Tatra Shepherd Dog (Polski Owczarek Podhalanski)

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Pros Cons
  • forms strong bonds with its family
  • calm
  • great watch and guard dog
  • good protector
  • independent
  • suspicious of strangers
  • difficult to train
  • needs a lot of daily exercise

The Tatra Shepherd Dog was originally developed in Poland to serve as independent and highly effective sheepherder and guardian. This sturdy and trustworthy dog does best when it’s provoded with some work so it is not recommended for keeping as an exclusively family pet. It is regarded as a very rare breed with only near 3000 specimens living around the world.

The Tatra Shepherd Dog was invented in the Podhale area of the southern Poland. The origin of the Tatra Shepherd Dog still remains a mystery but there is a suggestion that it descended from Tibetan Mastiff. Other version alleges that the breed is just a white variation of the Sarplaninac, which was imported to Poland by Wallachian merchants from the Balkans. Anyway it can’t be doubted that it’s closely related to the Hutsul Dog and to the Molossers of Greece and Turkey.

The Tatra Shepherd Dog is considered to be the only Polish Molosser. It was bred to work in challenging mountainous terrain and served predominantly as a highly responsible livestock herder and protector. It was treasured for its adaptability, courage and enthusiasm in performing its duties so it never was at a loose end. The specimens with especially bright mind were picked out for police, military or guide dog work. Even dogs without any specific talent were owned for their valuable coat, which was used for producing upholstery and delicate woollens.

The Second World War affected the population of the Tatra Shepherd Dog and resulted in its dramatic reduction. This tenacious dog outlasted the hardships of the war but then almost disappeared during the Communist era in Poland. The herding has lost its former significance and the number of rural sheepherders with their white dogs dwindled substantially. By the 60s of the XX century concerned polish breeders decided to initiate the restoring program and scoured the remote areas of the country to find the best purebred members. It’s widely suggested that in the breeding they also crossed original dogs with the Kuvasz.

By the 80’s if the XX century the Tatra Shepherd Dog had already acquired much following in European countries and in the United States. In the modern world it mostly performs guarding duties but some of the specimens serve as purely companion dogs. Although the breed was granted recognition of the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1995 its population is pretty scarce outside its homeland but thanks to few loyal fanciers its position in western countries remains rather stable.

The Tatra Shepherd Dog is known to have a reserved and calm demeanour, which it acquired thanks to its herding past. It has an independent mind and prefers to be on equal footing with its master. This dog usually closely bonds to its human family and displays outmost loyalty and desire to defend it from any possible threats. It requires appropriate socialisation in order to learn basic rules of behaviour with younger member of its family. On the whole the breed gets along with courteous children.

As a natural protector the Tatra Shepherd Dog treats strangers with a great deal of suspicion but it doesn’t prone to express open aggression towards them. This dog was bred to patiently and deliberately handle a flock so it will resort to force only in the case of outright provocation. It also has potential of becoming an outstanding watch and guard dog which will provide the round-the-clock surveillance to protect its subordinated territory from intruders. Thius breed is endowed with prominent voice but usually uses it moderately and reasonably.

The Tatra Shepherd Dog has experience in working with other canine animals so it’s quite tolerable to their company. It will willingly co-exist with one or more dogs especially if they have been brought up together. This dog is generally ok with a home cat and other pets but they should be introduced to each other at an early age. Despite its universal friendliness this independent and impressively big dog isn’t for everyone and demands strong (both physically and mentally) and confident owner.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• cancer;
• eyes problems;
• obesity;
• sensitivity to warm temperatures;
• gastric torsion.

The Tatra Shepherd Dog requires moderate efforts in respect of grooming. Although its coat is lavish and long it doesn’t tend to matting and should be brushed only few times a week. Furthermore its hair repels dirt and grime so the dog will need just an occasional bath. This breed does shed profusely when the season change and it requires more diligent brushing during these periods. However, it isn’t predisposed to drooling, which is quite common for giant breeds.

The training of the Tatra Shepherd Dog is a daunting task. The combination of natural stubbornness, independent thinking and self-assurance characterises this dog. It designates that you will need to invest tons of time and efforts in order to teach it some basic commands. This dog easily gets bored with repetitive and dull tasks so make sure that you have worked out for it fun and short training sessions.

In order to make this animal listen to your commands you should always be on top of the situation meaning the dog should never doubt your dominative position. It’s essential to use only reward-based methods in training of the Tatra Shepherd Dog otherwise you risk only to reveal the disposition to stubbornness in it.

The Tatra Shepherd Dog is a sporting breed and therefore it should receive a significant amount of exercise on a daily basis. This large dog should be provided with room to play and roam preferably in the securely enclosed territory. The usage of a leash with this dog is a must since its herding instinct can take it over in a blink of an eye and it will take much trouble to catch the dog.

If the Tatra Shepherd Dog doesn’t spend enough time outdoors it tends to act out by damaging your possession, constantly barking, chewing and so on. Therefore it will do much better in the countryside and apartment setting may be too small for it.