Tuesday, July 28, 2009

“O” is for Ovcharka

Another cute Russian animal for your viewing pleasure- I know how much y’all loved the dwarf hamsters! It was a little slim pickings on the “O” alphabet choices.

The South Russian Ovcharka, a.k.a. South Russian Sheepdog, dates back to Slavic Russian regions in the B.C. era. They were known as 'Russian Shepherd' or 'Russian wolf-killers' in ancient times and in the 1700’s they were named “royal pets” because the elite often kept them in quantity. To the left are Ovcharka puppies...(Everybody all together: "Awwweeee!" )

Here are some fun facts:
-The thick woolly coat is described as “self cleaning”. Even when the weather is dirty and rainy, the coats will be bright white when dried. (Alex and Annie take note!)
-It is possible to spin and knit the hair. This craft was popular in Imperial Russia, and the knitting was used as a form of medical treatment for arthritis. (I’m not sure if they mean the act of knitting helped your joints or the hair was believed to have some sort of medicinal purpose. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any “Imperial Dog Hair Weavers” to ask.)
-Ovcharka’s definitely have wolves as direct ancestors. A South Russian Ovcharka skull is built almost identical to wolf’s.
-After a Ovcharka completed a herding mission (sometimes driving up to 8,000 sheep at a time across treacherous terrain with journeys lasting up to two years) the dogs were kept wherever their final destination ended. The Ovcharka were then bred with other dogs and different breeds branched out from the Ovcharka breed.
-War often threatened to end the breed line. During the Royal Revolution kennels were plundered and the dogs were stolen or killed. It is told that many of the kidnapped dogs were so loyal to their families that they were ultimately shot because they “revolted” against their unlawful owners. During World War II the breed was nearly destroyed when bombs leveled the most successful breeding kennels (owned by the Falz-Fein family). When the country was trying to recover from both wars, lots of dogs died because of a lack of medication and food. The breed has regained some ground and 100 Ovcharkas were shown in dog shows this year.

1 comment:

  1. How totally cute are those puppies!! And the whole part about Imperial Dog Hair Weavers just made me laugh--thanks, because I kinda needed that laugh!
    Keep it up--this is FUN!