1) Çoban köpeği
The Karadeniz Shepherd dog is one of the many Çoban köpeği breeds, which are basically Turkish livestock guardians. It is a group of dogs that evolved in different parts of Turkey and they are arguably one of the oldest and one of the best livestock guardians in the world. The other Çoban köpeği breeds include for example Kangal, Akbash, Malakli or Boz Shepherds.
The Karadeniz Shepherd is extremely old dog breed with ancient history. They are native to the high mountains along the Black Sea coast in northern Turkey, where they evolved over centuries by adapting to local specific conditions, such as harsh mountainous climate, intense rains and higher altitude.
The Karadeniz Çoban köpeği has a very specific name, which is describing their place of origin and their purpose. As you already know, the Çoban köpeği can be translated as shepherd. And the word Karadeniz means Black Sea. So the literal translation of the Karadeniz dog is Black Sea Shepherd.
The main utilization of the Karadeniz Shepherd always was protecting the sheep and other livestock from dangerous predators such as wolves or bears. It is very hard job to protect the sheep on their annual transhumance to the plateaus in winter and to mountanious pastures in summer. Only very strong, powerful and endurant dogs can be succesfull at job like that and Karadeniz Shepherd is just perfect for this kind of a job. They also have amazing temperament for it, as they are absolutely loyal to the flock so as to its owners. They are very courageous and they would even die for its pack. Alertness, indepence and intelligence are other traits that are necessary for this job and Karadeniz Shepherd has all of them.
Even today, most Karadeniz Shepherds are working dogs, but that does not mean they do not have strong bond with its owners and that they do not make great companions. Of course they do. They are absolutely faithful and friendly towards their people, towards their pack. They might not be overly affectionate just like some other breeds, but they truly love its people and they create strong bond with them.
The Karadeniz Shepherd protects the flocks against the most dangerous predators you can imagine, such as bears and wolves. Only big and strong dogs are capable of doing that. According to the breed standard, the average height is between 65-85 cm, which is 25-34 inch and weight between 50-70 kg, which is 110-155 lbs, but there are even some larger Karadeniz Shepherds than that! Females are naturally smaller than males.
Karadeniz Shepherds can survive outdoors even in low temperatures and in heavy rains without any problems. It is mostly thanks to their long dense coat, which is protecting them from the harsh conditions. The coat is tightly attached to the body and the color should be gray-grizzled, brown-grizzled or brindle.
The maintenance and grooming is extremely easy with the Karadeniz Shepherd. This breed can keep itself in good condition and even without any grooming they will keep the coat in okay condition. Of course, regular brushing is only beneficial as it will remove any dirt and loose hair and it will prevent any tangles or mats, but it is not necessary. Just like with all dogs, you should also regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The Karadeniz Shepherd is not under the spotlight like some other Turkish breeds, such as Kangals and their numbers declined a lot in last decades. The breeders did not care about the purity and they often times crossbreed Karadeniz Shepherds with other dogs. Today they can be almost exlusively found in remote places of Blacksea highlands, where they were recently re-descovered and efforts are being made to increse the breeds numbers once again and to preserve the breed, while keeping its original traits.
The Karadeniz Shepherd is usually quite healthy and hardy dog breed with average lifespan around 13 years, which is actually very good for such a large dog breed. They might ocassionally suffer from the same health issues as other giant breeds, such as some eye problems or joint problems like hip dysplasia, but it is not very common with this breed and they are usually very healthy.