Caucasian Shepherd: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Caucasian shepherd lying in a field

 Anni Sommer / Getty Images

The Caucasian shepherd is a giant working dog breed from the Caucasus region of Europe and Asia with a thick, medium-length coat and a big-boned, muscular build. This breed originated to protect property and livestock, and it tends to be quite loyal to its family. It also can be strong-willed and independent. As such, it’s often not the best choice for a first-time dog owner, as well as someone who doesn’t have a home with ample space.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working

HEIGHT: 23 to 30 inches

WEIGHT: 99 to 170 pounds

COAT: Medium-length double coat

COAT COLOR: Agouti and white, black and gray, cream, fawn, gray, grizzle, red, rust, sable, or white with/without white markings, piebald, or brindle markings

LIFE SPAN: 10 to 12 years

TEMPERAMENT: Loyal, courageous, protective

HYPOALLERGENIC: No

ORIGIN: Europe/Asia

Characteristics of the Caucasian Shepherd

Caucasian shepherds generally have a very watchful and protective personality. Their breeding as a guardian plays a huge role in their temperament. They are typically wary of strangers but are devoted to their family.

Affection Level Medium
Friendliness Low
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Low
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Low
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Caucasian Shepherd

Dogs resembling the Caucasian shepherd have existed in the mountainous Caucasus region of Europe and Asia for centuries. They historically were used to guard property and livestock against trespassers and predators, such as wolves and bears. 

The look of these dogs varied depending on the exact region they were from. And there are still two varieties within the breed: the Mountain type (heavier body and longer coat) and the Steppe type (lighter body and shorter coat). 

Soviet breeders began selective breeding among these dogs in the early 1900s. Some of the qualities they wanted to breed for included strength, confidence, good hearing and eyesight, and a weather-proof coat. The breed still remains relatively rare, especially in North America. It’s part of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service, which keeps breeding records of purebred development. 

Caucasian Shepherd Care

Caucasian shepherds don't need an excessive amount of exercise, but they do require early and consistent training and socialization. Their grooming is fairly straightforward but can be a time commitment due to their large size.

Exercise

Aim to provide your dog with at least an hour of exercise per day via walks, romping around a yard, hikes, playing fetch, and other activities. Puzzle toys can help to burn some mental energy, as well. While this isn’t a high-energy breed, it still tends to have good endurance if you like taking long walks or hikes. Be sure always to keep your Caucasian shepherd on a leash or in a securely fenced area due to its protective nature and consequent potential for aggression toward strangers and even other dogs. 

Grooming

Coat length can vary for the Caucasian shepherd. If your dog has a shorter coat, you’ll likely only have to brush it once or twice a week. But longer coats might require up to daily brushing to keep up with the loose fur and prevent tangles and mats. Expect seasonal periods of higher shedding, often in the spring and fall, during which you’ll have to increase your brushing. 

Plan on a bath roughly every month, depending on how dirty your dog gets. And check its nails monthly to see whether they need a trim. Also, look in its ears at least weekly for wax buildup, debris, and other abnormalities. And brush its teeth every day.

Furthermore, this breed has a fairly high drooling level. So you’ll likely need to keep a towel handy to clean up drool on your dog’s fur, the floor, furniture, and any other spots where it might reach.

Training

The Caucasian shepherd is intelligent, but it also can be stubborn and strong-willed when it comes to training. Start both training and socialization from as young of an age as possible when the dog is at a more manageable size.

Always use positive training methods. And be consistent in your commands, so your dog learns it can’t get away with bad behavior. Owners who are new to the breed often will benefit from consulting with professional dog trainers and behaviorists to help with training and socialization and quell the breed's protective instinct that can lead to aggression when unchecked. 

Caucasian shepherd puppy
Irina Kulikova / Getty Images 
Caucasian shepherd standing outside
Spike Summers / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Common Health Problems

Overall, the Caucasian shepherd is a generally healthy breed, but it is prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Caucasian shepherds as pets illustration

The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Always provide your dog with fresh water. And feed a quality, nutritionally balanced canine diet. One made for large breeds can be ideal, and it’s typical to feed two measured meals per day. But you should always discuss both the type of food and the amount with your vet. Also, monitor treats and other extra food to prevent overeating.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Caucasian Shepherd

Caucasian shepherds are rare but not impossible to find in North America. So it’s worth checking local animal shelters and rescue groups to find a dog in need of a home. If possible, get your name on a breed wait list at these organizations. For a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $1,000 to $3,000, though this can vary widely.

For more information to help connect you with a Caucasian shepherd, check out:

Caucasian Shepherd Overview

Pros
  • Loyal to family

  • Typically not a problem barker

  • Excellent guard dog

Cons
  • Can become aggressive if not properly trained

  • Needs a lot of space

  • High shedder and drooler

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before bringing home a Caucasian shepherd, make sure to do plenty of research to ensure that the breed is right for your lifestyle. Talk to breed owners, rescue groups, reputable breeders, and veterinarians. 

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

FAQ
  • Are Caucasian shepherds good family dogs?

    Caucasian shepherds with proper training and socialization can be suitable for a home with older children, as they are typically quite devoted to their family. However, due to their giant size and potential for aggression, they aren't the best choice if you have young children.

  • Are Caucasian shepherds aggressive?

    The highly protective nature of Caucasian shepherds can turn into aggression if they perceive a threat. Training and socialization are critical for this breed, but it still can be difficult to quell their protective instinct.

  • Are Caucasian shepherds rare?

    Caucasian shepherds are a relatively rare breed, especially in North America. You might have to wait some time to find one at a rescue organization or breeder, depending on where you live.

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Article Sources
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  1. Health. Caucasian Shepherd Club of America.

  2. The Caucasian Shepherd: The Dog That Looks Like A Bear. Veterinarians.org.