These ancient, powerful livestock guardian dogs excel at doing what they were bred for — protecting their flock and their people. Karakachans are named after the early settlers of the Balkans, who were nomadic Thracian shepherds. They are one of the oldest European breeds.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
About this Breed
The Karakachan is a large livestock guardian dog from Bulgaria which is often utilized for its original purpose. These dogs are so ancient that it’s difficult to trace their exact origin. However, the breed is named after the Karakachan people, who were Thracian nomadic shepherd originally inhabiting the Balkans. With them came their Karakachan sheep — considered one of the oldest sheep breeds — and the dogs who guarded these flocks against predators: Karakachan dogs. Because these dogs have always been bred to perform a function, and perform it very well, they don’t always have a consistent look. Like several other working livestock guardian dogs, the Karakachan can be considered a landrace breed.
As you might imagine, Karakachan dogs are not easy pets; they’re first and foremost working animals who need a job. These are serious livestock guardians who will fiercely protect their flock — including their human flock — from any perceived threats. It is crucial that Karakachans, like other livestock guardians, are extensively socialized as puppies. These dogs are typically polite with other animals if exposed to them from a young age, and are incredibly loyal to their human families.
These are difficult dogs to find in the United States, as the first dogs were imported in 2004. You’re more likely to run into them in their native Bulgaria!
Karakachans on Embark
Explore some Embark dogs that share Karakachan ancestry.