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
Livestock Guardian
Date of Origin
Ancient Times
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
brindle Karakachan coat
Brindle
sable Karakachan coat
Sable
brown Karakachan coat
Brown
black Karakachan coat
Black
pied Karakachan coat
Pied
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
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
Comb
Deshedder
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
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 Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
14 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes

Karakachan Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
Daily Cost
$1.20 - $1.40
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00

Karakachan Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Karakachan size stats at six months
Height: 21 inches Weight: 61 lbs
Female Karakachan size stats at six months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 49 lbs
12 Months
Male Karakachan size stats at 12 months
Height: 23 inches Weight: 87 lbs
Female Karakachan size stats at 12 months
Height: 22 inches Weight: 70 lbs
18 Months
Male Karakachan size stats at 18 months
Height: 26 inches Weight: 92 lbs
Female Karakachan size stats at 18 months
Height: 24 inches Weight: 74 lbs

Karakachan Owner Experiences

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.
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.
4 months, 2 weeks ago
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