Let's talk Romanian Carpathian Shepherds

Despite their wolf-like appearance, the Romanian Carpathian Shepherd is calm and well-balanced. They are known for their unwavering deep devotion to their families – whether that family is four-legged or human. Blessed with plenty of patience – hours spent with the flock will do that – this is still an independent and high-energy dog, and a large one at that, so not usually recommended for first-time owners. However, they're also gentle and playful pack dogs, which makes them more sociable than similar breeds and helps them get on well with other animals and, once trained, children they have been brought up with.

Official name: Romanian Carpathian Shepherd

Other names: Romanian Sheepdog, Carpathian Shepherd, Romanian Shepherd, Carpatin, Ciobanesc Romanesc Carpatin

Origins: Romania

Side view of Romanian Carpathian Shepherd in black and white
 Drooling tendencies   Warm weather?  
 Shedding level  Medium Suited to apartment living?   Very low
 Physical activity needs moderate Kid-friendly?
 High
 Compatibility with other pets  High Can stay alone?  Very low

 We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

 
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Illustration of Romanian Carpathian Shepherd
Male
65 - 74 cm Height
32 - 45 kg Weight
Female
58 - 67 cm Height
32 - 45 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age  15 months to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  From 8 years

Black Romanian Carpathian Shepherd lying in dirt

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Get to know the Romanian Carpathian Shepherd

All you need to know about the breed

The Romanian Carpathian Shepherd was bred to work and nothing pleases them more than carrying out and fulfilling their tasks. Well-suited for country life, they may also thrive in cities, provided they're kept in a big house with a garden or yard, as they need plenty of space to roam. Attention, they are known for being potential escape artists so make sure fences are completely secure. That said, they might not be gone for long, as the Romanian Carpathian Shepherd does not like spending time alone, preferring instead to have a human companion by their side. If you do have to leave for an hour or so, make sure you've exercised your dog beforehand and leave some games around to keep them occupied.

Instinctive, intelligent, courageous and alert, this breed makes wonderful guard dogs, patrolling their properties and warning their owners of intruders. The Romanian Carpathian Shepherd’s protective nature means they're not naturally friendly with strangers. It's important to socialise them from an early age so they get used to different people, dogs and surroundings. They won't react with instant aggression but will be suspicious and wary. Not a "yappy" breed, they will only bark if they sense a predator. Not a bad trait to have.

Romanian Carpathian Shepherd running across field of white flowers

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2 facts about Romanian Carpathian Shepherds

1. Protect and serve

A survey found that on average a Romanian farmer loses 15 sheep a year to bears and wolves. In response, Fauna & Flora International in collaboration with the Carpatin Club Romania has been purchasing and donating Romanian Carpathian Shepherd puppies to shepherds since 2016, providing food and veterinary treatments during the first year.

2. A shepherd in wolves’ clothing

With an all-weather coat, this large breed would be content to live and sleep outdoors. This – and their wolf-like appearance – has led many Romanians to believe in a local legend which says that Romanian Carpathian Shepherds are part wolf, that they bred naturally with them in the wild, making the breed such powerful, fearsome and ferocious guard dogs.

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History of the breed

As the name suggests, these working dogs were developed deep in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania many hundreds of years ago to herd and guard livestock – and they haven't changed much since. There are conflicting theories as to their true origin. Some say the Romanian Carpathian Shepherd is a descendant of dogs originating in Mesopotamia about 9000 years ago. It's likely that one of their ancestors is the Lupomulossoid, a Mastiff with similar wolf-like features. Farmers wanted a strong and commanding breed, capable of intimidating large animals and keeping their flocks safe.

While most countries in Europe have almost eradicated mountainous predators, Romania still has plenty of them. The Carpathian Mountains are the home of 50% of Europe's brown bear population and more than 37% of the continent’s grey wolves – no wonder this brave dog is still so popular and relied upon today. Romanian Carpathian Shepherds were also brought inside to also defend against burglars, leading to the breed becoming gentler and more affectionate towards their human family.

Incredibly popular in their native Romania, they aren’t well-known internationally. They were recognised by the United Kennel Club 2006 – and recognised by the American Kennel Club as recently as November 2021.

Romanian Carpathian Shepherd lying down looking at camera in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Romanian Carpathian Shepherds

1. Ears

Ears set high, broad at base, hanging down on head.

2. Head

Broad head, flat at top, distinguished by bright face.

3. Body

Stout, compact sturdy body, short limbs.

4. Tail

Medium-length tail, sometimes cropped.

5. Coat

Distinctive tri-colored black, white, tawny coat, medium-haired.

Close-up of Romanian Carpathian Shepherd with tounge out

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Romanian Carpathian Shepherd
Romanian Carpathian Shepherd lying on grassy mound

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Caring for your Romanian Carpathian Shepherd

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The Romanian Carpathian Shepherd's furry double-coat is dense to protect them from both cold and heat, but is surprisingly low-maintenance and only needs brushing once or twice a week. They blow a lot of the undercoat during shedding season, so you need to up the brushing in spring. Only bathe them when they are dirty, as their natural oils are designed to protect their coat. Brush fur before bathing as it's difficult to remove tangles once they've become wet. Make sure you remove grass seed and twigs that may get entangled in their coat and cause skin lesions. Nails should be trimmed regularly and teeth brushed often to avoid dental problems. You can visit a grooming salon just twice yearly. A highly intelligent breed, these dogs need both physical and mental stimulation in order to not get bored. Bred to be independent, sometimes presenting as stubborn, they need an assertive owner who can establish leadership quickly. Once your dog understands who's boss, you can focus on obedience training, nose work, agility and puzzles. They are much more pack motivated than food- or toy-motivated and respond well to games played with their humans and any fellow canine pack-mates. They learn fast by first observing and then applying.

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All about Romanian Carpathian Shepherds

These dogs are extremely devoted and loyal to their family. They can be reserved around strangers but, when properly socialised, they are known to be very patient with children, once trained.

The Romanian Carpathian Shepherd needs about an hour of exercise each day. These dogs are most content when working, so benefit from being set tasks and patrolling large fenced gardens, if possible.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/