 South Russian Ovcharkas were entered in one Moscow show.

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