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The Russian Shepherd or Youjak, a dog with a large body

It is also called the Southern Russian Shepherd or Yuzhak. When you see this dog for the first time, you have the impression of being in front of a Yeti. His strong build and long white coat give him a very special look. Behind this thick tuft of hair is an active and independent dog.

Picture Credit : Fanimalo

Characteristics of the Russian Shepherd Dog

It is immediately recognizable by its general appearance which reminds that of a bear. The Southern Russian Shepherd is a large dog, measuring between 58 and 72 cm and weighing between 43 and 55 kg depending on sex and age. It has a developed musculature and a massive bone structure. Apart from a robust and dry body, the Russian Shepherd has an elongated head with a more or less broad forehead, a large black nose and a slightly marked stop. Its eyes are oval-shaped and have tight, dry lids. They are of dark color and are positioned in a horizontal way. And what about the ears? They are triangular in shape, more or less hanging and small in size compared to the rest of the body. The Russian Shepherd Dog is best distinguished by its long, thick, bushy coat. The coat must be white, but the standard also tolerates grayish, white and yellow or some touches of gray.

History of the Russian Shepherd Dog

The Russian Shepherd is a very old breed in its native country. It is a descendant of the Asturian Shepherd who was imported from Spain to Russia during the 18th century. The development of the breed took place on the Crimean side in Askanïa-Nova. The dog was mainly used as a herdsman. It was crossed with the Borzoi, the Tatar Shepherd and the Russian Ruskaya Povaya breed, which no longer exists today. Over the years, the Yuzhak continued to be used in guard duty at farms, companies and even in the Red Army. It was introduced in some European countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In France, it is a recent and rare breed.

Necessary living conditions and behavior of the Russian Shepherd

Endowed with excellent shepherding qualities, the Southern Russian Shepherd shines in the defense of the flock. It uses this ability to protect its own at home. Moreover, it has a legendary mistrust of strangers. It is a dynamic, curious, independent and lively animal. It is described as gentle, considerate and kind. It will never refuse a cuddle session from its owners to whom it is very attached. The dog is also very sensitive. The Youjak will not be happy if he is locked in a small apartment. He needs space and fresh air, environments in which his ancestors lived in Ukraine and the Caucasus.

Feeding and main health problems of the Russian Shepherd

Adopting a Yuzhak is very advantageous, as this dog is robust and does not develop hereditary diseases. Nevertheless, its large size can induce a risk of hip dysplasia. It is also necessary to watch its floppy ears which are prone to infections and otitis. On the food side, as this dog can easily gain weight, it is imperative to pay attention to its rations.