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Karakachan Mecho. Owner Semperviva.
Karakatschan.jpg
Karakachan
Other names Karakachansko Kuche
Country of origin Flag of Bulgaria.svg Bulgaria
Traits

The Karakachan dog is a descendant of the ancient Balkan domestic dogs, probably since the time of the Thracians. The dog is named after the Karakachans (an alternative name of the Sarakatsani), Balkanian nomadic shepherds. Due to their conservative stock-breeding traditions, they managed to preserve some of the oldest breeds of domestic animals in Europe: the Karakachan sheep, horse, and dog.

The Karakachan is a mountain sheep dog. Other names are Karakachan Shepherd (каракачанска овчарка, karakachanska ovcharka) Thracian Mollos, or simply the Karakachan (каракачанка, karakachanka) or Bulgarian Shepherd Dog (българско овчарско куче, balgarsko ovcharsko kuche. The Karakachan is a breed of dog which originated in Bulgaria.

Contents

Brief historical survey

The Karakachan Dog is one of Europe's oldest breeds. A typical Mollos, created for guarding its owner's flock and property, it does not hesitate to fight wolves or bears to defend its owner and his family in case of danger. Its ancestors started forming as early as the third millennium BC. The Karakachan Dog is a descendant of the dogs of the Thracians[1] - the oldest inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula, renowned as stock-breeders, whom Herodotus describes as the most numerous people after the Indian one. The dog is named after the Karakachans. Due to their conservative stock-breeding traditions, they managed to preserve some of the oldest breeds of domestic animals in Europe - the Karakachan sheep, the Karakachan horse, and, of course, the Karakachan Dog. It is with this name that the Karakachan Dog appears in the works of some of the classics of Bulgarian literature, namely Yordan Yovkov, Georgi Raitchev and Yordan Radichkov. In 1938 H.B. Peters wrote about it in the German cinologycal magazine "Zeitschrift für Hundeforschung" [Zentralblatt für Kleintierkunde und Pelztierkunde "Kleintier und Pelztier", Verlag Dr. Paul Schöps, Leipzig]. . The first researcher of the breed was Todor Gajtandjiev, who proposed the standardization of the breed in the 1970s. The Karakachan Dog's bravery and dignity, together with its incredible loyalty, make this dog an invaluable friend and helper.

Appearance

Karakachan dogs guarding the flock

Important proportions: The length of the body measures the same as the height at withers + X% - in male dogs X = 4-10% - in bitches X=6 - 15 % - the height at the elbow = 52-55% of the height at withers - the length of the muzzle = 43-45% of the length of the head.
Behaviour / temperament: proud, domineering, weary to strangers, brave and intelligent dog of tough, steady and independent character. It's got a typical deep solid bark.

  • Head:

Cranial region: The skull is broad and massive; the upper profile is slightly rounded with a shallow furrow on the forehead; the occipital bone is slightly pronounced. The supercilliary arches are only slightly developed. The axes of the muzzle and the cranial region are parallel. Stop: Visible but not emphasized. Facial region: Muzzle: Massive, widening at the base, shorter than the cranial part of the skull. Tapering very gradually from its set to the nose leather, ending flat. Nose leather: Large and well-pigmented. Wide nostrils. Lips: Thick and close-fitting. The upper lip covers the lower. Well-pigmented. Jaws (teeth): Strong jaws. 42 teeth - 20 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw. Large and white teeth, well adapted to each other. Scissor bite or pincer bite. Eyes: Small, deep and obliquely placed in the skull, with the lateral angles higher than the medial ones. Dark or hazel depending on the colour of the coat. The rim of the eyelid is dark pigmented. Expression is grim, confident, intelligent and firm. Ears: Rather small, low set, V-shaped, pendant, close-fitting to the skull. Neck: Short and powerful. Well-connected with the body and head. Angled at approximately 30o to the upper line. No pendant folds apart from a slight dewlap along the ventral part of the neck.

  • Body:

Upper line: Horizontal, straight. Withers Well-pronounced, long and muscular. Back Straight, broad and well-muscled. Loins Of medium length, broad, well-muscled. Pronounced above the upper line. Croup Of medium length, broad and slightly sloping. Rounded and muscular. Chest Deep and broad but not barrel-shaped. Reaching deep at least to the points of elbow. Under line and belly The belly is muscular, taut and slightly tucked up.

  • Tail:

Not very high set. It reaches to the hock joints but can also be short by birth. The coat on tail is long and rough. In repose it hangs low or the tip is curved(Fig.2). In movement or when the dog is alert, it is carried over the back in sabre form or curled(Fig.3).

  • Limbs:

Forequarters: Straight, parallel, massive. Shoulders and upper arm: Long and broad. Tightly joined to the body, well-muscled. Angle between shoulder blade and shoulder bone is approximately 105°. Elbow: Close-fitting to chest. Forearm: Long, bone-sturdy. Carpus: Strong and broad. Pastern: Slightly sloping. Broad and strong. Front feet: Large, round, with taut, compact toes. Arched and hairy. Elastic dark pads. Toenails are thick and strong, preferably dark-coloured. Hindquarters: Parallel, powerful, with moderate angulation. Thigh: Of medium length, broad, well-muscled. Lower thigh: Long, broad and muscular. Hock: Broad and taut. The tibial-tarsus angle is about 140°.

  • Gait/movement:

Long reaching. Preferred movement is the springy trot.

  • Skin:

Thick, elastic and closely-fitting. No flabs apart from a slight dewlap along the lower (ventral) part of the neck. The nose leather and the visible mucus membranes should be black-pigmented and for red-white dogs should be brown.

  • Coat:

Quality of hair: In terms of hair length there are two types distinguished: longhaired - length of coat on the body should measure over 12 cm. shorthaired - length of coat on the body, neck and limbs measures up to 12 cm.

Over the neck, withers, croup, at the back of legs, and on the tail the hair is long and rough. The topcoat is straight and stiff. Over the head and the front part of the legs the hair is short and close-fitting. Heavy undercoat. Colour of hair: Two or tricolour, with spots. Most desired are clearly defined dark spots on white or big white spots on dark.

  • Height at the withers:

Size: Males: 63-75 cm. Bitches: 60-69 cm.

  • Weight: Males: 40–55 kg

Bitches: 30–45 kg

  • Faults:

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree. - head insufficiently massive and broad - pointed muzzle - stop insufficiently pronounced or too prominent - occipital bone too protruded - eyes protruded or round - ears set high or not close-fitting to the head - lack of pigmentation - neck long or too short - prominent dewlap on the neck - narrow or shallow chest - soft back - rounded back - tail low set - crooked legs, O-shaped or X-shaped - pasterns too sloping or straight - hock angles sharp or straight - brindle coloration - black mask

  • Eliminating faults

- resemblance to other breeds: Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Central Asian Shepherd Dog, Sharplaninets, Landseer, etc. - overshot - undershot, with gap between the incisors of more than 3 mm. - phlegmatic temperament - timid temperament - unreasonable aggressiveness - missing teeth, apart from two of the first premolars (P1), two of the second premolars (P2), or the two of the third molars (M3) - one-colored coat - straight tail - soft and/or curly hair - no undercoat N.B. Male dogs should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Effectiveness of the Karakachan Dog

Karakachan dog at work

The Karakachan belongs to the rare livestock protection breeds. The dogs are very effective at flock protection against predation and theft. Since 1998 there have been altogether three cases of successful predator attacks in the flocks provided with dogs for this project. In one big flock of 650 sheep, four had been killed, but this was due to the shepherds dividing the flock in half during grazing and one half had been left without dogs. The Karakachan Dog is strictly territorial. It accepts the flock as its territory, wherever it is. Being close to the flock, they become visibly aggressive if the flock is threatened. If a stranger tries to remove an animal from the flock, the dogs will become seriously aggressive. However, when a flock is passing through a village the dogs walk calmly without paying attention to people. There is another reason for the lack of accidents: the tradition of guarding livestock with big, aggressive dogs has always existed in Bulgaria. Everyone knows about them and people simply avoid the flocks so conflicts don't occur. Also there are dogs, which are not really aggressive towards people, but in the same time are excellent guards against other animals predators. The trends in breeding these dogs are to produce offspring less aggressive towards people.

Karakachan dogs are large, long-haired, massive dogs with a well-developed musculature and well-expressed sexual dimorphism. Males are a minimum of 65 centimetres in height, females at least 60 cm. Karakachan Dogs are used as herding dogs to escort and guard sheep and goat herds in Bulgaria.

Notes

References

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