Šarplaninac Breed description: Character & Co


PROFILE: Šarplaninac - Origin, History & Suitability.

The Šarplaninac, also known as the Yugoslav Shepherd Dog, has its roots in the Šar Mountains, which stretch across northern Macedonia and Kosovo. Historically, he was used by the shepherds of this region as a guard dog for herds against predators. Its name derives directly from this mountain range.

The origin of this powerful dog goes back centuries, and it is believed that he descended from the ancient Molossian dogs that lived in this geographical area. It was bred for generations to fend off predators such as wolves and bears, which explains its impressive size and strength.

Suitability: working dog and faithful companion

The Šarplaninac is a dog of strong protective instincts and high intelligence. Its suitability includes:

  1. Herding and protective tasks: Traditionally, he was used as a shepherd dog, building a deep bond with his flock and instinctively protecting them.
  2. Family Dog: Despite its size and protective instincts, the Šarplaninac can be a loving and loyal family dog when properly socialized. He is especially well suited for families with older children.
  3. Guard Dog: Thanks to its alertness and distrust of strangers, it makes an excellent guard dog for home and property.


The Šarplaninac is a symbol of tradition and cultural heritage of the Balkans. Its impressive appearance, coupled with its courageous and loyal character, makes it a special dog, both as a working dog and as a faithful companion. It is important to know its history and characteristics in order to fully understand and appreciate its needs and potential.

Banner: Depositphotos / lifeonwhite
Sarplaninac, shepherd dog breed from Serbia Sharplaninec - Macedonian sheep dog Portrait of Sarplaninac dog, Illyrian shepherd dog, Yugoslav shepherd dog walking. Dog Sarplaninac , Yugoslavian shepherd dog , charplaninatz two adults sitting on a meadow
Alternate Name Jugoslovenski Ovčarski Pas, Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog
Origin -
Life expectancy 9 - 15 years
Care requirements high-maintenance
Activity level average to high
FCI group Molossian type
AKC group Foundation Stock Service
KC group not recognised

Loyal & Protective

The Šarplaninac, also known as the Yugoslav Shepherd Dog, has strong ties to his family. He was originally bred to guard livestock against predators, which explains his strong protective instincts. Towards his family he is affectionate and loyal.

Independence & Intelligence

  • Self-reliance: Due to his role as a herding and guard dog, the Šarplaninac has been trained to make independent decisions. This can sometimes be interpreted as stubbornness, but reflects his intelligence and independence.
  • Willingness to Learn: Although he has a mind of his own, he is quite capable of learning and can be trained well with the right method.

Dealing with Strangers

Caution and distrust of strangers is natural in this breed. Therefore, it is important to socialize the Šarplaninac early and consistently so that he can properly evaluate strangers.

With other animals

Despite its size and role as protector, the Šarplaninac can be quite compatible with other pets, especially if socialized with them from an early age. However, its herding instinct can shine through, especially with smaller animals.


The Šarplaninac is a proud, loyal and often underrated dog that needs clear and consistent training. With proper socialization and training, he can be a wonderful companion for experienced dog owners. It is important to understand his natural instincts and needs and provide him with appropriate tasks and employment opportunities.

Portrait of sarplaninian shepherd puppy Sarplaninac or Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog or Sharplaninec or Illyrian Shepherd Dog (3 years old) Sarplaninac dog panting and looking at camera against white background

Care of the Šarplaninac

The dense coat of the Šarplaninac requires regular grooming to stay healthy and clean:

  1. Brushing: At least twice a week, the coat should be brushed to prevent matting and knots. Daily brushing may be necessary during molting seasons when the dog sheds more.
  2. Bathing: Recommended only when necessary, as frequent washing can strip the coat of its natural oils. A mild dog shampoo should be used.
  3. Ears and Eyes: Regular checks and cleanings, if necessary, will prevent infections.
  4. Claw Trimming: Depending on activity and substrate, claws may need to be trimmed regularly.

Health aspects

The Šarplaninac is generally a robust and healthy dog, however, some diseases typical of the breed are known:

  • Hip dysplasia: A genetic condition in which there is maldevelopment of the hip joint.
  • Eye diseases: Some Šarplaninacs may be prone to eye disease.
  • Heart Disease: Some older dogs have been found to have heart disease.

Breeding of the Šarplaninac

In breeding the Šarplaninac, special emphasis is placed on preserving its original characteristics:

  • Character and temperament: a balanced character and a strong protective instinct are important.
  • Health tests: Before breeding, potential parents should be examined for diseases typical of the breed to minimize the risk of hereditary diseases.
  • Guidelines: Many breed associations have specific guidelines and standards to ensure the quality and integrity of the breed.


Keeping and breeding the Šarplaninac requires knowledge, experience and dedication. With proper care and attention, this majestic dog will live a healthy and fulfilling life.

Sarplaninian shepherd dog head

The Šarplaninac, often referred to as the Yugoslav Shepherd Dog, impresses with its majestic appearance. Its dense and rugged exterior reflects the harsh environment in which it was originally used - the mountainous region of the Šar Mountains.

The coat: Dense and weatherproof

  • Texture: The coat of the Šarplaninac is dense and rough. It consists of a thick undercoat and a rougher topcoat, which protects it from the extreme weather conditions in its native region.
  • Color Palette: The coat can appear in a range of colors, including gray, black, sandy colors, and even a mixture of these tones.
  • Grooming: although the coat is self-cleaning, it should be brushed regularly to prevent matting and keep the skin healthy.

Size & Weight

The Šarplaninac is an impressively large dog:

  • Male Dogs:
    • Height: between 62 and 72 cm.
    • Weight: In the range of 35 to 45 kg.
  • Female Dogs:
    • Height: Around 58 to 68 cm.
    • Weight: Typically 30 to 40 kg.


The Šarplaninac is not only a powerful and steadfast working dog, but also a remarkably beautiful animal. Its dense, weather-resistant coat and impressive stature make it a distinctive representative of the shepherd dog breeds. It is important to take into account the special care needs of his coat in order to give him a healthy and comfortable life.

Fur length long
Fur -
Ear shape Floppy Ear
Tail lang
Anatomy rugged, strong
Size ♀ 57 - 59 cm
Weight ♀ 30 - 40 kg
Size ♂ 61 - 63 cm
Weight ♂ 35 - 45 kg
Suitable For -
Portrait of sarplaninian shepherd puppy
Sarplaninac or Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog or Sharplaninec or Illyrian Shepherd Dog (3 years old)
Sarplaninac dog panting and looking at camera against white background
  • Hip dysplasia (HD)

    Hip dysplasia (HD) is a genetic condition in dogs where the hip joint is not shaped properly. This leads to pain, stiffness and restricted movement.

  • Joint problems

    Especially due to overweight, joint problems can occur in dogs.

Other large dogs

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