DRAFT: Caucasian Shepherd LGD*: Legit agri focus or puppy farm cash crop?

3/13/2021 Draft Article thank you Kc for showing me the need to write. Will expand and update over time.

Caucasian Shepherd LGD*: Legit agri program, staged hobby photos, or puppy farm cash crop?  

Caucasian Shepherd FCI#328, quoting from the BREED STANDARD “Selection work with the breed started in the USSR in the 1920s. Obligatory qualities such as physical power, self-confidence, fearlessness, sharply developed hearing, good sight, and a dense and waterproof coat have been cultivated in the process of selection.”  Starting 100 years ago, using landrace dogs from the Caucasus, Russians cultivated a BREED for enclosed territory protection against humans, the social need of the time and on patrol with a human handler.  Today the Caucasian Shepherd BREED in Russia is primarily used as a home and estate guardian, works in Russian prisons, and is subject to bite work on decoy protection testing.  While still considered within the Flockguard genre, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs may exhibit more prey drive than their counterparts in longstanding strictly LGD breeds such as Anatolian Shepherds, Great Pyrenees and more prey drive than their native Russian breed counterpart Central Asian Shepherd Dogs.  The Caucasian Shepherd BREED today is hugely powerful, tough on fence with the instinct to keep human strangers out of the protected area.  Working closely with humans for the past century has produced dogs that may enjoy human companionship over that of a flock.

Some Caucasian Shepherds accept livestock within their enclosed territory.  Some Caucasian Shepherds exhibit aforementioned prey drive that proves problematic with stock.  In the US are photos of dogs with livestock and upstart Caucasian Shepherd breeders claiming they are breeding working LGD for big bucks.  Here are some tips to distinguish what is real and what is not:

-Be aware of the HOBBY STAGED PHOTOS.  Dogs may be photographed laying with chickens or goats but some of these same dogs actually sleep in the house or rip down chain link to leave property at every opportunity.  What are the dogs are doing 24/7?  A livestock guardian dog (LGD) is a dog type bred for the purpose of protecting livestock from predators. Livestock guardian dogs stay with the group of animals they protect as a full-time member of the flock or herd.  A cow in the backyard does not make for a true working LGD. Kenneled dogs and part time house dogs are not working LGD.  Also, be aware of “outlier” dogs and fantasy tales of farm dogs that need no fence, magically understand boundaries, and are never aggressive to human strangers.  These outlier characteristics are not typical for the BREED and relying on these fantastic tales when selecting a dog for your situation can prove devastating.  The hobbyists with a backyard herd and a camera are enjoying their animals often not realizing the limitations or that postings can mislead.  Puppies from part-time farm dogs may succeed in similar situations but Red Flag for buyers needing a 24/7 true LGD.

-Distinguishing LEGIT AGRI PROGRAM  from PUPPY FARM CASH CROP can be tricky because of breeder super salesmanship and commercial level photography.  You be the judge.  Here are some lines of inquiry:

Research the breeder’s address to determine the actual size of breeder farm/ranch.  The US sees 5acre lots with multiple breeds of dogs claimed as ranch dog raising operations.  You be the judge.

How many dogs are on the property per heads of stock?  If more dogs than livestock what is the predator pressure for the alleged working LGD to test the working merits?  Are the working dogs mature?  Full temperament maturity in Caucasian Shepherds is reached after 3 years.  Are puppies being bred from yearling dogs?  Are puppies raised with stock?  Are puppies raised with stock from purported expert coyote killers then sold to pet homes ? (Anyone with cash will suffice?).  On the flip side, does it make sense that dogs not raised with stock be sold as working LGD?  You be the judge.

 Does the Breeder inquire of the shopper their specific LGD needs?  Does the Breeder review the fencing requirements?  Does the Breeder claim a cheap Petco e-fence will fail safe contain a Breed that still guards Russian prisons?  Does the Breeder inquire how potential aggression toward humans will be managed?  Does the Breeder inquire how potential prey drive will be managed?  Aside from the references from some owners, does the breeder disclose the percentage of FAILED LGD PLACEMENTS?  What about the fails of selling out purported LGD to pet homes?  No program is 100% on placement success, pets, estate security or LGD.  Lack of honest discussion on Success/Fail is a Red Flag.  Blaming all Fails on owners is also a Red Flag.  Does the breeder A) Microchip their puppies B)Register the chip in public databases and C) Include their name and contact information on the chip so they can be identified if a dog is picked up as a stray or lands in Rescue?  Does the Breeder take back their failed placements?

Does the Breeder explain why, when there are so many great LGD dogs from LGD breeds such as Anatolian Shepherds, Great Pyrenees, Maremma etc. that bond with the flock and live happily living remote from owner, costing under $1000,  that you should plunk down $2000plus for a Caucasian Shepherd instead?  There’s long haired Anatolians so the shaggy coat of the Caucasian Shepherd is not a unique characteristic.  Anatolian Shepherds overall have better orthopedics than Caucasian Shepherds.  So why?  You be the judge.

Does the Breeder breed from registered dogs? (FCI, UKC or recorded AKCFSS?).  If not, how does the breeder know the dogs are even Caucasian Shepherds and not AnatolianxPyr mixes or other?

Does the Breeder health test their breeding dogs with results available?  How can Legit Agri Programs start with provable healthy dogs especially orthopedics and heart?   Publishing healthy legacy without the actual health testing is misleading.  Health testing doesn’t guarantee a healthy puppy but it does stack the deck in favor of health.  Are farm breeders who refuse to spend money (profits) on testing just breeding as a cash crop?  You be the judge.

To be continued.  Meanwhile, check out the links below:

*LGD = Livestock Guardian Dog

BREED Standard


Article: What is a Breed, why does it matter?


Article: A Perspective for the United States


Article: Backyard breeder