The Caucasian Shepherd’s guardian history and natural independence make them an alert working dog. However, this breed might not be the perfect choice for a first-time pet parent for the same reasons.
Caucasian Shepherds, also called Caucasian Ovcharkas, hail from Eastern Europe and, according to the Caucasian Shepherd Club of America (CSCA), were originally intended to protect livestock and properties from predators in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. The breed is also referred to by other names, including Caucasian Mountain Dog and Russian Bear Dog.
Caring for a Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Before bringing home a Caucasian Shepherd puppy, know that that little fluff ball will grow to be massive. Caucasian Shepherds are 100 pounds at a minimum, and they can reach up to 170 pounds. Standing 23–30 inches tall, these large dogs need a home with ample space.
But it’s not just their size that potential pet parents need to consider. A Caucasian Shepherd puppy will need lots of obedience training with positive reinforcement techniques. This breed isn’t known for patience—and small, hyper children might not be compatible cohabitators, according to the breed club. Caucasian Shepherds also aren’t happy about new people coming into their home. So, if you’re searching for more of a gentle giant, look elsewhere—perhaps at a Newfoundland or Saint Bernard.
Caucasian Shepherd Health Issues
If you and your home can handle their personality and needs, Caucasian Shepherds are relatively healthy dogs. That said, because of their size, they do have a short lifespan; most live 10–12 years.
Dogs with entropion have an eyelid that grows inward. This is an inherited condition that can affect a dog’s eyesight. Symptoms of entropion occur when the eyelashes rub on the eye’s surface because of the inward-folding eyelid and include excessive tear production, eye discharge, and redness. This can be a painful condition, and dogs may rub or paw at their affected eye. Fortunately, entropion can be corrected with surgery.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Large-breed dogs such as Caucasian Shepherds are susceptible to elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia. Caused by abnormal bone growth and development, this condition results in a loose joint, which can impact a dog’s mobility, cause pain, and lead to arthritis.
Signs of dysplasia include limping, lameness, popping joints, and trouble walking, standing, or sitting. Dogs may not be able to jump or use stairs. Treatment depends on the dysplasia’s severity and can range from joint supplements to weight management to surgery.
What To Feed a Caucasian Shepherd
Caucasian Shepherds need to eat a well-balanced dog food that’s appropriate for their current life stage (puppy, adult, or senior). Choose a dog food that follows the nutritional guidelines approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Some go-to options include Royal Canin®/MD, Hills, and Purina®.
Caucasian Shepherd puppies need to eat a puppy food for large-breed dogs to keep up with their rapid growth and development.
How To Feed a Caucasian Shepherd
Caucasian Shepherd puppies should eat three to four small meals every day on a regular feeding schedule. Once they reach adulthood, they can eat twice per day. If your dog eats too quickly, use a slow feeder bowl.
Along with scheduled meals, make sure your Caucasian Shepherd has water available 24/7 so he can drink as needed.
How Much Should You Feed a Caucasian Shepherd?
Because Caucasian Shepherds are at risk of hip and elbow dysplasia, they will need to eat lean their whole life, according to the Caucasian Shepherd Club of America. Follow the guidance on your dog food bag for portion sizes, and chat with your veterinarian about how much your dog should be eating.
If your Caucasian Shepherd becomes obese, work with a veterinarian to bring the pup’s weight down to a healthy level. This may include increasing his exercise, reducing meal sizes, or prescription dog food.
Nutritional Tips for Caucasian Shepherds
Typically, Caucasian Shepherds don’t need special dietary foods or supplements unless your veterinarian recommends them. But because these dogs can have joint problems, your vet might recommend joint supplements.
Behavior and Training Tips for Caucasian Shepherd Dogs
Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are very loyal to their humans, but they are also strikingly independent. These dogs are not the best choice for a first-time dog parent and are best suited to a home where they have room to roam safely within a fenced area.
Caucasian Shepherd Personality and Temperament
Because of this working dog’s independent nature, many Caucasian Shepherds prefer to be the only pet in the home. They also do best in homes without young children, as they don’t do well with kiddos pulling their tail or climbing on them.
Caucasian Shepherd Behavior
Historically, this breed has been protective and naturally suspicious around strangers. If you travel a lot, a Caucasian Shepherd will find it difficult to be boarded or even to be cared for by a pet sitter. The breed thrives in a quiet, calm environment with a homebody pet parent.
Caucasian Shepherd Training
Make sure you have time to dedicate to your Caucasian Shepherd puppy when you bring them home. Puppies need lots of slow exposure to new sounds, places, situations, and people to become socialized, according to the breed club.
Always use positive reinforcement when training your Caucasian Shepherd.
Fun Activities for Caucasian Shepherds
Caucasian Shepherd Grooming Guide
Caucasian Shepherds have a thick double coat that needs regular grooming. The double coat and their large size mean this breed has a lot of fur, and even just a simple brushing can take a lot of time.
Caucasian Shepherds don’t have specific skin care needs. However, if you notice bleeding, bald spots, or excessive scratching, contact your veterinarian.
Caucasian Shepherds have a medium-length coat that comes in colors including gray, black, fawn, white, cream, and brindle. This fur sheds a lot throughout the year, especially in the spring and fall. Regular brushing will help you keep up with loose hairs, so block off grooming time in your schedule at least once a week.
Because Caucasian Shepherds can have eyelid issues, monitor your dog for signs of irritation or pain. If you notice changes in how your dog’s eyes look or if your pup begins pawing at his face, take him to the vet.
Considerations for Pet Parents
The ideal home for a Caucasian Shepherd is one without children or other pets; with a human parent who is home often; and with a yard secured with a 6-foot-tall fence. These powerful dogs need an experienced pet parent to guide them, as Caucasian Shepherds are aloof with strangers and will distrust new people in their home.
But if you can handle their size, independence, and grooming upkeep, a Caucasian Shepherd will be an enduringly loyal companion.
Featured Image: Adobe/Ricant Images
Caucasian Shepherd FAQs
How much does a Caucasian Shepherd cost?
How much you’ll pay to purchase or adopt a Caucasian Shepherd depends on many factors, from the breeder to your location to the puppy’s bloodline. Typically, you can expect to pay $1,000–$2,500. The CSCA provides guidance on approved breeders for Caucasian Shepherd puppies.
What’s the difference between a Tibetan Mastiff vs. Caucasian Shepherd?
Caucasian Shepherds are sometimes confused with Tibetan Mastiffs, as the breeds have similar characteristics. But because they can reach 170 pounds, Caucasian Shepherds are larger than Tibetan Mastiffs, which typically top out around 150 pounds. And while Caucasian Shepherds are an Eastern European breed, Tibetan Mastiffs have Asian origins.
Are Caucasian Shepherds legal in the US?
Yes, owning a Caucasian Shepherd is legal in the United States.
Help us make PetMD better
Was this article helpful?