The Karakachan dog, next to Karakachan sheep and Karakachan horse can trace its history back to an old nomadic tribe known as Sarakatsani or Karakachani. This tribe is native to Greece, but they always had some presence in Bulgaria as well and Bulgaria is place of origin of Karakachan dog. 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.
2) Livestock protectors
The main purpose and utilization of Karakachan dog was always the same and it is to be brave livestock guardian dog. And even today, many of these dogs are still serving for this original purpose. Typically the Karakachan puppy is introduced to the stock at a young age, creates a strong bond with it and than spends all their life around it. In their native land, they are known to protect the farm animals from very strong predators such as wolves or bears.
3) Army dog
For some time, the Karakachan was used by Bulgarian army as a watchdog and protector of Bulgarian borders. They were used for this purpose up until the 1950s. During the 1950s up until the 1990s, the numbers of these dogs declined a lot. In communist Bulgaria, they lost their purpose on farms and they were left to roam free. Some of them luckily survived in Bulgarian mountains and they are becoming more and more popular lately. Many of them were even imported to other European countries or to the USA.
Traditionally, the Karakachan worked alongside the shepherd, which is why they tend to bond closely not only to the livestock, but also to its owner and family. These dogs are great loyal and playful companion dogs, even though, it is true that they are not for everyone. This is definitely not your typical apartment pet, since they want to have some job to do and they definitely want lots of outdoor time and exercise. This is not a dog for novices, which is mostly due to their protective instinct and big strength. They need experienced owner who will train them with enough patience and consistency, firmly, but kindly. If they are well socialized and trained, the karakachan is known to be very good playful partner for kids, but of course, you should never leave any dog breed with a very young child unsupervised.
This is a very big and muscular, but also very athletic and agile dog breed with average height between 25-30 inch, which is 63-76 cm and weight is usually between 77-130 pounds, which is 35-60 kg. Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
Interesting fact is, that this dog comes in two coat types. According to the official breed standard, there is the shorthaired and longhaired type, where the longhaired has coat longer than 12 cms. Both types have a dense doublecoat, which is protecting the dog from harsh mountainous climate. You can find this breed in different colors and color combinations, typicly in two or tricolor in white, black, brown, sable or brindle.
These dogs were bred and used for working for centuries and because of that they have a great deal of endurance. Which also means they need a great deal of exercise. Of course, if you have them as working dogs, they will exercise naturally by working, but if you have this dog as a companion, they need daily longer walks, vigorous playtime and some fun training sessions to keep their body and mind busy. These dogs are not the best fit for apartment living and they will do best in houses with big yards or of course on farms. But with enough exercise, they tend to be quite peaceful and calm.
8) Bulgarian Shepherd
The Karakachan is sometimes nicknamed as Bulgarian Shepherd, but that is inaccurate. It is because the Karakachan is the ancient livestock guardian developed back in the past, there is another Bulgarian Shepherd breed called Bulgarsko Ovcharsko Kuche, that was developed not so long ago by crossing the Karakachan with some other dogs such as Caucasian Ovcharka, Moscow Watchdog or Newfoundland. So the Karakachan should be called Karakachan to prevent misunderstandings. The difference between those two breeds is not big, the Karakachan has slightly stronger protective instinct and it is more endurant and energetic. The Karakachan is also slightly smaller and lighter dog.
If you want to keep Karakachans coat in top condition, regular brushing few times a week to prevent matting is needed. These dogs do shed, more heavily seasonally and if you want to minimize the shedding, you can brush them more extensively to minimize it. Other than that, you should leave the coat natural and never shave it. Just like with all dogs, you should also regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clean them or clip them if needed.
For a large dog, the Karakachan has a good lifespan around 13 years. Because this breed has not been extensively bred, they do not suffer much from any hereditary health issues, but of course, just like any dogs, they may suffer from some. The major health concerns include hip and elbow dysplasia, bloating and some eye problems.