Origin of caucasian mountain dog (ovcharka)
Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) is the earliest dog breed, whose sources are lost in the boundless past.
If we accept the theory of the great etholog Conrad Lorenz about the “jackal” and “wolf” origin of different breeds, then the Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) is the brightest representative of the second group: it inherited from its ancient ancestor independence, love for freedom, fearlessness and spite.
Undoubtedly, the direct ancestors of Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) is the Tibetan mastiff (The Thibet dog), described in 1845 by Youatt. And although many specialists are irritated by this theme (let us note – valid irritation, since this theme already to set smb.’s teeth on edge), we cannot but note the obvious similarity, which exists between the “reconstructed” Tibetan mastiff and the Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka).
After arriving from the east, ancient dogs extended along the enormous territory, where they were used as combat and shepherd – guard. Unfortunately, many do not entirely accurately understand the difference between the shepherd dogs and strictly sheepdogs. Additional confusion introduced the reckoning of the same Caucasian to sheepdogs.
And actually, a “sheepdog” (Schaferhunde) – German, Scottish, Shelti, Bullets and others – are dogs of European origin, which do not have such an ancient history, have undergone most serious changes under the action of man, or completely created with him for the specific purpose. This purpose is the control of herd. It is understandable that this work can be better carried out by a middle-sized, mobile, contact and obedient dog.
Shepherd dogs (Hirtenhunde – Ger., Woolfhound – Eng.) have an early origin and their basic function is the protection of herd from the predators and “bad people”. They underwent little human selection and they are characterized by imposing sizes, spite, independence. What is also understandable – only such dogs can resist the extremely serious enemies, such as strange people and wild beasts.
After conducting the “line” from the Tibetan mastiff to contemporary dogs, we can note that the “mastiff-like” are divided into three large groups:
- true shepherd dogs, or wolfhounds;
- true short-haired mastiffs;
- long-haired mastiffs.
The first, most ancient, include Caucasian and Central Asian “shepherd dogs”, Anatolian Karabash, Bulgarian Goran, Czechoslovak wolfhound, maremma, etc.
The second include strictly the mastiffs – Bordeaux, German, etc., and also mastiffs (English, Spanish, etc.), mastino, bullmastiffs, etc.
And finally the third group includes well known St. Bernards and Newfoundland dogs.
It is remarkable, that the representatives of the first and second groups even could resist each other during the military actions. For example, during the wars of the Armenian tsar of Tigran II with Romans (I century B.C.).
And the uniqueness of the Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) consists in the fact that it practically did not change since then! But indeed since then have passed more than thousand years.
Livestock of Caucasian Mountain dogs (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dogs, Sheepdogs, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) was formed in the territory between the Black and Caspian seas, and it is possible to say that the breed as a whole – these are ancient dogs, that acquired specific features under the action of the conditions (first of all, climatic) of this region. It is possible to be convinced in this, after comparing our “domestic” shepherd dogs – Caucasian and Central Asian.
In the states of the Caucasus the dogs were valued very highly. For example, the image of the head of a Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) decorated the coats of arms of some Georgian grand dukes. Ancient Armenians had a cult of dogs – Aralez. On the legend about Ara the Excellent these sacred dogs by order of tsarina Shamiram (Semiramidy) licked the wounds of the dead Ara in order to resurrect him. This legend raises by roots even to the wars of Transcaucasian state Urartu against Assirii of the times IX-VI B.C. (Taymakin, Moiseyenko, Bushnyak. “Caucasian and Central Asian shepherd dogs (ovcharka, sheepdogs) in the Crimea”, Tyumen’, 1999).
Is probably, appropriately to make a small retreat here. Since the discussion deals with the periods of the human history, the information about which is fragmentary and is not always precise, it is hardly possible to speak with confidence about the specific creators of Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka).
As one of ” nontraditional ” points of view we can give the following opinion:
Already in our days Armenian historian Suren Aivazyan, more than forty years studied the common Indo-European roots of the origin of Russian and Armenian peoples, he focused attention in its total labor ” the history of Russia: Armenian track ” (M., 1907), that the term “Rus”, which is frequently encountered in the ancient-Armenian cuneiform, also indicates “light-brown” in the sense “light-haired”.
S. M. Aivazyan analyzed entire summary of data, concerning the propagation in Transcaucasia of names and names with the root “Rus”. As is known, in the ancient state Urartu even in the times of the bloom of Assyrian power guided the entire dynasty of tsars with the name of Rusa, and one of the cities, which was, as it is possible to assume, for a while the capital, it was called Rusain (Ruthenian). Armenian researcher, specialist in the ancient texts, explains, that the cuneiform sign “sa” had also monotonous vocalization and alphabetical- literal expression. In that case the names of Urartian tsars are read as by the Rus I, Rus II and Rus III. S. M. Aivazyan defends the “araratsky concept” of the origin of Slavs and Armenians. Their joint location in the deep antiquity in South Transcaucasia does not completely contradict the theory of polar original homeland of Indo-European peoples and other peoples of the peace. Simply in some interval of time the Caucasus became a unique “gates” for the migratory advance of peoples from the north to the south. But if protos-Armenian forever remained in the region, whose symbol became the mountain Ararat, then for the protos-Slav this region became only one of the transportation terminal points of their wandering in the Near East and the Mediterranean were before they finally based in the places of present settling.
As we see, Slavs possibly have even more foundations for considering Caucasians “domestic” dogs, than we themselves became accustomed to consider.
Following evolution stage of Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) covers middle VIII – beginning XX c. At this time humanity begins to intensively develop all possible technical equipment and adaptations, communication and transport.
Until this time the Caucasians lived in relative isolation and were developed by the methods of the so-called people selection. And, it is necessary to say that therefore the Caucasian remained all the same terrible guarding dog, whose amazing characteristics proved to be claimed in the new time.
150 years ago began the conquest of the Caucasus by Russia. At this time the Caucasians were successfully used as guard (protection of convoys, camps) both in the Russian and in the Turkish armies during the Russo-Turkish Wars. Moreover, they were used and as valuable combat units. Examples of the work of these dogs the lieutenant of the Turkish army Noury Halil. In the Russian army these dogs were introduced by special order for the protection of all fortresses of theater of military operations (company 1765-1774).
In the 30s years of the XX century Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) obtains world renown. Exhibition in Nuremberg, where these dogs were demonstrated for the first time, became hit in the cynology world. About this testify the opinions about Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka), which received nicknames “Red giants”.
But hard time in the history of our native land could not but be reflected in the breed. Already in 30s years were heard voices about the disastrous state of the aboriginal sheep dogs of the Caucasus…. In 1934 Koshelev and Timamuk in the work “Shepherd – watch dogs in the state farms of North-Caucasian region and dog breeding of Armenia” wrote:
“The sad picture is the business of breeding dogs. There almost no bitches and young ones …
On their exterior qualities the dogs are the rejected material.
… The valuable canine economy of many regions of Armenia is completely ruined. If earlier the height of Caucasian sheep dog reached 70 cm, then now the height of the majority of dogs was equal to 55 cm”, we read in the book by Kalinin, Ivanova and Morozova “The domestic breeds of the attack dogs of Asian origin” (Moscow, 1992).
The situation was aggravated by the violent deportation of Caucasian peoples and the development of the communications, which contributed to the cross-breeding of Caucasian Mountain dogs (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dogs, Sheepdogs, Kavkazskaya ovcharka), World War II.
But, thank god, Caucasian did not understand the fate of Mongolian and Kirghiz shepherd dogs.
Because of professors Ilina and Bogolyubsky, and also Vaysman and Mazover, it was possible not only to describe caucasian shepherd dogs (mountain dogs, caucasian ovcharka, sheepdogs, kavkazskaya ovcharka), but also to preserve.
Up to 70s these dogs appear at the exhibitions, and then in the history of the breed begins the “new time” – the period of pedigree breeding.
In 1988 in Ilinskiy the first All-Union exhibition of the attack dogs of domestic breeds took place. There appeared the centers of breeding of Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) in Leningrad, Dnepropetrovsk, Kiev, Moscow, Donetsk and many other cities. The goal-directed work is conducted in the kennels “Red Star”, “AZLK”, “Moscow meat-packing plant” and many others.
In the book V. Tyan “To the ring they are caused…” (Moscow, 1990) it is reported that: “now the breed is in reliable hands, by attention and concern surrounded these dogs in the Ukraine, where are concentrated the basic nucleus of the breed”.
But to the fate of the Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) fell out one additional testing – testing by unprecedented popularity.
In 1993-1995 there was created such impression, that with the Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) are occupied decisively all…. It is difficult even to determine the degree of damage in these years of multiplication!
But the breed survived. It did survive predominantly because of its unique properties – viability, healthy heredity.
What is Caucasian Mountain dog (Caucasian ovcharka, Shepherd dog, Sheepdog, Kavkazskaya ovcharka) today?
Acknowledged in the entire world (mono-breed associations – clubs exist in many European countries, USA and Canada), that composes the subject of the national pride of cynologists of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the breed continues its development.
And although it can seem from the side that the Caucasian shepherd dog (mountain dog, caucasian ovcharka, sheepdog, kavkazskaya ovcharka) goes through not a better time, in the breed occur healthy and necessary processes.
Having passed (with losses, but passed!) the pedigree sensation, the kinologist selectionists obtained the opportunity to quietly work, after freeing its numbers from the ” businessmen “, with unclean hand.
Probably, today it is actually possible to say that the breed is in reliable hands.