East European Shepherd
Breed Traits & Characteristics
Generally considered dogkind’s finest all-purpose worker, the East European Shepherd is a large, agile, muscular dog of noble character and high intelligence. Loyal, confident, courageous, and steady, the East European Shepherd is truly a dog lover’s delight. East European Shepherd can stand as high as 26 inches at the shoulder and, when viewed in outline, presents a picture of smooth, graceful curves rather than angles. The natural gait is a free-and-easy trot, but they can turn it up a notch or two and reach great speeds. There are many reasons why East European Shepherd stand in the front rank of canine royalty, but experts say their defining attribute is character: loyalty, courage, confidence, the ability to learn commands for many tasks, and the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones. East European Shepherd will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians, but, the breed standard says, there’s a ‘certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.
Name: East-European Shepherd
Other names: Byelorussian Ovcharka, Vostochnoevropejskaya Ovcharka, VEO
Origin: Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Europe
Size: Large to Giant
Type: Cross Breed
Life span: 10-14 years
Male: 26-30 inches (66-76 cm)
Female: 24-28 inches (61-72 cm)
Male: 77–132 pounds (35–60 kg)
Female: 66–110 pounds (30–50 kg)
Colors: Black, Black & Tan, Blue, White
Litter Size: 4-10 puppies
Temperament: The East European Shepherd breed is strong-nerved, fearless, self-assured, self-composed, confident, watchful, poised, and alert when necessary. He should never be timid, shy, nervous, anxious, or overly fearful (including fear-aggressive). He is expected to permit neutral and friendly interactions between his family, owner, handler, and others; however, he himself is not overly friendly, and may even be a bit aloof to strangers. The breed is physically capable of speed, power, agility, and endurance, and he is self-aware enough to know his capabilities and limits. This offers him a great deal of confidence. The East European Shepherd is an extremely intelligent breed, capable of learning and discerning many tasks and activities. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
The breed was created in 1930-1950s as a working dog adapted for service in the Army and police as guard dogs and sniffer dogs in various climatic conditions. It was the result of crossbreeding German Shepherds with Russian dog breeds, such as the Caucasian Shepherd, the Central Asian Shepherd. Modern East-European Shepherd DNA bears both – traces of East Siberian Laika dogs and some lines of German Shepherds that had been inherited by the Russian Army from territory in Germany at the end of World War II. The first standard which has formed the breed type of East European Shepherd was approved in 1964 by the Cynological Council of the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR.
The EES is intelligent and loves having a job of work to do. This makes him highly trainable with the correct motivation. However, his natural strength of character will make him challenge for leadership and need a special sort of handling.
As with all dogs, reward-based training methods are most appropriate, where the dog learns to think through problems in order to get praise or a treat. This can be done in a firm but fair way, so that the dog listens to his owner and doesn’t try to take advantage. But this isn’t simply a matter of training the dog and job done, because obedience training should be on-going and continuous throughout the dog’s lifespan in order to provide vital mental stimulation and remind him who is in charge.
The East European shepherd is overall a healthy breed, with a couple of notable exceptions. Unfortunately, the German Shepherd heritage shows through in the EES with a tendency to develop hip and/or elbow dysplasia.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Dysplasia refers to poorly formed joint anatomy, in this case affecting the hips and/or elbows. This is a genetic condition where the parent dogs had genes coding for poor anatomy. In later years, the scale of this disabling problem was recognised and screening of parent dogs actively encouraged, so that only dogs with sound joints are used for breeding future generations.
Unfortunately, for pups that inherited badly shaped joints, the latter are prone to inflammation and cause pain when the dog exercises. In the short term, the dog may be lame or limp, have difficulty performing actions such as jumping up, or he may stop during exercise. In the long term, that constant inflammation can lead to joint remodelling and premature arthritis setting in. For some dogs, this can be disabling and impair their enjoyment of life, which is all the more heart-breaking because this can happen to young dogs.
Management of hip or elbow dysplasia means careful guardianship of the pup’s activity levels whilst his bones are still maturing. It’s important to avoid excessive tiredness, since the muscles supporting the joints then become less supportive and joint damage becomes more likely.
In addition, giving a joint supplement or nutraceutical regularly can help to protect the joint surfaces. Dogs with mild dysplasia can often be managed with rest and pain-relieving medications, however, those most seriously affected may need radical surgery, including specialist replacement joint surgery.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the East European Shepherd and coat care. First, the good news: He doesn’t need trips to the grooming parlour and his coat is unlikely to become knotted or unkempt. But, the bad news is that his thick undercoat has to be shed, and when this happens it causes a veritable fur-storm around the house. Regular brushing can help reduce the amount of fur shed on the carpets and soft-furnishings, but even then be prepared for drifts of fur lurking in the corners of the room.
Again, the East European Shepherd’s coat is designed to look after itself and requires little by way of bathing or shampooing. Indeed, frequent washing will destroy the natural balance of oils that weatherproof the coat against wind and rain, and is therefore best avoided.