South Russian Ovcharka: Dog Breed Profile

South Russian Ovcharka

Rustic dog par excellence, the South Russian Ovcharka is an indefatigable herd keeper, who scares all foreigners away with Its robustness and Its musculature. It imposes and plays on it. Thus, as a companion dog, it will be ideal for the protection of its master and its adoptive family.

It’s dominant and independent. It can be aggressive towards those It does not know. In addition lively, it is not suitable for all families, especially the most novices in the field. Physically, the males are larger than the females.

Other names: South Russian Shepherd, Youjak, Caucasian Ovtcharka

History of the breed

The Russian Shepherd, also called  Ovtcharka, is originally a dog that protects flocks of sheep in Russia. It doesn’t hesitate to pit Itself against wolves and bears. It was developed in the 19th  century in the Crimea. It comes from a cross between an Asturian Shepherd and Sheepdogs like the Tatar Shepherd or the  Borzoi.

Then, the breed went into decline during the Russian Revolution with the destruction of Askania Nova, a nature reserve in southern Ukraine. In 1923, a biologist by the name of A. Brauner would then strive to make the breed survive by settling in the region and setting up breeding in Dzhankoi.

His efforts would have contributed to a clear revival of interest in the Russian Shepherd.  Unfortunately, WWII, in turn, precipitated a dramatic drop in breed numbers. This was definitively recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) on September 30, 1983.

Physical features

  • Its hair: long (4 to 5 Inches) on the whole body, slightly wavy, thick, and bushy. The outer coat is lined with an equally dense undercoat.
  • Its color: mainly white, but can also be white and yellow, grayish, or any other shade of gray.
  • Its head: rather elongated. The forehead is moderately broad, the stop not very pronounced, the nose large and black.
  • Its ears: triangular in shape, small in relation to the body, and hanging down.
  • Its eyes: dark in color, oval in shape, arranged horizontally.
  • Its body: the neck is lean, muscular and of moderate length, the withers visible without being high, the back straight and strong, the kidney broad and rounded, the chest flattened and deep, the belly slightly raised.
  • Its tail: covered with a long, coarse, thick, and very thick hair.

Behavior With Others

The South Russian Ovcharka is a very active dog, rather anxious and lively. Dominant and independent, It’s also alert, suspicious, and even biting towards strangers. It’s, above all, a herd and territory guard dog.

The Russian Shepherd Dog is considered hardy, lively, and devilishly effective at scaring foreigners away. With these, It can be even aggressive and biting. It’s alert and acts as a perfect watchdog.

Thus, It protects Its family like a herd, not letting intruders come too close. With Its master, It shows a whole different face. That of a considerate, gentle, kind dog, endowed with great sensitivity.


The Russian Shepherd must be firmly educated from an early age. Otherwise, Its naturally dominant and fairly stubborn behavior may gain the upper hand. Its physical power and bite may also become difficult to control.

Its potency must therefore be checked early. However,  Its master will have to show patience and gentleness to achieve Its ends.

It is also preferable to socialize to reduce his distrust of strangers.

Living Conditions

The Russian Shepherd is definitely not an apartment dog. Its large size, character, as well as its need for activity and space, make it more suitable for living in a house with a large fenced garden.

It is aimed at people with enough experience to be able to manage its personality and enough available to take it out several times a day

Health & Maintenance

The South Russian Ovcharka is an extremely robust and resistant dog if we can except ear infections, because of Its floppy ears. Its solid constitution and its remarkably thick double hair allow it to withstand particularly difficult climatic conditions.

The breed does not exhibit a predisposition to any disease, although its large size may put the risk of hip dysplasia.

The life expectancy of a Russian Shepherd is, on average, between 10 years and 12 years.

During its moult, the Russian Shepherd can lose large amounts of hair. Outside this period, its maintenance is rather minimal, but it must be carried out regularly to avoid the inconvenience related to its bushy dress (accumulation of dirt).

It is recommended to brush the dog once a week outside of the moulting period. During that period, brushing becomes daily to rid its fur of the many dead hairs. For the rest, you must make sure to clean Its ears from time to time to avoid any infection leading to an ear infection.

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About Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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