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Last updated:
August 12, 2013




Breed Standard
of the
Caucasian Ovcharka


The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) Standard #328 is the current world standard for the Caucasian Ovtcharka and closely mirrors the standard set by the Russian Kynological Federation (RKF), the national Breed Club of origin.

Secretariat Generale: E 13 Place Albert IE-E B 6530 Thuni (Belg.)


Standard for the Caucasian Ovcharka
(Caucasian Sheepdog, Kavkaskaya Ovtcharka, Kauffkasiche Schafferhnde Caucasian Shepherd)
From the Official United Kennel Club Breed Standard / FCI Breed Standard
(And from United Kennel Club Breed Standard Copyright 2008, United Kennel Club, Inc.)

Country of Origin: Russia, former Soviet Union

The Caucasian Ovcharka is a powerful, athletic dog, strongly muscled and heavily boned in proportion to height. The head is large, wedged-shaped, and tapered slightly to a blunt muzzle with high-set ears which may be cropped. Eyes are deep-set and oval shaped. The thick tail hangs down to the hock but may be carried above the back as a sickle-shaped hook or ring when the dog is excited or moving. Three coat lengths are accepted, all double-coated and thick. Coat colors include shades of agouti gray, fawn, and reddish, often with a dark mask, sometimes with white markings. Solid white dogs with dark pigmentation occur occasionally in the breed. Gender differences are well expressed in this breed. Males are more massive and more powerful; females are smaller and lighter in build. Honorable scars resulting from field work are not to be penalized.
Powerful appearance with solid bone structure and strong musculature. The skin is thick but elastic.

Strong and balanced with a calm nature. Revealing a good defense reaction, which will be used if necessary. Typically ferocious towards, and distrustful of strangers. Caucasians are spirited, intelligent, strong-willed guardian dogs. While gentle and demonstrative with family members, the Caucasian's active defense reaction and strong territorial instincts make this breed very suspicious of strange people or dogs. They are steady and even-tempered but will protect their flock, family and property from danger - real or perceived - with lightning-quick speed. The Caucasian Ovcharka has keen senses, so they are very alert and good trackers. Any change in their surroundings can result in warning barks and growls, particularly at night. The breed is slow to mature and headstrong. Socialization and patient training techniques can be used to temper the Caucasian Ovcharka's characteristic suspicion and aggressiveness toward strange people and dogs, resulting in a mature dogs with good judgment. This breed is hardy and able to adapt to a wide range of climates.
Serious Faults: Fearfulness; sluggishness.

Ever watchful and on guard

Well revealed. Males are larger and more solid. Bitches are smaller and have a slighter build. Height at withers must not be under 65 cm for dogs. Bitches should not be under 62 cm.

The fur is natural and coarse with a strongly developed, lighter color undercoat. On the head and on the front sides of the limbs, the hair is shorter and close fitting. The coat is divided into three types:
  1) Longhaired: Longer top hair. The long hair forms a type of mane on the neck and shoulders. Well-developed "pants" especially on the back side of the leg are thick and feathered. Long hair covers the entire tail giving it a thick and bushy appearance.
  2) Shorthaired: Thick, relatively short hair without mane. No feathers on the haunches, back of legs or tail.
  3) A variety which is a cross between the above mentioned types. Longhaired but without mane, feathers on the haunch, underside and without bushy tail.


CO showing a beautiful
short coat:
 thick but little or no feathering

Medium length coat

Color: Various grays (from almost black to light fawn gray), rust colored, reddish, straw (fulvous), yellow, white, earth-colored, brindled, as well as spotted and piebald, with or without white markings on chest, belly, legs and tail tip. If solid-colored, the black mask is highly desired.


Blonde or Straw-colored "Fulvous"
(Showing the distinctive black mask)




Piebald puppy


Combination: Rust/Grey/White

All White


The head is large, with a broad skull and strongly developed cheek bones. Viewed from the top, the gradually tapering skull and muzzle form a one-piece, blunt wedge shape. The stop is slightly defined and not abrupt. The width of the head is emphasized by dense coat that stands away from the sides of the jaws. The male head is more massive than that of the female witch is more refined.
Faults: Head disproportionately light or narrow; abrupt or insufficient stop.
Skull: The skull is flat, broad, and divided by a slight median furrow.
Muzzle: the muzzle is shorter than half the length of the head, but powerful and well filled in under the eyes. It tapers slightly to the nose. The topline of the muzzle is parallel to the topline of the skull. The blunt end of the muzzle is formed by thick, dry lips tightly covering a powerful lower jaw. Lip pigment is black.
Faults: Snippy muzzle; muzzle too short or too long; pendulous lips; drooling.
Teeth: The jaw provides ample space for a full compliment of large, evenly spaced, white teeth meeting in a scissors bite. The line of the incisors is straight and perpendicular to the outside lines of the jaw. Canines are large and long.
Nose: Large, wide and black. It is permissible for the nose to be brown if the dog is white or light-colored. Black nose leather and eye rims are preferred.
Eyes: Dark, medium size, and oval shaped. They are set slightly obliquely and deeply under the brow. The tight, dry eyelids are rimmed with black pigment.
Faults: Light eyes, eyes of two different colors.
Ears: Cropped or uncropped. The high-set ears are typically cropped in what is known as the "shepherd's crop." The ear flap is removed horizontally and bluntly close to the head. If uncropped, the ears are high set, triangular shaped and hang tight to the head. The outer margin of the ear should not be located below the level of the eyes.

Female This young male shows the "bear" appearance


Muzzle is shorter than the forehead, tapered into the lips

Very powerful and short. Not carried high, but at an angle of 30 - 40 degrees to line of the back. The length of the neck from occiput to withers, should be about equal to the length of the head from occiput to the tip of the nose. Throatiness should be discouraged.
Faults: Neck too long or too weak; dewlap.

The shoulder is moderately laid back, forming, with the upper arm, an angle of about 100 degrees. Forelegs, when viewed from the front are straight, well-boned and set parallel and well apart. Then length of the front leg (measured from the point of the elbow to the ground) should be slightly more than one-half of the dog's height (measured at the withers). The pasterns are short, strong, verticle and when viewed from the side, very slightly sloping. Circumference of the pasterns ranges from 5-1/2 to 6-3/4 inches in mature males and from 5 to 6 inches in mature females.
Serious Faults: Straight shoulders; crooked or fine forelegs; out at elbows; down at pasterns.
Paws should be large, oval, firm, domed and well closed, with short nails.

The proportion of the length of body vs height at the withers is 100:108. The ribs are well sprung and let down to, or slightly below, the elbows. The chest is broad and deep, somewhat domed. The line of the back inclines very slightly downward from broad, muscular, prominent withers to a strong, broad back with a straight upper line. The loin is short, broad, and slightly arched. The croup is broad, long, muscular and nearly flat. Tuck-up is moderate. The skin is thick and elastic.
Faults: Shallow or narrow chest; long loin; swayback; roached loin; narrow or steep croup; high in the rear.

Proportion of the perimeter of the pastern vs. the height at the withers = Males 21 - 22; females 20 - 22.

The proportion of the length of the body vs. the height at the withers is 100 - 108.

Seen from the front, straight and parallel to one another, when seen from the side. Knee joint somewhat stretched out. Short lower leg. Powerful ankle joint which is wide and somewhat stretched. The metatarsus is solid. While standing, hind legs should not brace backwards. A vertical line should run from the buttocks towards the middle of the ankle joints to the metacarpus. Rear paws are typically somewhat smaller than forepaws, but should be large, oval and firm, domed and well closed with short nails. No dewclaw.

Set high and, if hanging, reaches the ankle joint. Able to curl over the back; may be hook-shaped when carried low. Cropped tail is permissible only on dogs of foreign registry.

The tail, if hanging reaches the ankle joint

The beautiful plume of a tail is often set high, curled over the back

Free, balanced, elastic. At a walk or trot, the hindquarters may appear slightly higher than the forequarters. A typical gait is a short trot, which breaks into a somewhat ungainly gallop with acceleration. The limbs must move in a parallel manner in a straight line with the front legs tending to move towards the middle. The joints of the front and back limbs stretch slightly. The croup and the small of the back spring smoothly. The withers and the croup should stay on the level while trotting. The back should be solid and without sag or sway.

Correct gait for the Caucasian Ovcharka


Minor Faults - Slightly over-developed physique. Lethargy in character. In adult dogs, a temperament that is friendly or trusting toward strangers. Lack of definition in gender, i.e. bitch-type males, masculine females. Fine, wavy hair without undercoat. Black, black-flecked and brown colors in various combinations. A head which is not sufficiently wide or solid, too strongly domed or too steep; flat in the forehead. Short or elongated nose. Lips which are not firmly closed and do not hang over. Low set, uncropped ears. Light colored eyes. Strongly hanging lower eyelids. Wear and tear of the teeth, which does not correspond to the age of the dog; discolored teeth. Broken teeth which do not hinder a proper bite; loss of no more than two of the first premolars or one of the first and one of the second premolars. Overlong or weak neck. Somewhat flatted out chest where bottom line does not reach the height of the elbow. Too strongly tucked up or sagging abdomen. Weakly developed withers, which are not separated from the back. A back, which is weak, dome-shaped or thin. Croup that is not muscular enough or drops off. Small differences regarding the shoulder angulation (front limbs). Somewhat shortened or elongated forearm; elbows which turn slightly outward. Feet turned slightly outward while in motion to strong curved pasterns. When viewed from behind, hind limbs which are not completely parallel. Standing: hind limbs that are slightly knock-kneed or bowlegged; both legs wide apart or too close together in a standing position. Too flat, too high backside. Weak or stretched paws. Deviations from normal gait: turning inward or outward; not stretching joints enough. Unbalanced or rough movement of the back and small of the back while trotting. Raised croup; slight swinging of the croup; swinging of the buttocks.
Major Faults - Too slight or bloated physique. Severe deviations from given size. Height of withers under 65 cm (males), 62 cm (females). Any display in the ring of timidity or cowardice; an apathetic dog; not of guardian character. Strong deviation in gender type; males closely fitting model of bitches. Cryptorchid or monorchid male. Fine, wavy hair; without undercoat. An all black coat, or black spotted and brown colors in various combinations; a red or red and white color. An insubstantial head with pointed muzzle; snub nose; a head that is not in balance with the general physique. Two different colored eyes; hanging lower eyelids that partially reveal the sclera. Small, fine or underdeveloped teeth; incisors not lined up; loss of third or fourth premolar, or a molar; severely damaged enamel. Flat, narrow, or otherwise underdeveloped chest. Back long, sagging, or humpbacked in any part. Croup too thin, or short, or a croup that drops off steeply. Straight or pointed shoulders; crooked or fine-boned forearms; elbows jutting strongly outward. Throwing of the feet towards the outside while walking, bowlegged; one or both front legs. Strong deviation from being parallel. Totally straight backside, croup too high. Spread-out or flat paws. Inhibited gait; clumsy while trotting; croup carried high to the withers; brusque on and off the croup while trotting; ambling.

Any deviations from the solely permissible scissors bite. Monorchid or cryptorchid male. Male dogs must show two visibly normal testicles which lie well in the scrotum. Underdeveloped prostrate glands.  Loss of canine tooth or incisor. Loss of a third or fourth premolar or molar, Any show of extreme timidity or cowardice in the adult dog shall be deemed a disqualification.





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