Developed from Molosser breeds of the region, like the Aromun Sheepdogs, Bukovinacs, Sylvans, Sarplaninacs, Tornjaks, Homolians, Karakachans, Pannonian Herders and possibly some old Carpathian Wolfdogs, the Romanian Shepherd Dog is a good livestock herder and protector, as well as property guardian. Coming in a variety of sizes and colors, it isn't as consistent as some other Balkan dogs, even though the breed is fully standardized. The Ciobanesc Carpatin is a valued wolf killer among the Romanian shepherds, who are often exposed to the the extremely high predator population in the Carpathian mountains. There is a variety of types within the breed, such as the Sibiu, Bistrita, Rucar, Ardelenesc and others. Some are slightly different than others, while certain types are even considered to be separate breeds by some authorities.
A number of fanciers claim that the modern incarnation of the breed is nothing more than a designer mix, developed by crossing the Caucasian Ovcharka with the German Shepherd Dog, containing very little, if any blood of the original Romanian breed. Some of these enthusiasts disregard the present-day Carpathian Shepherd altogether, claiming that the Bucovina Shepherd is actually the true variety of the ancient Romanian sheepdog, with all others being mongrels. Whatever the true ancestry of the Carpathian Shepherd might be, the breed is recognized by the Romanian Kennel Club and is slowly gaining acceptance outside it homeland. The first official breed Standard was written in 1934, followed by a series of modifications in 1982, 1999, 2001 and 2002. Still not as popular as its cousin, the bearded Mioritic Shepherd, the rugged Carpatin is more common in rural parts of Romania. While loving and gentle with its master, the breed is also a very territorial and sharp watchdog, making it a poor choice for an urban companion. The Carpathian Shepherd is not an overly vicious Molosser, but it can be quite unfriendly towards other dogs, needing early socialization and experienced handling.
Although this breed is more lupoid in head-type, the heavier molossoid specimens can still be found, but these are not preferred, seeing how there has been an influx of the St. Bernard, Sarplaninac and Caucasian Ovtcharka blood in recent years, qualifying all mastiffy dogs as crossbreeds by the Rumanians. An ideal Carpatin is a powerful, but slender dog, with clear lupoid features and a strong, straight back. The legs are long and sturdy, the chest is deep and the neck is well-muscled.
The coat is hard and dense, with a rich and soft undercoat. Wolf-grey and fawn-sable examples with small white markings on the feet and chest are preferred, while the yellow, red, brown, brindled and tricolored dogs aren't as valued. Even though the Standard lists strict coat and color guidelines for the Shows, among the working population the coat types can vary from short to very long in all shades, solid or multicolored. Average height is 26 inches, but taller dogs can be found.