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Karst Shepherd Dog

One of the oldest Molossers in the Adriatic region, this breed is closely related to the Sarplaninac, as well as other Balkan dogs. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Karst Sheepdog became very rare and was revived through careful crossing with appropriate Sarplaninac and Newfoundland bloodlines, although certain post-WW2 lines reportedly also contain some GSD blood, but this influence is believed by most fanciers to had been bred out completely. The Krasevec and Sarplaninac dogs were registered together in 1939 under the "Illyrian Sheepdog" name, but after the 2nd World War this mistake was corrected and the breeds were rightfully separated. Named after the Kras region of the country, this rugged mountain dog is oftentimes mistaken for a Sarplaninac, even though there are some obvious differences in appearance and temperament. Now classified as a Slovenian breed, the North-Istrian Sheepdog is a courageous guardian and a superb herder. Its Slovenian ancestry is sometimes disputed by the Croats, but there isn't any proof to support these claims, apart from the Kras region partially stretching into present-day Croatia.

Not to be confused with the near-extinct South-Istrian Herder, the Kraski Ovcar is a well-known and prized dog in its homeland, but some local types and working bloodlines are said to still show the traces of other breeds from the days of the revival programme, in particular the German Shepherd whose influence can be occasionally seen in the elongated muzzles and coat colours of certain dogs, as well as the modern Sarplaninac, mostly in the noticeably taller and heavier Karst examples, with some representatives also showing their Newfoundland ancestry in their coat length and colouring. But those strains bred for the Show rings are generally kept pure and their breeders are responsible and dedicated promoters of this wonderful breed, which is finally receiveng its well-deserved attention in Europe, especially in Italy, Austria, Germany and in some Scandinavian countries.

The breed also makes an agreable companion, due to its playful and affectionate personality. Its natural wariness of strangers also makes the Krashevatz an excellent watchdog, but early socialization and responsible ownership is very important. Not as stubborn as some of the other Balkan Molossers, this breed is fairly easy to train and handle. It does equally well in both the cold and warm climates, even though it prefers colder weather. This is a well-boned and muscular breed, with a straight back, broad shoulders and a fairly large rounded head, which has a moderately narrow muzzle and powerful jaws. A dark mask on the face is desirable and the nose must be black.

The coat is of medium length and is quite thick and harsh with an abundant undercoat. The colour is iron gray with darker shading, but lighter-coated dogs exist, as do some reddish-brown and darker ones. Smaller and lighter than its Macedonian cousin, the average height for the Karst Sheepdog is 23 inches, although slightly taller dogs can be found.

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