South Russian Ovtschvarka dogs are very independent herding dogs with a strong protective instinct. They conscientiously defend their territory and their pack and are therefore not suitable for beginners. Of the three Ovcharka breeds from Russia, the South Russian is the largest and most powerful dog. You can find out in our breed overview what owners have to bring with them in order to train one of the shaggy giants to become a well-balanced working and companion dog.
What is Under the Light Shaggy Fur?
Its thick and long topcoat makes the South Russian Ovcharka appear bulkier and heavier than it actually is. The minimum height at the withers is 66 cm for males and 62 cm for females. Healthy animals weigh between 30 and 45 kilograms, with males being significantly more heavily built than females. The southern Russian can be easily distinguished from the Caucasian Ovcharka (Kavkasskaja Ovcharka) and the Central Asian Ovcharka (Sredneasiatskaja Ovcharka) by its coat and its size.
The South Russian Ovcharka in detail
- Head: Moderately broad with little stop and flat forehead. The skull tapers towards the snout.
The muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull. The nose of all southern Russians is black and relatively large.
- Eyes: Widely spaced, almond-shaped, and relatively small compared to skull size. The eye color should appear as dark as possible.
- The side-hanging floppy ears are medium-sized and slightly rounded at the tips. They are densely hairy and therefore hardly recognizable.
- The neck and body are very strong and athletic. The neck is carried at an angle of about 40 degrees and the chest is slightly protruding. The back is relatively long, the croup is slightly curved and the lower profile line is tucked up.
- The front legs are straight, strong, and set wide apart. The elbows are nearly thrown back and the shoulders are long and muscular. The hind legs are slightly angled.
- The medium-length tail is carried hanging down and never reaches over the back. She is strong and well-haired.
Coat and colors of the South Russian Ovcharka
- The skin is tight all over the body and may show any pigmentation.
- The fur of the southern Russian grows very dense and reaches a length of about 10 cm over the entire body. The face and ears also have long hair.
- The dogs only come in white, with various shades being permitted: white, white with a slightly yellow or gray tinge, biscuit, and pale ivory are permitted primary colors. If the basic color is not pure white, white markings can be seen.
Differences between South Russian Ovcharkas and other long-haired herding dogs
- The Briard’s topcoat is softer and darker than that of the South Russian.
- The Komondor is as large as the Ovcharka (or even larger), but its fur is very fine and matted into white dreadlocks.
- The German Leonberger belongs to the Molossians and wears its skin loosely with dewlap on the chest.
- The Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog is similar to the South Russian Ovcharka but has a shorter, finer coat.
- In contrast to the Ovcharka, the face of the Patou (Pyrenean Mountain Dog) is clearly visible.
- The coat texture of the Gos d’Azur Català (Catalan Shepherd Dog) is similar to that of the South Russian Ovcharkas, but the dogs are slightly smaller and come in a variety of colors (except white).
Where Did the Ovcharka Get His Temper? The History of the Dog Breed at a Glance
South Russian Ovcharkas only emerged in the 19th century and spread from the Crimean Peninsula through the northern Caucasus and southern Russia. The dogs have been specifically bred since 1898, and in the 1930s the breed was recognized as such and a uniform standard was set.
Tasks of the South Russian Ovcharki
The main task of the South Russian Ovcharka was to herd Merino sheep in the South Russian steppe. The dogs were often left to their own devices and had to keep order on their own. To do this, they had to be able to assess situations correctly at lightning speed and be physically armed against attackers such as wolves and bears.
The emergence of the white Ovcharki in Russia
The Catalan shepherd dog (Gos d’Azur Català) is undoubtedly one of the early ancestors of the southern Russians. German sheep poodles could also have contributed to the origin of the breed.
These imported breeds were probably crossed with local Ovcharki (Caucasian Ovcharka, formerly Tartar Ovcharka) to herd Merino sheep.
The white coat color most likely came about through mating with local greyhound breeds.
Nature and Character of the South Russian: Is the South Russian Ovcharka dangerous?
In some European countries, the South Russian Ovcharka is considered dangerous or potentially dangerous. The dogs think very categorically and clearly distinguish between the familiar and homely and the unknown and strange. They initially reject everything unknown as a matter of principle: they tend to be hostile towards new people, situations, and animals. They are all the more affectionate in the house. They are loyal to their owner and lovingly protective of their “flock” (if they are kept as companion dogs, they regard the family as a group worthy of protection). If they feel insecure, they show themselves to be dominant and try to take the lead. A puppy of the breed is therefore only something for experienced dog owners who know how to assert themselves.