Slovenian natural heritage is a dog called Karst Shepherd. It is the oldest Slovene indigenous breed of dogs, which was internationally recognized in year 1939. At that time it was known under name Illyrian shepherd and now it is called “Karst Shepherd” since 1968. It is several centuries old breed, that was used as a sheepdog in area of Slovenian karst, mostly in area around Pivka. Karst Shepherd ancestors were mentioned in 19th century by internationally known researcher professor Strebel. And as a link between molosom and german shepherd breed.
Karst shepherd is medium sized muscular pastoral dog, with dense and richly iron grey hair, long around 10 centimeters. They have kind and slightly despondent look. His height among females is between 54 and 60 cm, and among males between 57 and 63 cm. Their length is between 67 and 71 cm, their weight moves from 35 to 42 kg. Length of a head is around 24 to 26 cm, width around 13 cm and length of muzzle from 11 to 12 cm.
Where did ancestors of Karst Shepherd come from is not entirely known. One of the leading theories is that they evolved from Canis molosus, which was evolved from Asian dogs, that were brought to Europe by the Greeks. Besides Karst shepherd there are also few other breeds, that evolved from Canis molosus, like Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog-Sharplanina, Greek shepherd dog and few others. Another theory says, that the ancestors of today’s Karst shepherd came from the Apennine Peninsula in Italy, although in Italy dominates theory that their shepherd dogs came from the East. The least explored theory says that the ancestors of the Karst shepherd were brought by Slavs from Ural.
Karst shepherd was described already in the book from Janez Vajkard Valvasor The glory of the Duchy of Carniola, as strong and fearless dog, that was grown next to the river Pivka. This record is the most conclusive evidence that the Karst shepherd lived in our territory several centuries ago. Originally, they were called Istrian shepherd, but after first world war Istra has fallen under Italy, so Slovenian connoisseurs renamed it to Illyrian shepherd. After second world war they used name Illyrian shepherd for two breeds: Sharplanina in Karst shepherd. Whilst the breeds are similar, both are now recongnized as a separate breeds. After the second World war, Slovenian connoisseurs counted only 44 Karst shepherds. Today’s breed was recognized in year 1968 under the name Karst shepherd.
Karst shepherd is by nature a shepherd, not herding dog. So in Slovenia they use name Karst dog, but international cynology is still using the name Karst shepherd. Karst shehpherd fully suits the criteria for sheepdog. They behave kindly, calm and are very attached to their family. Towards strangers they behave suspiciously, but when they learn the circle of regular visitors and friends they will be friendly. Therefore, for example, they rarely bark at the postman, because they get used to him. Karst dog loves children. It is an intelligent and sovereign dog, but because of his pastoral nature will never fully be subjugated to humans. Although he can learn to be obedient through consistent raising and training.