East-European Shepherd (VEO)

Country of origin:
Soviet Union
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
saddled, blanket-back black & tan, solid black, solid liver; blue, silver, solid white; agouti
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • devoted friend
  • excellent watch and guard dog
  • adapts well to any kind of environment
  • gets on well with other animals
  • needs a dominant owner
  • requires daily intensive physical exercises
  • doesn't like strange people


The East-European Shepherd is a rather large, well-knit dog. This breed is very adaptive and unpretentious and can live in various conditions: in a city flat, in a rural area as well as outdoors in a kennel. Also this dog is capable to live in different climates, in frosty and hot ones. This hardy and enduring dog will be a very faithful and affectionate friend and companion. But these dogs are not a good choice for families with little kids.


The East-European Shepherd is a young breed that was developed in 1930 in the USSR as a working dog for military and nation's economy purposes. This breed was a result of crossing of the German Shepherd and different Russian dog breeds, generally Owtcharka-type ones and Laikas. The first German Shepherds were imported into Russia in 1904. This breed was used as a sanitary dog in the Russian Army.

The organized and purposeful breeding of the East-European Shepherd began in 1924 when the first kennel for this breed «The Red Star» was organized. The standard for the dog was written in 1964 and it was approved by the Cynologic Council of the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR.

This breed has other names such as the VEO, Belarusian Owtcharka, Belarusian Shepherd, East-European Owtcharka, Eastern European Shepherd, Owczarek Wschodnioeuropejski.

The Second World War caused damage to the breeding of the East-European Shepherd, many dogs fell in battles. But in 1945 a lot of German Shepherds were brought from German as trophy dogs. East-European Shepherds were very popular and were used everywhere; as dogs of border forces, service dog of militia and was used as perfect guide dogs.

In 1990s the East-European Shepherd’s popularity decreased and the breed turned even out under the threat of disappearance. It happened when the free dog import became possible and many breeders started to use German sires for breeding. As a result the breed was virtually lost. Only thanks to the work of several kennels it survived.
The Club «Fauna» was the first club in Saint-Petersburg that was engaged in breeding of the East-European Shepherd. In 1993 in Moscow the Union of Fanciers of the VEO was formed that included many cynological organizations, which aim was breeding of the East-European Shepherd.

The East-European Shepherd was recognized by the Russian Kynological Federation (RKF), Continental Kennel Club and the International Kennel Union. Today this breed is primarily used as a highly reliable guardian. Thanks to its propensity to stay silent while guarding it’s a dog of choice for many families with excessively irritable neighbours. Moreover its calm and stable demeanour combined with exceptional trainability also makes it an agreeable family dog.

The East-European Shepherd is spirited and playful, proud and hard-working. This dog is immensely loyal to its master. It becomes very attached to only one person. If the dog is properly socialized, it can be kind with children. Nevertheless it can be unpredictable with kids. Despite its overall steadfast temperament it tends to express its excitement by jumping on people and may inadvertently injure a toddler by this type of actions. That’s why this breed won’t be an optimal choice for a family with too small kids. Make sure to keep your pet busy with some meaningful task at all times otherwise it will vent its dissatisfaction and boredom on your property. Consistent and early obedience training is an indispensable condition if you plan keeping this dog as a solely family pet.

East-European Shepherds are very alert dogs that possess excellent guarding abilities and they guard furiously their masters and property. That is why these dogs are mistrustful with unfamiliar people. Moreover some specimens may demonstrate open hostility towards all strangers although this undesirable trait can be considerably smoothed away by proper socialization. The great advantage of this dog is that it performs its guarding and watching duties without unreasonable barking, which usually a matter of concern for majority of guarding breeds.

As the East-European Shepherd was bred to work together with other dogs, it usually treats them peacefully. In fact it will be totally happy to have a permanent canine companion with similarly vigorous temper. Well-socialized and trained, the East-European Shepherd gets on well with other pets, for example cats.

Health Problems
The most common diseases for the East-European Shepherd are:
  • canine hip dysplasia;
  • elbow dysplasia;
  • eye problems;
  • spinal problems.

The East-European Shepherd It is rather easy to groom and won’t not need a professional groomers’ help. You should brush it once or twice a week to remove dead hair. But when the dog sheds, careful brushing must be daily.

You must not bath your pet more often than two-three times a month as frequent bathing can affect negatively the state of its coat and skin. Other maintenance routines, which this dog needs, consist of monthly nail trimming, regular ear cleaning and weekly teeth brushing.


The East-European Shepherd is highly intelligent and learns very fast. It is capable to perform any difficult tasks. However, these dogs require firm training. You must be a real pack leader for the East-European Shepherd always keeping a dominant position. The main key to successful training is a mutual understanding with your dog.

Be mindful though that however hard is to earn the respect of this dog it can be lost in a second especially if you try to insert harsh discipline in your training method. It is important to start the dog’s training and socialization when it is a puppy.

The East-European Shepherd is an extremely active and untiring dog that needs a great amount of daily exercises. You should give your pet several hours to walk, run or jog freely. This breed usually becomes a voluntary and very hardy cycling, hiking or jogging partner.

It is simply unjust to such a big and buoyant dog to keep it locked in a small city apartment so it fits much better to a rural environment. Without sufficient amount of physical activities the East-European Shepherd becomes very nervous, aggressive and display destructive behaviour.