The Croatian Sheepdog is a dog breed that is believed to be over 1300 years old. This breed was developed by Croatian medieval farmers with a purpose to help with general farm work and especially to herd sheep and other livestock. In its native tongue, this breed is called “Hrvatski ovčar” and it is literally translated as Croatian Sheepdog.
This is an energetic breed that is not suited for everyone. The Croatian Sheepdog requires a lot of time and dedication as they have high energy levels and need some sort of a job to be truly happy and satisfied. If you have a large yard and are looking for a dog breed that will act as a watchdog and follow you everywhere you will go, the Croatian Shepherd is the breed for you.
17-19,5 in (43–50 cm)
29-44 lb (13–20 kg)
The Croatian people settled in the South-East of Europe in the Balkan peninsula around the 7th century and they have brought their dogs with them. Canine historians believe that the Croatian Shepherd hasn’t changed much and believes that the modern-day version looks and acts a lot like its 7th-century ancestor.
No official mentions were found about the Croatian Sheepdog and the first-ever record was made by the archbishop of the city of Dakovo - Petar and he said that these dogs look the same as dogs from the 7th century and that they are extremely good herders.
It wasn’t until 1200 years later, in 1935 that the Croatian Sheepdog started being carefully bred and only dogs with specific traits were selected. Much of its recorded breeding history can be linked to a Croatian vet by the name of Stjepan Romic. He implemented a careful breeding program and bred dogs all across Croatia for their specific traits.
Dog Breed Characteristics
The Croatian Sheepdog is a medium-sized breed that has unique characteristics. They give a fox-like impression and have a beautiful wavy coat that is always black in color. White markings are allowed on their chest and feet.
These dogs should give an impression of alertness, agility, and energy. They have strong and muscular bodies and triangular ears with rounded tips. The Croatian Shepherd traditionally had a docked tail and if their tail hasn’t been docked, it was curled over their backs.
Croatia is a full FCI member so it is no wonder that this old breed is registered by the biggest cynology union in the world - the FCI. The Croatian Sheepdog has a full standard in place and that standard places them in Group 1 (Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs, except Swiss Cattle Dogs), Section 1 (Sheepdogs).
This standard also has a required size for this breed and it stated that male Croatian Sheepdogs should measure 17,5-19,5 in (45-50 cm) while the females should measure 17-19 in (43-48 cm) at the withers. There is no specific mention of their weight but a dog’s weight should always be proportioned to its height.
The Croatian Sheepdog was registered by the FCI on the 31st of January 1969.
This breed is accepted by the American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service and that is usually the last step before full registration.
Croatian Sheepdogs have a profuse and dense coat that should be wooly or harsh to the touch. Their topcoat is wavy and the undercoat is dense and soft. Their main color is black and the white markings on any part of the body are not allowed.
As with all double coat dogs, Croatian Sheepdog is no different and you will have to brush them weekly to keep the hair under control. During shedding seasons daily brushing is advised to remove dead hair and to keep the dog looking good.
You will also have to check their ears regularly for any signs of infections (bad odor, redness, etc.). You can wipe their ears with the cotton ball dipped into an ear cleaner. Croatian Sheepdog teeth should be brushed weekly to remove tartar build-up and to secure fresh breath and healthy gums. Their nails should be trimmed when you hear their nails clicking on the floor.
Croatian Sheepdog temperament
The Croatian Sheepdogs are extremely energetic and enthusiastic about anything they do, whether it is herding, guarding, or competing in dog sports like agility or obedience, these dogs will approach anything with a unique dose of positivity and love.
These dogs can be described as one-man dogs as they tend to form a strong bond with a single owner. They are great with their families and love nothing more than being a part of any family activity. They are great jogging, cycling, hiking, or even swimming partners. Whatever you decide to do, your Croatian Shepherd will surely follow you with their lovely temperament.
Forming such a strong bond with a single owner means that these dogs can become shy around new and unknown people. It is important that you socialize your Croatian Sheepdog so you don’t have dog problems later in life.
The Croatian Sheepdog was described by many owners as intuitive and with a strong will to please their owners. These traits make them highly trainable and rather easy to train. They are very intelligent and demanding so prepare to invest a decent amount of time in raising a Croatian Sheepdog.
These dogs respond best to positive training methods that involve a bunch of praises and treats. Never use fear, pain, or threats as a training method because it can have a negative effect and you can end up with more problems than solutions.
These dogs are great competitors in dog sports such as obedience, rally, flyball, agility, and herding trials.
Croatian Shepherd socialization
Like any other breed, the Croatian Sheepdog needs early socialization. These dogs can become quite shy and if you want to avoid having a shy dog you should start the socialization process as soon as your Croatian Sheepdog puppy arrives at your household. Expose your new puppy to different situations, sights, people, sounds, and other dogs so your new puppy can learn how to properly handle themselves in any situation.
Croatian Sheepdog and children
Shepherding dogs are usually good with a bit of older children that understand how they have to approach and interact with dogs. They have plenty of energy and can play with your kids for hours and hours and not get tired or bored.
As with other herding breeds, they can have a tendency to herd children so you will need to teach them as soon as possible how to behave around children. No matter what the breed is, dogs should always be supervised while playing with children.
Croatian Sheepdogs have a life expectancy of 13-14years. They are generally healthy dogs but they can be prone to some health problems. These problems include:
- Patella luxation
- Hip dysplasia
To be sure that your dog will not develop any inherited diseases we advise you to only buy it from a responsible and official dog breeder. Those breeders regularly perform various health tests on their breeding dogs so they can be sure that their puppies will not develop inherited problems.
If you believe this is the best choice for you and you decide to get one of these dogs, make sure you get yours from a reputable and responsible Croatian Sheepdog breeder. Most of the quality breeders can be found in their native country of Croatia and be prepared for waiting. This is not a wildly popular breed so you might be forced to wait a bit.
Ask the breeder as many questions as possible and ask for advice about this breed. They have spent a large portion of their life with these dogs and should be able to tell you knowledgable things about this breed. A good breeder will help you make an informed decision about getting one of these dogs.
World Dog Finder team