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As with most Russian dog breeds, dog fanciers have always encountered difficulties when trying to obtain information on the origin and history of the former Soviet Union dogs. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the development of kennels in Western Europe, contacts are now easier, but the Russians themselves have no accurate information because the breed was mainly bred by Caucasian shepherds and was virtually unknown outside its habitat.
It is believed to be at least 2,500 years old, if not more : it is one of the oldest breeds on earth ! It was traditionally used by Russians and people in the mountainous regions between Turkey and Iran, between the Caspian and Black Seas. The role of the Caucasian Shepherd was to guide and protect the flocks against large predators such as wolves, bears and lynxes. To carry out this type of work, the dog had to be strong, courageous and intimidating. Geographical isolation and natural selection therefore produced a breed of great protectors. The dog was then subjected to extreme living conditions, which influenced its construction and character, making it strong, fearless and teaching it to save its energy.
Its origin is not well known, but it is a dog that has hardly changed in 2000 years. Its ancestor could be the Georgian shepherd dog, better known as the "tarti", which is a cross between a wolf and a mountain dog or the ancient Tibetan Mastiffs.
Selection of the breed began in the former USSR in the 1920s, but it did not appear in Europe until 1930, at an exhibition in Nuremberg. It was not until the 1960s that the first specimens of the breed made their way into Europe. They began to appear in international rings in 1979. The breed standard was established in 1985. However, it is still quite rare in France.
In the former GDR, these dogs were used to guard the country's borders, especially the Berlin Wall. When the wall came down in 1989, the dogs - about 700 of them - were shot and a few lucky ones, often puppies, were stolen by soldiers and carers who brought them back to their families throughout Germany.
Used in Russian prisons to guard prisoners, Caucasian Shepherds were previously used in the defence of the Red Army.
Updated on 23 August 2021