Karakachan Breed Maintenance
Two of the Karakachan’s characteristics — massive in size and active — mean that this isn’t a great dog to have in a small space. If you live in a tiny apartment, you’re probably not the greatest candidate to buy some Karakachan puppies; before you know it they’ll be Karakachan adults and they’ll be rather unhappy with their limited space. It’s not fair but this is a dog that favors people who have a property large enough to give it room to roam.
This won’t be a shock to you but the Karakachan is a dog that needs a great deal of exercise to be satisfied. You may not be able to offer it your own flock of sheep but the dog’s DNA will be begging you to provide it with a comparable lifestyle. It has to be walked for a couple of miles a day. Don’t skimp on this. A Karakachan that doesn’t get enough exercise becomes unhappy. Go jogging with it, go hiking with it, go cycling with it. This dog will love the physical and mental stimulation of being outside.It’s a good idea to brush your Karakachan’s hair everyday if you can, but there’s no need to bathe it all that often; indeed, bathing dogs too frequently can take away all-important oils in their fur. Because Karakachans have floppy ears, make sure you regularly check
them for any signs of infection. Bad smells, fluid or sensitivity in the air are signs that something might be wrong.
Karakachan health risks
Good health pending, you should have around 13 fulfilling years with your Karakachan but there will inevitably be the odd concern. The Karakachan size means it can be vulnerable to the type of health issues that trouble other large dog breeds, including:
Hip dysplasiaThe genetic disease hip dysplasia is an issue that’s often diagnosed more frequently in larger dogs. It’s a term that means the ball and socket of both hip joints are malformed in some way, causing the head of the dog’s femur to grind in the socket of the joint rather than gliding smoothly. It can be caused by malnutrition, injury or weight gain (though you
should also be careful not to over-feed your pup, as this may exacerbate it as well) and will be noticeable as a result of your dog not moving smoothly, not jumping, or experiencing lameness in the hind legs. You should be aware, however, that the signs of hip dysplasia often don’t rear their head until dogs are a little older, so it’s less obvious to identify in Karakachan puppies.
As hip dysplasia worsens, it will progress to osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease as the dog’s body tries to stabilize the hip joint. Your dog may need surgery — a femoral head/neck ostectomy is a common procedure — and may even need its hip replaced in the worst-case scenario.
You may not even have realized that dogs have elbows but they do, and they can suffer dysplasia in them. If your Karakachan is limping, has swollen joints or appears stiff, it may have this affliction.
When the elbow’s three bones — the radius, the humerus and the ulna — aren’t formed properly, a vet may diagnose elbow dysplasia. They may perform surgery or prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, after which point your dog’s recovery has a good chance of being positive. It may need physical therapy, however, and in particularly serious cases will require lifelong care from a vet.
Large dogs can often be afflicted by bloat, a condition that can be serious enough to be life-threatening. (One in five dogs weighing more than 100 lbs will experience bloat.)
We don’t yet know exactly what causes bloat but it occurs when a pup’s stomach fills with gas. Canines with anxiety are a little more vulnerable to the condition, and doing exercise after a large amount of water or food can be a trigger.
When a dog has bloat, its distended stomach pushes its rib cage, then the diaphragm, and the bigger blood vessels in the abdomen. A dog in this condition is vulnerable to systemic shock.
It may seem a little surprising but bloat — otherwise known as gastric dilatation and volvulus — is extremely bad news for a dog and needs to be treated within a few hours in order to save the animal’s life. Knowing about it in advance may help you rescue your Karakachan. A vet will need to reduce the pressure on your pup’s internal organs and stomach wall.
As you can see, pet health has the potential to get complex and expensive. Wondering what kind of pet insurance you might need to help you if any of these conditions arise in your furry friend? Check out quotes from all the best companies here and browse wellness plans here.
Feeding a Karakachan — what’s the best diet?
Needless to say, the big body of a Karakachan needs a lot of fuel to keep it going. Experts recommend feeding this adult breed twice a day. (Having only one meal a day can increase a dog’s risk of bloat.) In total, around 2.5 cups a day is right. Make sure the food is nutrient-rich and contains enough protein for the high amount of exercise the Karakachan needs every day. Try as best you can to avoid giving your Karakachan ‘human’ foods.
If you want comprehensive information about the best dog foods available, check out our friends at Dog Food Advisor — they have everything you need to know, and more.