The Šarplaninac is a reserved, protective breed. These pups make excellent guard dogs and devoted family companions. But due to their stubborn nature, they're best suited for experienced pet parents.
Middle Eastern and African
Though they appear large due to their heavy bones and thick coats, Šarplaninacs are medium-sized dogs. They're also robust and well-proportioned, with a short-coupled appearance.
Coat and Coloring
Šarplaninacs have long, straight, rough-textured outer coats and shorter, thicker, finer-textured undercoats. The hair is shorter on the head, ears, and front side of the legs and longer on the neck, backside, tail, and back of the legs. This breed has a ruff around the neck, a frill at the nape of the neck, breeches, and a plumed tail.
The Šarplaninac's coat comes in all solid colors, from white to very dark brown—but iron gray is the most common color. The color sometimes varies, resulting in a darker head, neck, and body and a lighter shade along the extremities. The hairs on the outer coat can also be tipped in black to create a sable pattern.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Šarplaninacs have a slightly domed skull that's broad between the ears and tapers gradually toward the muzzle. They also have piercing, almond-shaped eyes that range from chestnut to dark brown. Their V-shaped drop ears hang close to their heads and reach the inner corners of the eyes when pulled forward. When relaxed, this breed's thick, muscular tail hangs down naturally. And when alert, it raises to be level with or slightly above the back.
Calm, intelligent, independent, and devoted, Šarplaninacs have a protective, fearless nature that makes them excellent guard dogs. Though they aren't known to be overly affectionate, they typically get along with children and are loyal family members. But they can be wary of strangers or reactive toward other dogs. It's essential to [socialize (https://www.wisdompanel.com/en-us/blog/puppy-socialization) Šarplaninacs when they're young so they learn to be comfortable around new people and situations.
Also known as the Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog, the Šarplaninac is an ancient breed from the Sharplanina region of Southern Serbia and Northern Macedonia. The exact origin of these dogs is unknown, but experts believe they descended from the Balkan's oldest Molosser dogs.
The FCI recognized the breed under the name Illyrian Shepherd Dog in 1939 and changed it to Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog Sharplanina in 1957. These robust pups have served as flock guardians, property protectors, fighting dogs, and military dogs.
Until 1970, transporting the Šarplaninac out of then-Yugoslavia was illegal. But since arriving in the United States and Canada, these working dogs have gained popularity among ranchers thanks to their fearlessness in protecting livestock from predators. The United Kennel Club recognized the Šarplaninac in 1995.
Šarplaninacs thrive on a high-quality diet formulated for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior). Due to their thick coats and heavy bones, it can be difficult to know when they're overweight. The best way to tell is to weigh your dog or use your hands to feel their body shape.
To help keep your pup at healthy weight, monitor their food intake and measure their meals to avoid overfeeding. And don't forget to account for treats. As a guideline, they should make up no more than 10% of a dog's daily calories.
The Šarplaninac's double coat requires regular brushing a couple of times a week to keep it clean and free of loose fur. During periods of seasonal shedding, they may need more frequent brushing. Regular nail trims should also be part of your pup's grooming routine. Nails that get overly long can cause pain and potentially lead to problems running or walking.
Dental disease is one of the most common health conditions in adult dogs. Left untreated, it can contribute to other serious health issues. So, in addition to professional cleanings, establish an at-home dental care routine that includes regular teeth brushing and veterinarian-recommended dental chews.
As working dogs, Šarplaninacs require regular daily exercise. If not patrolling the fields guarding livestock, they'll be happy with long walks, hikes, or runs to keep them physically and mentally fit.
These intelligent, independent pups can be stubborn, and thus, challenging to train. As such, the Šarplaninac may not be the best breed for inexperienced pet parents. To be successful when training, aim to establish yourself as the pack leader and use a consistent, firm approach.
Middle Eastern and African
While this ancient group shares many of the characteristics of the Hound Group, their origins, as the name would suggest, are concentrated in Africa and the Middle East unlike the hound group that has no true geographic center.
Reviewed June 16, 2021 by Laura Inman, DVM