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The Karst Shepherd or Kraševec

The Karst Shepherd or Kraševec
(FCI-Standard 41/278)

The Karst Shepherd or KraševecThe Karst Shepherd is a Slovene Natural Treasure and the oldest indigenous breed. It was internationally recognised in 1939 as the Illyrian Shepherd, and then again under the current name of "Kraševec" in 1968. The breed is several centuries old and has been used as a sheepdog in the Slovene Karst area, mainly around Pivka. The ancestors of the Kraševec were described by internationally-renowned explorer, Prof. Strebel, as a link between the Greek Molos and the German Shepherd. He mentions the possibility of a Latin origin, via the Pompeii dog. It is more likely, however, that it was brought to the Karst area by the Illyrians with their sheep herds via the Dalmatian islands and Istria. The Greek Molos interbred with other sheepdog breeds in the wider area, such as the Caucasian and Romanian sheepdogs or the Mačedonian sheepdog or Šarplaninec. The Kraševec has long been regarded as a good flock guard and remains so even today when, like most working dogs, it is more of a companion and friendly family member.

A concise and vivid description of the breed's characteristics vas provided in 1689 by the historian Janez Vajkard Valvasor in The Glory o f the Duchy o f Carniola. Later it was described by many other, mainly German, writers. A detailed account of the development of the Kraševec breed was given in 1925 by the greatest Slovene dog expert, Dr Ivan Lovrenčič, in his study of the breed. The breed experienced a rapid development and international recognition after 1968, thanks to international judges Teodor T. Drenig, Janez Hojan, Miroslav Zidar and Ivan Božič, while the breeder who made the greatest contribution was Ivan Kupčič. From 1924, when there were 18 puppies a year, the number increased to around 100 in 1968 and to more than 400 a year in the 1980s. There are some litters in Germany and Italy as well. Today there are more than 1000 Karst Shepherds throughout Slovenia; with the highest concentrations in Maribor, Slovenska Bistrica and in and around Ljubljana. To its owner it is a friendly companion and a reliable guard dog.


  • The Kraševec is a medium sized, compact sheepdog, of iron-grey colour with 10 cm long dense double coat.
  • The head is extremely noble with friendly, almond-shaped, darkbrown eyes and an amiable, rounded skull.
  • Slightly longer than its height, with a sabre-like tail, reaching at least to the hocks.
  • The back is solid, straight, the chest of medium width and elbow deep with quite wellsprung ribs.
  • Teeth: scissor-bite, dentition perfect.
  • The iron-grey colour has two additional shades, towards silver grey or very dark grey; some of the darker animals have characteristic stripes on the legs, a reminder of their ancestry.
  • Height: between 54 and 60 cm for females and 57 to 63 for males.
  • Length: 67 to 71 cm, the weight between 35 and 42 kg.
  • The length of the head is around 24 to 26cm, the width is around 13cm, the length of the muzzle is between 11 and 12cm.
  • In terms of character, the Kraševec is a very specific and extremely reliable breed.

As a sheepdog it is independent and brave but also prudent and reliable; with a very stable personality; it does not tolerate subordination well and likes to be an equal partner; it responds best to intelligent, patient but consistent training. Any pressurising will lead to rejection and distancing. Timely and correct training is crucial.

In general, the Karst Shepherd makes a good protective dog, a reliable and independent guard dog, an average hound, a poor retriever, but still an excellent sheepdog. If we are prepared to accept its behavioural logic and treat it as a kind of partner, then the path to successful training is secured. Any attempts at subordinating it too much can back-fire and we will loose an opportunity to train an obedient dog. In general, they are far more reliable guard dogs than other breeds. That fact that over 100 Karst Shepherds have won one or several titles as nominee, national or international champion, more than 10 international champions and that 50 have passed the service dog exams testify that the Kraševec is an established and quality breed.

Together with the four breeds o f hounds, the Kraševec is part of a rich natural and national heritage and dogbreeding tradition which is celebrating its 76th anniversary of organised operation Slovenian Kennel Club.


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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran

Created: Monday, October 28, 2002; Last updated: Thursday, January 03, 2013
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