Circassian Shepherd Dog

Descended from the ancient stock of Caucasian dogs, the Circassian Shepherd Dog is closely tied to the Cherkess, Arkhar, Kabardin and Adygey tribes of the great Circassian nation, an ethnic group from Northern Caucasus.

Following the Russian-Circassian wars (1763-1864) and the subsequent persecution and expulsion of the Circassian people from their Caucasus homeland, the Cherkess dogs were introduced to countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia and many others. In these places of exile, the Circassian people retained their ways and kept their culture alive, which included breeding their working dogs to the same purity standards of the past. However, an influx of other breeds into the Circassian Sheepdog was inevitable and it eventually resulted in the development of new types and strains. Some believe that this breed is just a type of the Caucasian Ovcharka, like the Kars Dog and others.

The modern Circassian Shepherd Dog is considered a Turkish breed by some and is said to be a result of crossing the old Caucasian and Anatolian bloodlines, although stories of purity within certain strains still persist among some breed enthusiasts. Massive, powerful and territorial, these dogs are excellent flock protectors and property guardians. The Circassian Shepherd Dog can be very aggressive toward dogs and strangers, needing firm and experienced handling. The coat varies in length among the types and is common in a few colours, including fawn, gray, red, brown and piebald, but the most valued colouring is what is considered the oldest or original one, this being the "Cherkez Karabash" color, which is best described as fawn top coat with a grey, almost black undercoat, nearly completely black head and usually some white markings on the chest and/or feet.

Regardless of region, ethnic Circassians still recognize their breed's influence on local canine stock based on the overall build and that very colouring, finding such examples among the Kangal, Sarplaninec and Caucasian Ovcharka, among other breeds. Average height is around 30 inches, but much larger dogs can be found.

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