karst shepherd

karst shepherd

The Karst Shepherd is a large pure breed native to Slovenia that is a livestock guardian and mountain dog. It is an ancient breed and is actually the oldest dog breed in Slovenia and has been declared a natural treasure. It has a life span of 10 to 12 years and is also known as Krasky Ower, Kraseweck, Karst Sheepdog and Istrian Sheepdog.

Karst Shepherd at a Glance
Namekarst shepherd
other namesKraiski Ovar, Kraišević, Karst Sheepdog, Istrian Sheepdog
normal sizeBig
average weight55 to 93 pounds
average height21 to 25 inches
Life span10 to 12 years
coat typedouble, long, dense
colordark gray, silver gray, fawn;
PopularityAKC. is not a registered member of
heat toleranceGood
cold toleranceVery good
penthouseAverage – a few hairs will be around the house
DroolingAbove average – some slobber and drool more while drinking
obesityAverage – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
grooming / brushingAverage – brush twice a week
barkingContemporary – Shouldn’t bark all the time
need exerciseActive Dogs Need Active Owners
training capacityModerately difficult – experience helps
Friendshipgood to very good
good first dogMedium – Best with experienced owners
nice family petgood to very good with socialization
good with kidsvery good with socialization
good with other dogsModerate – socialization and training as supervision is essential
good with other petsGood with socialization but high prey drive
good with strangersgood with socialization but careful
nice apartment dogLittle – space needed and at least a large yard
handles alone time welldoes not like to be left alone for long periods of time
health issuesSomewhat healthy, some issues include hip dysplasia and cancer
medical expenses$485 per year for basic health care and pet insurance
food expenses$260 per year for good quality dry dog ​​food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses$255 per year for miscellaneous items, toys, licenses and basic training
average annual expense$1000 as starting figure
cost of purchase$1,000
rescue organizationCheck out local shelters and rescues
cutting figuresno one reported

Karst Shepherd’s Beginnings

karst shepherd

The Karst Shepherd is named from the region that follows the karst plateau in both Italy and Slovenia, although the karst landscape actually extends further into Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Karst is an area made of limestone that has caves, sinkholes, underground streams and crevices due to erosion. The dog breed can be found mostly in Croatia, in Istria and then in northern Slovenia. Its ancestors worked with shepherds and the breed was first mentioned in written records from 1689.

Its origin is unclear and any views on its earlier development are mere opinions or conjectures. Some suggest that it dates back to Roman times, some from the Pompeii dog and some from the Caucasian shepherd. However the most popular theory is that it comes from the Greek Milos that the Illyrians brought with them to graze sheep and then reared it with other local dogs. With the advent of the First World War, sheep breeding declined and so did the need for shepherd dogs. The number of Karst Shepherds declined significantly and the breed came close to extinction.

new lease on life

The breed was developed thanks largely to the efforts of an artillery officer called Teodor Drani who was also a Slovenian dog breeder. He worked on the breed during the period between World War I and II, and again after World War II. Thanks to him, it was registered in 1939 and was previously called the Illyrian Shepherd. It was reversed in 1955 and then re-registered in 1968, this time as the Karst Shepherd, it has also got some international recognition from FCI and UKC for example. It was made a Slovenian natural treasure and is still used today as a sheepdog, but it is also prized for being a friendly and loving companion.

the dog you see today

The Karst Shepherd is a large dog that weighs 55 to 93 pounds and stands between 21 and 25 inches tall. It is a compact and solidly built dog with a straight back and is slightly taller than it used to be. The tail is saber-like with a broad base and then a slight hook at the tip. When resting it lowers its tail and when alert or moving it is raised almost to the level of the back. It has a strong neck and a deep chest and a broad back. The coat is double, dense and long. It comes in gray or sandy colors and may have a darker facial mask. The coat is shorter on the legs and front of the head and behind the ears and around the neck. It is even longer around the back of the legs.

It has a great sized head with a rounded skull and a medium length snout that is broad and then tapers. The nose is broad and black and has black lips and scissor bite marks. The eyes are wide and dark brown and almond shaped. The eyelids are black and its ears are of medium length, set flat in front of its cheeks and are of high stature.

inner karst shepherd


The Karst Shepherd is a strong-willed, intelligent and protective dog, it can be a good companion with good socialization and training but it is very distrustful of strangers. It makes a good watch dog and guard dog, it will alert you to someone approaching or breaking in and will act to defend its territory and its family. With that family it is loyal, affectionate, and especially devoted to the owner who socializes, trains, and works with it. This can form a very strong association with them and this can make it difficult to come home again so make sure this is the dog you want.

The KS is a reliable and hardworking dog, it is brave and has an independent nature which can mean it has its stubborn moments. It has a dominant nature and this combined with its need to be engaged and its willful side means it does best with experienced owners. If kept as a working dog, it will work tirelessly to protect its flock from poachers and thieves. It has a cheerful disposition but should be treated as a companion and not as a subordinate.

Living With a Karst Shepherd

What will the training look like?

Training is important When you are a dog owner, all dogs need at least basic obedience training, even if you are not taking it any further. With a Karst Shepherd it will require some experience and firm and strong leadership to make sure it understands that you are the pack leader. Keep things positive but set clear rules that you are consistent to follow. Earning his trust will lead to a closer relationship between the two of you so avoid harsh, scolding or corporal punishment. Reward and praise it and use treats to motivate it. Make sure you start early socialization as well, this is something this dog really needs to be a good family companion. It can be described as different people, places, situations, sounds,

How active is the Karst Shepherd?

Karst Shepherds are active dogs and are not well suited to apartment living. They also need a place to roam and play and a yard or some land. If it is not kept as a daily working dog, it will need a brisk walk twice a day, it can attach to you after you train for jogging, cycling or hiking, for example. It also needs daily play sessions with you and some regular time off to run where it is safe to do so. It is certainly a dog suitable for rural life rather than urban and needs active owners.

Karst Shepherd Care

need grooming

This dog will need regular brushing to keep their coat healthy, usually twice a week to take care of things like debris and tangles. Use a brush with a firm bristle. It sheds an average amount so expect some hair around the house. Bathe it with dog shampoo only when needed. Don’t set a regular bathing routine, it can damage the essential natural oils in his coat.

You should also check the ears once a week for signs of infection, such as foul odor, redness, irritation, and then wipe down any areas you can reach. Use a damp cloth or cotton ball dampened with the dog ear cleaning solution. Do not use cotton buds to clean the inside of the ear, as this can impair their hearing and cause pain. Nails should be cut when they are too long. Some dogs wear down the nails naturally but if not, use dog nail clippers or scissors to cut them. Avoid clipping too far down, Because in the lower part there are blood vessels and nerves. When you bite too far and hit the nail sharply you can injure your dog and cause a lot of bleeding. To take care of both teeth and gums, brush its teeth two to three times a week.

lunch time

The Karst Shepherd will eat about 2½ to 5 cups of good quality dry dog ​​food a day which should be divided into at least 2 meals to avoid bloating. Things that can affect how much he eats are his activity, metabolism, age, health and build. Make sure it also has access to fresh water.

How is the Karst Shepherd with children and other animals?

It can be a good dog with children with good socialization and when raised with them. It can be playful and loving with them but may require supervision around young children as its play can knock them over accidentally. Care should be taken around other dogs as it can be territorial. It can learn to accept other non-canine pets, in some cases socialization can help, and can be raised with them as well, but still no guarantees.

What could go wrong?

health concerns

These dogs have a life span of 10 to 12 years and are generally healthy, although issues such as hip dysplasia and malignant hyperthermia can occur.

cutting figures

There have been reports of dogs attacking people and causing physical harm in North America over the past 35 years and have been gathered into a single set of statistics. There is no mention of Karst Shepherd in them. It is not an aggressive dog unless it is guarding its flock, home or family. Although there are no large numbers of these flocks in North America, they are less likely to appear in such statistics. 

While all dogs have the ability to be attracted to something, or even just have an off day that can lead to unfortunate events, there are things you can do to limit the potential. However, it cannot be completely stopped 100% of the time. Make sure you train and socialize your dog, That he gets the activity he needs and also gets mental stimulation. Also make sure he gets the level of attention and affection that he needs.

price tag for your puppy

A Karst Shepherd puppy will cost around $1000 from a decent and reliable breeder. This is likely to be a pet quality dog, with prices going up even more if you want something from a top breeder. Avoid using less reliable means such as backyard breeders, puppy mills and pet stores. Another option for those who do not have a purebred is to check out local shelters and rescues. It is true that you are more likely to find mixed dogs and less likely to find puppies, but there are plenty of lovable dogs that need loving owners and homes. Adoption costs around $50 to $400.

There are initial costs to think about when you have selected the dog you want to bring home. Your karst will need a few items and a proper health checkup when you bring it home. Items include a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls and such things. These will come for around $190. Then vaccinations, deworming, a physical exam, blood tests, micro-chipping, spaying or neutering will have to be done and will cost $290 or more.

Annual running costs will have an impact on your finances so this should also be considered. Taking care of basic health needs like flea and tick prevention, shots, pet insurance and check ups will come in around $485 a year. Basic training, miscellaneous items, licenses and toys are another $255. A good quality dry dog ​​food and dog treats will cost around $260 a year. This gives an annual starting figure of $1000.


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The Karst Shepherd is a great sheepdog and guardian, it is hard working, determined, protective and brave. It is not the best dog to keep as a companion because it does best when it has work to do. In experienced hands with good socialization and training, although it is still loyal and affectionate and can be a good companion it needs to be kept busy and active.