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SARPLANINAC - ABORIGINAL TYPE

Dear Aleksa Everybody could learn a lot from this article, but according to my knowledge, the part of breeding in the mountain is more like how we would like it is, than how it is exactly. There are to many mixed breeds, that is to difficult to talk about "aboriginal type" as a type, becouse of the missing common type characteristics. :?: Those dogs can hardly be named Sarplaninac, if you look in the Standard. Fortunately, the real common characteristic (for me, the most important) is their character - what you have excellent described in your article. :D Pozdrav. Zeljko
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Replies (10)
    • Reading Sarplaninac breed profile on your web site, I was amased. It's evident that Wolf (the person who wrote it) has a big knowledge abot Sarplaninac. My wish is to share my knowledge with as more people as I can, because i belive that Sarplaninac trouly deserves it, especialy aboriginal dogs of Shara mountain, place where legend began. The urban type, exsibition type that is, of Sarplaninac is just a small bit of the aboriginal population. They are usualy of wolf/iron-gray colour better known among shephards under the name of "murdz". Being a moloss, which is a main characteristic in all varieties of colouring (you can see even a wolf-type heads also in all varieties, which is the result of mating with wolves and is happening even today), shephards on Shara devide their dogs only by colour of the furr, such as (and i've allready sead it ) "murdz" - wolf/iron-gray colour, "karabas" - lighter coloured dogs with black heads or deep dark masks on their muzles and forheads, "merdzan" - snow white to ivory, "zlatan" - golden yellow, "medov" - brown, "sari" - brindle, "karaman" - black, etc... And how did shephards get different varieties of dogs? Well, it is not that hard to explain. In almost every village on Shara mountain there is just a few females (sometimes only one in the whole village) and a much bigger number of males. Reason for that is that males are usualy larger and stronger (more aggressive too) than females, so shephards rather retained males because it is easier for them to keep of and overpower predators. According to the rules of shephards, only one, chosen dog (strongest and bravest), will be pairing all bitches. These dogs are usualy very domminant in every way, and their decendants will very much look like them and then, in a year or two, you will have a good number of dogs that are very simillar, physically and psycologically and they will be bred in the near future. Some incests could occure, so bloodline of their domminant ancestor would be even more established. Then you will have in one village (or bigger area) dogs of one type and in another village (where same practice is aplied) you would have a somewhat different type (distinctions in colour,size, or even head shapes etc.). Keeping in mind that this method is used among people of Shara for centuries (and somewhere still is) there is your answer. Deviding dogs on the base of colour is present at shephards but it does not have any influence on dog selection, because only criteria on wich they decide what dog is going to be with their flock is:- that dog has to be capable of defending the flock from predators. Still, even today, in most of aboriginal Sarplaninac litters you can find different coloured puppies in same litter. Centuries ago, those on one hand different types of dogs, were mated, because shephards took their bitches for mating to a strongest and bravest males, based on a logic: - strong and fearless dogs will give us strong and fearless puppies - and all of that regardles of colour, so that fact is what gives us that multicolouration in litters. Puppies never had some special care, their life deppended on their resilliance. Due to the hard life and hursh climate, primal selecton began with the first days of life of those puppies and first months are just one big test for them. While growing up,they are learning from older dogs the secrrets of the job wich they will do, but that is not necessary because it is simply written in their genes. In half plays-half fights, those young dogs are learning the art of fighting. When dogs are somewear between 9 and 12 months old, they are going trough the last toughest test. Shephards then set traps in the mountain in order to catch a live wolf and when wolf is trapped, people chain him and bring him to the village to test the character of their dogs last time. Any dog who was afraid, or hasitates to take a determined attack on the wild beast is eliminated from his pack, and shephards do that cruelest way possible - by death! The character of Sarplaninac is, beleved by many, something that devides him of all other livestock guardians. In autumn, when first snow starts to fall, dogs are coming back from the mountain pastures with their flocks to villages and that isn't periodwhen dogs can rest for a while. The predators are allways hungry, especialy during winter when everything is covered with snow and there is not much other animals to feed on. But that is not the only thing, during the winter people organize numerous fight tournaments being a common tradition in South-East of Europe and Asia, in order to establish wich dog is strongest. Watching those tournament fights, you can realy see what is their true nature. The site of two Sarplaninac males that are fighting is very much reasembling a battle of two knights. When one of the dogs starts to show that he had enough, he will receve few more bites from the better dog in that match and fighting stoppes. Sure enough, there can be a lot of blood spilled, but that would rarely result with death of some dog, while their way of fighting with wolfs or bears is totally opposite. When Sarplaninac is fighting mountain beasts, he won't stop at any cause. Either he will kill the predator or either lose his life in trying to kill it. Still, when dogs are on the mountain with the flock, you will not see them chasing a wolf away from sheeps, because that is exactly what wolfs are wishing they would do. There is a very interesting tactic of one wolf pack. Usualy wolfs will send one of them to arrouse the dogs and to try to make the dogs chase it, while the rest are slottering sheeps behind their backs, but this does not work and wolfs are trying to avoid fights with Sarplaninacs. They will strike at the dogs only if their hunger is that strong that overwhelms their rational reasoning and then starts a battle for life or death for dogs and wolfs equaly. That almost unique Sarplaninac characteristic, that he can put up with all terrible bites of his opponent and not let a sound, even when Sarplaninac is losing parts of his body, is now being abused. How? Due to the industrial andvancement and recent war, populaton of wolfs on Sarplanina region is now largely reduced, so nowadays, it is sad but true, you can see Sarplaninacs in their homeland, fighting each other more often then it was a case before, but it does not end there. You can even see them fighting American Pitt Bul Terriers, Caucasian Ovcarkas, Central Asian Ovcarkas, and all kind of other breeds, in fighting rings all over Serbia & Montenegro. The only good thing (hardly that there can be any, but...) that comes from all of that, is that Sarplaninac can cope with almost every breed and frequently comes as a winner. But, if people proceed to put Sarplaninacs in fights, nobody knows how it would effect his nature in future.
      • Aleksa, Thank you for this very interesting information on the Sarplaninac. I enjoyed reading it and learning more about these wonderful dogs. Thank you . Gary
        • Dear Aleksa Everybody could learn a lot from this article, but according to my knowledge, the part of breeding in the mountain is more like how we would like it is, than how it is exactly. There are to many mixed breeds, that is to difficult to talk about "aboriginal type" as a type, becouse of the missing common type characteristics. :?: Those dogs can hardly be named Sarplaninac, if you look in the Standard. Fortunately, the real common characteristic (for me, the most important) is their character - what you have excellent described in your article. :D Pozdrav. Zeljko
          • Hi there, Wolf. I am wondering, how do you know so much about Sarplaninac. Congratulation, you have pointed to the real problem of "mountain breeding" and the real reason why are so many, so called: breeders, insisting on "original" (izvorni) type. Also, I could see that you did not want add "to many spice" in this "dish". Zeljko
            • Greetings Wolf and Zeljko, First of all, I have to say that I agree with everything that both of you have written about Sarplaninac. I know that dogs on Sara mountain today can hardly represent what Sarplaninac was, is or should be. Also I know that many races are introduced into Sarplaninac gene pool, starting from CO, CAO, newfies, St.Bernards, etc. and I`m not talking only about breeders who done it (and some still do it) on their private breeding farms.They are just "special" kind of people, most of them are arrogant persons and are thinking that they have gathered all knowledge of this world in their heads. People on Sara have done the same thing too, and I simply can not explain what was their interest that made them to do so. Doing that, they have distroyed essential beauty of those gorgeus animals. Some folks on Sara have understood that what theu did was wrong and saw that those dog mixes are not what they have expected from them to be and they are now buying Sarplaninac pupps and mature dogs from breeders in Serbia. Paradox! Still, there are some "oasis" in few remote parts of Sarplanina, where you still can find families that have excellent dogs of a true Sarplaninac type and they are breading them the way you sed it Wolf. They usually have all "merdzan" type dogs. Or all "karabash" type dogs, etc. and it is still easier for you to get a pupp from them as a present, if you are their friend, then it is to buy it from them. But even if they decide to give you the pupp, be sure that you will not get the best one. Best one will stay at their home. Things that are worrying me now are - will those dogs survive. Situation on Kosovo and Metohija is very bad nowadays (and not much brighter in Macedonia either), but I am still an optimist. Wolf I would like to thank you on your kind offer of asking you any questins I may have, and to warn you: - avalanche of my questions will hit you soon! Ha-ha. Stay well!
              • Hello again, I have to say that this subject is becoming more interesting day by day and that is what I realy wanted to see and I'm glad that this is finaly happening. If I said that I agree with what Wolf or Zeljko have written about Sarplaninac, I ment only on subject of "aboriginal dogs" that I started on this forum. This is not supposed to mean that I was taken by "the knowledge and eloquence of Wolf" as you wrote Sharman, because we all are different persons and are haveing mind of our own (especialy me being a crazy Serbian). Many things that I have red in "breed profiles" of listed Balkan dogs (Sarplaninacs in the first place) are not clear to me. I had intention to ask Wolf number of questions trough the option of private messages on this web site but, since more people are getting involved in this story, I'll do that on this forum, so everybody who is interested in Sarplaninac could (and should) see that. Problem (question) that in this moment comes to mind first (and you mentioned it Sharman), is about "karaman" (black) Sarplaninacs. I have proof (pictures taken last year, soon will be on picture galerie here) that region of Macedonia, called Patiska Reka, is inhabited by some extremly courageous and beautyfull black dogs. These dogs were jelously guarded by villagers there for generations, because of their superb characteristics. There is one old black male. Stories are that he killed bear all by him self. I wont say that this is true but, I saw him and I can tell you that he is one hell of a dog! He is 14 years old now (he was still fertile in 13-th!) and fast as a wind. So, the fact is that there are black dogs in Macedonia, but if they are not Sarplaninacs, what are they? One more thing is bothering me, if they are Sarplaninacs how come that they are excluded in standard written by Prof. Pavlovic?
                • There are some posts on this forum that were moved. Well, if you looked back to my original post.. I only made slight editing to the forums just to remove objectionalbe material.. The other edit you mentioned was not done by me.. however you are right this is my site so I'll honor your wish and remove the pictures, post and account. If I miss any of the pics you uploaded please send me an email with the links. Your participation was greatly appreciated and most of us learned something from you. All the best. For all visitors to this forum... At the request of a member I have removed his posts and pictures from the site... because his posts were integral to the rest of the thread I have removed the rest of the thread up to the point where the conflict began. I know some of you have posted informative and well thoughtout posts and if they were removed then you have my apologies. If you want a copy of the info that was removed emailed to you (and you had posted info) then please send me feedback and I'll see that you get it. All the best, Gary
                  • I have my first sarplaninac in 1996 and he was the real sarplaninac but I see now in Europe "they" make the sarplaninac bigger and bigger and they say it's a "mountain type of sarplaninac"so on the show my dog was always smaller than the other one and he was 73cm high "the standard high" I've seen sarplaninac of more than 80cm high!!! and HD very bad. My dog had no HD he was free on the hips. Now I'm looking for the real type sarplaninac again because with my urok it is my great passion! Ronald
                    • Hi Ronald It's a long story about Sarplaninac standard, especially his height, but I'll try to make it simple. On southern mountains of Serbia and mountains of Macedonia you can find many diferent Sarplaninac types, like Karabash, Merdzan, Tigar, Murdz etc. You could read all that on breed profile of Sarplaninac on this site. Biggest were Karabashers and Merdzans type dogs but it is not unusal to see some extremly tall specimen of some other type. Smallest were usually iron/gray colored dogs, but they were forced by the standard as "true" Sarplaninacs, and funiest thing of all is that in first five decades of 20th century when first written standards for Sarplaninac were developed (but there is whole another issue about that, because of Karst Shepherd thing), number of iron/gray colored dogs on mountains was very low and stil is and always was. Why are these dogs favored by standard, we can "thank" Yugoslav Army to. They wanted smaller dogs with good working skils and camoufalaging color, so they were perfect for them and many Sarplaninac breeders in Yugoslavia tought that this is the wright way to bred Sarplaninacs. After decades of breeding, breeders saw that their dogs were usually smaller than dogs on mountains and then in order to increase the hight of their specimens, few of them made biggest mistake of all. Instead to go to Sarplanina region and try to correct this with genuine Sarplaninacs, they went to another breeds such as Kavkaskaya ovcharka, specimens similar to iron/gray colored Sarplaninac and start breeding them to their dogs. Years went by and today there is only about 20% of pureblooded Sarplaninacs but some say that their number is much lower. Main traits of Sarplaninac should be his character and harmony of his complete constitution, because first of all, he is a working dog. We should not insist only on his hight because we can't allow to our selves to make the same mistake twice, otherwise we will distroy this breed completely. In Sarplanina region, hight of males variates between 60 to 90cm (even higher dogs are present there), same thing is with Sarplaninacs bred in kennels out of Sarplaninac natural habitat. No mether how tall the dog is, if he can not walk properly or if he puts his tail between his legs in presence of other dogs, he might be pureblooded Sarplaninac (both, mountain types and so called "urban" variants), [u]but he will never be [/u]GOOD SARPLANINAC! This is of corse only my opinion Ronald, and if your dog is 73cm high, beleve me, his hight is much more then presentable for Sarplaninacs. One more thing. I've never saw or heard that mountain dogs had or have problems with HD and I think that this is only influence of other breeds mixed to that dogs ancestors. Aleksa aleksatomic@yahoo.com
                      • [quote]There is more, but I do not wish to go through the same story again, it's touched upon in the profile. Plus, there's always the danger of my passion getting the best of me, hehe. That is why I'll skip the whole "wolf blood" thing this time. [/quote] DUDE, how can you just cut it off like that??? Come on man, finish this and some other thoughts, it will be MOST appreciated!!! Mike
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