Below is the story of how the UK’s only Caucasian Shepherd Rescue service began. Mark and his dedicated team have already done some fantastic work! Here, he explains a little more about the breed and what he does!
We started the Caucasian Ovcharka rescue Uk to help people with the breed here in the UK. Too many of these animals are ending up in shelters or being destroyed through vets/authorities not understanding this majestic animal.
If you need us find us @caucasianovcharkarescueuk on Facebook
CAUCASIAN OVCHARKA REAL LIFE FACTS.
You can do all the research for this breed but you can’t beat real-life experience and talking to
owners of the Caucasian. Over the last ten years, I have seen a lot from this breed and have seen the good and bad that they can do.
The popularity of this breed is increasing at an alarming rate in the UK and backyard breeding
and cross-breeding is becoming a serious problem. Puppies are sold without papers and not being registered so the full amount in the UK is unknown.
Unfortunately, this has seen a massive increase in dogs being dumped on the roadside
and into shelters. Police have even shot abandoned Caucasians for no reason other than it was barking due to being scared, cold and wet.
After losing my boy Zeus Easter Sunday 2021, we were broken, even though our three Caucasian girls kept us going, we needed something to help us deal with the grief we were going through.
A post appeared on our Facebook feed of a dog requiring rescue as he was due to be PTS
through no fault of his own. His owner was moving into a one-bedroom flat and couldn’t take
him. In our eyes, this couldn’t happen.
The owners expressed he was good with everything except men. We couldn’t believe how much
he looked like our boy and contacted them. They brought him immediately to us to see him.
On his arrival, he was aggressive to absolutely everything, after doing a full assessment of him
we agreed he had a pure fear aggression drive to being only kept around three people for the last six months.
We asked them to keep him for a few weeks whilst we found a place for him as we were not
ready to take a dog with this aggression into our household. They said they couldn’t.
From this point, we were on a clock as he was being destroyed three days later and they refused to hold him. We contacted our friend Graham Macgregor and discussed our idea of the rescue and Graham quickly got on board and we started the Caucasian Ovcharka Rescue UK.
Having had these dogs for over ten years we wanted to give back to helping the breed with our
experience and knowledge. Looking into the background of Zeus, we found that he was related to our boy and this galvanized us to get this project up and running.
Since starting the Rescue we have already taken in four Caucasians in five weeks. Two males
with aggressive behaviour and two gorgeous females with slight puppy problems which were
quickly and easily got under control.
Zeus has been integrated into Grahams Caucasian pack and has settled into life brilliantly. He
now shows no aggressive behaviour towards people, dogs or livestock. He is loving life and
Also, Seth has been rehomed to a family on a farm after we dealt with his aggressive behaviour at the rescue. We also help owners who can’t cope with behaviour issues or just life changes which mean the dog is at home alone through either advice, training or re-homing.
We have two sites in the UK able to take in dogs, we are currently building more kennels in our
Burnley site and two in the midlands. We hope to educate the UK market with real-life experiences and knowledge that will help future owners.
We want to stop this breed from being euthanized from vets that don’t understand the breed and their traits. This breed isn’t for everyone but in the right hands and with the right training, it can become a great guardian and companion for life.
A typical male should stand anywhere from 25 1/2 to 30 + inches at the withers and should
weigh 100 + pounds. Females are a bit smaller, 80 + pounds and a minimum of 24 1/2 inches.
WHAT COLORS ARE ALLOWED?
All colours except solid black and solid brown, black ticking and combinations of black and
brown. Most commonly seen are various shades of grey. Other colours described are rust, straw, yellow, white, brindle, earth, spotted and piebald.
WHAT KIND OF TEMPERAMENT DO CAUCASIANS HAVE?
The Caucasian Shepherd dog was developed to guard flocks and thus is naturally protective. Though their appearance may be fierce, in general, they should be a calm and steady dog with even temperament.
They should be well behaved with and accepting of all family members, but naturally wary of strangers. Although more eager to please than many flock guardians, they still can be quite independent and stubborn when compared to more easily trained breeds such as the German Shepherd dog or Golden Retriever.
It is important to “socialize” the Caucasian at an early age to properly adapt to different people and situations. If you are planning to use your Caucasian for flock guardian work, it is important to start exposing them to the livestock as early as possible. With proper socialization and training, you should have few problems.
ARE THEY GOOD WITH CHILDREN?
Yes. most Caucasians are good with children they know and would never hurt them purposely. However, it is imperative to establish the proper pecking order from the beginning, making the Caucasian understand that it cannot push the children around.
It is also essential to realize that they are large dogs and sometimes forget their size. This can result in a child accidentally being knocked down or stepped on. As with any pet, it is important that young children be supervised by an adult when playing with your Caucasian.
Also, as a dog bred to protect their flocks, Caucasians will substitute the family for its flock and may try to keep strangers or other threats away from the children. Older children with an active social life need to realize that although their friends may like dogs, it may not be appropriate for the dog to interact with every visitor.
ARE THEY GOOD WITH OTHER DOGS?
Most Caucasians are able to live with other dogs, cats and of course livestock. If you have other
pets, it would be best to get a puppy so everyone learns to get along. Females are more likely to be able to live together; two male dogs who have not been neutered can rarely be
expected to live peaceably. Issues arise between them due to dominance.
ARE THEY GOOD HOUSE DOGS?
Well, that depends on what you mean. If you have a pristine house with many precious and
breakable items, you may need to think twice. If you have a good vacuum cleaner, have moved
the crystal out of the way and are ready and eager for an adventure, then yes, the Caucasian can be a great house dog.
Any dog can be trained to behave in a house and the Caucasian is no exception. Puppies need to be housebroken and taught what is permissible behaviour and what is not. All puppies and young adults chew and crate training can be of great benefit to you and your dog.
In this regard, I do not like this, however. Talk with your breeder, trainer or experienced dog owners about the value of using a crate. Caucasians respond very well to steady and consistent training (Repetitive).
Caucasians are not really that different from most other dogs, except that you can never forget
that they are a large dog and the problems or challenges may be correspondingly bigger. For
instance, you may find the crate for your dog is bigger than the kitchen table!
You may also want to buy stock in the company that makes rolling hair removers for clothes and furniture. Although large in size and requiring regular exercise, CO’S make excellent house or apartment dogs as they generally do a lot of lying around. Their activity level is quite low compared with many smaller breeds.
WHAT IS THEIR LEVEL OF ENERGY?
As with most livestock guarding breeds, the CO is generally a phlegmatic, low activity level dog.
Originally they were bred to lay around with the sheep all day and keep predators at bay. As
most predators are nocturnal, you may find your CO much more active at night.
If you are planning on keeping your dog outside, you must realize they are alarm barkers and will give warning to anything encroaching their territory. Do not be fooled by their habit of lying around, appearing to be dozing. The slightest disturbance will rouse them and most CO’S are surprisingly quick and agile.
WHAT ABOUT SHEDDING?
Although they lose hair all the time in small quantities, most CO’S “blow coat” at least once a
year. When this happens large tufts of hair are everywhere! Get out the rakes and combs and go to work.
With proper grooming, the mess can be minimized and save that fur! Clothing knit from
CO fur is said to bring good luck and longevity to the wearer.
AREN’T THEY MESSY DOGS?
Well, they do shed and like the mud. Pound for pound, they are no messier than most other dogs but since they are big dogs, any mess is correspondingly bigger.
DO THEY EAT MUCH?
For their size they are an easy keeper. While a growing puppy or a pregnant or lactating bitch
might consume as much as 8-10 cups a day, an unstressed adult dog will likely consume much
less. You should feed your CO a high-quality food that provides necessary nutrition.
Check with your breeder to see what they recommend. Some breeders supplement the diet with cooked meat, yoghurt, goats’ milk, etc. Young pups need to be fed 2-3 times a day, while adults 1-2 times a day.
HOW DO CAUCASIANS DO IN WEATHER EXTREMES?
CO’s do well in all kinds of climatic conditions. They absolutely love cold weather and snow.
Under normal conditions a good solid dog house with plenty of bedding is sufficient. They
tolerate heat equally well with sufficient shade and water. Do not cut the hair due to high temperatures as the coat also keeps the heat out.
DO EARS HAVE TO BE CROPPED?
No. This is a personal option. Ear cropping is traditional (as a flock guardian, dogs are at an
advantage (if the prey has no ears to bite at) but not required even for show dogs.
Although a cropped ear is preferred, many European countries have banned cropping for humane reasons. The cropped ear does change the expression, however, and some feel it makes the look of the dog.
WHAT ABOUT OBEDIENCE TRAINING?
As soon as your pup is old enough, training is highly recommended (contact a local obedience or breed club to find one), followed by a basic obedience class. Caucasians respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and will enjoy short, fun, creative training sessions.
Obedience training also helps to establish the bond between you as pack leader and your dog as a respected member of the pack. Beyond the obvious benefits of having a well-trained dog, many people enjoy working with their dogs in obedience competitions.
With a Caucasian, it is particularly important to remember that obedience training is not for 1
hour a week for 8 sessions, it’s forever.
DO THEY GET HIP DYSPLASIA?
Caucasians, like any large breed, can be afflicted with hip dysplasia. Adult dogs should be x-rayed for signs of the disease. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, (OFA) issues numbers to
dogs with acceptable hips.
When buying a puppy, always try to find a breeder that is using x-rayed stock. Ask to see OFA
certificates or letters from a certified Veterinarian. Reputable breeders will guarantee their pups
against hip dysplasia and other severe genetic defects.
WHY WOULD YOU NOT RECOMMEND A CAUCASIAN?
CO’S are not a dog for everyone. Why not? They demand time, attention, frequent training and
handling. They are strong, willful and cannot be expected to like everyone. Without proper
training, they can be very aggressive to both people and dogs.
They do bark a lot and have a lot of hair. They require firm, steady and consistent training. A CO needs to learn manners well enough to be trusted to react as you would want and expect in all situations.
If you know you are totally confident in your ability to handle a large, dominant dog even in threatening situations and are able to supply the necessary time, energy, attention and money to raise and keep a dog for its full life, only then should you consider a Caucasian
SHOULD I GET A MALE OR A FEMALE?
As with many breeds, males are generally larger and can be more aggressive. Females may be a
bit easier in the house because of their smaller size. Also, females are usually less dominant and
can be easier with children.
The answer for you depends on personal preference, whether you’ve owned a Caucasian before, whether you have other male dogs in the house or whether you’ve had
experience with other flock guardians or large working breeds before. This should also be a point to discuss with your breeder.
SHOULD I GET A PUPPY OR AN OLDER DOG?
Some people prefer to acquire an older dog that has already been housebroken, has some
training and is no longer chewing. Some people are in seventh heaven around a pup and don’t
mind the trials and tribulations of puppyhood. Some are even crazy enough to have more than
one puppy at a time!
In loving memory of Zeus 2011-2021