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|The Bukovina Sheepdog at a Glance|
|Other names||Ciobanesc Romanesc de Bucovina, Ciobanesc de Bucovina, Romanian Bukovina Shepherd, Bukovina Wolfdog, Bukovinac, Bucovina Sheepdog, Southeastern European Shepherd|
|Average size||Large to giant|
|Average weight||70 to 120 pounds|
|Average height||25 to 31 inches|
|Life span||10 to 15 years|
|Coat type||Thick, harsh outercoat – dense and soft undercoat|
|Color||Clear white or white-beige with distinct patches of grey, black or black with red-fawn reflections|
|Popularity||Not a registered member of the AKC|
|Tolerance to heat||Moderate to good|
|Tolerance to cold||Very good|
|Shedding||Moderate to heavy – there will be hair around the home, sometimes a lot of it|
|Drooling||Above average to high – will need wiping a few times a day|
|Obesity||Average – as long as you do not over feed it, and it gets enough activity it should be fine|
|Grooming/brushing||High – daily brushing required|
|Barking||Average – are good watchdog and will bark to warn of possible danger|
|Exercise needs||High – need active owners|
|Trainability||Moderately difficult – experience needed|
|Friendliness||Good – wary of strangers due to being bred as watchdogs|
|Good first dog||No – require an experienced owner|
|Good family pet||Very good with socialization|
|Good with children||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Moderate – needs socialization and supervision|
|Good with other pets||Good – if socialized/raised with the other pets|
|Good with strangers||Moderate – can be protective and thus aloof|
|Good apartment dog||Low – needs space and a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Good – can handle some alone time|
|Health issues||Quite a healthy breed, some issues include joint dysplasia and bloat|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for pet insurance and basic health care|
|Food expenses||$270 a year for high quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$245 a year for basic training, license, toys and miscellaneous items|
|Average annual expenses||$1000 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1,000|
|Rescue organizations||None breed specific – look to local shelters and rescues|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Bukovina Sheepdog’s Beginnings
The Bukovina Sheepdog was developed in the northeast of Romania in the Carpathian Mountains in a region called Bucovina, hence the name as well as in northeastern Serbia and some Bulgarian regions. It is thought to be descended from a blend of various types of Mastiffs and was first recorded as being seen in the 1700s though it could be older, there are no records. It was developed to guard sheep, cattle and work for the shepherds and people living in rural areas. It needed to have courage, intelligence, be hard working and ready to take on large and dangerous predators like wolves and bears. As well as its guard and herding duties it was also kept in households as a companion and watchdog.
New Lease on Life
While it is not well known outside of its mountains locally breeders have started giving more attention to this dog. It is still used as a herd and guard dog and the first standard for it was written in 1982. Then in 1987 the FCI General Assembly from Jerusalem established a model and in 2001 the standard was updated by the Romanian Kennel Club (the Asociatia Chinologica Romana). Most of the Bukovina Sheepdogs today can be found in Romania. It is not yet accepted though by the AKC.
The Dog You See Today
The Bukovina is a large to giant sized purebred weighing 70 to 120 pounds and stands 25 to 31 inches tall. It is a muscular and powerful breed but is also agile not heavy. Its build is square shaped with a long muscular neck, a broad chest and a tail that is set high, bushy and held up when it is alert, and low when it is relaxed. It has thick grey skin and a double coat that is coarse, rough, straight on the outer and dense and soft on the inner. Its length changes with it being longer on the body and on the back of legs and then shorter on the front of the legs and the head and face. It has hair that forms a mane on the neck and usual colors are white, black, grey, brindle and sand.
This dog’s head is wolf like and large with a strong cone shaped muzzle that tapers, and then ends in a wide black nose. The skull is broad and they have powerful jaws with thick lips. Its eyes are small considering the size of their head and are almond shaped and dark brown, chestnut or hazel in color. The ears are set high and are v shaped, hang down close to its cheeks and have rounded tips.
The Inner Bukovina Sheepdog
The Bukovina Sheepdog is alert and makes a great watchdog. It will bark to let you know of an intruder and its strong protective instincts mean it is likely to act to defend you and the home too. Its barking is deep and loud and at a low tone that can be heard from long distances so think about your neighbors! It is wary with strangers and very territorial. However it is not aggressive unless there is a threat, at which point it is bold and brave. When raised well the dog is calm, balanced and devoted to its family but it is important its owner is firm with and a consistent leader.
From its time out protecting the herds it may do night time patrols around the home. It is hardworking and loyal and usually bonds very closely with its family. Over recent years it has become more popular as just a companion dog in Romania because of its mellow and easy going and loving nature. It is intelligent and does have a stubborn side but coming for being left alone to guard livestock in its background it should be able to handle some alone time when you go out. It can be playful and has energy and enthusiasm especially as a puppy.
Living with a Bukovina Sheepdog
What will training look like?
As mentioned this is an intelligent breed but coming from being left in charge of flocks by itself it is used to making its own decisions and as a result can be stubborn. Training can be difficult and ideally it needs someone with experience and someone able to be consistent and clear leaders. It needs you to make it clear you are the dominant one for it to give you its trust and respect. Make sure too that you do not make it overly repetitive as it will become boisterous and distracted from boredom. With a positive approach and short and engaging sessions, success will come. Set rules and stick to them and also make sure that you include good socialization by introducing them to different people, places, animals, situations and sounds.
How active is the Bukovina Sheepdog?
These are energetic dogs used to working long hours so have a good amount of endurance too. It will need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to keep it happy, a couple of long walks, it can join you when you jog, weekend hikes and so on. It loves to play and should also have play time each day with you and somewhere safe to go off leash and have some run time. It is not the best apartment dog, it needs space and a large yard at least, preferably some land.
Caring for the Bukovina Sheepdog
Taking care of the Bukovina Sheepdog will take some commitment as it needs daily brushing and being large and having a thick coat that can take some time each day. It does shed so there will be a fair amount of hair in the home to clean up too. Brushing will help with the loose hair, move the oils around its coat to keep it healthy and remove any debris. Bathe it as needed making sure not to do it too often as that will damage the natural oils it needs. Only use a dog shampoo for the same reason.
Its nails should be clipped when they get too long. Use proper nail clippers for dogs and do not cut too far down where the blood vessels and nerves are. Cutting into that section will hurt your dog and cause bleeding. It is less likely to be a willing participant in nail clipping when it associates the process with pain. If it gets a lot of time and activity outside it will wear down some of its nails naturally. Its ears should be checked for infection signs like redness, bad odor or irritation and wiped clean using a dog ear cleanser solution or a damp cloth. Do not insert anything into the ears though, it could cause real damage and a lot of pain. There are also its teeth to look aster, brush them at least two to three times a week using a dog toothpaste and toothbrush.
This is a large dog so has quite the appetite! Expect to feed it anywhere between 3½ to 8 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals to avoid problems with bloat. How much varies depending on its size, age, health, activity level and metabolism rate. Make sure it always has access to fresh water.
How is the Bukovina Sheepdog with children and other animals?
The Bukovina Sheepdog when it has been well socialized and raised is good with children. It is affectionate, protective and playful. It has a calm and steady nature that makes it good with children but young children should be supervised as its playfulness with its size can mean accidents and knock downs happen. It can be good with other pets too though less so with strange animals coming into its territory. It is not as good with strange dogs and can be aggressive towards them.
What Might Go Wrong?
The Bukovina Sheepdog has a life span of 10 to 15 years and is not known to have specific health issues but there are some things to be aware of such as musculoskeletal issues as it is growing, bloat and joint dysplasia.
When reading through reports of dogs attacking people in Canada and the US in the last 35 years there is no mention of the Bukovina Sheepdog. It is not a people aggressive dog but it is very territorial and stranger wary so care should be taken. While there is nothing we can do to make sure it never has an incident, all dogs have some small risk of having an off day, you can do things to lessen the chances. Socialize and train it, exercise it and make sure it is not bored or lonely, feed it well and give the attention it needs.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
The Bukovina Sheepdog puppy will cost about $1000 from a decent breeder. Make sure you take the time to look for experienced breeders rather than using easier and more immediate sources like pet stores, puppy mills or backyard breeders. Being a mostly Romanian breed finding breeders in other countries is less likely. If you are looking for a companion dog and it does not have to be a purebred consider looking at local shelters and rescues where there are lots of dogs hoping for someone to come along love them and bring then home. Adopting a dog costs around $50 to $400 and some medical concerns are dealt with for you.
Once you have a dog there are some initial costs in terms of items needed and health concerns to be dealt with. Items you will need include a crate, carrier, bowls, collar and leash and such and that will cost about $200. Health needs like vaccinations, a physical, deworming, spaying or neutering, blood tests and micro chipping will cost about $290.
There are other costs that are there until it passes away. It will need to be fed, have basic health care, items it will need and so on. Basic medical needs like shots, flea and tick prevention, check ups and pet insurance costs about $485 a year. Feeding it a good quality dry dog food and dog treats will cost another $270 a year at least. Finally other miscellaneous costs like items needed, toys, license and basic training costs about $245 a year. This gives an estimated starting figure of $1000 a year.
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The Bukovina Sheepdog is a large dog that needs lots of activity, stimulation, grooming and good socialization. Owners should be strong willed to deal with this dog as it is quite dominant, protective and territorial. Grooming daily and the amount of play and exercise it needs means it takes some commitment, especially if it is not being kept as a working dog too. It is very loyal though, affectionate, steady and calm and could make a great working dog and loving companion.
Featured Image Credit: Fabian Emanuel Balint, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Bukovina Sheepdog’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Bukovina Sheepdog
- Living with a Bukovina Sheepdog
- Caring for the Bukovina Sheepdog
- How is the Bukovina Sheepdog with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag