OK, big dog lovers, we've got some good news for you. You've probably never heard of this breed, but the Caucasian ovcharka is about to become your new obsession. Also known as Caucasian shepherd dogs and Caucasian mountain dogs, these muscular canines average anywhere from 100 to 220 pounds. Could the Caucasian ovcharka be your next cuddle buddy and fearsome protector?
The Caucasus Mountains area is rough, mountainous country. The herdsmen of the steppes and mountains needed a dog sturdy enough to stand up to both the predators of the region and the harsh winters. The result was the Caucasian ovcharka, a mastiff-type livestock guardian dog known for its legendary protectiveness and ferocity.
These traits led the former U.S.S.R. to establish state kennels of Caucasian ovcharkas to guard factories and government buildings, which must have been very intimidating for anyone foolish enough to try to get past these fluffy guard dogs.
Most people are familiar with the shaggy, bearlike coat of the Caucasian ovcharka, but the breed actually comes in three distinctive coat types:
Long-coated Caucasian ovcharkas have a long outer coat and dense undercoat. The outer coat gives the dog a maned appearance, and the feathering on their hind legs makes them look like they are wearing silky pants. Intermediate coats are a little shorter than the long-coated variety, but you can still see the mane and feathering. Short coats are the least common and lack any feathering or mane. All coats have a light-colored undercoat and a wide variety of coloring and markings in their outer coat.
Caucasian ovcharkas are excellent guard dogs and they take their job seriously. They are very protective of their family and territory, especially at night, and perceive strange dogs and people as a threat. Very little scares this enormous dog, which means that owners need to be very diligent with the training and socialization of their Caucasian ovcharka.
More: Top 10 large dog breeds
The breed is intelligent and independent, which means they are easy to train but are also perfectly capable of making their own decisions, which you might not always agree with. They are loyal and affectionate with their families and are gentle with children. Their large size and tendency to bark, especially at night, makes them a poor choice for urban settings and apartment buildings.
Long, intermediate and short-coated Caucasian ovcharkas are large and hairy dogs. If you can't stand shedding, then the Caucasian ovcharka is not the dog for you. All coat varieties require regular brushing to prevent excessive shedding and mats.
Caucasian ovcharkas are a giant breed of dog, which means they are prone to large-breed health problems like bone and joint disorders. They typically live around 10 to 12 years, and like any dog, require proper nutrition and plenty of exercise.
If you are looking for a fluffy protector who is willing to put their life on the line for you every day, then the Caucasian ovcharka could be the dog for you. However, as with all large guard dog breeds, this breed is definitely not for everyone. They do best with experienced dog owners with a large, fenced backyard and plenty of time to devote to cuddling, training and walking this lion-like pooch.
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