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
The Caucasian Shepherd 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. However, 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 is an extremely large dog and as such, they need to be trained and handled by people who are familiar with the needs of these large, intelligent and quick thinking dogs.
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. 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.
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. 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 only recognised by The United Kennel Club of America in 1995, but these handsome, noble dogs are not yet recognised as a breed in their own right by The Kennel Club here in the UK.
Height at the withers: Males 70 - 90 cm, Females 65 - 75 cm
Average weight: Males 55 - 100 kg, Females 45 - 80 kg
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a 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 in shape 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.
The Caucasian Shepherd is known to be an intelligent dog, although they can be quite strong willed at times. They are highly prized as watchdogs in many parts of the world although, when these dogs are 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 in order 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.
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 need to handled and trained by someone who is familiar with the needs of this breed or similar type of highly intelligent, large dog. Caucasians have to 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 Dog is an intelligent dog, but they can be strong willed which is why their socialisation and training has to 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 have to 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 has to 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 the 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.
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 has to be taken when they are around smaller animals which includes cats.
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:
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.
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 in order 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 is allowed to build 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 has to 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 on 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 really 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.
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 £19.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of June 2016). 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 or not 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. On top of all of this, 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 Dpg 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 pedigree puppy.
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