Caucasian Ovcharka

Champion Caucasian Ovtcharka
The Kavkazskaya Ovcharka Breed Standard

Introduction, from "Caucasian Myth & Reality"
(c)1999 Galina Kirkitskaya
Russian National Kavkazskaya Ovcharka Breed Club President
International Kavkazskaya Ovcharka Breed Club Vice President

"Today's Kavkazskaya Ovcharka conformation and temperament are clearly described in the 1997 breed standard adopted by RKF-affiliated National Breed Club. By breed standard, the Kavkazskaya Ovcharka is a large dog of coarse build, with massive bone and strong muscles; its body is slightly longer than the height at the shoulder. Gender is clearly defined: males are larger, more massive; heads are heavier, larger; mane is well developed. Minimum height at shoulder for males is sixty-eight centimeters, for bitches sixty-four centimeters. Preferably, males measure seventy-two to seventy-five centimeters, bitches sixty-six to sixty-nine centimeters. Temperament is confident, even and calm.

Breed lovers believe that the Caucasian is a dog in bear's clothing: always sure of its power, great self-esteem, and dark, small, deep set eyes with a constant attentive and evaluating gaze. Imagine a giant dog, tawny, gray, or fawn with dark mask, massive head with wide scull, noticeable cheek bones, high set ears cropped very short. When you own a Caucasian, you have a part of wild, untouched nature.

Some Kavkazskaya Ovcharka registered in the Russian National Stud Book (listing over 41,000 purebred Caucasians) have seventeen generation pedigrees. Authentic Caucasians can still be found in their region of origin - Caucasus - once a part of USSR, today including such countries as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan and North Caucasus (part of Russia).

Authentic dogs may have different conformation because of different geographic conditions. Dogs bred in the mountains are heavy, massive, wide, longhaired. Steppe-type dogs are lighter, tall on legs, with shorter hair. Other factors include territorial isolation, herders' personal preferences, and unpredictable conditions. For example, the conformation of geographically isolated dogs may depend on the leader who bred all the available bitches, including those closely related to him. Kavkazskaya Ovcharka demonstrated group-specific traits; dogs from different groups could look quite different. The great variety of different breed types, mentioned by biologists researching Caucasus, is clear evidence that this breed is primitive.

The type selected for enclosed territory protection (the social need of that period) was the most universal and attractive: the Georgian type -- overly large, powerful and strong, capable of coping with wolf or human. The truly beautiful Georgian dog with long, coarse hair to protect from rain or snow, usually gray with dark mask, became the model for the first breed standard that is used today without major corrections. Ancestors of these modern Caucasians would not have measured well against this standard, but all modern dogs are so bred and judged. We still consider them to be Ovcharkas, regardless of where they now live.

It becomes clear that many dogs born in the Caucasus and their progeny, residing in different places, can be called Kavkazskaya Ovcharka or Caucasian Livestock Protection Dog. But only the dog of the Georgian type, described in the breed standard and adopted by the Russian National Breed Club, is considered the purebred Kavkazskaya Ovcharka of Russia -- the motherland of the great majority of Caucasians all over the world. Russian breed fanciers have worked with this type for many generations. FCI recognized Russia as the leading authority of the Kavkazskaya Ovcharka (#328), acknowledging it as a Russian native breed. I hope that this explanation is sufficient to clarify the only true and correct Caucasian type. This theory is warmly supported by owners of dogs with conformation different from the standard."

Kavkazskaya Ovcharka - Standard No. 328.
Adopted by Russian Kennel Federation 1997
Awaiting approval by FCI as of March 2004


The Kavkazskaya Ovcharka is one of the ancient breeds, it descends from the Mastiff-like dogs of the Tibet that are related by their origin to the shepherd and fighting dogs of Asia. For many years these fine dogs accompanied the cattle-breeders on the vast territories that stretched from the Caucasus steppes and foothills to the Plateau of Iran. Mostly this breed has been formed in the severe mountain conditions.


A large dog of the rough built type, with massive bone and strong, well-developed musculature. The format is slightly long. The sex type is clearly defined - the males are larger, more massive, with the heavier, larger heads, with a long mane.

Behaviour is bold, balanced, quiet. Unconfident behaviour and excessive excitability are not characteristic of the breed.

The low height limit for males is 68 cm, for females - 64 cm. If a dog is proportionally built, it should be more. The ratio of the muzzle length to the skull length is 2:3. A dog mustn't seem leggy or cobby.

Large, massive.

A broad and well-developed skull with strong jaws. A broad forehead, slightly domed, with a shallow long furrow and marked, but not prominent supraorbital ridges.

Not long, well marked, but not abrupt.

Massive, of a great depth, blunt, well-filled under the eyes and in the set region, gradually pointed to the nose.

Slightly shorter than the length of the skull. Lips thick, tight.

Big, black, the light-fawn and white dogs can have light noses.

A full tooth-formula (42 teeth). White, large, well-developed, tightly set. The incisors' bases are set in a line. A scissors bite or level bite in spite of age.

Not big, oval, dark, set obliquely, deeply and well apart. The eyelids are close fitting.

Hanging on the ear cartilages, not big, set on high, short-cropped.

Strong, slightly shorter than the head length, crested, set at an angle of 30-408 to a back line. A slight dewlap is admissible.

[As follows below.]

The well-marked and well-developed withers, wide, muscular, slightly higher than a back line. A wide, straight, strong muscular back.

Short, wide, muscular, slightly arched.

Wide, muscular, average long, rounded, nearly horizontal

Lowered to the elbow line or lower, long, broad, rounded in section. The ribs are definitely arched; the false ribs are well-developed. The front part of the chest is slightly prominent in comparison with the glenohumeral joints.

Reasonably tucked-up.

High-set, dropped when a dog is quiet, reaches the hock joints. Sickle curved, hooked or curled.

At front view straight, wide and parallel set. The blades and shoulder bones are long, make an angle of the glenohumeral joint of about 1008. The length of the forelegs up to the elbows is a bit longer or just the same as the half of dog's height in withers. The leggy-index is 50 or a bit higher.

Straight, massive, rounded in section, muscular, average long. The elbows are turned backwards.

Short, massive, nearly upright

At rear view straight and parallel, at side view - slightly straight in stifle and in hock. The hindquarters are not chopped off behind.

Not long, strong and wide hock joints, little angulation.

Massive, upright rear pasterns.

Big, circular, arched, cat-like.

Free, usually unhurried. The characteristic feature is a not stretching trot that changes into slightly heavy gallop when speeding up. The legs must move straightforward, the fore quarters should move on the middle line. The joints of the fore- and hindquarters unbend freely. When trotting, the withers and a croup are on the same level, the top line is level.

Thick, rather elastic.

Straight, coarse, with dense undercoat. On a head and on the front sides of the legs the hair is shorter and taut. Depending on the hair length they distinguish two coat types:- long-haired - with long outer hair. Long hair makes a "mane" on a neck, feathers and "bridges" on the rear sides of the legs. Long hair covering a tail makes it thick and furry;- short-haired - with dense, rather short hair. There are no "mane", feathers and falling hair on the tail. The hair is stand-off, about 4 cm in length on the loin.

Various: grey - from dark grey, nearly black, to light-fawn-grey, including partly grey; red - from dark red-brown to light fawn, including partly red; white; brindle - from dark brown-brindle, nearly black, to light fawn-brindle. When one colour, there may be a black mask, white patching on a chest, belly, on the legs and on the tail tip. There are piebald and spotted colours of the mentioned tints, but solid colour is more desirable. Every colour supposes the obligatory dark lip- and eye rims. Wide spread solid piebald colour and speckling on the muzzle and legs are not desirable.

Height at withers: for males - not lower than 68 cm; for females - not lower than 64 cm. The desirable height for males is 72-75 cm, for females - 66-69 cm.


Dry or loose built, poor bone, square or too long body. Well marked underchest.

Small, light, unproportional. Domed forehead; sloped occipit. Long, weak, pinched, rather broken up or down muzzle, a weak lower jaw. Abrupt stop. Skin wrinkles on a head. Jowls. Haw eyes.

Very big, protruding, round, very light blue or gooseberry colour. Haw eyes, a well-developed third eyelid.

Small, widely spaced, rather broken teeth.


[As follows below.]

A narrow, sway or roach back.

Narrow, long, arched or sagging.

Narrow, short, sunken.

Underdeveloped, flat, narrow, shallow, short.

Upright or protruding upper arms; short, cabriole or delicate forearms. Knuckling, weak pasterns, weak elbows. Sickle hocks, croup that is rather higher than the withers. Angulation that is too marked or straight; hindquarters that are chopped off behind; weak ligaments. Narrow front.

Flat, splay

Stretching trot, too reachy action that is not characteristic of the breed. Bindy, heavy gait. Too high in croup when moving. Unbalanced movement. Uncorrected pace.

Height in withers for males lower than 65 cm; for females - lower than 62 cm.


Coward, choleric, uncontrolled aggressiveness.

A dog in a feminy type.

All deviations from the standard bite; lack of any tooth.

An inborn bobbed tail

Soft, wavy, very short (moleskin).

All variants of black colour (except a black mask), all variants of liver colour or all variants of blue colour. Genetically weak pigment : ash combined with the grey eye rims and light eyes; fawn or light red combined with brown lip- and eye rims, a brown nose and the light eyes. Bi- or unilateral cryptorchidism.

Caucasian Mountain Dog