Written by Vet

Serbian Defense Dog: The Ultimate Dog Breed Guide

Ivana Crnec
Written by: Dr. Ivana Crnec
Are you familiar with the Serbian Defense Dog? This is a relatively new breed, brought back from the Middle Ages. Read on to see how one breeder brought back an extinct breed.

Created about 30 years ago, the Serbian defense dog is a relatively new dog breed pending its AKC and UKC recognitions.

This ultimate dog breed guide will review the breed’s history, personality, lifestyle requirements, health problems, needs, and more.

Please read the article to learn how more about this massive yet agile dog with impeccable fighting and guarding skills.

Breed Overview

The Serbian defense dog, also known as SDD, is a Molloser-type of dog, originally bred in Serbia. The breed was created in the beginning of the 20th century as an effort to resurrect the now extinct medieval Serbian Mastiff.

By creating the Serbian defense dog, the creators exceeded their expectations.

The SDD is large and powerfully built with a sharp mind and agile personality. The hallmark of the breed is the strength that makes the SDD an unmatched guardian.

Quick Facts

Real name: Serbian Defense Dog
Other names: Serbian Mastiff
Origin: Romanija mountain
Breed type: Guard Dogs
Weight: 121-154 pounds (55-70 kilograms)
Height: 27.5-29.5 inches tall (70-75 centimeters)
Lifespan: 18 – 20 years
Color: Fawn, wheaten and red, yellow, brindle, black, grey, black-and-tan, and blue
Coat: Short coat

The History Of The Serbian Defense Dog

During the 13th and 14th century, the most popular dog in the Balkans was the Serbian Mastiff. The Serbian Mastiff was strong, fierce, and fearless. Although intimidating, this dog was extremely devoted and loyal to its master.

There are stories that the Serbian emperor Dushan the Might took his Serbian defense dog with everywhere he went. He also had many Serbian Mastiffs charged with guarding the borders of the Serbian Empire.

Before becoming extinct, the Serbian Mastiff was crossed with Rottweilers, Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Tornjaks and Serbian wolves. The end result was the Serbian defense dog we now love and respect.

The entire breed was invented and developed thanks to one man’s efforts – Nenad Gavrilovic. He is considered to be the breed’s inventor and creator.

Serbian Defense Dog Physical Appearance

The SDD is a typical Molloser type of dog, with an athletic body, strong and sturdy frame, and wide chest. The neck is broad and muscular and the head is elegantly wide with powerful jaws and a well-defined stop.

The body is square-shaped with particularly broad shoulders and a straight backline.

The eyes are small in proportion to the head and the ears are triangular but with rounded tips and dropped down. The tail is almost always docked, while the ears are left naturally.

Serbian Defense Dog Size

Serbian defense dog males are 27.5-29.5 inches tall (70-75 centimeters) and weigh around 121-154 pounds (55-70 kilograms). Female Serbian defense dogs are slightly equally tall, but slightly lighter and weigh around 110-143 pounds (50-65 kilograms).

Serbian Defense Dog Coat And Color

Based on length, the SDD’s coat comes in two varieties – short or popularly known as “bully-style” and medium. The coat is double-layered and regardless of the length, the undercoat is thick and dense.

Preferred coat colors include solid fawn, wheaten and red, and yellow. Other coat colors include brindle, black, grey, black-and-tan, and blue. White markings are acceptable and a black mask is favored.

Serbian Defense Dog Grooming And Maintenance

When it comes to grooming needs, the Serbian defense dog is low-maintenance.

This dog needs weekly brushing and baths on an as-needed basis. However, their short coat sheds a lot twice per year so it is advisable to increase the brushing frequency during the shedding seasons.

The Serbian defense dog’s nails are relatively fast-growing and quite solid. To prevent overgrowing and painful cracking, they need to be clipped monthly.

It is advisable to use a nail grinder instead of a clipper since the nails are solid and can easily crack. The teeth need to be brushed every other day, the ears cleaned every week and the anal gland expressed when necessary.

Serbian Defense Dog Temperament And Personality

The Serbian defense dog is a highly intelligent, fearless, and loyal dog. It is often described as a one-man dog which means, although the SDD is loving and protective of its entire human family, it bonds the most with only one family member.

When it comes to the SDD, you get what you train for. Serbian defense dogs raised in family environments grow into mellow, loving, and affectionate pets. SDDs trained to be fierce guardians grow into invincible protectors.

Serbian defense dogs are extremely protective of their territories, families, and possessions. They will do whatever it takes to protect what is theirs.

They are tenacious, brave, and ready to face every challenge that comes their way.

The SDD is extremely fond of children of all ages.

Unlike most dogs, this gentle giant is patient even with annoying and disrespectful children. More often than not, children unintentionally hurt dogs, and the dogs get angry. That is not the case with the SDD.

The SDD will put up with anything the kids in its family do. This dog would even risk its life to protect children.

Training The Serbian Defense Dog

The SDD is an extremely intelligent dog with a stubborn streak and strong determination. It is extremely loyal and obedient but needs a strong and persistent handler.

If the handler shows weakness or doubt during the training process, he will lose the SDD’s respect and the training will be doomed.
The SDD must be approached with respect, persistency, and patience.

It responds to positive reinforcement techniques and wants to be praised for its achievements.

If properly handled, the SDD learns commands really fast and obeys them every single time. The Serbian defense dog is particularly adaptable and can learn to do whatever the handler wants.

A powerful dog, originally bred for aggressiveness and strength is not something that should be taken lightly. Members of this breed must undergo extensive and thorough socialization starting as early as possible.

Obedience and leash training is also of imperative importance. Without proper socialization and training, Serbian defense dogs have the potential to grow into an aggressive and bad-behaved dogs.

Considering their size, tenacity, and determination, dealing with aggressive Serbian defense dogs is every handler’s worst nightmare.

Exercise Requirements And Energy Levels Of The Serbian Defense Dog

The Serbian defense dog is a strong beast with immense stamina. It enjoys being challenged, both physically and mentally. The SDD needs to steam off and lose its extra energy through vigorous physical activities. If bored and physically unchallenged, the SDD becomes destructive.

The SDD is a muscularly built dog with an athletic mindset, which means it enjoys all forms of physical activity, including running, hiking, swimming, and simply playing in the park.

Common Serbian Defense Dog Health Issues

The Serbian defense dog is a long-lived dog breed. Based on current knowledge, it is estimated that the average lifespan of this breed’s members is 18 to 20 years. For a dog of its size, this longevity is impressive.

There are not many studies regarding the Serbian defense dog’s health concerns. Based on reports, it is determined that members of this breed are prone to hip dysplasia, ear infections, and eye problems.

Diet And Nutrition Needs for the Serbian Defense Dog

The Serbian defense dog is a voracious eater, especially during puppyhood.

This puppy needs lots of high-quality and protein-rich food to grow into a fearless and strong adult. However, unless supervised and controlled, its exaggerated eating tendencies can easily lead to obesity.

The Serbian defense dog needs a high-quality diet that promotes intense growth and healthy muscle development. Its diet can be enriched with more healthy nutrients such as yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, rice, and certain vegetables. Serbian defense dogs also thrive on raw diets.

Serbian defense dogs are prone to developing gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). GDV occurs in dogs that are physically active after overeating.

To decrease the risk of developing GDV, the daily food should be divided into several separate meals, and after each meal, the Serbian defense dog should be allowed to rest for about an hour.

Tips For Raising A Healthy Serbian Defense Dog

Parenting a Serbian defense dog is an extremely challenging and responsible task. The breed is not recommended for first-time dog parents and dog parents that do not have the time, an SDD needs.

Raising a well-behaved, even-tempered, and stable Serbian defense dog requires patience, proper training, extensive socialization, and a bit of tough love.

All in all, even the most experienced dog parent may need professional help when training a Serbian defense dog.

The Cost of Parenting a Serbian Defense Dog

Purebred Serbian defense dogs usually cost between $500 and $21000 with an average price of $750. The breed still lacks recognition from official kennel clubs which influences the price.

The breed is also rare outside of Serbia which means adopting a Serbian defense dog is not something widely available.

It should be noted that the mentioned price is just the initial purchase cost. Once the pup is home, there will be additional expenses for food, treats, bowls, toys, harness and leash, beds, and last but not least – vet bills.

The first-year expenses are highest – around $3000 and after that, the annual cost will be around $1500 per year or $120 per month.

4 Fun Facts About The Serbian Defense Dog

1. The Serbian Defense Dog Is Not Afraid Of Gun Shots

When hearing a gunshot, most dogs are instinctively scared. This is normal – it is the natural fight or flight response. However, when an SDD hears a gunshot, instead of being scared, it becomes even more alert and patiently waits for the upcoming danger.

Being protective is wired deep into the SDD’s genetic code. The inner drive to guard and defend is stronger than its survival instinct.

2. The Serbian Defense Dog Is Extremely Obedient

There is no command the Serbian defense dog will disobey. This loyal and obedient dog thrives on performing heavy tasks and facing nearly impossible challenges. Even if obeying the command means risking its life, the SDD will not back down.

3. Serbian Defense Dog Mothers Are Overly Protective Of Their Puppies

According to anecdotal reports, nobody can approach SDD puppies if the mother is near. This protectiveness is great but it is difficult for breeders to check on the puppies if the mother does not grant access.

Breeders say that they need to lure the mother in another room while they check on the puppies and then put her back with the babies.

4. The Serbian Defense Dog Is An Undefeatable Gladiator

Because of its impressive fighting abilities, keen instincts, and unmatched physical strength, the Serbian defense dog gained legendary status in the dog pit-fighting circles.

Although, it was never the breed’s initial purpose to work as a gladiator, the notoriety of the SDD made the breed popular among criminal gangs in the Balkans.

In the grip of those criminal gangs, the SDD built a bad reputation.

At first, the SDD was paired to fight with other powerful breeds but soon it was determined that there is no matching opponent for this dog. For that reason, the SDD is now matched to fight only with other members of this breed.

Sadly, although illegal, dogfighting is still popular and quite common in many Balkan countries.

The SDD involvement in these so-called competitions deterred people from the breed’s real potential, to be a devoted and protective family dog. However, when raised by right and responsible owners, many Serbian defense dogs live happily as family dogs.

Serbian Defense Dog FAQs

1. Are Serbian Defense Dogs Good Family Pets?

Yes, with the right owner and proper training, Serbian defense dogs can grow into even-tempered, affectionate, and devoted family dogs. They are fond of children and extra protective of their entire human family.

2. Are Serbian Defense Dogs Aggressive?

Serbian defense dogs are bred for aggression and strength. However, with proper training and socialization, the potential for aggressiveness can be minimized. On the other hand, if mistreated, every dog has the potential to become aggressive.

3. Do Serbian Defense Dogs Bark A Lot?

Serbian defense dogs have a loud and scary bark. However, they do not bark unless provoked. If you hear an SDD barking, it means it is alerting you of upcoming danger or intruder.

4. Why Is The Serbian Defense Dog Not Recognized As A Breed?

The Serbian defense dog is a relatively new breed and as in most newly developed breeds, there are many inconsistencies regarding the breed’s standards, physical appearance, and temperament.

5. Is The Serbian Defense Dog Dangerous?

Yes, if raised to be a guardian, the Serbian defense dog can be dangerous especially for strangers.

The Serbian defense dog is naturally aloof, with impeccable instincts, and genetically wired to protect and defend. These traits make the Serbian defense dog a rather dangerous dog, particularly if in the wrong hands.