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Home » Europe, Expat Life, Pet transportation, Videos

Breed of the Month: The Sarplaninac

A brief profile of this strong and (mostly) gentle giant

By Move One
May 23, 2011

sarplaninac-puppyAs relocation experts, at Move One we know very well that many expats like taking a memento home with them after their international assignments are over. What could be better than a local dog? To help you decide on the choice of pup, we have asked our country managers to recommend their favorite breeds and advice.

This month we guide you to Albania

The Šarplaninac (pronounced shar-pla-nee-natz), also known as Sharplaninec - Шарпланинец or Yugoslav Shepherd Dog , is an ancient livestock-guarding dog breed originating from the southeastern mountains of former Yugoslavia, more precisely from the mountain ‘Sar Planina’, located at the border of today’s Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. The breed’s origins aren’t very clear however. It has been believed that among their ancestors were ancient Greek Molossian dogs and Turkish livestock-guarding dogs as well.

In 1939, the breed was first registered by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) as the ‘Illyrian Shepherd Dog’, referring to its region’s ancient name. The initial name was changed to ‘Yugoslav Shepherd Dog-Šarplaninac’ in 1957, to further refer to the breed’s specific place of origin.

Albania isn’t the only country showing off its ties with these beautiful dogs. Macedonia, for example, has demonstrated a country’s great pride when placing the image of the Šarplaninac on the reverse of the nation’s 1 denar coin in 1993, and a town called Dragaš, in the Sar Mountains region of Kosovo, has also featured the dog on its official emblem.

The Šarplaninac is a well proportioned, bear-like, robust dog with big bones and plenty of muscle. It has been known to fight or chase off wolves, lynx or even bears while protecting the cattle under his guard.

Move One Balkans Regional Manager, Nikola Spasovski and his beloved Sarplaninac, Aron

Move One's Regional Manager, Nikola Spasovski and his beloved Sarplaninac, Aron

It is well above average in size, but its thick, long (four inches/10cm) and somewhat coarse coat makes it appear even bigger than it truly is.

Average height of the breed:
- male: 75-90 cm (30-36 inches)
- female: 60-80 cm (24-32 inches)
Average weight of the breed:
- male: 45-90 kg (100-200 lbs)
- female: 45–75 kg (100-165 lbs)

The Šarplaninac has a solid fur color: sable, tan, every shade of grey, white but never fully black. The color of the fur is mostly uneven, with different shades of the same color fading into one another and patches are not allowed for purebreds.

Early socialization for the breed is of utmost importance, as Šarplaninacs like to keep to themselves. If kept lonely and under the wrong circumstances, dog-aggression and wariness of strangers might come up as common traits of the breed. They tend to be quiet and calm when home, but when out, they are very lively. These dogs are definitely not recommended for apartment dwellers. If they are not given enough exercise, chances are high they may develop behavior problems.

The natural temperament of the breed is independent, reliable and highly protective but not snappy. They are incorruptible, always devoted to their owners and calm until a threat to the flock or family presents itself. They are serene, majestic and naturally gentle with children or smaller dogs.

The Šarplaninac is highly intelligent and born to work without human supervision while guarding the flocks. It is an intuitive breed, stubborn and undemonstrative, but if trained and handled properly, with needed authority, it excels at a variety of tasks.

Today, the Šarplaninac is rapidly spreading through North American ranches as a sheep herding dog and a livestock guardian. Successful exports have been carried out to North America since 1975 to control coyotes, and it is suggested, that this is where the breed’s future security rests.

Please take a look at this video created by our Macedonian colleagues, that goes into further details about the characteristics of this terrific breed.

If you wish to take a dog home with you after your assignment is over, please make sure you leave at least a full month to ensure all paperwork is in place prior to the move.

Move One’s Pet Transportation department specializes in the transportation of household pets, working dogs and exotic animals. If you would like advice about internationally relocating your pet safely, sanely and legally or just for further information about our general pet relocation services, please contact us at One of our dedicated animal relocation agents will get back to you shortly with information, advice and a quote tailor-made to your needs.

Originally posted: October 6, 2009

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