Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog Sharplanina

FCI standard Nº 41

Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid breeds - Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dog
Section 2.2 Molossoid breeds, Mountain type
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Wednesday 24 July 1957
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 24 November 1970
Last update
Friday 03 October 1980
En français, cette race se dit
Chien de berger yougoslave de Charplanina
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Jugoslawischer Hirtenhund Sarplaninac
En español, esta raza se dice
Perro de pastor yugoslavo de Charplanina
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Joegoslavische Herdershond Charplanina
In his country of origin, his name is

Jugoslovenski Ovcarski Pas-Sarplaninac


The Sarplaninac is one of the oldest herdsmen assigned to this work even today. It protects the herd from predators: wolves, lynx, bears and thieves. He is so brave that he did not hesitate to oppose much more powerful than him. He will defend what has been entrusted to the last breath, sacrificing himself if necessary.

Brief historical summary

The Yugoslavian Dog Sharplanina has been bred since time immemorial in the south eastern mountain regions of Yugoslavia. The breed was named after the Sharplanina Mountain range where it is the most common. Today Sharplaninas are being bred all over the country. The breed is registered with the F.C.I. since 1939 under n° 41 under the designation “Illirski Ovcar” (Yllyrian Shepherd Dog). In 1957 the General Assembly of the F.C.I. accepted a motion proposed by the Yugoslavian Federation of Cynology to change the name of the breed to “Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog Sharplanina”.
The origin of the breed remains controversial. It seems likely that it came to Europe from Asia in the course of the prehistoric mass migrations. The original type of the breed has been maintained solely in such parts of the country where intense cattle breeding is still prevailing and where this dog still can play its original role of a guardian and protector of the cattle herds against predatory animals.

General appearance

The Sharplanina is a robust, well proportioned dog with plenty of bone, of a size that is well above the average and with a thick, long, rather coarse coat that emphasizes the short coupled appearance.

Important proportions

The length of the body is slightly longer than its height at the withers; the relation is about 8 : 10 for dogs, 10 : 12 for bitches.

Behaviour / temperament

Of sturdy constitution, even disposition, good temperament, reliable, protective but not snappy; incorruptible and devoted to its master.


Cranial region

The head is proportioned to the body. Its total length measures approximately 25 cm which corresponds to about 40% of the height at the withers. The skull is slightly longer than the muzzle (the relation being 57 : 43%). The skull has a slightly convex topline; the nasal bone is straight. The lines of the two profiles are converging.
Is broad with a well marked groove. Seen in profile as well as from above, the skull should appear slightly convex and a little rounded. The eyebrows are only slightly marked. The occiput is invisible. 

Facial region

Broad and black.
Is shorter than the skull, broad and deep at the root, slightly tapering towards the nose. The nasal bone is straight and broad. The underjaw, as seen in profile, starts with a bend and then proceeds in a straight line diverging from the profile of the nasal bone.
Moderately thick and tight; the upper lip is only slightly overhanging over the under lip. The corners of the lips are clean without even a hint of a flew.
Jaws and teeth
Scissor bite; full dentition.
Almond shaped, neither large nor deep set, dark or light brown in colour, with a quiet but piercing gaze that should never show fear. The lids and the visible connective tissues should be black.
Are set on a line running from the tip of the nose through the inner corner of the eye or slightly underneath. They are V-shaped and dropping, hanging close to the cheeks, and covered with short, dense hair.


The crest is either slightly convex or straight. The throatline is straight. The neck is of medium length but because of the length and thickness of the coat it looks shorter than it really is. Broad, deep and muscled, it is merging smoothly into the head and the shoulders. To be carried slightly above the line of the back. The skin is tight and without dewlaps. The coat is dense, long and coarse with a marked frill at the junction of head and neck (nape); this particularity is inbroadening the width and depth of this body part.


The topline is horizontal or slightly sloping towards the croup. Dogs bred in the mountains may be allowed a croup that is lying slightly higher than the withers but this is not a desirable feature. The total length of the body exceeds slightly the height at the withers.
Are moderately developed and broad. The connexion with the neck is powerful and the passage hardly noticeable.
Is straight and broad, not too long. The loin is shorter, broad and muscular.
Of medium length, sloping and well muscled.
Is deep, the brisket reaching to the elbows, of medium length, with slightly sprung ribs. The forechest is broad and muscular. The girth of the ribcage should exceed the height at the withers by at least 20%.
Underline and belly
Is tucked up and muscled. The lower profile is gently rising from the front to the rear. The flanks are rather short and with a pronounced groove.


The tail is long and reaching at least the hock joint. The topline of the croup is sloping gradually and evenly into the tail. Strong at the root, tapering to the tip, with feathering along the lower side. Carried in a slight curve like a sabre; when the dog is excited, the curve is accentuated and the tail may be lifted above the line of the back.



The front legs are straight and well proportioned to the body. The elbows are at about 55% of the total height at the withers. The different parts of the forequarters are well proportioned to each other and to the body. The shoulders are fairly long and broad, flat, sloping and forming an angle of 65° with a horizontal line. The upper arm (humerus) is more obliquely set than the shoulder blade, the angle with the horizontal line being of 55°. It joins the forearm at an angle of 145°. The elbow joint is broad, neither out-nor inturned and placed only very slightly off from the ribcage. The forearm is straight, long, with plenty of bone and well developed muscles and feathering along the rear side. The pasterns are broad and strong, slightly slanting. The feet are firm, oval shaped with well arched and closed toes. Nails strong and black. Soles tough but elastic, black.


Viewed from behind the legs appear to stand evenly, slightly wider apart than the forelegs. Seen from the side, they also appear of even construction and fairly well angulated. The upper thigh is well muscled, rounded, obliquely placed, the angle with a horizontal line being similar to that of the shoulder. The stifle (joint between the upper and the lower thigh) is slightly less angulated than the scapula-humerus joint (about 125°). The stifle is strong and broad. The second thigh is also obliquely placed, strong, with long muscles and very bushy feathering. The hock is broad and displays a rather open angle (about 130°). The metatarsus should be less slanting than the pastern. Dewclaws are rare and should be removed.

Gait and movement

The stride is long and elastic. The most usual gait is the trot with a high and moderately outreaching action. At a gallop the dog appears to be somewhat clumsy but the jumps are long and covering plenty of ground.


The skin is moderately thick, elastic and tight all over the body. No dewlaps. All the visible mucous membranes are black or deeply pigmented.


The head, ears and front side of the legs are covered with short hair. Around the neck, on the rump, at the rear side of the legs and on the tail the hair is long, almost flat and somewhat coarse. Under the guard hair the abundant undercoat is short, dense and of fine texture. At the withers the hair should measure between 10 and 12 cm; it should not be shorter than 7 cm.
The Sharplanina is a solid coloured dog. All colours are acceptable from white to dark brown that looks almost black. The preferred shade is a greenish grey (iron grey) and dark grey. Spotting and white markings are not allowed. Pigmented dogs may show tiny white markings at the chest and toes but they are undesirable. The upper part of the head, the neck and the body is of a darker hue that fades out into a dirty white or a yellowish grey toward the extremities. The change must be very gradual and by no means give the impression of a spotted pattern of actually create a spotted coat.

Size and weight

Height at withers
The average height at the withers is 62 cm for males and 58 cm for bitches. Males under 56 cm and bitches under 54 cm are not eligible for breeding.
Dogs from 35-45 kg; bitches from 30-40 kg.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

General faults

 Insufficiently broad skull.
 Muzzle too long.
 Jaws too heavy.
 Chest lacking in width and depth.
 Flatsidedness or exaggeratedly sprung ribs.
 Any slight deviation of the limbs from the correct position.
 Coat slightly shorter than desired as long as the feathering is alright.
 White markings on chest and feet.
 Tail slightly too short.
 Hare-feet and other minor physical blemishes.

Serious faults

 Muzzle too long or snipy.
 Ears set too high or standing off (not hanging close enough to the cheeks).
 Pincer (level) bite.
 Tail carried with a side bend.
 Lympathic constitution and other severe physical faults.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.
 Missing premolars.
 A striking disproportion between the length of the body and the height at the withers.
 Insufficient height at the withers.
 Hair shorter than 7 cm.
 Extended white markings (spotting) and brindle pattern.
 Unpigmented visible mucous membranes and eyes.
 Any future betraying a degeneration, severely cowlegged or cowhocked, like over- or undershot mouths, bobtails (dogs born with only a stump or not tail at all), severe swayback, etc.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.




Detailed history

Central Europe is home to several breeds of dogs which, by their appearance and function of herdsman, are more or less alike. We are therefore tempted to look for either common origins or a common evolution, by the game of successive crossings. This is how the Shepherd of Charplanina evokes the Caucasian Shepherd, one of those big, powerful and incorruptible dogs, who were once asked to defend herds against wolves. And, quite naturally, modern subjects have kept this look of fighting dogs so characteristic.

The Charplanina Shepherd, also known as Charplaninatz or simply Charpla, takes its name from the Sar Planina mountain range stretching from southern Serbia and Kosovo and north-west Macedonia to the north. is from Albania. It is on this high plateau 60 kilometers wide, perched at 2600 meters altitude and swept by a harsh climate that the race has developed. The discovery of a drawing of this dog in a monastery of the early Middle Ages also shows that the Yugoslav Shepherd lives for a long time in these regions.

According to Professor Pavlovitch, former director of the veterinary school in Belgrade, Charplaninatz is said to have ascended the Tibetan Mastiff, which was introduced on these lands during Mongol invasions. This great specialist, along with some students, went to the mountains of Sar Planina to observe the many dogs that live there. He measured them and photographed them, and then averaged them to write the current standard of the breed.

While it is true that the Charplaninatz evokes in many ways the Tibetan Mastiff, many cynologists point out that the Mongol invasions never reached Yugoslavia and that, in any case, they were well after this high Middle Age of which the oldest representation of this dog would date; they think that it was the troops of the Carthaginian general Hannibal who, during their journey against Rome, had sprouted all over the war dogs, type Mastin of Naples, whose crossing with local breeds would have given the first Charplaninatz.

In the absence of documents to support it, this hypothesis is as unlikely as the first, and it is preferable to stick to a single fact, he, unmistakable: for fifteen centuries, the appearance of this dog has almost not changed; he has kept his imposing musculature which allows him to defend his master and the flocks entrusted to his care.

Esteemed for all his abilities, the Charplaninatz became in a way the Yugoslav national dog. The historical evidence pleading in his favor is well before the birth of the Yugoslav state. Thus we find in the stories of Captain Cagnet on the Russian retreat Charplaninatz responsible for protecting the canteen hunters of Dalmatia. Closer to home, these dogs were not afraid to attack the horses of the German army during the last war, so that even today, no less than 200 Charplanina shepherds are employed by the German army. army and the Yugoslav customs services.

With about 10,000 subjects, the breeding is seriously organized. Proud of their dogs, the Yugoslavs are willing to export only quality specimens and foreign breeders who have won their trust. Currently, after Yugoslavia, France certainly has the most beautiful European herd of Charplanina Shepherds, since the number of LOF registrations has steadily increased over the last ten years: 2 in 1979, 6 in 1981, 24 in 1982, 60 in 1983, 109 in 1984, 129 in 1985 and 224 in 1986.

"It's the only dog ​​that can die without complaining," say the Yugoslavs when they have to highlight the qualities of the Charplanina Shepherd. This is how much courage, bravery, strength are legendary at home.

If one encouraged the athletic aspect, the muscular power of the Charplaninatz, it is of course because the task that one wished to entrust to him required it. During the day, sheep-dogs, small and alert, guided the movements of the herds, but at night the Charplaninatz became the master of the high pastures on which he lived. He then watched the approach, always to be feared, of a wolf or a bear, gave warning when he considered the serious danger and did not hesitate to engage the fight.

Today, the Charplanina Shepherd has lost none of his ancestral behavior. When he enters a family, it is somehow in a pack that he enters, typically canine attitude that translates into home a natural desire to protect his masters and their property. There is no need to train him to make him an irreproachable guardian. This is an innate ability. Spontaneously, it intervenes as soon as a stranger crosses without being invited the threshold of the property which he has custody. It is not aggressive and does not bite without reason. He is a dog who is aware of his strength and attitude as impressive as he is dissuasive, and he has no need to be aggressive. Moreover, anyone who finds himself facing a Charplaninatz blocking the passage will judge of itself that it is useless to insist. The nervous and psychological balance of this dog is such that we do not know of a serious accident that can be attributed to him. This guarantee is not negligible when one thinks of acquiring one, especially for the custody of a property.

It is precisely this balance, this tremendous assurance shown by the Charplaninatz, which encourages French breeders to think that the breed, yet introduced in France only in the early eighties, could gradually replace the German Shepherd , at least for some missions. It must not be concluded that a guardian born, be constantly on the heels, stirring, going and coming in all directions. On the contrary, when he lives among his family, the Charplaninatz offers the quiet image of a large dog, often lying, placid, an attitude that some would even seem a little hastily laziness. However, make no mistake: he is always watching, and if he begins to bark suddenly, or if he is walking briskly toward the door, it means that someone is the. He will never move without reason. Some subjects, moreover, like to doze the day, showing that they have kept the memory of the time of their ancestors, where it is the night that could be synonymous with danger.

But, if it is pulled from its torpor, Charplaninatz willingly accept to play, especially with children, to which, however, it will always be attentive, while not hesitating to be an accomplice to their laughter and their mischief. Again, it is worth remembering a basic advice of caution against a dog over 40 pounds: he may accidentally spill a toddler, without having to see there any expression of aggression or jealousy. In fact, with regard to humans, big or small, the Charplaninatz is balanced, being aware of the place it must respect.

Native to a mountainous region, with a particularly thick fur, Charplaninatz is obviously a very rustic dog. It has the reputation of being able to withstand temperatures ranging from -40 to + 40 ° C, to be little subject to diseases, no specific disease of the race having ever appeared. It is not by chance, indeed, if many Charplaninatz, for the delight of those who love them, live until the advanced age of twenty, which is exceptional for a dog.

As for its maintenance, it does not require any particular attention. The hair does not knot, and just brush it regularly to keep it soft and full. Despite its size significantly above average, the Charplaninatz is hardly demanding either on its diet. Accustomed to difficult living conditions, this dog was once fed bread and milk, and he still knows how to settle for little.

Although he is able to keep quiet, the Yugoslav Shepherd is not happy in the apartment. This big dog needs to spend himself regularly: running, maintaining his muscles, releasing his energy through vast spaces: these are the essential conditions for his natural rhythm to be respected. And, even if he lives in a garden, one must not neglect to take him in the forest, in the country, wherever he can enjoy a land that his nature claims. Finally, being an intractable guardian does not prevent him from knowing how to be very affectionate towards his masters and, of course, that he needs warmth and affection.

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