Karakachan Dog (Bulgarian Shepherd)

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bicolor or tricolor, with spots
very large
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons

  • excellent working breed

  • great watch and guard dog

  • intelligent

  • very healthy

  • independent

  • excessive exercises requirements

  • not for a novice owner

  • not for a city dweller


The Karachan Dog (Bulgarian Shepherd) is one of the oldest breeds of Europe, which has been present in its native Balkan region since at least III century B.C. For centuries this courageous and strong dog served as a livestock and property guardian in the tough lands of the Balkan Peninsula. Unlike most modern breeds it’s still owned for its excellent working qualities and exceptional adaptability.


The forebears of the Karachan Dog accompanied local herdsmen as early as in the III century B.C. Such an ancient origin purports that the exact lineage of the dog will probably forever remain a mystery. It’s commonly believed though that it descended from old Central Asian and Tibetan mastiffs. The breed acquired its name from the Karakachan, a Greek tribe of herdsmen that took up residence in the Balkan Peninsula. These nomadic people of Thracian origin stack to conventional breeding norms. Thanks to their loyalty to traditions they succeeded in preserving several domesticated animals in its initial forms, including the Karachan Dog.

The breed was responsible for guarding and moving the livestock during the seasonal migration of the Karakachan herdsmen. It was highly valued for its tenacity and dependability as it was supposed to drive the stock over enormous distances. The Karachan Dog was also well-known for its outmost bravery in warding off from the cattle such dangerous animals as bears and wolves. Moreover this dog never eluded open confrontation with these predators and with its muscular built and fearlessness it was a worthy opponent for them. It was also kept as a companion animal and was usually treated as a full-fledged member of a human family.

In the 40s of the XX century the Bulgarian farming industry was subjected to nationalisation by the communistic authority. The herding traditions were declared obsolete and the Karachan Dog was no longer needed in communal farms. The dog kept serving as a property guardian but its number shrank quite drastically. In the 60s of the XX century the communist rule directed the liquidation of thousands of dogs, which were considered to be «useless» for modern ways of farming. As the result of this massive killing 20 years later the breed almost ceased to exist. A few dedicated followers made major efforts to rescue it from total extinction.

Today the population of the Karachan Dog is slowly but steadily growing in its native land as well as in several other countries including the United States.


The Karachan Dog was bred exclusively for working purposes so it’s noted for the temperament, which is quiet similar to most herding dogs. As a rule it bonds closely to its family and will without any second thought sacrifice its life for the sake of its well-being. The dog is also characterised with careful and gentle attitude to children but it certainly needs to learn the basic rules of behaviour in their presence. Take into account that the breed is definitely not for everyone and requires stern approach to its socialisation and training.

The Karachan Dog manifests a great deal of wariness and suspiciousness when it encounters strange people. Although it isn’t predisposed to human aggressiveness it won’t hesitate to resort to force if needed. Thanks to its strong protective instinct this dog commonly makes a very capable guard dog, both personal and property. It’s also highly alert and vigilant and can be turned into an excellent watchdog.

The breed has relatively good reputation with other dogs. But the Karachan Dog prefers to take a dominative position in the group of other canines and can provoke a confrontation in order to affirm its alpha status. Its master should always keep this dog securely leashed and closely monitor the initial introduction of two unfamiliar canines. The breed tolerates other species of animals and will coexist with a home cat with few issues. Nevertheless it should get used to other pets’ company since an early age.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include: not known yet


Similarly to most working breeds the Karachan Dog is evaluated for its working skills and not for its appearance. This means that it demands just some basic grooming just to look clean and neat.

Its thick long hair should be brushed on a regular basis, preferably two to three times a week. The dog needs only occasional baths since water can wash off the natural oil, which plays an important role in its protection from the weather’s adversaries.


The Karachan Dog is a fairly trainable breed due to its cleverness and inquisitive nature. At the same time it’s prone to independent thinking and won’t obey the trainer’s command blindly. The trainer should strive to attain a leader position in the dog’s mind.

The breeds’ specimen will use every opportunity to take over the control of the situation. It should be treated with firm and strong hand but extreme harshness is absolutely unacceptable in the work with the Karachan Dog. It learns quickly and eagerly if encouraged with kind words and tasty treats.


The Karachan Dog is prized for its vitality and hardiness and therefore it needs very substantial amount of vigorous daily exercise. It’s worth to remember that this dog won’t be fully happy if it doesn’t perform its original herding or guarding duties. If it’s kept as a solely family dog its primal instinct of walking should be satisfied on a daily basis.

At the very least the owner should take this breed for a brisk walk of an hour long but it truly strives for an opportunity to release its energy in a free run in a securely fenced area. Such a powerful and active breed as the Karachan Dog can become extremely destructive and cause serious damage to your possessions if its daily exercise needs hasn’t been properly met.