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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Average Cost to keep/care for a Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Caucasian Shepherds are descendants of ancient Molosser dogs and are therefore extremely large, powerful dogs that boast striking markings. The breed is a relatively unknown breed here in the UK, but they are highly prized in their native countries which includes Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the North Caucasus where these handsome large dogs are used to guard flocks of livestock. With this said, over recent times, their popularity has increased and for good reason.
Over the years the breed has earned a reputation for being extremely reliable watchdogs and companions thanks to their loyal, courageous, yet gentle and kind natures in a home environment. The Caucasian Shepherd must be trained and handled by people who are familiar with the needs of these large, intelligent and quick-thinking dogs which means they are not the best choice for first time dog owners.
The Caucasian Shepherd's history is a bit of a mystery, but what is known is they are descendants of ancient breeds. There is archaeological evidence recently discovered that indicates the breed might have its origins in Mesopotamia although some experts believe these dogs were first bred in Tibet and were then introduced to the Caucasus over time.
There are those who claim these dogs are the descendants of wolves found in the Caucasus, but with all the legends and beliefs of how the breed came about, what is known is that the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has helped herdsmen and shepherds guard their flocks against large predators for centuries in the mountainous regions of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Daghestan as well as the steppes of the northern Caucasus and the Astrakhan regions of the land.
Caucasian Shepherd dogs have always been highly regarded in their native lands for being excellent watchdogs and were used to guard not only property, but large flocks of livestock in challenging conditions and over difficult terrains. There were many "types" found throughout the different regions and dogs were used for different tasks too. The dogs that worked in the trans-Caucasus regions of the land were bigger with heavier coats whereas the dogs found working the steppes boasted much rangier builds and shorter, lighter coats. However, the dogs we see today are bred to conform to a breed standard. They protectiveness and devotion to defending their owners and flocks is legendary.
At one time, the breed was so popular and highly prized that the former Soviet authorities established state kennels where dogs were bred to guard government facilities and factories through the country. In America, the breed found favour with the army for being such reliable and trustworthy dogs and as a result they were used in the field as service dogs.
Although, relatively unknown here in the UK, more people are showing an interest in the breed thanks to their extremely large size and the many images of Caucasian Shepherds with their owners appearing on the Internet. The breed was recognised by The United Kennel Club of America in 1995 and they are now a recognised American Kennel Club breed, but these handsome, noble dogs are not yet recognised as a breed by The Kennel Club here in the UK (November 2017).
Height at the withers: Males 70 - 90 cm, Females 65 - 75 cm
Average weight: Males 55 - 100 kg, Females 45 - 80 kg
Caucasian Shepherds are heavy set dogs and they boast extremely weather resistant coats. Another striking feature of the breed, is the size of a dog's paws which are enormous and which have hair growing between the toes. They are well-muscled, powerful yet athletic looking large dog with males being a lot heavier and larger than their female counterparts. Both have extremely large, broad heads with nicely developed cheek bones. They have a slightly defined stop and the width of a dog's head is accentuated by the thick hair that stands away from each side of their jaws. Females have a slightly more refined head.
Caucasians have powerful muzzles that taper gently to the nose. Their lips are tight, thick and black in colour. They have a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones and their canines are long and large. Noses are black in colour and broad, although lighter coloured dogs can have a brown nose. Their eyes are medium in size, oval-shaped and brown in colour which are set a little obliquely and quite deeply under a dog's brow.
Their ears are set high and triangular shaped which hang neatly on a dog's head. Caucasians have powerful albeit short necks which dog's hold slightly arched. Their forequarters are strong with dogs having moderately laid-back shoulders and well-muscled, strong and straight front legs. Their bodies are nicely proportioned with dogs having well sprung ribs that are well let down to a dog's elbows. Chests are deep and broad with dogs having broad, strong and level backs.
Their loins are short, slightly arched and short. Their croup is long, muscular, broad and virtually flat. Bellies are nicely tucked up which adds to the Caucasian's athletic appearance. Back legs are well-boned, strong and muscular. Their feet are large, oval shaped with dogs having dewclaws on both their front and back legs. Nails are dark or in lighter coloured dogs, their nails can be lighter in colour too. Tails are set high which dogs carry down when relaxed, but when excited, a Caucasian carries their tail higher shaped like a sickle and level with their back.
When it comes to their coat, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog boasts a double coat that consists of a long, coarse outer coat and a much thicker, denser and softer undercoat. The hair on a dog's muzzle, their forehead and the front of their legs is smooth and short. However, hair is longer on their cheeks and on the back of their heads where it stands away from the body which adds to the breed's almost bear-like looks. These handsome dogs come in a variety of colours which includes the following:
Caucasian Shepherds often have darker masks on their faces which adds to their overall charming appeal. It is worth noting that the tradition of "cropping" a dog's ears is still done in their native lands, but this is now banned in the UK and anyone who owns a dog with cropped ears would be liable for a hefty fine.
When a Caucasian Shepherd moves, they do so with great purpose and determination covering a lot of ground when they do. For such large, heavy dogs they give the impression of being light on their feet.
Prospective Caucasian owners should be wary of any puppies or dogs that show any sort of exaggeration whether in their looks or conformation. A responsible breeder would always ensure that puppies they produce are healthy with good conformation and temperaments. Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums. Dogs imported from abroad must have the correct paperwork and their ears must not be cropped.
The Caucasian Shepherd is known to be an intelligent dog, although they can be quite strong willed at times and quite difficult to "read". With this aid, a Caucasian is always on the alert listening to what is going on around them and watching what's going on. They are highly prized as watchdogs in many parts of the world although in a home environment they are calm and gentle loving nothing more than to be part of the family. With this said, their natural guarding and protecting instincts are very strong and as such the Caucasian tends to be suspicious of anyone they don't know and the same can be said when they meet any new dogs.
They are known to be very even tempered and reliable. They are also very quick and boast having ultra-keen senses which makes them the ideal choice as tracker dogs. Caucasians mature slowly which has to be taken into account when training them. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of socialising puppies and young dogs as early as possible and to start their training early to curb any strong guarding and protecting instincts. If left too late, these dogs can easily show a more dominant side to their characters which makes them harder to handle. Their socialisation must start early for them to mature into well-mannered dogs no matter where they are and who they meet.
Caucasians respond well to positive reinforcement training and do not take well to any sort of harsh correction or heavy-handed training methods. Being such intelligent dogs that like nothing better than to protect and please, they are quick to pick up new things, but this includes the good and the bad. They are not the best choice for first time owners because they must be handled and trained by someone who is familiar with the needs of this breed or similar type of highly intelligent, large dog. Caucasians must know their place in the pack and are never happier than when they know who to look to for guidance and direction.
The Caucasian Shepherd is not the sort of dog a first-time owner should contemplate owning because they need to be trained and handled by people who are familiar with their specific needs. Sadly, many owners do not realise just how large these dogs get and give them up with some Caucasians even been rescued after having been abandoned in the street, having to fend for themselves as strays.
Caucasian Shepherds are social by nature and are known to be good around other pets they have grown up with. However, they do have a high prey drive and will happily chase anything that tries to run away. As such, care should always be taken when and where a dog can run free off the lead.
Caucasians have a very playful side to their natures more especially when puppies, bearing in mind that these large dogs mature slowly not reaching full maturity until they are around 3 years old. However, thanks to their large size, it's best to teach a Caucasian puppy to play outside and not indoors to reduce the risk of breakages around the home.
The Caucasian Shepherd is not an "apartment" dog, they need enough space to express themselves and benefit from being able to have an ultra-secure back garden to roam around in whenever possible. However, garden fencing must be extremely secure and high because a Caucasian is very capable of breaking a fence down when the mood takes them, more especially if a dog thinks they must defend their property.
Although Caucasians form strong ties with their families, they do not suffer from separation anxiety when they are left on their own providing it is never for too long that is. Any dog that's left to their own devices for longer stretches of time might start to show destructive behaviours around the home, bearing in mind that the Caucasian is also known to be a "barker" and will bark incessantly for no reason at the best of times.
As previously mentioned, Caucasian Shepherds are renowned for being "barkers" and will happily voice their opinion whenever they can. Puppies can be gently curbed from barking for no reason, but there is never any guarantee that a dog won't just bark for the sake of it anyway.
Most Caucasians like swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Caucasian Shepherd off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they can't get out of the water on their own, bearing in mind that they have extremely thick and heavy coats that could easily drag a dog down.
Caucasians are natural watchdogs and as such they do not need any extra training when it comes to guarding and protecting. Not only will a Caucasian guard their owner’s property, but they will guard other pets, the children and anything else they feel that is part of their family which is a trait that is deeply embedded in their psyche. Any extra training could make a Caucasian more dominant and aggressive which could result in them being harder to live with and manage.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is an intelligent dog, but they can be strong willed which is why their socialisation and training must start as early as possible for them to understand who is the boss in a household. It's also another reason why they are not the best choice for first time owners. In the right hands and with the correct amount of training, Caucasians are easy to train, but they must know who is boss and who to look to for direction for them to be truly obedient dogs, bearing in mind they are extremely large dogs that need to know their place in the "pack" and who is alpha dog. If they are allowed to show a more dominant side of their natures, being such large dogs, they can become totally unmanageable, bordering on being out of control.
Their training must start early and dogs need to know the basics as soon as possible. Being such large dogs, it's always best to enrol the help of an expert dog trainer when a Caucasian is around 7 to 8 months old. Another option is to enrol them into puppy classes so they learn to be obedient with another bonus being they get to meet other puppies, dogs and people which is an important part of their socialisation, especially as the breed is known to be a little intolerant of other dogs at times.
Caucasian puppies are extremely cute and fluffy, but they quickly grow up to be large and imposing adult dogs. As such, their education must start early when dogs are still easy to handle. It would be a big mistake to wait for too long before training and socialising a Caucasian Shepherd puppy because when they are too big, they are that much harder to handle. As such, the first commands they need to be taught as soon as possible are as follows paying special attention to the "recall" command:
The Caucasian Shepherd is known to be a gentle giant and one that loves being in a family environment. They form strong bonds with their families and this includes the children. However, they can become a little over protective which means that any interaction between one of these large dogs and children should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure nobody gets knocked over albeit accidentally which could end up frightening or injuring them. This is especially true if children have any friends over to play in which case it might be best not to let such a large and protective dog near the kids just in case.
If well socialised from a young age, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog generally gets on well with other dogs, but care should be taken when they meet a dog for the first time because they have been known to be quite intolerant of other dogs at times. Care also should be taken when they are around smaller animals which includes cats. With this said, Caucasians can be over protective of other pets in the home which is something that owners should always remember when visitors or other animals visit the home.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Caucasian Shepherd Dog is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Caucasian is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these large, energetic dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
Caucasian Shepherd puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Caucasian Shepherds are very prone to gaining weight a little too easily with some dogs putting on the pounds after they have been spayed or neutered which is why it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to “up” the amount of daily exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which can prove fatal.
Some Caucasians are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Caucasian Shepherd Dog breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
The Caucasian Shepherd is not a Kennel Club registered breed, therefore there are not breed specific breeding restrictions in place. However, prospective owners should only approach reputable breeders when considering buying a Caucasian Shepherd puppy.
There are no KC Assured Breeder requirements for the Caucasian Shepherd because the breed is not Kennel Club registered.
As with any other breed, Caucasians need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Caucasian puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Caucasian puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned, Caucasian puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
Older Caucasian Shepherds need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Caucasian Shepherds in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Caucasians need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Caucasians don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
The Caucasian Shepherd is high maintenance when it comes to keeping their coats looking good and tangle-free. They boast having a profuse double coat and they shed a tremendous amount during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is an absolute necessity. However, during the rest of the year although they shed, it is much less so, but they still need to be brushed frequently to stay on top of things, especially as these are such large dogs. The good news is that Caucasian Shepherds do not need any sort of specialist grooming.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Caucasians need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly well-rounded dogs. This means they need to be given as much outdoor time as possible. It's important for these dogs to release all their energy and the best way is for them to play interactive games which can include things like chasing balls, retrieving frisbees and other toys that are thrown for them. Another great way of keeping the weight off these large dogs is to take them hiking, a pass time they thoroughly enjoy.
Ideally, a Caucasian should be given anything from 60 to 80 minutes exercise a day. A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing must be extremely secure to keep these quick thinking, large dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble. It's always a good idea to keep an eye on these dogs whenever they are allowed to run around a garden, no matter how secure it is, just in case.
With this said, Caucasian Shepherd puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs for this reason.
If you get a Caucasian Shepherd puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go and these dogs are prone to obesity which is something that needs to be kept an eye on.
Because Caucasian Shepherds are prone to suffer from bloat, it is important that they be fed twice a day instead of giving them just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand to place their feed bowl which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down low to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more a risk of suffering from bloat.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Caucasian Shepherd puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 18 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Caucasian Shepherd must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Caucasian can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Caucasian Shepherd, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £1500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Caucasian Shepherd Dog in northern England would be £22.75 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £43.89 a month (quote as of February 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. Moreover, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Caucasian Shepherd Dog and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Caucasian Shepherd Dog would be between £80 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a responsibly bred, Caucasian Shepherd puppy that's been bred from health tested parents with nice temperaments.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Caucasian Shepherds are fast becoming a popular dog both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Caucasians there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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