The Balkan Peninsula is a home to many strong, courageous and loyal livestock protector dog breeds and in this video i will show you five of them.
Balkans have a long pastoral tradition, but it is also a home to some of the most dangerous predators for the livestock, such as wolves and bears. Because of that, there was always a need for reliable, strong, brave, devoted, alert and independent livestock guardian breeds. Most of them have very long ancient history and most of them are somehow related together. In this video i will show you 5 amazing Balkan livestock guardian breeds!
Probably the best known livestock guardian from Balkan is the Sarplaninac, also known as Illyrian Shepherd Dog. The breed is named after the place, where it was developed, the Shar mountains in the heart of Balkan peninsula. It is believed, that this is extremely old ancient breed, that is next to guarding the livestock also very often used for personal protection and they were even used by army. Sarplaninac is very intelligent and independent breed, that can decide independently how to protect the livestock and it is absolutely amazing at it. The height and weight can vary quite a bit, but it is typicaly around 60 cm and 40 kg, which is 23 inch and 88 lbs.
4) Kraški Ovčar
The Kraški Ovčar has the similar body type, coat and color as the Sarplaninac, but it is slightly smaller. And it is no coincidence, since they share similar ancestry and origin. For a long time, these two dogs were considered as type A and type B of Illyrian Shepherd dog and they were separated only in 1968.
The Tornjak comes from Bosnia and Herzegovina and they can be found in largest numbers in the area around Vlasic mountains. It is believed, that they, or their ancestors lived in this area since the Roman times and that even Romans used them as guardian and war dogs. Later, this old Tornjak breed almost dissapeared and it had to be saved and revived in 1970s by group of enthusiasts from remaining dogs which best corresponded to the old writings about the breed
2) Greek Shepherd
Another livestock guardian from Balkan, this time from Greece, is the Greek Shepherd. Again, it is believed that it is a very old breed and that even the famous Plato described dogs similar to today Greek Shepherds in his writings, that were working in the region of Epirus as early as 800 BC. The breed is mostly found in the north of Greece and again, it is believed that they are closely related to other breeds from this video.
The last dog in this video is Karakachan, which is a shepherd from Bulgaria, which can trace its history back to old nomadic tribe known as Karakachani, which is a tribe native to Greece, but that always had a presence in Bulgaria as well. We are not sure what is the exact date of origin nor what is the ancestry of Karakachan dog, but it is possible that they are descendants of some old Thracian livestock guardian dogs.
All the livestock guardian dogs share similar temperament, which is relatively calm and independent, but vigilant and alert when the situatian needs it. They have natural guarding instinct and they know even without training how to guard and protect properly. But with good early socialization, all of them can also be great loyal and loving family companions.
Even though all the dogs mentioned in this video are separate pure dogs, most of them migrated annually across national borders with the flocks they protect in search seasonal pastures. Because of that, it is very likely, that they often times crossbred with each other in the past and that they influenced each other during their development.
It is also worth mentioning Romanian livestock guardians, as Romania is also sometimes viewed as part of Balkan. The best known Romanian shepherds are definitely Romanian Mioritic Shepherd, Bucovina Shepherd and Carpathian Shepherd.