Croatian Shepherd – Dog in Sheep’s Clothing

The Croatian Shepherd is widespread in its homeland of Slavonia in eastern Croatia but is rarely seen in this country. The Croatian Shepherd Dog is characterized by its black coat that is wavy or curly, reminiscent of that of a black sheep. As a companion dog and guardian of the house, the Hrvatski ovčar is just as suitable for herding sheep, cows, and other herd animals. Here you can find out everything you need to know about the dynamic dog breed.

What Distinguishes the Croatian Shepherd?

Croatian Shepherd is closely related to the Hungarian Mudi and is almost indistinguishable from it to the untrained eye. The most striking difference between Mudi and Croatian Shepherd is the color variety: Mudis come in many colors, and purebred Croatian Shepherd Dogs are only in black. They are also larger than Mudis, with a height at the withers of 45-50 cm for males and 43-48 cm for females. They weigh between 13 and 20 kilograms.

The Croatian Shepherd Dog from head to tail

  • Head: Overall, the head and muzzle appear wedge-shaped and narrow, and the skull shape is typically oval. The forehead furrow and eyebrows are flat, as in all European shepherds. The muzzle tapers slightly towards the tip.
  • Jaws: Strong scissor or pincer bite with darkly pigmented lips that lie close together. The cheeks are not very pronounced.
  • Eyes: The eyes are oval-shaped and slightly angled with very dark irises. In most Hrvatski ovčar, the pupil is indistinguishable from the iris with the naked eye.
  • Ears: Dropped or pricked ears (asymmetrical ears are not desirable in inbreeding). The skin is relatively thin and the base very broad, so the ears are shaped like isosceles triangles.
  • Neck and Body: The neck is of medium length and tapers slightly towards the head, running at a marked angle to the body. The physique is typical of a medium-sized shepherd dog: slightly longer than high, with a deep chest, but relatively narrow. The croup is slightly arched.
  • Forelegs and Hindlegs: The forelegs are straight and strong, and the hindlegs are only slightly bent and well-muscled.
  • Tail: Reaches at least the hock joint, is carried in the shape of a saber or sickle, leaning against the back when excited.
  • Coat: Dense undercoat that is not woolly but very soft. The topcoat is wavy to curly and grows medium long on the body. The longer mane of curls on the neck and long hair on the back of the legs (fringes and trousers) and on the tail (flag) are characteristic. The face and ears are covered with short hair so that the facial expressions are clearly recognizable.
  • Colour: Solid black, the skin is also pigmented black. Small white markings on the chest are allowed for inbreeding. In some dogs, the fur is streaked with isolated white hairs; the greyish undercoat shines through during the change of coat.

Where Does Croatian Shepherd Come From?

Croatian Shepherd developed over centuries in the region of Slavonia in eastern Croatia. Breeding is still concentrated in this region today. The direct ancestor is the Pfahlbauhund (also known as the Torfspitz), which lived alongside humans as early as the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. It is probable that descendants of the peat dogs were crossed with Old German herding dogs in the 12th century in order to breed obedient and persistent herding and guard dogs. The breed has only been recognized by the FCI since 1969.

Would you have recognized her? Close relatives of the Hrvatski ovčar

  • Mudi (Hungary)
  • Pumi (Hungary)
  • Puli (Hungary)

Sharp Sheepskins: The Hrvatski ovcar and its infallible memory

Croatian Shepherds are clever and can learn many different commands. By observing and imitating, they independently learn things like how to open doors and the meaning of certain words. In the presence of your dog, always make sure that he doesn’t accidentally copy “stupid things” from you – otherwise, you might run the risk of finding your dog in front of an empty refrigerator or having to lock the front door so that he doesn’t go on independent hikes.

Upbringing and Husbandry at Croatian Shepherd

Hrvatski ovčars are suitable as working dogs in various fields. They herd and herd livestock, serve as guard dogs in the home or are trained for professional purposes. While not commonly used as guide dogs or police dogs, they do have potential as service dogs in any area. They are considered easy to train and would like to demonstrate their skills every day.

This is how the training of Croatian Shepherd Dogs works

In their homeland, the young shepherd dogs are taken to the pasture from the fourth week of life. Shepherds usually keep an older dog who serves as a role model for the younger ones and helps with their training. At the age of six months, a young shepherd dog is ready for independent use in the pasture. This is how they have been learning their craft for centuries. If you want to educate him on dog sports or for other purposes, use this natural learning strategy as a guide.

Carelessness is quickly punished at Croatian Shepherd

Young Hrvatski ovčars bark for many reasons: they bark when they discover something interesting, when they are happy and when they want to communicate. With good training, however, they quickly break the habit of barking for no reason and know exactly when the time has come to report (possibly uninvited) visitors or to startle the livestock by barking. If you neglect your dog when they are young, they will not learn this important difference and will sometimes become inappropriately loud. The same applies to dogs, who often get bored.

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