The South Russian Ovcharka is an old dog breed and it is hard to track down its history. According to the official FCI breed standard, it is thought that this dog was developed from bearded coarse-haired dogs which were brought together with fine-wool sheeps to South Russia, mostly to Crimea, from Spain. These new Spanish dogs spontaneously crossed with local sheepdogs and sighthounds which lived there since the ancient times.
2) Almost extinct
The South Russian Ovcharka was very popular at the end of 19th century, but than their numbers slightly declined. After the Russian Revolutian, the region where South Russian Ovcharka lived in largest numbers, Askania Nova, was plundered and many of the dogs were stolen or killed. But the breed did not became extinct. Professor Brauner came to Askania Nova in 1923 and found some young Ovcharkas. Thanks to him, other shepherds, enthusiast and military kennels in Soviet Union the breed was succesfully ressurected. Second world war also reduced the numbers of this breed and some of the surviving pureblood Ovcharkas were crossed with similarly looking dogs such as Komondor.
The South Russian Ovcharka is a large sized dog breed and the height should always be above 62 cm, which is 25 inch. Typically these dogs weight around 100-110 pounds, which is 45-50 kg. There is a visible sexual dimorphism between males and females, where the males are more massive and they have larger heads.
The South Russian Ovcharka is very easily distinguishable from the other two Ovcharka breeds, the Caucasian and Central Asian Ovcharka. It is thanks to their thick, coarse, long shaggy coat. The fur is 10-30 cms long, which is 4-12 inches. Usually the breed comes in white color, but sometimes they can be grey, beige or yellowish.
5) Agile dog
The long and shaggy coat makes the South Russian Ovcharka looks cumbersome and pretty heavy. But that is not true at all. This is very agile and fast dog breed. Those dogs are definitely not coach potatoes and they need daily outdoor exercise to stay healthy and happy.
The South Russian Ovcharka is officially named Youzhnorusskaya Ovcharka, but they are also known under some other names, such as Youzhnak, South Russian Sheepdog, South Russian Shepherd Dog, Ukranian Ovcharka, or as SRO.
Personality of the South Russian Ovcharka is vastly influenced by early socialization and training, but in general, this is very independent, strong willed and confident dog who takes its job, which is most often protecting the livetock, very seriously. These dogs are known for being very devoted and faithful to its owners and family. On the other hand, they do not trust strangers and it takes some time before a complete stranger will gain a trust of this dog. This dog can be easily trained to become extraordinary guarding dog, but a well trained SRO should never show sign of agression without a reason.
The South Russian Ovcharka is not a good dog for novice dog owner. It is true, that they are very smart, but they are not the easiest dog to train. It is because of their independent and strong willed mind. Early socialization and proper patient and consistent training is essential and these dogs need experienced dog owner who know what is he doing.
As you can probably imagine, these dogs require some grooming. They do shed and they need regular brushing to keep the coat clean, untangled and matted free. The brushing should be done at least once a week. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check the dogs ears, eyes, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The South Russian Ovcharka has a good lifespan for a giant breed, between 10-12 years. They are usually pretty hardy, hovewer they can suffer from hip dysplasia, epilepsy or entropion.