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East-European Shepherd: Everything You Need to Know

The East European Shepherd is the closest relative of the German Shepherd, which has a more restrained character and impressive dimensions

The East European Shepherd Dog is a “copy” of the German Shepherd Dog, improved and modified by Soviet breeders, which has absorbed the best qualities of its relative. Today’s “orientalist” is still an excellent watchman and bodyguard, but not such a gambling fool like his famous brother. It is thanks to the lightning-fast reaction and balanced character that the breed found recognition among the owners, one way or another connected with law and order and security activities. Vigilant and collected, BEO is the best suited for protecting property and scaring off those who encroach on someone else’s life. If such a dog lives in the house, safety and good nights are guaranteed.

Like most domestic service breeds, the East European Shepherd Dogs were bred in the 30-the 50s of the XX century, due to state necessity. By the way, the expression “state necessity” meant a guard-convoy service in the GULAG, which for obvious reasons was not advertised. The breeding material for the creation of the next super dog was German shepherds, thanks to which several breed lines were formed in the USSR at once. In particular, offspring from imported males such as Edu von Heisenhof, Edi von Blumenduft and Devete von Fürstensteg turned out to be the most sought after.

After the Great Patriotic War, the livestock of VEO in Soviet nurseries decreased to a critical minimum, which is why work on the development and improvement of the breed had to start from scratch. However, already in the 60s, seven new breeding lines appeared in the country, whose representatives demonstrated outstanding service and exterior qualities. The era of Stalin’s camps and prisons by that time had become part of history, so animals began to be attracted to serve in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and also used as guide dogs. Domestic cinema also fueled interest in the breed. After the release of the films “Come to me, Mukhtar!” and “Frontier Dog Scarlet” almost every second Soviet schoolchild dreamed of acquiring an East European Shepherd Dog.

In 1964, the first full-fledged standard of appearance was drawn up for the “orientalists”, which ensured them first recognition of the Union of Cynological Organizations of Russia, and later – the approval of the RKF. As for similar foreign and international communities, not all of them agreed to consider the BEO as a separate breed. So, for example, FCI still positions the East European Shepherd Dogs as a Russian branch of German Shepherds: updated and improved, but generally retained the phenotype and psychological traits of their ancestor.

Considering that the purebred VEO is, in fact, a “Russianized” German Shepherd, one cannot count on cardinal external differences between the breeds. Nevertheless, if we put a model “German” and his Soviet descendant next to each other, it is quite possible to identify each one. Usually, the first thing that catches your eye is the imposing build of the “orientalist”. As an example: the average German shepherd dog has the same height and weight as the Eastern European bitch, and this even though both breeds are characterized by sexual dimorphism. According to the breed standard, the height of the East European Shepherd Dog at the withers is 66-76 cm in males, 62-72 cm in bitches. The weight of “boys” and “girls” is 35-60 kg and 30-50 kg, respectively.

An important nuance is a backline. For the “Germans” it is strongly beveled (the angle of inclination is about 23 °), while for the “easterners” the top looks almost horizontal. The legs of BEO are much thicker and more massive than those of its ancestor. Hence the differences in movement. German Shepherds move in a short, shooting trot with a long stride, Eastern European ones in a more sweeping and heavy trot.

The skull is flattened, widened between the ears, with a shallow longitudinal groove. The brows and occipital protuberance are poorly defined. The stop is moderate, with no harshness. The muzzle of the East European Shepherd Dog is wedge-shaped, narrowed at the lobe, but not pointed.

The jaws of the East European Shepherd Dog are powerful, with a full complement of 42 large teeth. The only type of bite allowed by the standard is “scissors”.

The bridge of the nose is even, the lobe is massive, coal-black.

The eyes of the East European Shepherd Dog are medium in size, regular oval, set slightly oblique, and very wide. The desired color of the iris is as dark as possible.

The ears are of medium size, erect, with a triangular shape and a rounded tip. The ears are set wide and above eye level, in a calm dog they can take a slightly hanging position, in an alert dog they are raised strictly vertically.

The neck is set to the back at an angle of 40 ° to 45 °, gradually expanding towards the shoulders. In purebreds, the necks should be muscular, without dewlap.

The body of the East European Shepherd Dog is balanced, rectangular, moderately stretched. The back is strong, almost straight, elongated. The loin is slightly arched, short and massive. Well defined: withers line and wide rounded croup. The chest in representatives of this breed is oval, reaching to the elbows, with neatly curved ribs. The belly is moderately tucked up.

The dog has straight, parallel legs, and the hind legs are noticeably pulled back. The shoulder blades and humerus are elongated, obliquely positioned. The angle of the humeral-scapular joint is approximately 100 °. The forearms of the animal are straight, turning into elbows tightly pressed to the sides and long, springy pasterns, standing at a slight slope.

The hind legs look more massive due to the muscular thighs. The legs of the dog are moderately long, but without excessive elongation, the metatarsus is strong, almost vertical. The paws of the “orientalists” have a classic oval shape with paws in a ball and dense black pads.

Tail descending to the hock or below, curved saber. In a calm dog, the tail is lowered downward, in an agitated dog, it is raised (by about ⅔) to the upper back line.

The coat of East European Shepherd Dogs is double, formed by a dense soft undercoat, which has a lighter tone, and a hard semi-long awn, colored darker. Areas with abundant long hair – neck and thighs; with the shortest possible – the head, the front of the legs, the surface of the paws and fingers.

East European Shepherd Dogs can be black and red, black and black and gray. Suits such as black with lightened areas (marks above the eyes, on the paws, cheekbones, under the tail), black and tan and zoned gray are also allowed by the standard. Not encouraged, but zone-red color is also possible.

Disqualifying vices

  • Hanging ears.
  • A variety of bite deviations, including a skewed jaw.
  • Incomplete dental formula.
  • A suit that goes beyond the standard.
  • Insufficiently pigmented lobe.
  • Wool devoid of undercoat.
  • Too short tail.
  • The presence of a leucorrhoea, heterochromia, or a blue iris.
  • Curly, too long or short hair.
  • A stumbling, rolling gait.
  • Unreasonable malice and cowardice.

The average “orientalist” is more phlegmatic and more judicious than his German relative. He is not harsh and not quick-tempered, which in case of danger does not prevent the animal from making decisions and acting at lightning speed. Well, more precisely, the East European Shepherd is a dog that does not like the aimless manifestation of any qualities. The whole being of this serious, indefatigable campaigner strives to be of service to the owner. Accordingly, if you do not need either a vigilant watchman or a prudent security guard, it will not be easy to find an alternative type of activity for BEO.

East European Shepherd Dogs do not like strangers, and this hostility is ineradicable. At the same time, the dog will not rush at the stranger, as soon as he appeared in sight. Yes, the animal is ready to defend its owner 24 hours a day, but only when the threat is really real. However, here it is necessary to clarify: well-trained individuals behave so restrainedly, the owner of which was not too lazy to go through the OKD with them. With young dogs who have not learned to control their own emotions, it is better to keep your finger on the pulse. These “comrades” are not yet able to distinguish a friendly pat on the shoulder from a full blow and noisy companies from gangs of hooligans, so they can turn on the defender mode at the most inopportune moment.

Another nice bonus for fans of the East European Shepherd Dogs is that the males do not have the habit of competing with the owner for the status of an alpha male. With the right upbringing, the breed willingly transfers the reins of government to a person, easily getting used to the status of a companion and observing the necessary subordination. The only thing is that the roles in the house will have to be assigned immediately after the puppy appears in it. If this is not done promptly, the East European Shepherd Dog will have a reason to suspect the owner of spinelessness. And this is a direct path to disobedience, stubbornness, and, ultimately, to a dangerous confrontation between the owner and the pet.

In general, the East European Shepherd Dogs have a sustained character, as evidenced by their good-natured attitude towards children. Pets, with whom she had to grow up together, the dog does not offend either. But on stray coffees and dogs, the BEO can break, so on walks, the pet’s hobby for other four-legged creatures is better to take under personal control.

In terms of study, the East European Shepherd Dogs are solid good dogs. They are quick-witted, willingly delve into the essence of the actions they explain and do not confuse reality with situations simulated by a dog handler on a training ground. VEOs easily deal with basic OKD commands and learn the basics of ZKS with no less enthusiasm, but this is not the breed that assimilates the material once and for all. As dog handlers like to say: the East European Shepherd is trained and brought up throughout its life. This is the only way to really control the animals and not be afraid for the safety of others. Accordingly, introducing such a brutal pet into the house, you need to be prepared for the fact that training and repetition of the material covered will become an integral part of your life.

Important: the East European Shepherd Dog considers as its owner not the one who brings a bowl of food every day, but the person who trains it, therefore, it is better to train the pet on your own, resorting to consulting a professional dog handler only in the most difficult situations.

Up to two months old, an East European Shepherd puppy is socialized, that is, the dog must get used to the place of residence, owners, sounds, and smells accompanying it at home. From the age of two months, learning of elementary commands and obedience lessons begins, which will at the same time prepare for the upcoming OKD. At this age, the baby will have to learn a new rule: before taking an action, you must obtain permission from the owner. By the way, it is possible to fully train a shepherd dog only if it understands and recognizes the authority of the owner. When playing with your BEO puppy, don’t let him win. The kid regards this behavior as a weakness, which he will not hesitate to take advantage of.

The age of 4 months is the optimal period for learning more complex commands from the same OKD with the East European Shepherd Dog. If everything is planned correctly, by 6 months the puppy will be ready to pass the standards for the course and will be able to begin to engage in security activities. True, up to a year, the skills and abilities learned by the pet will have to be additionally honed and brought to perfection. As noted earlier, the repetition of material for the breed is an absolute must.

For owners planning a sports career for their own pets, the international IPO course can be recommended. However, it should be understood that such programs from imposing and, what is really there, heavy “orientalists” go with a creak. As for the ZKS, it makes sense to enroll an East European Shepherd Dog for such courses after successfully passing the OKD, and also if you are an employee of law enforcement agencies and work in tandem with a four-legged friend. In other cases, passing such a harsh program is not necessary. If necessary, the East European Shepherd Dog will protect the owner even without training, and due to a rather calm temperament, the BEO will not make minced meat out of the enemy. Her mission is to catch up with the conditional aggressor, lay her on her shoulder blades, demonstrating her own physical superiority. However, in 90% of cases, the matter does not reach a full-fledged race for the enemy: having estimated the dimensions of the East European Shepherd Dog, the attackers prefer to disappear from the field of view of such a vigilant bodyguard on their own.

For a typical city apartment, the East European Shepherd Dog is not the most suitable size, so if you have already decided to replenish the family, think in advance about how to provide the dog with a sufficient amount of free space. In particular, the pet’s bed should be in a secluded but well-lit place – the breed does not need rickets. If the shepherd’s mattress lies in the aisle, where the legs of the household constantly cling to it, this irritates and irritates the puppy. It is better to choose a semi-rigid mattress for the East European Shepherd, to avoid the appearance of calluses on the elbows, and fix the food bowl on an adjustable tripod (choose the highest design), which will reduce the stress on the joints.

The optimal option from the standpoint of convenience for the owner is the keeping of the East European Shepherd in an open-air cage with an insulated kennel, which should be of such a size that the dog can not only lie down in it, but also stretch its paws. Dry hay is suitable for bedding. The main thing – do not forget to change the litter promptly and treat the dog’s housing from parasites twice a year. Usually, the signal that it is time to disinfect is the unwillingness of the shepherd to lie in the booth. In summer, the hay “bed” of the BEO is not needed, but so that the pet does not build up calluses, it is better to lay a rug in the aviary. And most importantly: no chains, even if they are long, and allow the dog to run around the yard. This approach spoils the animal, developing in it a distrust of the owner and anger against the whole world.

To make life easier for yourself in the future, educate your puppy about hygiene as an inevitable necessity. Remember, the East European Shepherd is not a Pomeranian that can be immobilized with one hand. And if a pet resists hygienic procedures from an early age, then when the animal grows up and builds up muscle mass, it will be impossible to “persuade” him. The rest of the breed is considered unpretentious and does not require professional care. For example, daily brushing of the BEO will be required twice a year, during the molting season. In the intervals between these periods, dead hairs are removed once or twice a week with a brush or rubber mitten. It is recommended to wash the East European Shepherd Dog twice a month if the animal does not run in puddles. In the summer, you can limit yourself to swimming in the open water, which the breed is madly in love with.

It is better to examine the dog’s ears regularly, but it is not worth fighting for the complete “sterility” of the ear canal. Remove brown plaque with tissues and veterinary lotions only when there is really a lot of it. Remember, frequent “diving” with cotton swabs into the ear funnel provokes serum production, which makes the ear look even more untidy. By the way, it is better not to stroke the head of the East European Shepherd Dogs until one year old. The ear sheet of the breed is heavy, slow, and difficult to “get up”, so any careless touch to it can cause an incorrect cartilage position.

East European Shepherds are active and strong dogs, although they are inferior to their German relatives in endurance. Accordingly, they should be less loaded during training and walking than German shepherds. For example, up to 7-8 months, a VEO puppy is prohibited from any physical activity. The only thing a kid can count on is short excursions in the park and swimming in rivers and lakes if the weather is warm enough. Puppies are also not allowed to wear harnesses with weights, although such accessories are not prohibited and can be a good help in training a service dog.

Traditional walking on a leash is not practiced with adults. If a mature “orientalist” is already out on the street, he should be allowed to blow off steam. Usually, to warm up, the breed takes 1-2 hours, which can accommodate towing objects in snow or sand, racing a bike, jogging in shallow water, and swimming. But all this is provided that the pet is healthy. Any sports, including water sports, are strictly contraindicated for sick and cold dogs. In addition, it is best not to offer jumping exercises in the first year of life for an East European Shepherd Dog. Like any large breed, these BEO exercises are difficult, which only accelerates the wear and tear of the joints.

The East European Shepherd Dog does not need a specific diet. She will be satisfied with a traditional dog menu or premium industrial food. Nevertheless, it is better to follow several simple rules to keep your pet healthy.

  • Meat is given raw if it is fresh and you are aware of its origin. In other cases, it is better not to take risks and boil or scald the product.
  • No food from your table, even if your pet asks.
  • Fewer fruits and vegetables in the diet. Yes, they have a lot of vitamins and healthy fibers, but the digestive system of the East European Shepherd Dog is poorly adapted for digesting plant foods.
  • Dogs do not need any flavor additives. In particular, porridge made from several types of cereals, nuts, and dried fruits is not useful excesses that are not worth spending time and money on.

It is almost impossible to properly balance the natural diet of the East European Shepherd Dog at home, so all kinds of feeding and veterinary dietary supplements come to the rescue. For example, puppies are given complexes with chondroitin and glucosamine to support articular cartilage. However, here it is also important not to overdo it: an overdose of minerals and vitamins is a serious thing. Pre-consult with a specialist who will determine exactly whether your ward needs additional feeding or can easily do without them.

Usually, puppies move to new owners no earlier than two months of age. This is exactly the period when the baby is transferred to five meals a day. From 4 to 8 months of life, the East European Shepherd Dog eats four times a day, from 8 months to a year – three times. It is recommended to transfer the “oriental” to two-time feeding from one and a half years, but even such individuals for the first 5-7 months in the middle of the day are satisfied with light kefir or fruit and vegetable snack.

The East European Shepherd Dogs have good health, but the breed’s predisposition to some diseases has not been canceled. So, for example, VEOs are prone to gastric volvulus, because of which feeding in large portions is strictly contraindicated for them. In addition, like the overwhelming majority of large dogs, the “orientalists” often make themselves felt by the joints. Moreover, this can be both classic dysplasias caused by overweight and physical inactivity, and inflammatory diseases like arthritis. Shepherd dogs also inherited glaucoma and the turn of the century from their ancestors, which is why it is so important to study the pedigrees and veterinary passports of litter producers.

How to choose a puppy?

  • Meet the mother of the puppies and appreciate her temperament, as it is passed on to the offspring. In particular, if the breeder puts the bitch on a leash before your arrival, she is most likely aggressive and poorly controlled. Think about it, do you need a puppy with such hereditary luggage?
  • An East European Shepherd dog barking at a stranger is common, especially if it is a female protecting her offspring. However, the litter breeder should not take more decisive action.
  • When choosing a future service dog, focus on the working qualities of its parents. Do you have diplomas in ZKS and OKD? Excellent! In 9 cases out of 10, the puppy will repeat, or even break parental records.
  • If you are taking an East European Shepherd as a pet and companion, resist the temptation to grab the quickest toddler with leadership skills. Also, check with the breeder how the mother of the puppies treats the children. The breed’s love for children is also hereditary.
  • If you are afraid not to cope with the education and training of the East European Shepherd Dog, refuse to buy grown-up puppies. On the one hand, it’s great that the breeder managed to do some of the work, socializing the teenager, giving him the necessary vaccinations, and teaching him commands, but it is more difficult to re-educate such a puppy and adapt personal preferences.
  • When buying an East European Shepherd Dog for breeding, look online for information about the kennel’s participation in exhibitions, and also check if its pupils have won any awards.

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