Friday, July 18, 2008

East European Sheperd / Owczarek Wsachodnioeuropejski / VEO

East European Sheperd / Owczarek Wsachodnioeuropejski / Vostochnoevropejskaya Ovcharka

The East European Shepherd (also called the Owczarek Wschodnioeuropejski or Vostochnoevropejskaya Ovcharka (VEO) is a breed of dog that was created by mixing German Shepherd Dogs and developed directly from the GSDs brought to the Soviet Union in the 1920s for army use. Bred for sturdiness and resilience in the harsh Russian climate, the East European Shepherd has now made its mark among breeders in other countries. The East European Shepherd is a large, stocky breed, weighing in between 73 and 113 pounds and standing at 24-29 inches, others recorded males are 26 - 28 inches at the withers, while females are 23 - 26 inches. After over a quarter century of selection, especially for animals to withstand the Russian climate, the breed is distinctly different from the Shepherd known in the West. Although at first centered in Byelorussia and the far western provinces of the USSR, the EESKC has thousands of members all over Russia today. It is presently the leading breed in the USSR. Often dogs of this breed have longer soft hair on the ears, neck, limbs and tail. It is said that their Russian owners spin the cashmerelike wooly undercoat for use in garments. These dogs comparatively long build and strong, well-developed muscles and sturdy bone structure, a strong, wide back, and a moderately broad chest. Their short loin is wide, arched, and defined, and their underside is properly tucked up. Their wedge-shaped head is massive in size and their forehead is slightly sloped. They have a pronounced, gradual stop and a muzzle that is equal in length to the skull. Their lower jaw is strong and their well-developed teeth close in a scissors bite. They have large, black noses and medium, oval-shaped eyes that are dark in color. Their medium-sized ears are pricked and set high on the head and their tail is sword-shaped and reaches at leas to the hocks. They have oval, compact feet. The coat of the East-European Shepherd is of medium length and features a well-developed under coat. Coat colors for this breed include saddled (gray or fawn background with a facial mask), black, and agouti (gray and red). There are distinct physical differences between males and females of this breed.

The East European Shepherd carries the general appearance of a German Shepherd, with a stockier build which is more square. Their coat of fur, which is fairly short, smooth, and denser than that the of the German Shepherd, allows it to survive well in the harsh climates which exist in its native Russia. The coat colors can be black and tan, black, or sable, but not brindle or white. The head is medium and broad between the ears, which are pointed and the tip turns forward. The eyes are medium in size and dark in color, usually brown or a dark mix of brown and amber. The neck is powerful and curves down into a deep chest. The back is straight and level, ending in a long, saber-shaped tail which is carried close to the ground. The legs are strong and muscular and end in paws with well-arched toes.

The East-European Shepherd is devoted to his family and people. They are balanced breed with a confident demeanor, and they are generally leery of strangers. They make outstanding guard dogs, and they will protect their territory at all costs. Because they are a working breed by nature, they are happiest with a job to perform. East-European Shepherds are working dogs and needs to be exercised properly. They need to be taken on long daily walks or jogs. If sufficiently exercised, they'll do fine in an apartment. Because they were bred to stand many extreme climates, they can live well outside. They are tough and can be aggressive, which makes it a great watchdog and guard dog. Though social and mild-mannered, the East-European Shepherd may not be the right family pet if there are small children in the home; its tendency toward playful jumping could be dangerous, especially as a large breed. The East European Shepherd should be bathed only when necessary, as frequent bathing can dry out the skin, the coat or both. Dry bathing may be a better option for this breed, and products for doing this can be obtained in most pet stores. Otherwise, grooming is minimal and can be kept as a bonding experience between you and your loyal pet. Obesity can be a problem in this breed if not monitored closely. This can be avoided by never over-feeding the dog as it will never turn down food that you give to it, and by ensuring that your East European Shepherd gets plenty of exercise. Fish, chicken and pork bones should never be given to any dog, as they can cause damage to the intestines and the stomach lining, if ingested.

The only inherent problem in the East European Shepherd is the possibility of hip dysplasia, which is also common in other Shepherds. Otherwise, with regular visits to the veterinarian and proper immunization, the East European Shepherd stands as a healthy breed and can live a long and happy life.

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