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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Sarplaninac Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Temperament, & Traits

Sarplaninac Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Temperament, & Traits

Sarplaninac dog standing outdoors

Considering the popularity of dogs around the world, it is always a shock to discover that there are some breeds you didn’t even know of. The Sarplaninac is one of the rarer breeds most known for its excellent guarding capabilities. Here, we will tell you more about this fantastic breed, so stick with us if you are interested.

Breed Overview


22–26 inches


66–99 pounds


11–13 years


White, gray, black, tan

Suitable for:

Families with older children, singles, experienced owners


Loyal & loving, intelligent, easy to train, protective, carrying

Sarplaninac is a dog breed that originated from the southwest part of Serbia and the northwest part of Macedonia, from the mountain they got their name from, called Šar Planina (Shar Mountain). People used them for herding sheep and goats, and because of their immense size, they could deter predators like wolves. The modern-day Sarplaninac still keeps their core traits; they protect their family members and even work as police and military dogs. They are known for their large size and thick fur that commonly comes in an iron-gray color.

Sarplaninac Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.


Sarplaninac Puppies

As soon as these puppies begin to walk, they exhibit their natural, adventurous behavior. If you want a purebred Sarplaninac, you should start looking for a reputable breeder who will tell you everything you need to know about their line of dogs. Luckily, the Sarplaninac is a pretty healthy breed. Another way to find Sarplaninac puppies is to look through different adoption centers or shelters. When you get your new puppy, you must start the training as soon as possible to prevent bad habits.

Sarplaninac puppy sitting in garden
Image Credit: Djordje Novakov, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Sarplaninac

The Sarplaninac is usually a very calm dog, but they can make fantastic guard dogs. They are intelligent and aren’t afraid of anything, but they aren’t exactly lap dogs. This might be a problem if you want a dog to cuddle with. On a different note, you won’t have to worry about someone breaking into your home because the Sarplaninac is always on alert for potential danger.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

They make great family dogs, but we wouldn’t suggest keeping the Sarplaninac if you have small children. They are giant dogs and can accidentally knock them over, which can result in your child getting injured. But when it comes to older children, the Sarplaninac can be a great dog. If you have a house and a large backyard where they can run and play, this is ideal.

Man holding the leash of a Sarplaninac dog
Image Credit: Maximilian100, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

It’s best if you are always careful when introducing animals to each other, especially with a big dog such as the Sarplaninac. They can get territorial, which isn’t ideal if you keep multiple dogs. But this isn’t always the case. Start by introducing them slowly and gradually increase their interactions once all is going smoothly. The Sarplaninac is a herding dog, so if you live on the farm and have other farm animals, they will gladly care for and herd them.

divider-dog paw

Things to Know When Owning a Sarplaninac

Even though they are very calm dogs, they do their best in large houses and yards because of their size. They might not be the best fit for you if you live in an apartment or don’t have much time to spend on their activity needs. They are intelligent but need a lot of work and dedication to become the best dogs possible. They are not the best fit for first-time owners because they can be very stubborn at times.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Sarplaninac is a huge dog that needs high-quality food for proper development. There are a lot of commercial foods that have all the nutrients that your Sarplaninac needs in all their life stages. An adequate diet is essential for young dogs that are still developing. We suggest you consult your veterinarian to find the best food for your Sarplaninac.

Exercise 🐕

This breed needs a lot of exercise to stay healthy and in shape. It’s best to keep them in a yard where they can run around and use their energy. If you are keeping your Sarplaninac in an apartment, we recommend taking them out at least two times a day for long walks, or if they are properly socialized, you can let them play in dog parks. Expending their energy regularly is very important because they can become very frustrated and are known to vent their frustrations on household items when bored.

Sarplaninac dog running in the snow
Image Credit: OgnjenO, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

Training is one of the most essential parts of keeping any dog, and the same goes for the Sarplaninac. It would help if you started the training from a very young age because these dogs are known to be very independent and stubborn, so they may not be the best fit for first-time owners. Proper training is vital for the Sarplaninac because of their past use as working dogs. The most important part is to stay consistent. Proper socialization with other animals and humans is crucial from a young age to avoid any aggressive behavior in the future.

Grooming ✂️

When it comes to grooming, you must do it regularly as they have a double coat that is prone to shedding. You’ll need to brush their hair several times weekly to prevent them from shedding all over your house. You should also trim their nails occasionally because they can cause problems with walking if they are too long. Also, keeping their teeth clean is very important to prevent dental diseases.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Sarplaninacs are pretty healthy dogs and no congenital diseases in this breed are known. The only common illnesses related to the Sarplaninac are the ones related to its size and some minor problems that most dogs have.

Minor Conditions

Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Gastric torsion
  • Bloat

Male vs. Female

There are not many significant differences between the male and female Sarplaninac. One of the few differences is that males tend to be larger and heavier than females. Males tend to be territorial and aggressive towards other dogs and strangers. Females are a bit calmer but can become highly protective at times.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Sarplaninac

1. A famous Sarplaninac saved a life.

The Yugoslavian Marshal Tito had a dog named “Lex,” a Sarplaninac who saved his life by carrying a suspicious packet with a bomb away in its mouth.

2. They are extremely brave.

They protect their herd with their life against any possible predators, including wolves and even bears.

3. Their initial name was the Illyrian Shepherd.

However, later, people renamed them after the mountain Shar Planina.

Sarplaninac dog resting
Image Credit: belefront, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Every dog is unique in its own way, but if you want a dog that will always keep you safe, the Sarplaninac is the right fit for you. They are intelligent and loyal dogs that are the right fit for families with older children. People used them as herding and guardian dogs, and they would protect their territory at all costs.

Proper training is crucial for keeping your Sarplaninac obedient because they are known for their stubbornness. They are a very healthy breed, so a good diet and regular exercise should keep your Sarplaninac happy and healthy.

Featured Image Credit: OgnjenO, Shutterstock

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