Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog - Sharplanina (Jugoslovenski Ovcarski Pas - Sarplaninac)

Country of origin:
Serbia, Macedonia
Height (cm):
56-61
Weight (kg):
30-45
Life span (years):
11-12
Colour:
any solid
Size:
large
Hair length:
long
Recognized by:
FCI, NKC, APRI, ACR, DRA, CKC
FCI code:
41
Intelligence:
Good with kids:
Trainability:
Shedding:
Watchdog:
Adaptability:
Allergy:
No
Overview
The Yugoslav Shepherd Dog is the national dog of Yugoslavia and deserved this title for its excellent capacity of stock guardian and messenger of shepherds. Robust, reliable and independent this dog is also widely used in homeland by the police and the military. Recently this breed has found its admirers in America as well and successfully works for American ranchers.

History
The age of the Yugoslav Shepherd Dog (Sarplaninac) is reckoned to be between 1600 to 2000 years old so it is the oldest and the genuine Molloser. There are couple different suggestions concerning its origin.

One group of scientists believes that the breed has come of the Molloser dog of the Epirus, the ancient folk that populated the Balkan Peninsula. The pedigree of this dog rises from the Tibetan wolf, which begot the Great Tibetan Mastiff, its direct ancestor.

Others suppose that the Yugoslav Shepherd has stemmed from the dogs of the Romans, from the ancient mollosian dogs of the Greeks or from the ancient livestock guard dogs of the Turks. Since the Balkan area has experienced lots of migration during its history, either of these assumptions might be true.

As the matter of fact, during the Roman era the Yugoslav Shepherd Dog developed in the southeastern Yugoslavian mountain territory in a place with the name of Illyria. Initially the breed was acknowledged by FCI in 1939 as Illyrian Shepherd Dog and only in 1957 it was renamed in Sarplaninac in honor of the Shar Planina mountain range where it was most often detected. It was a multinational breed and was kept in Shar Planina, Korab, Bistro Stogavo, and in Kosovo. After the breakdown of Yugoslavia, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia demanded to add to its name the word «Macedonia», so it was changed to Macedonia-Yugoslav Shepherd Dog Sarplaninac.

The Yugoslav Shepherd Dog’s former duty was primarily to guard and protect the livestock. It escorted animals everywhere and was often trusted to work with them without human participation. This dog is an excellent hunter that is capable to fight back even a Balkan bear. Its population suffered a great loss during the war times. Some of the dogs were shots on the spot, others turned into bums when their owners were put down. Nonetheless its number was always quickly restored due to the exceptional usefulness of the Sarplaninac.

Before 1970 the Sarplaninac was prohibited from exporting from Yugoslavia. There are some rumours that first dogs that arrived to America were brought down from the mountains by mules. This superb guard breed has gained huge popularity among American ranchers and is currently used there to keep coyotes and other predators at bay.

Temperament
The Sarplaniac is a natural livestock guardian designated for work. It has a strong and aggressive character that is essential part of its qualification as stock guardian. The dog is very serious about its work, stays always alert and on occasion won’t hesitate to withstand an enemy that is much larger.

The Yugoslav Shepherd doesn’t cling to human being as much as other dogs, is very independent, undemostrative and seems to respect only a firm and confident leader. Nevertheless, it’s a truly devoted breed and will fearlessly defend its owner, its family and belongings. The protective instinct of subordinated territory and everything on it is imprinted in its nature.

The Yugoslav Shepherd can be kept in the household with children and other home pets only if they are brought up together. But even a properly socialized dog is not recommended for families with small children or a child who doesn’t know how to behave around a dog as this breed is quite impatient. It usually tries to assert dominance over other dogs, which may lead to aggressive conduct. Supervision is also required with strange people as it is wary with them and can show aggressiveness.

In the nutshell, the Sarplaniac is not a breed for beginners and adopting it will entail the need of sufficient investment of time and work in training and socialization.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• patellar luxation;
• ear infection;
• skin allergies;
• obesity;
• gastric torsion;
• eye problems.

Grooming
The Yugoslav Shepherd is a proud owner of long gorgeous coat that is inclined to matting. Occasional brushing may help to prevent this problem and keep the coat well-attended. Apart from this, this working dog doesn’t need any special care.

Training
The Yugoslav Shepherd is quite challenging to train, as this breed is independent, dominant, stubborn and overly confident. The proper trained and socialized the Sarplaninac can be transformed into companion dog. It’s crucial to begin these procedures as early as possible. Besides, the trainer should constantly radiate confidence and steadfastness during lessons. This quick-witted dog has a mind of its own and sometimes develops obedience issues becoming defiant and uncontrolled by trainers commands.

Socialization is a universal answer to all behavioral problems if you still want to keep the dog alongside with other home pets. It will also decrease the level of caution of the Sarplaninac with strangers.

Exercise
The Yugoslavian Shepherd isn’t suitable for apartment live. This active and athletic breed requires considerable amount of exercise and will do best in countryside where it has unlimited opportunities to run and investigate the vicinity. Otherwise a good hour walk or run is a must to keep the dog fit and happy.
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