Also referred to as the Caucasian Ovcharka, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs originated from the regions of Eastern Europe where they saw work as livestock and property guardians. The breed was named after the Caucasus Mountains, where they are believed to have been developed, and although they were seen throughout the area, these shepherds were most popular in Russia. Their popularity in Russia gained them the name Ovcharka, which means "sheepdog" in their native language. The exact origin of these large, powerful shepherds is uncertain because of the isolation in the mountains, but they are one of the largest dog breeds that have existed for over 2,000 years. It is believed that the breed shares ancestors with both the Tibetian Mastiff and Anatolian Shepherd Dog. The Russian military used Caucasian Shepherd Dogs for their guarding ability, physical power, and fearlessness but encouraged a gentle disposition that would guarantee an obedient breed.
Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are commonly described as being the size of a small donkey and having the appearance of a bear due to their extremely dense double coat and a large mane that is seen on mature males. For centuries, the breed has come in two different coat varieties which include the heavy-boned, long-haired Mountain Type and lighter, short-haired Steppe Type. The strong and powerfully built characteristics of these massive dogs attest to their renowned guardian abilities. The brown, oval-shaped eyes of the Caucasian Ovcharka are moderately sized and their natural ears are triangular-shaped but the breed is commonly seen with them cropped. They have a broad muzzle with a nose that is black or self-colored, although some dogs may be seen with a butterfly nose. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog's moderate-length tail is fairly thick at the base then tapers to the end.
Having a strong and balanced nature, the Caucasian Ovcharka is a natural protector with a devoted temperament that can make a great guard dog who will always watch over their home and family. The breed is prized for its strength, independence, and willingness to defend. Although Caucasian Shepherd Dogs tend to be suspicious of strangers and defensive against others, they are extremely loyal. Proper training and socialization are a must for this large dog to avoid distrust and aggression towards any person or animal that is outside of his or her "pack." Independent and strong-willed, these guardians require firm and consistent training from a strong leader and are not recommended for first-time dog owners. Regardless of their background, a properly socialized Ovcharka can actually have a very gentle and sweet personality, even seen participating in work as therapy dogs. The breed does best in a household with older children since small toddlers can be overrun by this massive shepherd and they can get along with other pets as long as they have been socialized from puppyhood. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs can be a great choice for a rural-living family looking for a dog that is both laidback in the home and fiercely protective.