Featured image by © bigstockphoto.com / Kate Ovcharenko
What is a Russian Bear Dog?
Are you thinking of adopting a new dog? Are you into big dogs? If yes, the Russian bear dog or Caucasian ovcharka might be the perfect pet for you.
The Caucasian shepherd is a large canine and is used to protect livestock in hilly plains and mountain regions in Russia, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Although they grow enormous (from 26 to 35 inches tall), these four-legged animals are becoming more and more popular as pets.
Keep reading to find out why.
Russian Bear Dog Origin
As the name suggests, these large dogs originate from the Caucasus Mountains are one of the biggest breeds among canines. Many people mistake them for Shiloh Shepherd or King Shepherd, but they are different species.
The predecessors of the Russian bear dog were guardian dogs. Their role was to defend sheep from dangerous animals such as jackals, bears, and wolves. Some of them were also bear hunting dogs, especially during the winter season, when bear activity was high.
Russian Bear Dog Temperament
Similar English Mastiff and Mastiff, the Caucasian ovcharka is non-violent and quiet, despite their enormous size. Some dog owners describe them as passive but very protective.
Because of their size, they aren’t a dog for any family. Due to their guarding history, they require special training and food regime. However, if you have space, knowledge, and time to dedicate to raise this big fluffy giant, they can make lovely pets.
During the day, they are peaceful and quiet and won’t disturb you with excessive barking. They can only alert you where there are uninvited visitors in our yard or any possible threats. It takes time to get used to new people, so make sure to stay patient when introducing friends. Russian bear dogs are very protective canines in nature and may react to potential dangers.
Most Caucasian shepherds are independent and intelligent. They know how to take care of themselves, but socializing while young is essential, if you want to fit well in your family. Take them to regular daily walks, introduce them to as many new people as possible, and allow them to show their protective side. That is how they prove you (their owner); that they are loyal and obedient.
How to Train a Russian Bear Dog
Like all dogs, the Russian four-legged canines respond best to reward-based training, positive support, and patience. Start while the dog is young (between 12 and 16 weeks), create a regular training schedule, and give them treats when they get the command right. The most important thing is to have patience. Even experienced dog trainers have difficulty training this breed, so make sure to give your furry friend time to adapt to the surroundings and learn how everything works.
When planning the training schedule, make sure it is exciting enough to keep your new pet interested. These kinds of dogs are used to being very protective, so add exercises or games where they can show their intelligence and act with your commands. Their mission is to keep you safe, and they will do anything to complete their goal.
Russian bear dogs don’t respond well to aggressive types of training or violent games. If dog training is new to you, try the leash training method (the easiest training method for puppies):
- Make your dog walk behind you
- Keep them on a short leash to show you are the one that gives the commands
- Reward your dog during and after the walk
Once you train your dog to act appropriately on a leash, it will be easier to teach them how to socialize, not endanger other animals or people, and stay close to you when doing your routine walks.
Common Caucasian Shepherd’s Health Problems
Unlike other canines that come with a multitude of health problems, Russian bear dogs are a healthy breed. They live long, healthy lives (their average lifespan is 10-12 years) with few chronic conditions. When cared properly, you can expect Caucasian ovcharka to guard you for many years.
There are three common issues that a Caucasian shepherd may face.
Eye Issues (Cataracts)
Cataracts cause vision obstructions. When dogs have cataracts, the lens of their eyes is hidden, and they can’t see clearly. Some dogs have small cataracts that don’t affect their vision, while others may end up completely blind.
Hip dysplasia is a common health issue among large-breed dogs because of their abnormal size. Even with the best training and balanced nutrition, hip dysplasia is hereditary for Russian bear dogs and may cause difficulties in movements, especially for older canines.
If your dog’s parents have hip dysplasia, chances are your pet has it as well. For those looking to adopt a Russian bear dog, make sure to check on the parent’s health history before getting a puppy.
The Caucasian shepherd is a low-energy breed, which is the main reason why some of them suffer from obesity. When these dogs don’t get the proper training or the right exercise, they become lazy lethargic, and once a dog is obese, it becomes difficult to get them to drop the extra pounds. Prevention is always the easier solution, so don’t wait until your pet is overweight to get them running.
The Russian bear dogs have a lot of hair because of the double coats.
How often you have to groom mainly depends on the season and the length of the fur. Usually, all dogs are groomed in the spring, after they shed their winter coat. Throughout the year, they shed frequently and can leave hair all over your home.
In the spring, we recommend getting your dog groomed by a professional. Getting all extra hair will make your pet feel better, and you won’t have to deal with the excess hair around the house.
As with all dogs, check and trim their nails often.
A Final Word
The Caucasian Shepherd is known as the gentle giant – loyal and peaceful within his family and owners, but brave and fearless to anyone else.
If you’ve got a big house that needs protection and are familiar with dog training, a Russian bear dog could be the perfect pet for you.