SOUTH RUSSIAN OVCHARKA - Youzhnorusskaya Ovcharka, FCI 326
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
In the 1870's the SRO reached its greatest numbers, after which a decline set in, due to steppe reclamation for agriculture, growing grains etc. And with a rather fast decline in the number of wolves, the need for dogs also reduced. When the Russian Revolution took place, Askania Nova was almost completely plundered and destroyed. Most of the dogs were killed or stolen, and many were shot because they did not accept new masters. Thanks to the famous biologist Prof. A. Brauner the SRO still exists. When he came to Askania Nova in 1923 he only found a few young Ovcharkas. With the help of military kennels, shepherds and other enthusiasts he collected them. In 1928, after the foundation of a state breeding center in Dzhankoi (Crimea), a successful resurrection of the breed took place. The number of dogs increased and they even found their way to other cities like Moscow. In 1930 there were some official Russian entries at a German dog show and in 1939 there was a special breed exhibition in Simferopol.
When WW II started, the main kennels including the one in Dzhankoi were
fully destroyed. Only some SROs were left in state kennels, in the Crimea
and in Moscow. In Leningrad 5 SROs remained. To maintain some semblance
of breed and bloodline, these pure-breds were crossed with dogs of SRO-type
but unknown heritage. In 1947 the Komondor was used to acquire fresh blood;
in the 70's another Komondor cross was made.
SRO numbers have once again decreased drastically in the last decades due to the bad economic situation in Russia and also by fashion. Lots of dogs died because of a lack of medication and food. Lots of people can't afford a Southrussian; people who can want to have a fashionable breed of non-Russian origin. Recently some new clubs in and around Moscow are trying to popularize the SRO in Russia. In 1994 100 "Youzhaks" were entered in one Moscow show.
VITAL STATISTICS, CARE
SROs can become quite old. The age of 10 till 12 years is not an exception.
In general they are healthy dogs.
They are big, brisk and nimble with very strong muscles. The minimum height is 62 cm for females and 65 cm for males. There is no maximum height.
Their coat distinct
them from the other two Ovcharka breeds. The
hair is long (10-30 cm) all over the body and head, with lots of furry
undercoat. The topcoat feels like goat's hair, the color is mostly white
but some Southrussians are grey or beige, or white with grey marks. The
dog should be brushed once a week, accepting grooming from puppyhood. The
coat plays an important role, protecting the dog against cold and warmth.
It is "self cleaning". Even when the weather is dirty and rainy, the coats
will be bright white when dried. But all the dirt and sand will be on your
floor! It is possible to spin and knit the hair. It was done in Russia
and the knitting was used for medical treatment of rheumatism.
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