The Bear Dog: The Ultimate Guide To The Caucasian Shepherd
Have you ever wanted a bear as a pet, but didn’t want to deal with the whole wild animal in the house thing? If so, we may just have the best dog for you. Let us introduce the Caucasian Shepherd Mountain Dog.
This breed is an absolute unit—as the kids like to say—that’s frequently found in the countrysides of Eastern Europe countries or the Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (origins) and Russia.
You’re unlikely to ever see a full-grown adult that’s under 100lbs, and some males can hit over 200lbs. Their coat is nothing but fluff and depending on their coloring they can easily be mistaken for a lion or bear in the distance.
Today, we are talking all about these almost mythological looking beasts from training them to their nutritional requirements.
Before we move on, we want to give you a strong recommendation. If you want a Caucasian Shepherd because of its appearance and not for its ability to protect, find another dog.
These dogs have been bred solely to protect their family against predators and strangers, and that includes fighting off mountain lions and bears. This makes them relentless in a fight when against an unknown and are naturally prone to the behavior. For every 1 person, this dog is amazing for there’s 99 that they would be a disaster for.
This isn’t to say they aren’t wonderful dogs for the right people. The Caucasian Shepherd is a docile marshmallows with your kids and protect their life against any predator who even looks at them wrong.
A Breed History
The Caucasian Shepherd is a very large guardian dog. They are really known for being even-tempered and calm dogs, despite their size and the fact that they can rip apart an intruder in a few moments.
This dog is typically mellow as a mushroom and happy to just chill with you. They don’t want to fight but they will.
They are considered a molosser. That name refers to many of the large-boned, guardian breeds from that same particular region of the world, the Caucasus Mountains.
These guys first appeared on the world stage in a show ring in 1930, debuting in Germany. They’ve worked in many countries as livestock guardian dogs (LGD) and will defend sheep from all sorts of predators, including bear.
Yes, that’s correct, this bear of a dog will actually take on a real bear if it is necessary to keep his flock safe. That’s a dog that you want to have on your team!
Personality Traits of the Caucasian Shepherd
This dog is an intelligent as it is big. He is also a breed known for independence and self-confidence that exudes fearlessness. He isn’t afraid of much and he’ll calmly defend his charges when necessary.
He has no issues with showing a wolf, fox, bear, wolverine, or coyote who the boss is. You can rest assured that he’ll keep your flock safe when he’s left in charge.
They do tend to be a bit lazy if left to their own devices. You’ll want to make sure that he doesn’t get too heavy in the waist by ensuring that he gets plenty of exercise. Take the ball outside and play some fetch to keep him active.
Health problems can be an issue if you allow your Caucasian Shepherd to get overweight and that is not fun for him at all. Keep him fit and active and he’ll live much longer and be able to do his job well for many years too.
Properly Caring for this Giant Breed
This dog has a very thick and fluffy coat of fur. He comes from a region where mountains, high altitude and cooler climate are typical. He may not do well in a very hot environment and you should consider that before getting one.
He will need regular brushing in order to keep healthy and comfortable. When things get trapped in his coat and cause tangles, they will turn into mats. Mats will eventually twist into very tight knots that pull at his skin and can even cause bleeding and infections. Keep him brushed and avoid this for your big guy.
He will enjoy cuddling with you. They are a very lovable dog, in reality. They do need proper training and socialization though. If you don’t train this dog, he can be like a freight train out of control. He can possibly be dangerous too. Don’t forget, it is instinctive for him to defend.
You don’t want a 200-pound dog defending you from a helpless mail carrier. Neither does your mail carrier. Work with him constantly to keep him friendly with people and safe. He should understand basic commands and expectations.
Feed him well. Make sure that he is getting a good, balanced dog food that provides enough protein, along with vitamins and nutrients. A Caucasian Shepherd will eat approximately 600 grams of raw red meat each day. This is according to breeders who say this breed does best on raw meat and veggies.
He can also have some fish and raw vegetables each day but his protein needs are great due to his massive size. Please, consider all of the things it takes to keep this dog healthy before you decide that you want one.
They are also not a cheap breed to acquire in the first place. You can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $1000 to $3000 US dollars for one of these dogs. The price and diet are as massive as they are.
Typically, the bigger the dog, the bigger the cost of obtaining and keeping them. Remember this because it is a big commitment of time and money, but they are a fantastic dog breed to have, once you do decide that you can make that commitment to them.
Choosing a Good Breeder is the Key
Seek a great breeder by going to the AKC website. They are a great place to start. Breed clubs are a good place as well. You’ll want to interview breeders and you should feel that they are also interviewing you.
A good breeder won’t sell a dog like this to just anyone. They may ask to do a home visit. You may be asked for a veterinarian reference as well. This is good. It means the breeder cares and is taking time to ensure good homes.
This is a responsible breeder. They will have had parents checked for possible genetic defects that could have been passed to puppies. Make sure to ask about this.
Ask a lot of questions from the breeder and the good ones will offer to be available to you for questions for the life of the dog.
Ask them what happens if your puppy is found to have hip problems or vision problems. Will they take a dog back? Do you get another puppy or money back?
Are you going to get papers? Will they be limited and are you getting the right to breed your dog or not? Some papers will be limited so that you cannot register litters of your dog’s. This means that the breeder feels that this dog isn’t suitable for breeding and doesn’t want that to happen.
When puppies are purchased without breeding rights, these are considered ‘pet quality’ or working stock dogs. There’s nothing wrong with them at all. They just weren’t the best of the litter. If you’re looking for a dog that you can breed and show in the ring, you’ll pay more for that puppy and the breeder can help you choose the pup that will be best for that.
Working with a good, reputable breeder simply cannot be understated. They will be a wealth of information for you and help you each step of the way, ensuring that you get a quality Caucasian Shepherd that will live with you for the better of twelve years, provided they stay healthy.
Learning More About The Caucasian Shepherd
Besides being big and a Pokemon come to life, the Caucasian Shepherd is best known for their watchdog and guarding skills. They are highly protective and territorial over their property and have been used for hundred of years to protect livestock and keep away trespassers.
And with all the size, who can blame people for using them. But all that body mass can wear a champion like the Caucasian Shepherd out. Most times, you’ll catch these big lugs lounging out and kicking it back.
This makes them a very suitable dog for a particular style of family. They’re fearless and strong, but love their family including the kids and pets who they can be incredibly docile with — after some training. Just make sure you have a lot of space, like a farm where their devotion can shine.
The Caucasian Shepherd hails from the Caucasus Mountains where we can find a number of other breeds with a similar stocky big-bone appearance. The Caucasian Shepherd belongs to the Molosser breed of dogs which includes Mastiffs, Bulldogs, and Boxers to name a few.
These dogs all descended from the same common ancestor, the Molossus from the Molosser region — an area in ancient Epirus that was a part of Ancient Greece at the time.
You’ve likely seen a statue of a Molossian hound if you’ve even studied Ancient Greece for a second. During those days they served the Shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains and protected their livestock by fighting off jackels, wolves, and even bears. Today, most Molosser dogs are still muscular, powerful, and bred to guard livestock or protect their family.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that we saw the Caucasian Shepherd birth into existence. The Soviets selected a number of characteristics they saw appealing in Molosser dogs and created a new breed that would have all of them.
- Be prepared to feed these big guys!
- They’re lazy nature helps lower their calorie demand somewhat
You know with all that size, that is was surely a topic that would come up. You’re going to want to feed your Caucasian Shepherd a high-quality kibble diet when they are young. This is by far the most appropriate diet for these dogs when they are young. When fully grown, you can move them to a raw diet if you prefer.
As well, be prepared to spend money on their diet as they are going to have a big calorie demand with them being the largest of large breed dogs. Luckily, their preferred state is not moving. You know, they probably look more like a big rock in the distance and not like a lion or bear.
We recommend talking to your veterinarian. These pups see a lot of growth in their first year, and larger breeds see way more development and joint issues as adults if their diet was missing key minerals when young.
- Extremely low exercising demands
- Don’t let them become a complete couch potato as they can get obese
Exercising . . . . what exercising? Make sure you have a big yard that your Caucasian Shepherd can roam around in and take them on walks every so often. That’s pretty much all you’ll need to do when it comes to exercising them guys. I mean, You try carrying around all that mass and muscle all day and then try going for a run.
The only thing to watch out for is that their endurance stays strong because their couch potato game is strong. This is why we recommend a walk or even better a light hiking trip every once in a while. How much exercise depends on how much their work demands of them.
As long as they get a job that involves some moving, even if that’s just a daily walk then they are good on the exercise front.
- Not for novice who haven’t train a dog before
- Will naturally be apprehensive to strangers if not rigorously trained
- A well-trained Caucasian Shepherd is an amazing family dog
If you’ve never trained a dog before, there is a strong possibility the Caucasian Shepherd isn’t the dog for you. They are independent and have very strong natural tendencies that can cause a lot of trouble. However, they are far from the hardest dog to train. When push comes to shove they will listen and they know when you’re being serious with them.
They naturally want to protect, and it’s best to train them at an early age to be around kids, other pets, and especially strangers if you don’t want a guard dog. If you don’t want a guard dog, look for another breed. If you don’t train them to accept other animals or people when young, they can quickly become extremely aggressive with them.
The one place you’re going to have a hard time training them is teaching them to do lots of tricks whether they are physical or mental. They know protecting the family and behaving around the house is important, but see straight through superficial tricks.
Help, I adopted an adult Caucasian Shepherd, but I’m struggling to train them!
It’s important to train and socialize all dogs between 0-9 months of age if you want the best behavior and obedience. It’s even more important with a dog that’s 200lbs, tends to be independent, and notoriously territorial and aggressive. But what if you adopt an adult Caucasian Shepherd that has training or behavioral issues?
First, you’re not out of luck by a mile. However, special care needs to be taken. Many recommend against a dog school because the Caucasian Shepherd’s behavioral issues usually relate to other dogs and people. Taking a territorial 200 lb dog who will not back down from a fight is disaster and heartbreak waiting to happen.
So you will want to consult a private trainer, preferably someone who is familiar with this breed or similar breeds. You may want to do this even when they are young, in particular, if you have small children around the house.
The puppies can get rambunctious and may want to herd early — meaning herding your kids. Plus, while technically a puppy, they are often bigger than a lot of adult dogs and you don’t want all that size rampaging around your house.
A well-trained adult Caucasian Shepherd can be an amazing dog to have around children of any size.
- Long lifespan for a dog of this size
- Breed for hundreds of years to have fantastic health well into their senior years
For being such a large breed, the Caucasian Shepherd has a fairly decent lifespan 10-12 years, as well they don’t see too many health issues. Breeders have been very careful about picking the healthiest dogs when breeding the Caucasian Shepherd over the last two centuries.
They are bred for protecting the livestock against predators wolves after all, and this means dogs that have to be in tip-top shape for their entire life.
You will see some medical issues that affect all medium and large dog breeds like hip dysplasia or arthritis. While they don’t need tons of exercising, they do need to be getting in walks if they aren’t being put to work around the farm. They are agile, fast, and have great endurance but only when they have to be. Otherwise, they are going to loaf around all day collecting dust.
Coat and Grooming
- Have one of the coolest looking coats around
- Shed all year around, but not to a terrible degree
Let’s talk about the good first. The Caucasian Shepherd has one of the best coats around. They are incredibly soft, fluffy, and aseptically gorgeous coming in a range of colors and markings.
The most common coat pattern and coloring you see is very similar to a German Shepard — just add lots of hair and a big mane. You can also find them with a mostly black coat as well as a mostly golden one. They can even take on a coat that makes them look similar to a St. Bernard.
So here comes the bad, but don’t worry it’s not terrible bad. The Caucasian Shepherd sheds during most of the year, but it’s never outrageous. You’re looking at brushing them 2-3 times a week. As well, you’ll want to pay attention to their nails as they grow fast — they’re going to be strong as well so no puny clippers.
You’ll also want to find a shampoo that you like. We recommend one that’s formulated to not wash off flea and tick treatments such as BioPel with Tea Tree & Aloe. The Caucasian Shepherd is a dog that spends a lot of time outside and has massive amount of hair for pests to hide in, so make sure you are on top of their Flea and Tick regimen.
We also recommend checking out our natural pest control product line where you can find sprays that protect your house of tiny invaders. As well as pest control treatments for any stage of infestation. Just click here!
Rescuing or Private Breeder
- Check out breed-specific rescues as they don’t pop up in shelters often
- Expect to pay over $1000 for a healthy and well-taken care of pup when buying from a breeder
You’re probably not going to find too many of these guys pop up in shelters, and your better option if adopting is looking at a rescue like Ovcharka Rescue or ThunderHawk Caucasian.
If you’re looking to purchase a puppy from a breeder, make sure to ask about the parents' health history. We always recommend meeting the breeder onsite and even meeting the parents. Now, obviously, with the Caucasian Shepherds apprehension to strangers, we relax this recommendation a touch.
Now, if you’re looking for a Caucasian Shepherd, but don’t want those territory traits, go to a breeder who welcomes you to meet the parents.
When buying from a breeder you are looking at spending anywhere from $1000-2000 dollars. You may see some puppies for sale as low as $500 but you want to be very careful when you see these dogs for under $1000.
If you're a first-time dog owner or just want a giant fluffy dog we recommend that you look at another dog breed. As well, if you live in an apartment, there are better guard dogs, that won’t bark every time they hear an unknown sound next door.
The Newfoundland, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Great Pyrenees are all excellent alternatives. Now they might not look like a bear, but they are less likely to act like one as well and don’t have anywhere near the training demand.
While not for first-time or novice dog owners, the Caucasian Shepherd is an incredibly rewarding dog to have for the experienced dog owner who needs a certain kind of dog.
There’s nothing else quite out there that has their size, personality, loyalty, and aesthetic. They are an amazing companion and so attune with their owners that they can be fantastic therapy dogs.
And when you think about it, not every dog has to be a great fit for a wide range of people. A dog like the Caucasian Shepherd may only be suitable for a select few, but that’s what makes them personally perfect for those owners.
Thunderhawk Rescue says they first got a Caucasian Shepherd to protect their Siberian Husky from mountain lions. That right there should tell you whether this breed is a good fit for you or not.