This powerful breed is seen by many as what the ideal working German Shepherd Dog should be, with some even considering it to be the original incarnation of the popular German breed. However, it should be noted that even though related, the East-European Shepherd is neither the same breed nor a type of the GSD, but a very different and separate working dog from the USSR. It could be argued that it was developed as an improvement upon the GSD, which proved itself to be unsuitable for harsh climates of the former Soviet Union when it was introduced to the country in the 1920's, but the East-European Ovcharka was created in the 1930's using a number of breeds, many of which have remained undisclosed to this day. What has been confirmed is the employment of imported German Shepherds, a variety of indigenous Russian Laikas, Central Asian Ovcharkas and Dobermanns in the breeding programme, but quite a few other breeds have been suggested as having a part in its creation, including Black Russian Terriers, Caucasian Ovcharkas, Moscow Mastiffs and even some wolf-hybrids and local greyhounds, but whether this was really the case is unclear.
The East-European Shepherd was developed earlier than some other more or less succesful Soviet experimental breeds, but since it was being perfected until the early 1960's, the possibility of it containing some blood of these breeds is quite likely. The first breed Standard was written in 1964 and outcrosses were no longer allowed, at least officially. This was first and foremost a working breed, used mainly for guarding duties, whether as a border patrol dog, personal protection and attack dog for the KGB or as a watchdog of Soviet prison camps. Its intelligence, drive and courage have earned the East-European Shepherd a great amount of respect both in its homeland and outside Russia's borders. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the breed became more common in other European countries, even being used to improve the health and working abilities of some existing GSD bloodlines. Known for its stable temperament, devotion to its master and trainability, the Vostochno-Evropeyskaya Ovtcharka is slowly gaining well-deserved acceptance worldwide as a truly remarkable working breed.
An excellent climber, the Eastern-European Shepherd also has impressive jumping abilities and is capable of great speeds, thanks to its compact body, long legs and impressive stamina. It is aloof with strangers, very territorial and alert, making a great property watchdog and guardian, but it also makes an agreable family companion when properly socialized and trained from an early age and handled responsibly and with authority. Superficially similar to the GSD, the Vostochnik is a much taller breed, with a straight back and a slightly longer muzzle.
The body is well-boned, muscular and lean, with a deep chest, strong neck and sturdy legs. Noticeably more agile and resilient than its German cousin, this rugged working dog is well-suited for a variety of climates, being equally effective in the warm steppe regions and the cold mountain areas.
The East-European Shepherd Dog has a hard and flat medium-length top coat, which is densely undercoated, with the hair being slightly fuller on the neck, around the ears and on the tail. Although uniform black dogs were famously preferred by the KGB, other shades exist, such as tan with a black saddle, grey, wheaten, fawn, brindle, sable and white, but they aren't as common or as popular as the traditional jet black and black-n-tan colourings.
The average height is around 28 inches, with taller dogs being more valued, some reaching up to 33 inches at the withers.
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