Karakachan

65-100 lbs
24-27"
Bulgaria
Ovcharsko Kuche, Thracian Mollos

The Karakchan dog is a massive animal, typically weighing over a hundred pounds as an adult, that has been working alongside shepherds to protect flocks of sheep in both Bulgaria and Greece for hundreds of years. While their numbers were decimated in the 1940s due to the creation of communal government farms, their population seems to be making a rebound, both in the area of Bulgaria and in the United States. They are extremely affectionate and loyal towards their family and flock, but they can be just as aggressive towards those who appear to pose a threat or who trespass on their territory. 

purpose Purpose
Livestock Guardian
history Date of Origin
Ancient Times
ancestry Ancestry
Unknown

Karakachan Health

Average Size
Male Karakachan size stats
Height: 25-29 inches Weight: 85-120 lbs
Female Karakachan size stats
Height: 24-27 inches Weight: 65-100 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Usually A Very Healthy Breed
Minor Concerns
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat
Occasional Diagnoses
  • None Known
Occasional Tests
  • X-rays or other radiographic imaging
  • Blood Panel

Karakachan Breed History

The Karakachan people, also known as the Sarakatsani, are an ethnic group native to Greece and Bulgaria that are descended from tribes of nomadic shepherds who tended to flocks of Karakachan Sheep at some point hundreds of years ago, sheep that are believed to be one of the oldest of all domesticated sheep breeds and are known for their remarkable resistance to illness. In order to protect their precious livestock from the bears, wolves, and wildcats that naturally prey on animals like sheep, they utilized large canines with strong natural protective instincts. Although there is no way to know for sure, most historians believe these large canines were originally dogs from Thracia. The Karakachan people had very conservative breeding traditions, and this led to the preservation of the breed with very few contributions from any other breeds. The breed was frequently mentioned by authors in the late 1800s and early 1900s and was known to be quite popular as a flock guardian for both the Karakachan people and other shepherds, and they were sometimes used as border patrol dogs as well. When the farming industry in Bulgaria was nationalized in the 1940s, all of the livestock was moved to communal farms, and the flock guardians were seen as unnecessary, and many of them were exterminated. Fortunately, a few managed to survive and a breed standard for these ancient molosser dogs was proposed in 1991 and approved in 2005. The first Karakachan dogs in North America were imported into the United States in 2004, to Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg DMV.

Karakachan Breed Appearance

The Karakachan dog is a large molosser-type dog that typically stands over two feet tall and weighs in the range of a hundred or so pounds. They are generally as long as they are tall and they have broad, straight backs, deep chests, and well-furred tails that are typically low-set, although the tails of Karakachan puppies often curl up over their backs. Their heads are typically broad and massive with a slightly noticeable occipital bone and strong, wide muzzle that is slightly shorter than their skull. They sport small, brown eyes with a grim but confident expression and fairly small V-shaped ears that lay flat to the sides of the head. They have a dense undercoat that is covered by a top coat of stiff, straight fur of varying lengths. Karakachan dogs whose fur is shorter than twelve centimeters are considered short-haired, while 12 centimeters or longer is considered to be long-haired.

Eye Color Possibilities
hazel Karakachan eyes
Hazel
brown Karakachan eyes
Brown
Nose Color Possibilities
black Karakachan nose
Black
Coat Color Possibilities
pied Karakachan coat
Pied
black Karakachan coat
Black
brown Karakachan coat
Brown
sable Karakachan coat
Sable
brindle Karakachan coat
Brindle
Coat Length
coat
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
pin
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Karakachan straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Karakachan Breed Maintenance

The coat of this dog is generally fairly weatherproof, and they don’t have a particularly strong odor, so bathing is only required on an occasional basis and should not be done too frequently or you may strip the coat of its naturally protective oils. They typically need a good brushing several times a week to remove any dirt and debris and to prevent tangles and mats from forming, but during the change of seasons, they tend to shed more heavily and will most likely need brushing on a daily basis. A clipping of the nails on a monthly basis and a brushing of the teeth every other day or so will round out the grooming routine.

Brushes for Karakachan
Pin Brush
Pin Brush
Comb
Comb
Deshedder
Deshedder
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Karakachan requires daily brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Karakachan Temperament

These dogs are known to be extremely sweet-tempered, playful, and patient with their own family, but they can become fiercely protective of their family and their territory if they are not given the proper socialization. While socialized Krakachan dogs are generally trustworthy around children, all interactions between the two should be closely supervised; these dogs are very large animals, and they may unintentionally knock younger or smaller children over. They have an extremely ferocious bark, and if engaged, they have both the size and the temperament to back it up, when employed as a flock guardian they are typically capable of handling any threat that may come their way, from lynx to bear, but gentle and affectionate towards their flock. While they are very intelligent dogs, they have also been bred to be independent thinkers, and tend to respond to commands only when they feel like it. 

Karakachan Activity Requirements

This dog was bred to be a working dog with a great deal of endurance, which means that they need a great deal of exercise. If they do not have a flock of sheep to follow around the countryside, this canine will generally need at least an hour or more of moderate to vigorous activity each day in order to maintain their health and vitality. These dogs do not make particularly good roommates in small spaces and apartment buildings as they are both large and active with a tendency to bark quite loudly if they feel their territory is in any way threatened.

Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
14 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes
activity minutes

Karakachan Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$1.20 - $1.40
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00
food bag monthly cost

Karakachan Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Karakachan size stats at six months
Height: 21.5 inches Weight: 61.5 lbs
Female Karakachan size stats at six months
Height: 20.0 inches Weight: 49.5 lbs
12 Months
Male Karakachan size stats at 12 months
Height: 23.5 inches Weight: 87.0 lbs
Female Karakachan size stats at 12 months
Height: 22.0 inches Weight: 70.0 lbs
18 Months
Male Karakachan size stats at 18 months
Height: 26.0 inches Weight: 92.5 lbs
Female Karakachan size stats at 18 months
Height: 24.5 inches Weight: 74.5 lbs

Karakachan Owner Experiences

Waylon
2 Years
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Waylon is very lovable and the mascot of our acreage. Everyone that drives by loves to watch him do his spins and runs along the fence with vehicles that drive by.
1 month, 1 week ago
Mecho
7 Months
1 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Great dog, funny character. Gets on well with my other dog (Malinois) but guards food from him. Quite difficult to train, only works when he feels like it, but he is learning. Can do sit, down, sit from a down, speak, recalls OK but occasionally ignores it! He doesn't seem to see the point in doing heel work lol but does walk to heel when outside our large plot of land. Ok with my rabbits but would chase if left unsupervised. Gets on well with the cat who likes to sleep on top of him. A stunning looking dog.
3 years, 3 months ago
Trinity
3 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Trinity came to me as a foster. She was basically feral; she reads other dogs' body language very well, but is unable to read human body language. She is sweet with me, but aloof with others. She has quite the bark when she feels something is a threat. She is extremely smart, but, true to the nature of the breed, an independent thinker. She is a true guardian; I always feel safe when she's with me. She has her sill side, but she takes her "job" very seriously.
2 years, 11 months ago
Chance
5 Years
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
Play
Run
Explore the woods
Off-leash
We got Chance to protect our other animals (chickens, cats, and dogs) from the coyotes on our 22 acre property. When he was you he was very quick to bite and not very good at controlling the intensity of his bites. After about a year he finally learned that biting is no good. Very protective of our family and will bark at and investigate strangers. We had to geta new well drilled and he kept on trying to pull the well guy away by the seat of his pants. He's also a giant sweetheart and very smart.
1 year, 11 months ago
Dusty
20 Months
2 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Chase
Play
Had him from pup and socialised him well he is very gentle
1 year, 8 months ago
Tohbi
5 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
Tohbi has been an awesome fit for our family. He is big but usually very calm for a 5 month pup. He is extremely affectionate and let's the kids climb all over him. He has been great to train, learning commands in just a few attempts, always wanting to please us.
1 year, 4 months ago
Willow
2 Years
6 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walks
Docile in nature, great with other dogs, smart but will command when SHE wants to, everyone's favorite of our 4 dogs. We live in rural Iowa so she has plenty of guarding to do with deer, raccoons, horses and birds. She is a lover, will greet you by laying all 80lbs of her at your feet to rub her belly.
1 year, 4 months ago
Deva Lexi
2 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Most excellent with family. Very little and sweet...if you are a stranger, ir perceived as treat.
1 year, 4 months ago
Lola
1 Year
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
playing with ball
Playing in the snow
Running
Go on late night walks
She’s the best dog I could of ever gotten x
1 year, 2 months ago
Bella
2 Months
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Play
Run
Playing with toys
She is a realy smart and friendly dog. She loves playing with her toy and running with the kids
1 year, 1 month ago
Princess Nemo
4 Years
2 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Run
Walk
Gtooming
Playing in the snow
Rescued at 2 years. Already had 2 lots of puppies. Was found abandoned,skinny with broken leg and bewildered roaming village in 😪 in Bulgaria. We LOVE her. Hard going, could see in eyes HEARTBROKEN. I did her training and caring on my own, one on one was best, she was traumatised. Mummy and Nemo madei it after a long year struggle. I live in England, house, good long garden, woods behind me and beaches 10mns away and taken down some fence so she can play with next door neighbours 2 small rescue dogs. P.N. Loves walking with pack. Stomach, leg injury, bad ear infection all good, mentally definitely on the UP. Aware that she will always have Past Memories come back at times. If I could afford it I would take P.Nemo back to Bulgaria and live on the hilltop/mountainside. I think she would be so much happier with us and a few Herd of Sheep and company of extra dogs. My family love our new addition, from daughters/son and 3 Grandchildren ages 10, 9, 3. And other members Of family, next door neighbours etc. She is a RASCAL, I can read her like a book. We have similar personalities. Hubby plays with Nemo every night on the floor, Hubby has to work hard, She plays hard to get. Great guard-dog,So strong and intelligent.walk/run every morning for one and half hour through woods and fields then sleeps most of day, food morning and evening. Food finally sorted. I think she stays awake at night for a few hours. She sleeps in her bed downstairs beside me.🥳🥰😇🤗😴😤😊😏🤩⭐️
6 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd