The Karst Shepherd is a dog breed with long and mysterious history and there are several theories how its ancestors got into its homeland – the Karst Plateau in Slovenia. They probably got there with migrating Illyrians and their livestock guardian dogs who migrated through Istria and the Dalmatian islands and settled in the Slovenian region of the Karst Massif. The first mention of Kraški Ovčar is from the book The glory of the duchy of Carniola from 1689.
Throughout the history, the main purpose and utilization of Kraški Ovčar always was protecting and guarding the livestock and this breed excellently performs in this function. It is a strong and courageous dog that is brave, intelligent and independent problem solver that is capable of detering even the most dangerous predators, such as bears. These dogs are absolutely loyal, not only to its family, but also to its flock, which makes them just outstanding livestock guardians.
The Karst Shepherd shares a lot of similarities with another guardian breed from Balkan, the famous Sarplaninac. And indeed, when the Karst Shepherd started to be documented, they were first reffered to as the Illyrian Shepherd and Karst Shepherd and Sarplaninac were considered Type A and B of the Illyrian Shepherd Dog. The name was officially changed to Karst Shepherd in 1968 and even though both breeds are similar in appearance, they probably share similar ancestry and they both have the same utilization, it is certainly not the same breed. The Karst Shepherd is smaller, but also softer, gentler and friendlier than the Sarplaninac. BTW, there is also another, third, very similar Balkan livestock guardian, the Bosnian Tornjak.
4) Slovenian heritage
Today, the Kraški Ovčar is considered as important part of Slovenian heritage and Slovenians are very proud on this breed. This breed is just considered as a living part of the countrys history, so it is no wonder that they were granted with the honor of becoming Slovenian natural heritage.
You already know that these dogs are good livestock guardians, but they also make affectionate and friendly family companions. It is true, they are not suited for everyone and definitely not for novices or unexperienced owner, as they are strong, kind of independent and they need extensive socialization and training, but with the right owner, they are just exceptional lively, gentle and friendly companion dogs. They have very cheerful and well mannered personality. These dogs bond closely to the whole family, but they typically choose one person, who they believe the most and who they follow. They need natural authority and they should be trained kindly and patiently. They can also live with other dogs, especially if socialized from the puppyhood and they are typically good gentle partners for older kids. But of course, you should never leave any dog breed, with a very young child, unsupervised.
The Karst Shepherd is a dog of medium to large size with well developed muscles and strong constitution. The average height is between 54-63 cm, which is 21-25 inch and weight is typically between 25-42 kg, which is 55-92 lbs. Females are slightly smaller than males.
The Karst Shepherd is an impressive looking dog breed and one of the reason is the great looking long and dense weatherproof coat, which is enabling the dog to work outdoors for long hours even in very bad weather without any problems. The coat can be found in varying shades of gray, from a dark gray to a lighter silver gray. The coat has typically feathering on legs and tail.
Speaking of the coat, it is important to mention the maintenance as well. The long doublecoat does shed some deal of fur all year long, seasonally extensively. To minimize the shedding and to keep the coat untangled and clean, regular brushing is needed. Special attention should be paid to the feathering on his legs, tail and behind his ears. Of course, just like with any other breed, you should also regularly check the dogs ears, eyes, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The Karst Shepherd is definitely not a coach potatoe. As workers, these dogs need daily physical, but also mental exercise to stay healthy and happy. It can be done with longer daily walks accompanied with some shorter training sessions or fun playtime. This dog is definitely better suited for active families and they will be happiest if they can live in a house with a big yard, which they can naturally guard and stretch their legs whenever they want.
The Karst Shepherd is a healthy breed with no known genetic and chronic diseases and with the average lifespan around 12 years. Of course, they may suffer from the same health issues as other dog of their size, such as hip dysplasia and other joint problems, some allergies, eye problems or infections. But overall, this is usually very healthy breed.