The Croatian Sheepdog is a natural herding and gathering breed used to manage cattle, pigs and even horses in the plains of Slavonia and Croatia. With farms and ranches fast dwindling in this region and livestock moving indoors, this breed now doubles up as a pet and watchdog in urban localities.
The name of this breed pretty much sums up its origin and purpose. The Sheepdog was introduced into Croatia by early shepherds, who migrated here early in the 14th century. The characteristic look, temperament and function of the Croatian Sheepdog has hardly undergone any changes with time, thanks to the systematic breeding program carried out in the Djakovo region by Dr. Stjepan Romic in 1936.
Intelligent, active, and acclimatised to the close presence of humans and livestock, this enthusiastic and loyal herding companion is quite responsive to trainers and owners. Like other herding and gathering breeds, lack of activity, personal attention and loneliness can trigger loud barking and destructive aggression. Always on high-alert, the Croatian Sheepdog must be made comfortable with the environs to avoid false alarms and respond to real dangers.
He gets along quite amicably with families and pets; however, can get bossy at times.
Croatian Sheepdogs grow up to 21” in height and can weigh up to 20 kg. The average lifespan of this breed is about 14 years. With a characteristic black colour and a tad of white on the chest, a wedge-shaped head, fox-like short hair on the face and legs, rectangular broad-chested body with tucked tummy, pricked or slack ears, and a bushy tail carried high when alert, Sheepdogs move with a brisk trot.
Health and Care
Genetically, a healthy breed that can survive harsh outdoor weather conditions, the Croatian Sheepdog adapts well to its surroundings. Regular bath and combing is, however, needed to keep the coat in good condition. While the hair on the head and limbs are quite short, it tends to grow longer in other parts of the body. Moderate shedding is common.
This breed is relatively easier to groom and care for.
The training needs of the Croatian Sheepdog aren’t that demanding, especially when raised as a pet in urban settings. Regular exercises, loads of activity and adequate moving space can keep the pet quite happy, even in modern apartments.
Additional care, however, is required to cater to the breed’s innate herding and protective tendencies. Croatian Sheepdogs reportedly can identify each head of cattle in the herd; such is their level of intelligence. Always in eye contact with its master and ready for the next command, these loyal dogs (especially older ones) may need a lot of time to adjust to a new setting and master/trainer.
Croatian Sheepdogs exert control by means of a hard grip on their charges, which invariably doesn’t cause any serious wounds. Allowing pups to train with older dogs can speed up the learning process. Again, firm, yet gentle training yields best results. Socialisation is a must for the Croatian Sheepdog to distinguish between normal and suspect behaviour in humans.
Slack and casual attitude in training the Croatian Sheepdog can result in a hyper-active, wary, noisy and stubborn pet that tries to dominate. They make excellent participants in sporting events for canines.
The Croatian Sheepdog, when trained aptly and in close human company, makes an excellent pet and protective guard dog that can alert or respond in a timely manner to ward off any potential intrusions or attacks.