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Illyrian Shepherd Dog

Other names Sharrplaninatz
Yugoslav Shepherd Dog-Šarplaninac
Sharr Mountain Dog
Illyrian Sheepdog
Deltari Ilir
Nicknames Planinac
Country of origin  Serbia,  Republic of Macedonia[1] [2])

The Šarplaninac (pronounced shar-pla-NEE-natz) or Sharplaninac, also known as Yugoslav Shepherd Dog or Illyrian Shepherd Dog , is an ancient livestock guarding dog breed from the mountain region of former southeastern Yugoslavia[3][4] now the south of Kosovo[a] and the north of Republic of Macedonia.The Šarplaninac was first registered by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1939 as the Illyrian Shepherd dog, after the ancient name of the region.[3][4] In 1957 the General Assembly of the F.C.I. accepted a motion proposed by the Yugoslavian Federation of Cynology to change the name of the breed to "Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog Šarplanina", after the Šar Mountains which are located in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Albania (Šar Planina in Macedonian & Serbian language ) where the breed is most common.[3][4]

The Šarplaninac is a loving breed that develops a strong bond and will instinctively protect its family. They are gentle dogs but will treat anyone they perceive as a threat with distrust. They are excellent herding dogs and guardians. They are an intelligent breed of dog that will make any family glad to have such a loyal and dependable breed as a part of their family.



The Šarplaninac is a large, muscular, strongly-built dog. The body is slightly longer than the height at the withers, and the front legs account for approximately 55% of the height. The head is large but proportional to the body, with dark eyes.



The Šarplaninac is a robust, well proportioned dog with plenty of bone, of a size that is well above the average and with a thick, long, rather coarse coat that emphasizes the short coupled appearance. They are about 102–180 pounds (46–82 kg). Although much larger dogs dog exist which can reach up to 100kg (220 lbs).


The coat is dense and medium in length, it can be rough or smooth. The coat is also about four inches (10 cm) long. The coat will benefit from occasional brushing. All Šarplaninac types are solid in colour: tan, iron grey, white or almost black. The colour need not be completely uniform, and most Šarplaninac have several different shades of the same colour fading into one another. There are no bicolours and no uniformly black-coated dogs among purebreds, but odd-coloured specimens do exist and around 80cm (31 in).


Usually sable or gray with darker "overalls" on the head and back, the undercoat being paler. Almost all other colours are accepted, but the dogs must not have large white patches in their coat. There are several varieties of colors, by frequency of occurrence: Tiger Color with 30%, grey color with all the varieties 20%, Yellow color with black muzzle 20%, white color 20% and counter mask (muzzle).


The temperament of the breed is described as independent, reliable, protective but not snappy, incorruptible and devoted to its master. The breed is aloof with outsiders, and calm until a threat to the flock presents itself. The breed has a extremely protective nature. In the absence of a flock of sheep, the Šarplaninac will often treat its humans as sheep - herding them away from danger or undesirable areas. They are serene and majestic, gentle with children and smaller dogs. They are also highly intelligent and bred to work without human supervision while guarding the flocks in the high pastures. Young pups can kill small animals until trained not to hunt.

The Šarplaninac is a very serious and dedicated guard dog. Due to this, they are naturally suspicious of strangers and will need good socialising at a young age to lessen this innate personality trait. They are calm and gentle with their family but when faced with danger they become a formidable foe, not a suitable breed for all. Consistent and firm training is essential to ensure compliance.

Working life


The Šarplaninac is a reserved and intuitive breed, stubborn and undemonstrative, but properly trained and handled with authority, it excels at a variety of tasks. Dog-aggression and wariness of strangers are common traits of the Šarplaninac, which is why early socialization is of utmost importance. Heavily-boned and muscular, the dog has a full top-coat, with an abundant dense undercoat, making it weatherproof and suited for an outside life.

The Šarplaninac has been known to fight or chase off a wolf, lynx and even Balkan bears.

The breed can also work cattle and serve as a guard dog.

They were first used as military dogs in 1928 by the army of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and later under Josip Broz Tito in the communist Yugoslavia.

Šarplaninacs as military dogs of Serbian Royal Army in 1920's

The Šarplaninac is spreading through North American ranches as a sheep herding dog and a livestock guardian. Since 1975, successful exports have been carried out to the United States and Canada to control coyotes, and this is where its future security rests. It is now gaining recognition as a hard-working, able flock guard in those countries.


The Šarplaninac's history extends back further than any records. An old Balkan folk legend says that the breed remembers a time when all the land was underwater. Its origin is not clear, but it is believed that their ancestors were the indigenous livestock guarding dogs influenced by ancient Molossian dogs of Greece and the fighting mastiffs of Turkey which accompanied the Ottomans.[3][4] The breed was initially recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1939 as the Illyrian Shepherd Dog. In 1957, at the request of the Yugoslav Canine Federation (JKS), the FCI changed the name to Yugoslav Shepherd Dog-Šarplaninac, after the Šar Mountains (Шар Планина in Macedonian and Šar Planina in Serbian) where the breed is most common.[3][4] The image of the Šarplaninac is featured on the reverse of the Macedonian 1 denar coin, issued in 1993,[5] and on the emblem of Dragaš, a town in southern Kosovo, located in the Šar Mountains region.[6]

Notes and references


a.   ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo. The Assembly of Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence on 17 February 2008, a move that is recognised by 65 of the 192 UN member states and the Republic of China (Taiwan), but not by other UN member states. Serbia claims it as part of its own sovereign territory.


  1. ^ , The Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  2. ^ Official FCI-Standard N° 41
  3. ^ a b c d e United Kennel Club: Official U.K.C. Breed Standard, Revised 1 April 1998. – Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e Fédération Cynologique Internationale: Official FCI-Standard N° 41, Published 24 November 1970. – Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  5. ^ National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia. Macedonian currency: Coins in circulation. – Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  6. ^ Municipal Assembly of Dragaš. – Retrieved on 20 November 2008.

External links

See also

Simple English

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