Croatian Sheepdog – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Do you want to know why Croatian Sheepdog is one of a kind dog? Read on and discover what makes this breed so interesting.
Dog Breed Group:
Herding Dogs
16 to 21 inches
29 to 45 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 14 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Croatian Sheepdog is a gentle shepherd dog, who is often described as being sled-reliant to how owner.

This dog has a strong urge to protect, hence is extremely brave and trustworthy. When it comes to managing flocks, he is a champion.

Being tired isn’t an option for this breed – they are usually seen running all day long through the beck of the herd to get the job done.

Quick Facts

Real name: Croatian Sheepdog
Other names: Hrvatski ovčar, Kroatischer Schäferhund
Origin: Croatia
Breed type: Herding Dogs
Weight: 29 to 45 pounds
Height: 16 to 21 inches
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies
Color: Always black
Coat: Longer, wavy and curly

Croatian Sheepdog History

This working breed was developed over several centuries in the Republic of Croatia.

As true cattle and working dogs, the Croatian Sheepdog is great when it comes to guarding and companion roles.

The earliest documents on this breed date from 1374 – from the archive of the diocese of Djakovo by “father of the breed” – veterinarian Prof Dr. Stjepan Romic.

According to these documents, the Croatian Sheepdog is an ancient breed. In fact, many believe that this breed was brought to what is Croatia today, in the 7th century.

Seven centuries later, Petar, wrote a description of the Canis Pastoralis Croaticus, a breed that is today known as the Croatian Sheepdog.

In those documents, he claimed that the breed hasn’t changed a bit from the day they were originally brought to Croatia.

He also wrote that they were exceptional herding dogs. It wasn’t until 1935 that this breed started being upgraded.

Croatian veterinarian Professor Doctor Stjepan Romic began selectively breeding Croatian Sheepdogs for specific and desirable traits.

It took additional 30 years for the Coration Sheepdog to be recognized as the breed by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

AKC (The American Kennel) holds this breed in their Foundation Stock Service. This is usually the stage before the breed gets full recognition.

Croatian Sheepdog Physical Appearance

The Croatian Sheepdog is a dog of medium size, being between 16 to 21 inches from the shoulder, and weighing in between 29 and 45 pounds.

In general, they can be smaller or larger than their breed or standard.

Overall, this is a medium-sized dog with a spitz-type appearance and ahead with a fox-like expression.

They have a very unique wary coat which gives them the impression of strong and proud dogs. They are well-built, have strong bodies, and females tend to be longer than males.

The head shape like a blunt wedge. Seen from all sides, the skull is slightly rounded, while cheeks are lean, rounded, and well-muscled.

Eyes are of medium size, and oval-shaped, while ears have rounded tips. The neck is of medium length and muscular, while the body is strong and elegant.

The coat is soft, profuse and dense, and relatively of good quality, which means that it’s neither woolly nor harsh to the touch.

It is made of a topcoat and an undercoat, with the topcoat being wavy to curly, and a dense undercoat, which is compact and soft.

Croatian Sheepdog Personality

The Croatian Sheepdog is an intelligent and agile dog with high energy levels, and as such, this definitely isn’t a dog from first time dog owners. They have a strong need for human companionship and will do anything to please their humans, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t try to outsmart their humans first.

Overall, this is a healthy breed, resistant to many diseases, and now expensive to keep. This is an excellent watchdog with a strong herding instinct, very loyal to their master.

This dog is the champion of both driving and gathering cattle. This breed requires gentle handling and an experienced dog owner who knows the way around dogs.

This is usually a one-man dog, who needs proper training and early socialization. The Croatian Sheepdog may vary of strangers if not socialized properly.

Luckily, they respond well to obedience training, but if you miss training them right, they may become extremely noisy or even destructive.

Some dogs may even develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long or too frequent.

This is an energetic breed and they need a proper amount of training, exercise, and outdoor time to burn out that energy.

After only a few days of owning this breed, you will see have a shadow on your heels, asking you with those puppy eyes – What we do next?

Always be sure that the breed is for you before you bring one home. Even today, this breed is busy working on the field and herding.

Some do well in the more city areas in apartments as long as they get enough exercise and regular training.

Croatian Sheepdog Exercise

Croatian Sheepdogs are highly energetic dogs and as such, they are best in hands of experienced dog owners.

The biggest challenge with high-energy breeds is their need to burn that energy. Have you ever heard that saying – Good dog is a tired dog? Well, with this breed you will realize just how true this saying is.

Croatian Sheepdog is usually calm and relaxed at home, but once outside… They will demand and much appreciate good run, jumping, and overall energy burning.

They are great at dog sports, such as flyball, and obedience. If you have time and energy you can try dog agility as well.

They are exceptional jumpers, so make sure that your back yard is well secured, and that you keep him on the leash when outside.

If you are inside the dog park, introduce your Croatian Sheepdog to other dogs calmly, so that other canines can adjust to Croatian Sheepdog energy – your Sheepdog may be mischievous which is why you should monitor him carefully when with other dogs.

This is why early socialization is important – to help you have a well-behaved dog.

Croatian Sheepdog Training

Like with any other dog breed, if you want to have a well-behaved canine, you need to invest your time and energy into training your Croatian Sheepdog.

This is a highly intelligent and independent dog who will try to get things his way. This is why you should organize training sessions.

Make them regular, short, and fun. This dog will adapt to any new pieces of training style and he will love treats, so make sure that you never miss to reward him for his good behavior.

Since they are highly trainable, they make great family pets, especially for families with children. Just make sure that you educate your children on how to behave around dogs – not to disturb them when eating, drinking, to simply testing in their crate.

They are quite neutral when it comes to other dogs. However, when it comes to cats and other smaller animals their herding instincts may kick in and they may try to chase them or maybe even nip – if raised together from puppyhood they should tolerate them more.

Some Croatian Sheepdogs prefer to be alone and spend time chewing their toys – it all depends on the dog and it eventually all comes down to socialization, training and the dog.

Croatian Sheepdog Grooming

You may expect long hours of grooming your Croatian Sheepdog, due to its slightly curly coat and strong undercoat, but in fact this dog is easy to maintain.

You should have the right grooming tools on hand to have smooth brushing sessions. Brush your Croatian Sheepdog at least twice per week to remove dead hair.

This is a great way to check a dog’s skin for any sign of skin infection, fleas, or any other unusual skin or coat appearance.

Plus, this is a great bonding experience with your dog. The rest is regular maintenance that should include trimming or grinding the dog’s nails regularly, gum and teeth check, and bathing only when needed.

Don’t force bathing, because dogs don’t have skin as humans do and as such, they don’t need frequent baths as humans do.

Croatian Sheepdog Health

The Croatian Sheepdogs are generally helahty breed. However, just like any other breed, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Some of them include:

  • Bloat
  • Whelping Issues
  • Patella Luxation
  • Different kneww issues
  • Retained Testicles in males

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for your dog’s weight. Obesity in pets is one of the biggest issues in pets across the States.

Make sure that you know how much you should feed your dog and when. Provide high-quality dog food and learn which human foods are safe for dogs, and which should be avoided all the time.

Never serve your dog any human chocolate.

If you are not sure if you should serve something to your dog or not, check with your veterinarian if a specific food is safe for your dog or not.

Fast Fact: The Croatian Sheepdog is not commonly used for cross-breeding to produce hybrids.

The Bottom Line

The Croatian Sheepdog is an ancient breed, that loves being busy. If you are sure that you have time to dedicate many years to a dog, you need to be sure that the Croatian Sheepdog is for you.

If you are an outdoor lover and love spending time outside doing various activities, such as running or hiking, for fun then the Croatian Sheepdog would be a good breed for you.

On the other hand, if you don’t have enough time to spend each day at least one hour exercising your Croatian Sheepdog, this may not be the breed for you – or at least not now.

Be honest when it comes to your time and if you can really or not afford to have a dog. Owning a dog is a years-long commitment, and make sure that you can stick with it.

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