Many people may regard Russian prisons as being the epitome of high security and harsh conditions. It naturally follows that the dogs they use will be exceptionally strong and capable, so let’s take a look at what Russian prisons consider to be the best guard dogs.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog
The big dogs that are used in Russian prisons are called Caucasian Shepherd Dogs.
This is a large, fluffy dog and is considered one of the giant breeds, It can weigh in at up to 170 pounds!
This breed comes in two varieties – the Steppe type, which is lighter in weight and has a shorter coat, and the Mountain type, which is the larger variety and has a long coat. Most of the time in images and videos you will see the Mountain type.
They are impressive animals and are steady and focused.
These big dogs are also known by several different names.
- Russian Bear Dog: In their early breeding these dogs were used to hunt bears and got this nickname from that activity.
- Kavkazskaia Ovtcharcka: This is the name of the dog as pronounced in Russian
- Caucasian Sheepdog: Another way to say Caucasian Shepherd Dogs. These dogs are often guard dogs for sheep as well as for people.
- Caucasian Mountain dog: An overly broad name that speaks to where this animal comes from.
- Caucasian Ovcharka: Sometimes abbreviated CO, this is another way that people can say Caucasian Sheepdog.
Often this breed’s formal name of Caucasian Shepherd Dog is shortened to either CSD or Caucasian Shepherd. They get their name from the Caucasus Mountains where the breed originates.
You Should Always Take a Caucasian Shepherd Dog Seriously
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a serious guard dog. It’s what they are bred for and it’s what they do best. If you are a first-time dog owner or are not experienced in training large and strong-willed dogs you shouldn’t consider this dog.
One of the reasons that the big Russian Prison dogs have gained so much attention is because of all the videos of them training and protecting. These are huge dogs, and they often perform heroic doggy acts and are great at chasing down their intended targets.
If there is a threat present, this dog will be self-confident and fearless.
One of the things to note about this breed is that they don’t get spooked easily. Even in extreme and stressful environments, they stay calm and nearly fearless.
CSDs are also smart. They can tell when they need to be involved and when they should stand down with a high degree of accuracy. They are also able to stay focused in ways that most other breeds simply can’t manage.
Generally speaking, if you run into a Caucasian Shepherd with its owner you have nothing to fear. These dogs have good dispositions. But if you attack the owner of a CSD or threaten their property then watch out. These powerful dogs will spring into action quickly.
Russian Prison Dogs Must Be Well Trained
When you are dealing with a huge dog that has natural guarding tendencies like the Caucasian Shepherd they must be properly trained.
These dogs typically start training as very young puppies. Usually around 8 weeks of age. Not all the puppies that start training end up as Russian guard dogs in prisons.
They must have the right kind of temperament to handle many different situations and not become overly aggressive or panicked when prisoners start to get out of hand.
Typically, when a CSD is training for prison work they will be exposed to many extreme situations to make sure they can handle them. This may sound like it’s cruel, but for guard dogs, this is a critical part of their training so that they have the best chance of behaving as desired in any situation.
The Caucasian Shepherd Is Well Adapted to the Russian Climate
While not all of Russia is extremely cold, many places in the country get extreme types of weather. The CSD has a coat that is perfect to handle very cold weather for extended periods.
Like a Husky, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has an outer coat and a warm undercoat. This is extremely helpful for dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors in the Russian climate.
Other Breeds Used in Russian Prisons
The other common breed used in Russian prisons is the Pitbull. This is a powerful breed and with proper training is also an excellent guard dog that has a similar personality to the Caucasian Shepherd.
The biggest difference between these breeds is their physical appearance. Pitbulls have much shorter coats and don’t have the same kind of protection against the cold as the CSDs.
These Pitbulls are the same type that is extremely common and popular in the United States.
Why Are Caucasian Shepherd Dogs So Hard to Find?
This is a breed that is native to Russia. Until they started becoming more popular on the internet they were largely confined to Russia and aren’t particularly hard to find in that country.
There are now breeders in the United States and in other parts of the world that are starting to breed this magnificent dog.
If you do get a CSD from a breeder outside of Russia, make sure you do careful research to ensure that the bloodline is not inbred.
These dogs are growing in popularity quickly and are still relatively hard to find outside of their native land. This combination often means that less reputable breeders will take shortcuts and breed close relatives together to see more profits from selling the puppies.
Inbreeding can lead to major health problems in dogs and it’s something that you want to avoid.
Are Russian Bear Dogs Legal in the US?
You can currently own a Russian Bear Dog in the United States. But some HOAs and apartment complexes will limit the size of the dog that you can have in a neighborhood. In addition, there are also local regulations about dogs in most communities.
Be sure to check your local regulations before bringing a Caucasian Shepherd Dog into your home. You don’t want to have to move because the dog doesn’t mean local guidelines.
And you also don’t want to move because the neighborhood fears your giant Russian prison dog!