The Russian Sheepdog, also known as the South Russian Shepherd or South Russian Ovcharka, is a large white Russian dog, which resembles an oversized Briard. It is a strong and robust dog with big head, relatively small hanging ears, oval-shaped dark eyes and a large black nose. Its muscular body is covered in a profuse, long-haired (four to six inches) and water-resistant double coat which may have shades of gray or yellow. Though internationally recognized, this Russian dog breed is still rare outside of Russia and Ukraine, where they call it South Russian Ovcharka (sheep dog in Russian) or SAO.
The history of the Russian Sheepdog can be traced back to 18th century Russia, where its ancestors lived in the region of Crimea. It is still unclear whether this breed is a Russian native breed or it developed from various European sheepdogs that were used to drive flocks of sheep from Spain to Russia. Anyway it was bred very protective and territorial to become an excellent Russian guard dog, alongside with Caucasian dog, Central Asian dog, Russian Terrier, Moscow Dog, and Russian German Shepherd. Protecting sheep from wolves, bears and thieves this white Russian dog was usually left on its own to perform this function.
During the communist revolution and civil war the main breeding kennels in Ukraine and Crimea were fully plundered and destroyed.The Red Army took charge of the breed. The SRO became a secret army and almost disappeared from the public eye. He only reappeared in our European countries in 1980.
The SRO has a dominant personality. Its nature requires a large family, an extensive property and other animals this Russian guard dog can protect. Compared to Caucasian dog and Central Asian dog the South Russian Shepherd is the most biddable of all Russian sheepdogs. It is extremely devoted to its family, does well with children and other pets it grew up with, and can be very affectionate.
This white Russian dog is generally healthy, though may suffer from some large dog health conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia. Its coat is shedding heavily twice a year, and should be brushed often to avoid mats and tangles. The life expectancy for the Russian Sheepdog is 9-11 years.
The South Russian Shepherd is not very demanding, but it is not for inexperienced or spiritless owner. It needs a strong minded leader who has enough patience and will to train it properly. The obedience training and socialization should begin early. This Russian dog breed is not so well suited for full-time in-house living and needs plenty of exercise.
More about the nature of the SRO as Fientje has grown up !
Training: This breed needs a very dominant and leading owner who will not spoil it. They become very unstable if not given a strong leader. They do best if trained when they are young with a firm but positive hand. They should never be spoiled, however, as they can attack with little warning. This breed needs space, animals and its human family to protect. Training should be based on a relationship of mutual respect, not completely domineering, but firmly letting the dog know you are the boss. Training should be fair and consistent.
Learning Rate: Medium.
Obedience - Low.
Activity: High. They like to inspect their guarding territories, thus providing adequate exercise for themselves.
Special Needs: Firm training, fenced yard, leash, a job or activity, moderate exercise, extensive socialization and grooming.
Living Environment: This breed is not suited to be around a lot of strangers and it needs a lot of space, and should therefore never be kept in an apartment. They are actually quite weatherproof. They would do best if they are given a job to do, animals and a property to guard, and firm training from a dominant person. The best owner for this breed would be a dog-experienced owner living in a rural home with a yard. In most circumstances, this breed is not suitable as a pet.
Litter Size: 5 - 10 puppies
Height: over 26 inches
Weight: 110 to 140 pounds
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