Tornjak (Bosnian-Herzegovinian and Croatian Shepherd Dog)

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parti-coloured with distinct markings of various solid colours
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The Tornjak is an ancient livestock guardian that originated in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has dignified, composed temperament and can be adopted for a family life when properly socialized. This breed endowed with prominent health so it is able to accommodate to the harshest climate.

The Tornjak was invented in Bosnia and Herzegovina and more specifically in the region situated in mountainous part of Vlasic in the centre of the country. The first mention of the dog with similar appearance and traits appeared in the written sources as early as 1067. It is believed that Slavs imported the dog in this region when they moved there. Most likely the Tibetan Mastiff is the direct forefather of the Tornjak. The other point of view states that it was brought up from the territory of today’s Iran.

For centuries the Tornjak existed in remote and inaccessible mountainous areas where it had virtually no opportunity to interbreed with other breeds. Rigorous climate and hard living conditions turned this dog into a tough and strong animal and its look, character and working features remain mostly unchanged even today. Hundreds of years long the main function of the dog was to defend the livestock and property from predators and intruders.

Initially the Tornjak was known under the name Kanis montanus, which means mountain dog. Later the local folk granted it the name Tornjak. The latter is derived from the word «tor» which designates an enclosed area under an open sky that served as sheep pen during mountain pasture season.

In its native country the Tornjak passed the registration as autochthonous breed on May 9, 1981 under the name «Bosnian-Herzegovinian sheepdog – tornjak». The commission of the judges was established with the objective to take every possible measure for the standard of the breed and its acceptance with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) as an autochthonous breed. The standard was set up on 10.05.1990 in Travnik (a town in the centre of Bosnia).

On the February 22, 2006 the FCI granted the Tornjak its temporarily acceptance. Since that time the dog gained the chance to take part in National Dog Shows in all countries as well as to compete for the best dog in second FCI group.

In the recent years owners of the Tornjak began to use this dog as a guard dog or simply as a family companion.

The Tornjak is famous for its calm and reserved disposition. Its stable and predictable behaviour makes this dog an appropriate candidate for keeping at home. The dog will be sociable and friendly with the person it knows. It can put up with fair amount of teasing from the child but the substantial size of the dog implies an extra caution with small kids.

Being a herd guardian for almost millennia the Tornjak is naturally suspicious of strangers. The dog won’t need any training to become excellent guardian of the owner’s property and family. It appears to be relaxed and absent-minded at the first glance but it’s constantly on the watch and in case of menace can turn into ferocious beast at the moment notice. It’s also not hard to re-train the Tornjak in an exceptional watchdog.

The Tornjak is a very dominative breed, which means a high possibility of issues with strange dogs. The socialisation does help though the owner should closely supervise the first meeting of the dogs in order to prevent the conflict from developing. This dog tends to form a pack with every living creature it has been raised with. So the home cat, hamsters, guinea pigs, and other small animals are safe around the dog as long as they are included in its pack. The Tornjak will protect them with similar eagerness as human members of the family.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• anemia;
• von Willebrand’s disease;
• digestive disorder;
• obesity;
• gastric torsion.

The Tornjak is relatively undemanding when things concern grooming. The coat should be brushed on ф regular bases in order to keep it mats-free. During the summer season it’s important to check your dog for ticks and fleas daily. The occasional baths perhaps just couple times per year are enough to maintain the neat appearance of the dog. During the shedding period the owner should apply to brushing more often since it will reduce the amount of the dog’s hair in the house.

The intelligent Tornjak is an easy-learner and grasps the theory with impressive speed. But whether follow prescribed task or not the dog usually decides itself. This can be attributed to the guardian past of the breed, when it must have made many independent judgements in various situations.

It doesn’t mean it’s impossible to train the Tornjak, it only means that the handler will require more effort and patience than with other breed. The trainer should use exclusively rewarded-based methods otherwise he may end up creating resentful and defiant dog.

The Tornjak requires considerable time invested in its exercise. It will require a spacious territory to run and play or at least a daily walk of an hour long.With proper commitment it’s easy to meet the dog’s demand in physical activity.

Without proper amount of exercise there is a high chance that some unwelcomed behavioural patterns may arise for example chewing, destructiveness, unreasonable aggressiveness, and constant barking.