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Bulgarian Karakachan dog – born to win

БНР Новини
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Photo: International Association Karakachan dog

The ancient roots of the Karakachan dog originate in Thracian times. Sheep breeding was one of the major occupations back then and such dog breeds were necessary as guards of the herds, says Dr. Atanas Vuchkov, chief secretary of the Karakachan Dog International Association. In 2005 the Animal Breeds Committee with the agricultural ministry recognized the Karakachan dog as the initial Bulgarian autochthonous breed of a farm animal.

“The Karakachan dog is the living legend among stockbreeders, involved in their heavy occupation amidst mountainous or semi-mountainous regions. The main task of this dog is to guard the herds of sheep, goats, buffalos against eventual attacks of predators or thieves,” Dr. Vuchkov says.“The Karakachan dog is not a pet, it’s a farm animal. Any farmer, living somewhere in a mountain can swear that he is lost without this assistant…”

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The breed has been formed for a very long time and the different migrations of peoples across the Balkans have had their contribution. The dog’s working qualities are the thing which has determined the selection’s direction.

“Any cowardly dog would be removed from the selection instantaneously, alongside dogs who had attacked the animals they were supposed to guard. The Karakachan dog’s appearance is indirectly related to its function – it shouldn’t be excessively big and heavy, as it has had to face the difficult living conditions and mountainous terrains as well as the ling transitions of shepherds and their herds in the past. Usually the Karakachan dog is streaky - a dark background with white spots or vice versa, and its owner could localize it at any time on the background of the herd. The man could also hardly recognize a totally dark dog in an eventual night scuffle, in order to be able to help it. The fur is also a trademark: it is long, thick and firm, so that the animal can be protected in wintertime.”

Stockbreeding’s decline across mountainous regions has affected the breed as well, as no more than 1,000 specimens exist today with their roots traceable. The main goal of the association is to preserve the breed’s authenticity. The extraordinary working qualities make the dog wanted both here and abroad.

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“It is a dog of extremes – tender and loving towards his owners, the Karakachan dog would never attack any of them, or their children. Also, it would never bite a buffalo, sheep, or other animals under its protection. At the same time it can be a fearful beast when the herd is endangered - the dog fights till death in such cases.We say the Karakachan dog has the character of Bulgarians - extremely loyal to friends and unrelenting in battle, when one needs to protect one’s family and honor.”

Dr. Todor Gaytandzhiev, the person who has established Cynology as a science in Bulgaria, says: ‘A Karakachan dog never returns from a fight humiliated – it either wins or dies!’ The status of the guardian dog has been deserved, according to Dr. Vuchkov:

“Shepherds call their animals ‘stock’. However, the dog has never been part of that stock – it is a member of the family, sharing the food of the man. The latter might even stay hungry, but his bread will go for the dog - one priceless companion”, Atanas Vuchkov says in conclusion.

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English version: Zhivko Stanchev

Photos: courtesy fo the International Association Karakachan dog

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