CAUCASIAN OVCHARKA BREED
Also known as: Kavkazskaïa Ovcharka, Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Perro de pastor del Cáucaso, Kaukasischer Ovcharka, Chien de berger du Caucase, Nagazi, Volkodav,Gampr , Caucasian Sheepdogs, Caucesian Shepherd, Kavkaskaia Ovcharka,Caucasian Owcharka, Caucasian Mountain dog, Metskhvare, Kautkashkia Owtcharka, Nagazi, Volkodav, Sage Ghafghazi, Kavkazskaia Ovtcharka, Gempr, Caucasian Ovcharka... as well as many other names and spellings.
Ovcharka (овчарка: pronounced[ Af’ɕarkə ] or/ɒvˈtʃɑrkə/) is a term of Russian origin used to describe the working dog specializing in working with sheep. Originated from ovtca (sheep in Russian), ovchar (sheep herder, or farm employee maintaining sheep).
Through the term itself does not specify, whether the dog is a herding dog a livestock guardian dog, it rather refers to livestock guardian and protection breeds of dogs of Russian origin for the simple reason that there is no herding breeds that originated in Russia. At the same time, it is used as a part of breed name in Russian for shepherds or sheepdogs imported to the country.
When Russian cynologists named dog breeds, they often used a combination of country of origin and term Ovcharka, meaning that this shepherd’s dog came from this region. For example, a shepherd of German origin is Nemetskaja Ovcharka is in Russian, what means the German Shepherd.
Over years, term Ovcharka became common outside Russia and other countries where Russian language is common in relation with 3 livestock guardian breeds of Russian origin: Caucasian Ovcharka, Central Asian Ovcharka and South Russian Ovcharka. The reason for continuous use of this term instead of sublimating it for easier to pronounce “shepherd” or “sheepdog” is a necessity to underline differentiation between a livestock guardian dog (especially of Russian origin) and a herding dog (that is commonly called Shepherd in English). All 3 breeds have different mentality and way higher protection instincts than a German Shepherd or other popular herding dogs and use of a different breed name avoiding common potentially misleading term helps to distinguish such traits.
The Kavkaz (Caucasus) mountain range of Eastern Europe has so many nations with different cultures that have called it their home through the centuries; the territories of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Dagestan, Ossetia, Turkey, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Iran. The Caucasus Mountains are also home to the magnificent Caucasian Ovcharka (Shepherd) Dog.
The breed's origin is shrouded in antiquity. Some claim the breed is a domestication of the wolves of this region, others that the breed developed from Mastiff-Spitz crosses. Some experts contend that the breed naturally developed from a group of sheepdogs that migrated to the Caucasus Mountains from Tibet. More recent archaeological findings point to breed origins in Mesopotamia. Many experts contend the breed is one of the oldest living Molosser.
What we know now for sure (scientifically proven) is that the Caucasian dogs are a close relative of the sheepdogs of the Balkans and mastiffs of Asia. Thus the theories that claim the ancient Caucasian Shepherd Dog as an indigenous Russian breed are unsubstantiated.