South Russian Ovtcharka
Breed Group: Flock Guardian
Color: Mainly white but also white and yellow, straw color, grayish (ashen gray) and other shades of gray; white lightly marked with gray, gray speckled
Height: 24 – 25 inches
Weight: 108 – 110 lbs
Description: The South Russian Ovtcharka is Robust, lean, with massive bone structure and strongly developed musculature. The Coat is long 4-6 inches (10-15 cm), coarse, thick, dense of equal length on head, chest, legs, and tail, with a well-developed undercoat.
The coat colors are most often white but also white and yellow, straw color, grayish (ashen gray) and other shades of gray; white lightly marked with gray, gray speckled.
The head is an elongated shape with a moderately broad forehead; the occipital crest and the zeugmatic arches are strongly pronounced. The stop is barely visible.
The nose is big and black. The ears are relatively small, of triangular shape, hanging. The eyes are oval shape, set horizontally, dark; the eyelids lean, tight. The teeth are white, big, fitting closely.
The incisors are set regularly and close in a scissor bite. The neck is lean, muscular, of moderate length, set high. The chest is reasonably broad, slightly flattened, deep.
The belly is moderately tucked up. The Loin is short, broad, rounded. The withers are apparent but not high. Back straight and strong. The tail is falling at rest, reaching the hock, with the end curved upward. The front legs are straight, parallel, relatively long.
The angle formed by the shoulder bone and upper arm bone is about 100 degrees. Pasterns are strong, wide and long, with a slight slant.
Hindquarters are powerful, wide set, parallel. Well-angulated. The upper thighs are well-muscled. Stifle bones are long, inclined. Hock joint is clean-cut, angular.
The hock is strong, long, slightly inclined. The feet are oval-shaped, strong, well arched, covered with long hair.
Temperament: The Ovtcharka of meridional Russia is a dog of robust constitution, of above-average size; he is fierce and distrustful of strangers, not very demanding and adapt easily to diverse climatic conditions and temperatures. Well evident according to sex.
The males are courageous, stronger and more massive than the females. They have highly nervous activity, strong, balanced and are lively.
They have a dominant reaction: active way of defense. As guardians, they extend themselves to include their families, their home and as much land as they can scent fully call their own. The possessive nature of this dog requires extensive property, a sizable family, and preferably other animals that he can protect. He has a dominating personality and can enforce his will upon other dogs with ease. This breed needs an owner who knows how to display strong leadership. Socialize well while young.
Living conditions: The South Russian Ovtcharka is not recommended for apartment life.
Life expectancy: About 9-11 years.
Origin: Historians and kinesiologists have different versions of the SRO breed origin. Some believe SRO is developed from pra-Slavic – arias dogs. Those resided at SRO place of origin at 4 millennium BC and used the original pre-historic bearded (“broadcast” in Russian) dogs as herders and guardians.
Those were described by L.P Sabaneev as Russian Shepherd or Russian wolf-killers. As arias moved west and north, and those tribes were named Slavic; the bearded dogs were referred to as Russian Shepherds.
Dogs were kept in quantity by Russian aristocracy. This is a Russian Native Breed, completely developed by 1790th. By another version, SRO originated from European herding dogs of the same hair type known as Austrian Shepherd.
SRO and European herding dogs of similar hair types look alike and have the same ancestors. Several herding dogs with long, wooly hair were imported to Russia from Europe.
In Russian Imperial Law Books (XXVI volume, 1830) mentioned a special breed of dogs imported at 1797 from Spain with merino sheep.
Those dogs were used for both herding and protection against predators, highly praised for their abilities. Law books recommended breeding these dogs.
Russian scientists specializing at southern steppes before 1797, wrote that local sheep herds are protected by wolf-looking dogs and hounds (I believe, SRO ancestors).
Small Austrian shepherds were not suitable for Russian steppes. Sizable territory and natural merino sheep’s instinct, keeping the herd together, excluded the need for small herding dogs. There only was a great need to protect from predators.
So Austrians were crossbred with “tatar” shepherds (similar to Caucasian) and sighthounds, the most common breed in the Crimea area at that time. Offspring selected were large, aggressive, hardy.
So, arguments about SRO ancestry are endless. However, there are facts nobody can argue with. SRO definitely have wolf as the direct ancestor.
SRO scull is built almost identical to wolf’s with only slight differences, which could be explained by domestication. “Barak” is an old Turk word. In well known “Turk languages Vocabulary” by Mohammed Kashgarsky (XI century) “barak” is interpreted as “the dog with long, wooly hair, exceptionally fast and agile, the best among hunting dogs”. Sounds like SRO. Body and limbs of the South Russian is very similar to sighthounds’ . Speed, swiftness and lightening reaction is inherited from hound ancestors.