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croatian sheepdog breed pictures 5 scaled - Croatian Sheepdog

Croatian Sheepdog

The Croatian Sheepdog is an ancient breed, believed to be developed as far back as the 7th century CE by the Croats as herding dogs. These dogs are nearly identical to their ancient appearance today. Fans of the breed adore their intelligence and energetic disposition.

They’re sometimes referred to as Hrvatski Ovčar, which is how you say “Croatian Sheepdog” in the breed’s homeland’s native tongue. Although these are purebred dogs, you may still find them in shelters and rescues. Remember to adopt! Don’t shop if this is the breed for you.

Croatian Sheepdogs may not be the best choice for novice owners, as this breed has a strong work drive and thrives with consistent training and obedience work. They tend to latch on to one human, and they do everything to protect said human, including bark at strangers. If you’re a solo dweller or an experienced pet parent looking for a pooch who acts like your shadow and makes an excellent watchdog, the Croatian Sheepdog may be the right breed for you!

FunkyPaw recommends a dog bed to give a good night’s sleep to your medium-sized Croatian Sheepdog. You should also pick up a dog fetch toy to help burn off your pup’s high energy!

Breed Characteristics:


Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.

Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!

Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

All Around Friendliness

Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.

**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!

Health And Grooming Needs

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.

Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.

If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.

Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.

Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!


Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.

Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.

Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.

Physical Needs

High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.

Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.

Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group:Herding DogsHeight:16 to 21 inchesWeight:29 to 45 poundsLife Span:12 to 14 years

More About This Breed


  • The Croatian Sheepdog has a wavy-to-curly, weatherproof black coat. It is generally a solid coat, although some may have spots of white around the chest and on the toes.
  • Croatian Sheepdogs are moderate shedders, and it is relatively easy to take care of their coats. A good weekly brushing should do, along with regular bathing.
  • These dogs have high energy. Make sure your Croatian Sheepdog gets two or three half-hour- to hour-long walks per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.
  • Since the Croatian Sheepdog is so trainable, they make excellent family pets for kids of all ages. They may, however, act shy around some kids. Socialization training will help, but always supervise playtime.
  • When it comes to other dogs, Croatian Sheepdogs are fairly neutral. When it comes to cats, their herding instincts may kick in and they may nip or chase.
  • Although some Croatian Sheepdogs are shy around new people, this is a highly trainable breed, and with proper and consistent socialization, they can become outgoing and friendly towards everyone.
  • These dogs have a tendency to bark whenever they have something on their mind, which is frequently. Training and exercise can help curb this behavior.


The Croatian Sheepdog is an ancient breed, and many believe they were brought by the original Croats in the 7th century when they first settled what is now Croatia.

Seven centuries later, Petar, Bishop of Dakovo, wrote down a description of the Canis Pastoralis Croaticus, AKA the Croatian Sheepdog, claiming they hadn’t changed since they were first brought over. He also noted that they were excellent herding dogs.

It wasn’t until 1935, however, that this intelligent, hardworking breed started being fine-tuned. Croatian veterinarian Professor Doctor Stjepan Romic began selectively breeding Croatian Sheepdogs for desirable traits. Many of the dogs he selected for breeding came from the Dakovo region, an area in which much of the Croatian Sheepdog’s recorded history was documented.

Over 30 years later, in 1969, the Croatian Sheepdog was recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). The American Kennel Club (AKC) includes this breed in their Foundation Stock Service, which is often their final step before full breed recognition.


The Croatian Sheepdog stands 16 to 21 inches from the shoulder and generally weighs in anywhere between 29 and 45 pounds.

That said, many Croatian Sheepdogs can be larger or smaller than their breed average or standard.


Intensely loyal and energetic, the Croatian Sheepdog hasn’t needed to change much since their herding days in the 14th century. Modern Croatian Sheepdog enthusiasts often describe their faithful companions as somewhat shy around new people, as they do tend to stick to one person, just like their ancestors stuck to one shepherd as herding dogs centuries ago.

Ancient Croatian Sheepdogs guarded their shepherds at night, so your Croatian Sheepdog might also feel the need to guard you or their main caretaker in the home. This herding breed won’t necessarily be aggressive towards other members of the household or family, but they could be somewhat apprehensive around strangers and visitors.

Fortunately, the Croatian Sheepdog is a highly trainable breed, and with proper and consistent socialization, they can become outgoing and friendly towards everyone.

Croatian Sheepdogs also have a tendency to bark whenever they have something on their mind, which is frequently. They will also make noise simply to entertain themselves if they feel cooped up or bored, and that’s one reason why it’s so important for Croatian Sheepdogs to get the appropriate amount of exercise. Combined with consistent training, exercise will help keep your Croatian Sheepdog happy without constantly yapping.


Croatian Sheepdogs are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Not all Croatian Sheepdogs will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

Some of the more common health problems Croatian Sheepdogs suffer from include:

  • Retained Testicles In Males
  • Bloat
  • Whelping Issues
  • Patella Luxation and other knee issues


As with all dogs, you should keep up with your Croatian Sheepdog’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.

Your main concern with caring for your Croatian Sheepdog is making sure they are getting the proper amount of exercise. When Croatian Sheepdogs were first introduced by the Croats in the 7th century, they had several jobs. They helped herd cattle, sheep, and other animals, and they also acted as guard and companion dogs to their shepherds. The Croatian Sheepdog has not changed much since, but dog owners’ lifestyles have. Make sure your Croatian Sheepdog gets two or three half-hour- to hour-long walks per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.

Check their ears for debris and pests daily and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trim your dog’s nails before they get too long–usually once or twice per month. They should not be clicking against the floor. Your groomer can help with this.

You should brush their teeth daily as well. Your vet can instruct you on how to brush your dog’s teeth properly.


An ideal Croatian Sheepdog diet should be formulated for a medium-sized breed with high energy. Like any working dog who’s more of a companion, the Croatian Sheepdog has a tendency to gain weight. Keep your Croatian Sheepdog in good shape by measuring their food and feeding them twice a day as opposed to leaving out food all the time for them to graze.

As with all dogs, the Croatian Sheepdog’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your Croatian Sheepdog’s diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs–including weight, energy, and health–to make a specific recommendation.

Coat Color And Grooming

The Croatian Sheepdog has a wavy-to-curly, weatherproof black coat. It is generally a solid coat, although some may have spots of white around the chest and on the toes. While Croatian Sheepdogs with patches of white aren’t qualified for the show ring, they still make amazing, active companions.

Croatian Sheepdogs are moderate shedders, and it is relatively easy to take care of their coats. A good weekly brushing should do, along with regular bathing.

Even though they have weatherproof coats, you should not leave your Croatian Sheepdog out in any extreme weather. They may be able to tolerate colder weather, thanks to their dense coats, but shouldn’t be left outside in the winter.

Children And Other Pets

Since the Croatian Sheepdog is so trainable, they make excellent family pets for kids of all ages. While they may not be aggressive with kids, your Croatian Sheepdog might stick closer to an adult’s side, namely their caregiver, and shy away from children. With proper training for both your dog and kids, the Croatian Sheepdog makes an amazing family pet for active, playful kids.

When it comes to other dogs, Croatian Sheepdogs are fairly neutral. When it comes to cats, their herding instincts may kick in and they may nip or chase. Of course, as long as you introduce your Croatian Sheepdog to other animal family members in a controlled environment and consistently train them, all the animals in your home can get along.

Still, some Croatian Sheepdogs prefer to be loners when it comes to other animals. At the end of the day, it really comes down to training, socialization, and luck of the draw.

Rescue Groups

Rescues specifically for Croatian Sheepdogs might be hard to come by, as this is a fairly rare breed. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to all kinds of dogs. You can take a look at the following:

  • Wright-Way Rescue
  • Angels Among Us Pet Rescue
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