Background on the Breed
The information below is from the BBPS Semperviva website :
Karakachan dog (Karakachansko kuche in bulg.): The Karakachan dog is a very ancient breed of livestock guarding dog. It comes from the shepherd dogs of the ancient Thracians and dogs used for livestock protection by the proto-Bulgarians, who came from Central Asia. Karakachan people had selected this dog conservatively and had formed its present type. Due to its perfect working qualities this breed has been also widely used by Bulgarian shepherds. According to the literature, in the past some livestock breeders, who had had a huge number of sheep (about 12 000) had owned 100 dogs for protection of these flocks. Until the World War II the Karakachan dog had been used in the Bulgarian army.
These dogs are large, powerful, with harmonic proportions. The coat is long and coarse. The coloration is mainly spotted (big contrast spots on white base or white spots on dark base). These dogs are very movable and have big aggressiveness towards carnivores. They are also very unpretentious to the conditions they live. They can work in different conditions, which are sometimes very hard (rough terrain and high number of predators). Due to their qualities these dogs became legends in the Bulgarian folklore.
Factors influencing extinction of the breed: After the nationalization of private livestock in 1957 a big number of Karakachan dogs had got useless and many dogs had been killed. In that period the wolf had been heavily persecuted and almost exterminated. In the period 1960s - 1980s the socialist government carried out several campaigns for extermination of domestic dogs including Karakachan dogs with the aim to trade with their furs. The main part of the population of the breed was saved in the state livestock farms, particularly in mountainous areas. However, after 1991 when the state farms stopped to function, these dogs became "homeless" and most of them were killed by hunters again. Due to the extremely low number and particularly shortage of females, shepherds started to crossbreed them with other mix-bred dogs or such from similar foreign breeds. Up to day the government has not supported the breed survival in any way, except including it in the Red Data List of the autochthon forms domestic animals, which is a part of the National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy of Bulgaria, as a disappearing breed (or critical).
Current status of the breed: Until the middle of 1990s common decrease of the Karakachan dog population (working dogs and such which do not work) was observed. The status of the dog became critically low. In contrast, since that time increasing occurred. However, after that time and up to now the number of purebred Karakachan dogs, owned by dog breeders or by dog lovers, increased at the expense of the decreasing aboriginal population of the breed. It turned out that almost all the best working, aboriginal dogs were taken by Karakachan dog breeders and kept by them, with the purpose to save and to breed those dogs. Recently, thanks to the popularizing activities carried out by BBPS -SEMPERVIVA and some other breeders and thanks to the projects of returning the dog to its natural environment there is a slight trend of increase of working dogs.
On the base of BBPS - SEMPERVIVA studies, the alive purebred Karakachan dogs in Bulgaria are between 600 - 700 individuals. In the herd book of the society 202 dogs have been registered.
<www.dogbreedinfo.com/bulgarianshepherddog.htm>. This standard is written by Mr. Nicholay Atanassov based on his own researches of the dog. "The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog is alert, easily adapted to the environment, adequately reacting in situations in which is involved. Towards its master or handler demonstrates devotion and fidelity. Usually tolerant to the children they have been raised with, they love and bond with all people and children within their own family... The BSD is a true working dog with great working characteristics, combined with stabilized exterior appearance. This dog defends pets, guards the farm, and looks for his master and family's safety."
<//home.deds.nl/~ranek/standaard_EN.htm> This has a brief historical survey about how the Karakachan Dog is one of Europe's oldest breeds and how it is used in classical literature. The site goes on to say 'The Karakachan Dog's bravery and dignity, together with its incredible loyalty, make this dog an invaluable friend and helper. This dog is extremely undemanding and easy to keep. As far as temperament and behavior: proud, domineering, weary to strangers, brave and intelligent dog of tough, steady and independent character.