Most often 4 or 5 different dog breeds are recognized as Ovcharka dogs. Those include Caucasian Ovcharka, also known as Caucasian Shepherd dog, Central Asian Ovcharka, also known as Central Asian Shepherd or Alabai, South Russian Ovcharka, the Vostochno Evropeiskaya Ovcharka, also known as East European Shepherd and sometimes, also the Armenian Gampr is recognized within the Ovcharka group. Lets talk a little bit about each Ovcharka individually. And lets start with the Armenian Gampr.
It is a large and powerful livestock guardian from Armenia. It is the oldest Ovcharka of all, with its history dating back thousands of years to the Armenian mountains, where it was used throughout its whole history by Armenian people for protecting the livestock and homes.
The breed is very strong, with height around 65 cm and weight around 55 kg, which is 25 inch and 120 lbs.
When Armenia and its people came under the control of the Soviet Union in 1920s, many many of these dogs were brought to Russia and they played a major role in development of another Ovcharka, possibly the most famous one, the Caucasian Ovcharka.
Many people believe that Caucasian Shepherd dog is also very old and ancient breed, but in reality its development started in 1920s, when Russian cynologists created this new breed from crossing various livestock guardian dogs from the Caucasus region, notably from Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan or Dagestan and as you already know, the Armenian Gampr is one of the main ancestors of the Caucasian Ovcharka, next, to for example Georgian Shepherd.
The Caucasian Ovcharka is very massive breed with powerful bone structure and very large head. It has relatively long coat and it most commonly comes in gray color. Its height is around 28 inch, which is 72 cm, and weight around 50 kg, which 110 lbs.
These dogs were bred and used to protect livestock against large and dangerous predatros, very often without any human help, which is why they are extremely independent, protective, brave, intelligent, but they are also pretty calm, well balanced and gentle with their own family. They share this temperament with the third Ovcharka of this video, the Central Asian Ovcharka.
And these dogs do have ancient ancestry and they are very old. The breed standard says, that the breed was formed by natural selection, by surviving of the fittest during more than 4000 years in the large territory which spreads from Caspian Sea to Chinese border and from the southern Europe to Afghanistan.
Because the breed is so old, there is no way how to properly track down the breeds ancestry. But they are most likely related to other ancient breeds, such as Tibetan Mastiff or Mongolian Shepherd dog.
The breed has similar temperament and body structure as the Caucasian Ovcharka. But it has shorter coat, which is very very dense with close fitting undercoat and it comes in black, white, gray, fawn, reddish fawn and brindle colors.
And what about its size? Again, this is large and powerful breed. The breed standard only mentions minimum size, which is 65 cm and 40 kg, or 26 inch and 88 lbs. But again, this is only minimal requirements for the size and most of the dogs of this breed are much larger than that and it is not completely unsual for the Central Asian Shepherd to weighs around 200 lbs, which is 90 kg.
The first three Ovcharkas are huge. So are there any smaller Ovcharkas? Well, of course, there are no small sized livestock guardian dogs, but the South Russian Ovcharka is slightly smaller than the Caucasian or Central Asian Shepherd.
Again, the breed standard only mentions the minimum height and weight, which is 62 cm and 30 kgs, or 66 lbs and 25 inch. So yes, even though smaller than the rest, it is still large breed.
The South Russian Ovcharka was developed from dogs that arrived into South Russia and Crimea plains in the 18th century from Spain with the Merino sheeps. These ancestors were pretty small dogs, but they were excellent at herding. Local shepherds crossbred them with local Russian dogs, which resulted in a dog excellent for working with livestock, protecting it and living in Russian climate.
The South Russian Ovcharka is covered with a very long coat, which is slightly wavy and super dense. The color should be white or cream.
And the last Ovcharka in this video is the Vostochno Evropeiskaya Ovcharka, or East European Shepherd. It is a direct descendant of the German Shepherd, which was introduced to Russia in the beginning of the 20th century. German Shepherd was used by Soviet military and police, but they wanted to create a slightly larger dog that will be able to easily withstand the harsh and freezing Soviet climatic conditions.
Over the decades of selective breeding a new line of German Shepherd was created, which is today known as the East European Shepherd. And unlike the other Ovcharkas, this one was mainly used for other puproses, rather than working with cattle as the East European Shepherd was used mostly by police and military.
Unlike the other Ovcharkas, this dog is easily trainable, not so independent, very obedient, but it is also a great guard dog with brave and alert characteristics.
And what about the size of the East European Shepherd? It is around 67 cm, which is 26 inch and weight around 110 lbs, which is 50 kg.