Southeastern European Shepherd (Ciobanesc Romanesc de Bucovina)

Country of origin:
Serbia, Romania
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
clear white or white-beige with distinct patches of grey, black or black with red-fawn reflections; solid: white, white-beige, ashen-grey or black
very large
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
The Southeastern European Shepherd (or the Bucovina Shepherd Dog) is a powerful, even somewhat intimidating dog from Carpathian Mountains of northeast of Romania. Originally this dog was used to guard cattle but today it serves mostly as an excellent property and personal protector. In Romania where the breed is highly revered for its working qualities the popularity of the breed is constantly growing. Outside its native country it still reckoned to be rare and underestimated breed.

The Southeastern European Shepherd had already been a guardian of a livestock for a several hundreds of years when first records about this dog came to light. Remarkably, that it has undergone its development in the one of the most secluded region of the world, in Carpathian Mountains, in Bucovina (northeast of Romania). There are three predominant theories concerning it initial ancestry.

One of them proposes that the Dacian dogs were direct forefathers of the Southeastern European Shepherd. The Dacians was a Thracian tribe, which inhabited the territory of nowadays Romania, prior to the Roman Conquest. They are believed to be sophisticated breeders and created dogs for hunting, war, herding and guarding.

Other suggestion states that the breed was introduced by the Romans during the Romanian invasion. Their forces were escorted by a few breeds, generally the Molossus which served for war purpose and the Roman Cattle Droving Dog that accompanied the enormous number of stock required for nourishment of the legions. According to common believe, these dogs were of the Mastiff-type which means that the Southeastern European Shepherd also belongs to this group.

The last but not the least probable theory claims that the breed descended from dogs that came to the Romania through nomads from the Steppes. Historically the Romania boards with the Steppes and often suffered from the intrusion of different folks from this area. They brought along with them the dogs, which strongly resembled the Southeastern European Shepherd in overall look and utilization including the Hunnish Aftscharka, the Magyar/Cuman Kuvasz and the Komondor, the Turkish Akbash Dog and the Anatolian Shepherd.

Up to XX century, the Carpathian Mountains were untamed and the least explored territories of Europe and in many ways remain so in today’s reality. This area is one of the remaining natural habitant of brown bears, wolves, and lynx, which can present a palpable threat to the livestock due to its significant population there. The Southeastern European Shepherd is powerful and brave enough to confront these dangerous animals without any hesitation. The dog is also capable to take part in battles alongside with humans since the region was highly subjected to foreign invasions. Frequently the breed was trusted to shepherd the cattle without human assistance (sometimes it could last for days).

The Southeastern European Shepherd was more or less systematically described by the Austro-Hungarians in the middle of XVIII century when they established their full domination over the Romania. The appearance, demeanour and working qualities of the dog remained the same well into the XX century. But in the wake of industrialization and urbanisation a lot of rural habitants moved to cities and took their dogs along with them. The Southeastern European Shepherd turned out to be an outstanding personal and property defender as well as faithful and gentle family pet.

Being solely a working dog for a long time, the Southeastern European Shepherd will hardly meet the prospective to be recognised by some reputable Kennel Clubs in the nearest future. Nonetheless the breed was acknowledged by the Romanian Kennel Club (Asociatia Chinologica Romana or ACR) and gained provisional acceptance of Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 2009.

The Southeastern European Shepherd has inherited most of its traits from its rich experience as a livestock guardian. In its homeland this dog is renowned for its cool and reserved character. This highly trustworthy and faithful dog is going to love its master in its own somewhat restrained but dignified manner. The breed can also be trusted with children as it treats them exceptionally gentle and careful. As a serious dog it will require serious attitude from its master, therefore it’s not recommended for a novice dog owner.

The Southeastern European Shepherd expresses aloofness and even certain degree of aggressiveness toward strangers. Most unknown people are perceived as possible threats, which is why the early training and socialisation are so crucial for this breed. On the bright site the Southeastern European Shepherd will make a brilliant watchdog that can scare off any housebreaker with its sonorous barking. No intruder will pass by this vigilant and intimidating guardian, who won’t hesitate to use force against it.

In relation to other animals situation with the Southeastern European Shepherd varies from dog to dog. If they are brought up together and the dog takes them as the members of the pack, it will be protective of them. It should be taken into account that the Southeastern European Shepherd possesses really strong inherent prey drive, which makes it outright dangerous for other species of animals. Moreover the breed is highly aggressive towards its canines and the causes of this aggression may take different shapes, including territorial, prey drive, dominance, possession, and same-sex. Training and socialization can substantially abate these problems, but cannot eliminate them completely.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• eye problems;
• demodectic mange;
• ear infections.

The Southeastern European Shepherd is one of the breeds whose coats demand significant time to take care for. Diligent brushing should be done on the daily basis which sums up to approximately an hour or two every week. Bathing must be done once a month.

You are going to need a visit to professional groomer only if you want it to have short cut during the summer. The breed is exceptionally heavy shedder and its hair has a rigid structure so it gets stuck in your sofas, carpets and clothing. In fact when the seasons change thing gets even worse as the dog throws off majority of its coat.


It’s a definitely a challenge to train the Southeastern European Shepherd. This breed prefers to be on top in any circumstances and have quite a bossy character. Its native cleverness and trainability seem to be overlapped by severe stubbornness and strong drive to dominate.

The trainer should be always in control and regularly prove his/her dominance. As soon as the dog spots your weakness or lack of self-confidence it stops to obey completely and nothing will make it do what you want. It doesn’t mean that the Southeastern European Shepherd is impossible to train it only signifies that the owner should put considerably more time and effort in it.

The Southeastern European Shepherd belongs to a highly active breed. The dog was destined to long and tedious work assignments so minimum of 45 minutes of energetic walk will be needed to keep this dog healthy and in a good mood. This breed is really fond of prolonged walks and craves for a chance to surf in a reliably fenced territory for hours.

If your dog doesn’t get enough opportunities to relieve of its excessive energy, it tends to cause great troubles with such behavioural deviations as outmost destructiveness, on-going barking, hyper activity, and aggression. Though the dog can be trained to tolerate the urban life it feels itself much more comfortable in rural surroundings, where spacious yard is available for it to roam.