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Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Other names

Nagazi (Georgia)
Caucasian Shepherd Dog
Caucasian Mountain Dog
Caucasian Sheepdog
Kavkaski Ovcar
Kavkaz Dog
Kavkaz Mastiff
Kavkaz Volkodav
Kavkazskaya (...kiaia) Ovcharka
Russian Kavkazskaya Ovtcharka
Ovtcharka (Owtcharka)
Sage Ghafghazi
Nicknames Bombor, CO,
Country of origin Azerbaijan,Georgia, Armenia

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog ( Georgian: კავკასიური ნაგაზი, ( Azerbaijani: Gafgaz iti), is a breed of dog that is popular in Azerbaijan,Georgia, Armenia, and Southern Russia




Caucasian Ovcharka

Caucasian Mountain Dog are strongly-boned, muscular and even-tempered Molossers.

The breed has two types: mountain and plain. Plain dogs have a shorter coat and appear taller as they are more lightly built. Mountain types have a heavier coat and are more muscularly built. The breed's weight range is 102–180 pounds (46–82 kg.), although individuals over 220 pounds (100 kg) are not uncommon, and the height range is 25–29 inches (64–78 cm.).

Softness and vicious temperaments are considered serious faults for the breed. Generally healthy and long lived, hip dysplasia, obesity and occasional heart problems are known to occur. The ears of the Caucasian Ovcharka are traditionally cropped, although some modern dogs are unaltered. The preferred show-types are the long-coated grey dogs with some white markings. Black or black-and-tan dogs are not acceptable in the show ring. The minimum height is 24.5 inches with no upper limit.


Caucasian Shepherds are typically assertive, brave, alert, strong, hardy and courageous to a fault. They are probably the most aggressive natural guard dog bred in domesticity and truly second to none in bellicosity towards strangers.

Unless properly socialised, they may exhibit ferocious and unmanageable tendencies. They seldom have time for strangers (but will greet family friends warmly) and have powerful guarding instincts. Everything and everyone who belongs to the family, including children, cats, other dogs, etc. will be regarded by this dog as part of its family and as such will fall under its guardianship. Owing to their size and nature these dogs should not be left alone with children.

Aggression and dominance toward unknown dogs should be expected unless the animal has been extensively socialised at a young age and even then some unwanted behaviours may occur.

An ovtcharka needs an "intelligent highly experienced" owner as it can easily kill a large man. It requires an owner who knows how to display strong, calm and balanced leadership and one who is willing to spend a lot of time ensuring the development of a well-balanced animal.


Caucasian Ovcharka guarding poultry

Located between the Black Sea on the West and the Caspian Sea on the East, the Caucasus mountain range represents a true melting pot of various cultures due to a number of nations calling it their home through the ages. Today these influences are still strong and a rich source of cultural wealth of the region, as well as numerous political conflicts. Encompassing the territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, the Caucasus mountains are also home to one of the oldest living Molosser breeds, Caucasian Mountain Dog. There is a great variety of types among the Caucasian dogs depending on their home region, but a single type has come to be favored in the show rings and literature, at the expense of other breed variants. The word "Ovcharka", often used to refer to the dog, translates as "Sheepdog / Shepherd Dog". The Caucasian Ovcharka is recognised to be Georgian breed and is very popular animal often used to protect privite properties, such as car house and etc.

Although its first official Western Show-Ring appearance was in the 1930s in Germany, the Caucasian Mountain Dog has existed since ancient times and, like many Eastern Molossers. The Armenian Gamprs are seen as a variant of the Caucasian Mountain Dog and some believe that the Caucasian Mountain Dog was a result of crossing the mountain Gampyrs with the spitz-type dogs in ancient times, but this theory, although not without merit, is not very popular.

Caucasian Pup

Recent history

  • The Georgian dogs are divided into the large, longhaired and often multicoloured Mkinvartsveri Kazbek type and the slightly smaller wolf-grey Nagazi dogs of medium-length coat with longer muzzles, but there is also a separate breed known as Tushetian Nagazi or Georgian Caucasian Sheepdog in Georgia, which represents the original Georgian population of the breed, with the pure white dogs being the most valued.
  • Daghestan dogs are tall, wide-headed and athletic, short-haired and multicoloured.
  • Astrakhan type is found in the Kabardino-Balkarian region and is believed to be a cross between the Russian show type and the old Circassian and Kazbek dogs, but Balkarian Molossers are also rooted in the Sarmatian Mastiff.
  • The Turkish Caucasus dogs are divided into four types, those being the Garban, the Akhaltsihnske type, the Circassian variant and the Kars Dog.
  • The large, short-muzzled, shorthaired fawn, brown, red, with or without white markings and extremely vicious Garban (Gorban) was developed from the Kars and the Kangal, as well as other Turkish dogs being crossed with the Armenian and Kazbek types.
    • The Akhaltsihnske type was created from Garban crosses with the Georgian Nagazi variant and possibly Turkish Akbash, resulting in longhaired, lightly built solid-coloured white, fawn and grey dogs. The Circassian variant is believed to be a result of crossing the Kangals with the Cherkes dogs introduced to Turkey after the Russian-Circassian wars.
    • The Kars Dog is a variety closely associated with the Kars province of modern Turkey and is today seen as a separate breed. The Armenian Gamprs are smaller than the Georgian dogs and are shorter-necked and squarely built, and come in a variety of colors.
  • The Volkodav variant also comes in two types, with the longhaired mountain and short-coated steppe dogs both being smaller than Georgian and Armenian types, always having black masks.
  • A result of matings between the dogs of southern Kavkaz with the Sage Mazandarani and the Kars Dog of Turkey, the Iranian Sage Ghafghazi is a lean, powerful and richly coated mastiff, used as a caravan protector of the Shahsavan nomads, who have been breeding it since the 17th century. These Iranian Caucasians come in a variety of colours, both solid and bicoloured.
  • There is also a rare shorthaired Kavkaz mastiff, known as the North-Caucasian Volkodav, which is on its way to receive a separate breed recognition.

Even the legendary Alaunt, the breed considered to be the key progenitor of all bulldog breeds, is also descended from this Caucasian stock of mountain dogs.

As mentioned above, most working Caucasian dogs are hybrids between established types, as well as some lines of the Central Asian dogs, in effect making the Russian show type appear to be a superior-bred dog in the eyes of the West. There are two types, the working strain in the east and the show dogs in the west. The fighting strains of the Caucasian Ovcharka can contain blood of some European breeds, from mastiffs to Bandogs, but these crosses are a minority in the breed. The Caucasian Molossers were used for centuries to protect properties, guard livestock, kill wolves, hunt bears and the green for many other duties, but today and especially in the West, they are employed as companion animals and watchdogs. Most prized as a property guardian, the Caucasian Ovcharka are good protectors. The Caucasian Mountain Dog is a low activity dog, seemingly lethargic when not working, but agile and convincing when it feels its family is threatened. Although certain strains are more vicious than others, all Caucasians are very territorial and dog-aggressive, needing early and careful broad socialization, as well as firm, but never forceful, handling. This breed can be a family dog, if well trained and socialized.

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