The Shar Mountain dog is a large livestock guardian dog originally bred in the Shar Planina mountain range of Macedonia. These dogs have been in the United States since 1975, when they were imported to control coyotes and to work cattle herds. The Shar Mountain dog is also called the Sarplaninec or Sarplaninac.
The Shar Mountain dog is an ancient breed. Its origins are unrecorded; however, according to United Kennel Club breed standard, the breed may be descended from the ancient Molossian dogs of Greece and the livestock guarding dogs of Turkey. It was illegal to export the Shar Mountain dog from Macedonia until 1970. The breed previously was known as the Illyrian shepherd dog and the Yugoslavian shepherd dog Sharplanina.
Shar Mountain dogs are of medium size. They possess heavy coats and bone structure, which provide an impression of a much larger breed. Male Shar Mountain dogs should stand no less than 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 77 and 99 pounds at maturity. Females should stand no less than 22.25 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 66 and 88 pounds at maturity. While dark gray is the most common color, all solid colors are permitted. Shading is permitted in the solid color, as are small white markings on the chest and on the toes.
The UKC breed standard for the Sarplaninac describes the breed as having “a typical livestock guarding temperament highly intelligent and independent.” As such, the Shar Mountain dog can be a devoted and protective family pet who is cautious before trusting new people. Because of its role as a livestock guardian, the Shar Mountain dog must be versatile and adaptable.
Popularity on the Rise
The Shar Mountain dog is popular in its native land, but is not a well-known breed in other parts of the world. Although still uncommon, the Sarplaninac is increasing in popularity for predator control in the United States and Canada. The Sarplaninac was recognized as a breed by the Federation Cynolgique Internationale since 1939 and by the UKC since 1995. It also is recognized by the Macedonian and Yugoslav kennel clubs.