Bucovina Shepherd Dog: Characteristics, Temperament

The Bucovina Shepherd dog is an extremely rare breed of dog. It is one of the largest and most powerful rustic livestock guardian dogs and has strong guard dog qualities. It is also known by some other names such as Bucovina Sheepdog, Bucovina Shepherd and Southeastern European Shepherd.

The Bucovina Shepherd dog breed is thought to have been developed around the time of the ancient Roman Empire. It was mainly used as a guard dog and a ferocious protector of livestock. With it’s impressive size and deep, powerful bark, the breed easily scared away the hungry wolves and bears that roamed the Romanian mountains.

The breed was developed over many centuries by shepherds in the Carpathian Mountains. It was developed in Bucovina, a region in the north of Romania. While many believe it to be a Mastiff type breed developed by the ancient Romans, evidence exists that it may in fact be a ‘Lupo Molossoid’ rather than an entirely Molosser breed, owing to its more wolf-like features and lack of brachycephalic face.

There are four types of Romanian shepherd dogs: the Mioritic (old name Barac), the Carpatin (old name Zavod), the Romanian Raven Shepherd Dog and the Bucovina Shepherd. In the FCI, this particular breed is officially named “Southeastern European Shepherd”, although it originates entirely from Romania, and not neighboring countries.

Exact date of origin of the Bucovina Shepherd dog is widely debated, but it is quite possible that this breed of dog actually pre-dates the period of the Roman Empire over 2,000 years ago. It is thought that they have changed little over time, due to their seclusion in the isolated mountainous region.

For centuries, they diligently guarded livestock on the Carpathian Mountains of Bucovina. The numerous flocks of goats and sheep were at high risk from the local predators, such as wolves, bears and lynx, and the farmers hugely benefited from having a fearless, strong guard dog like the Bucovina Shepherd on their side.

While this large and powerful breed thrived in the rural outdoors, it has recently made a surprisingly smooth transition into modern-day urban life in Romania. Owing to its instinctive guard dog abilities, and perhaps most importantly, its capacity to be placid with its family, many Romanians keep the Bucovina Shepherd dog as a pet. It is seen as a big advantage that this breed will commonly also serve as a watchdog within the home.[1]

The first standard was written in 1982 and updated in 2001 by the Asociatia Chinologica Romana (Romanian Kennel Club). The present standard, dating from March 29, 2002, was written and updated according to the model established in 1987 by the FCI General Assembly in Jerusalem. In 2019, the Bucovina Shepherd became definitely (fully) recognized by the FCI.[2]

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Bucovina Shepherd Dog Characteristics

The Bucovina Shepherd dogs are large in size and imposing, though with a more slender frame than most similar breeds of dog. Their head should be large and impressive with a muzzle that is not shorter than their skull.

Their eyes are relatively small as compared to the size of their head. The eyes are typically almond-shaped and dark in color, surrounded by dark eyelids.

The ears of the Bucovina Shepherd dogs are ‘v-shaped’ and flop downwards. Their body is rectangular and incredibly well-muscled. They have curved tail which may be carried high or low.

The Bucovina Shepherd dog breed has a thick double-coat, which would have been a necessity when patrolling the mountains during long, winter nights. The coat is thicker at the mene, granting extra protection from attacks to the delicate neck region.

The tail of these dogs is particularly long and shaggy. Most of the Bucovina Shepherd dogs are predominantly white in color with patches of pigmented fur that may be brown, black, sand or grey in coloration.

Average body height of the Bucovina Shepherd dogs is between 27 and 31 inches at the withers for males, and between 25 and 28 inches for the females. Average live body weight of the mature dog is between 50 and 90 kg for males, and between 50 and 80 kg for the females.

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The Bucovina Shepherd dog breed is balanced, calm, very devoted and loves children. It strongly mistrusts strangers. The breed was actually bred to protect sheep flocks and cattle herds, and proves courageous and very combative when potential predators are afoot.

The Bucovina Shepherd dog is an excellent watchdog, having a very deep, powerful bark and being very alert when strangers enter it’s territory.

During the night, the breed patrols the property or herds. An mature dog generally needs plenty of space to run around with a large back yard.


Average lifespan of the Bucovina Shepherd dog is between 10 and 12 years.


How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Bucovina Shepherd dogs are large in size and they are very active. So, their diet should be formulated for a larger sized breed with high exercise needs. You can consult with a vet in your area for better feeding recommendations.


Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising Bucovina Shepherd dogs. Providing them with a large, open garden to patrol would be an advantage, enabling them to display their natural, territorial behavior of guarding.

It has been bred through the years for it’s stamina and ability to be constantly on the move. A long walk of around an hour is needed each day to meet the exercise requirements of this dog.

The Bucovina Shepherd dog is a stubborn breed and not suitable for a novice trainer. Their intelligence can often work against you, as they are not particularly eager to please. Having survived for so long with little intervention on the mountainous ranges of Romania, they are incredibly independent and want to be their own boss. It takes tremendous consistency from a trainer to be able to bring a Bucovina Shepherd under control.

Given their raw power and potential aggression towards strangers, it soon becomes clear that this breed needs an experienced owner who will not allow them to become a danger to society. These dogs are by no means a lost cause, and over time, can become well-trained in the right hands.


The Bucovina Shepherd dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and gastric dilatation volvulus. Always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed NameBucovina Shepherd
Other NamesAlso known as Bucovina Sheepdog, Bucovina Shepherd and Southeastern European Shepherd
Breed SizeLarge
HeightBetween 27 and 31 inches at the withers for males, and between 25 and 28 inches for the females
WeightBetween 50 and 90 kg for males, and between 50 and 80 kg for the females
Good as petsYes
Climate ToleranceAll climates
ColorClear white or white-beige with distinct patches of grey, black or black with red-fawn reflections
LifespanBetween 10 and 12 years
Good for childrenYes
Country of OriginRomania

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