Russian Prison Guard Dogs – 5 Health Concerns (2023)

Imagine, if you will, a domestic dog big and strong enough to not only take down a bear but also to kill it with barely an injury to itself.

Topping out at close to three feet tall at the shoulder and even closer to 200 pounds, the Caucasian Ovcharka is one of the largest dog breeds in the world and looks very much like the bears it was originally bred to hunt.

This is a breed that requires a strict but loving hand, socialization from the time they open their eyes, and respect for the furry tank with a guardian instinct and prey drive so strong it will attack anything perceived as not belonging to its family.

Through the bloodlines of the Caucasian Ovcharka runs the influence of the ancient Molasser: the huge Mastiff often seen in Roman artwork wearing a thick collar with spikes and looking incredibly fierce.

According to the FCI, dogs similar in type to the modern Ovcharka were known to have been used in the Armenian Army in at least the 1st Century BCE.

Today this influence is present in other domestic breeds including the English Mastiff, Rottweiler and even the St. Bernard, among others.

Like many domestic breeds, the modern incarnation of the Caucasian Ovcharka was first given a written breed standard in the 1930s and it was first exhibited at a dog show in Germany around that same time as the “Trans-Caucasian Ovtcharka.”

This type was similar to the massive breed today, heavily muscled with a thick coat. A second type, much lighter in build with a shorter coat, the “Kavaskaya Sobaka,” was also common at the time.

It would not be until the Soviets established an “official” breed type within the Russian Kynological Federation in the 1970s that the current name of the breed was adopted.

This change in the standard led to the three variations within the breed recognized today and divided by coat type: short, intermediate, and long.

In the United States, the Caucasian Ovcharka was accepted by the AKC into the Foundation Stock Service in 1996. They are classified as a working breed by both the AKC and the FCI.

A Prison and Patrol Guard Dog – Working in the Depths of Russia

Caucasian Ovcharka dogs were one of several breeds used to help patrol the Berlin Wall in Germany in the 1960s. There were still almost 7,000 of these dogs working that beat when the wall was torn down in 1989 and they were placed with cautious breeders throughout Germany.

German breeders are working to breed out some of the dog’s fiercer personality traits without taking away their intelligence or protective instinct.

The Caucasian Ovcharka Working Dog Club of America states that breeders in other countries are seeking to “soften” the breed’s overall temperament considerably, a move that is causing controversy among dog fanciers on both sides of the issue.

It is within Russia, however, that the popularity of the Caucasian Ovcharka has never waned in almost one thousand years. The breed remains popular as a livestock guard, show dog and is used extensively for both military and prison guard duties.

The Russian military and Russian prison guards put their dogs through a rigorous training regimen. Hundreds of hours are put in by both guards and dogs to ensure not only a respectful working relationship, but also to develop a fearless dog not given to anxiety or unease while doing its job.

From the time the pups are nine weeks old they are socialized to accept people as their leaders. Very shortly thereafter they will find themselves in situations that call for aggression and fear.

These situations include working at night, as well as exposing them to loud noises like gunfire and prisoners shouting. In each situation, the most aggressive behaviors are the most awarded.

The idea of using the Caucasian Ovcharka as a service animal in this capacity is not a new one; in fact, their job titles changed drastically from livestock guardian to prison guard during the reign of Stalin.

Stalin’s plans were only made possible by virtually enslaving his own people. He had prisons known as gulags built throughout the taiga of the Russian Empire, many of them in the frozen hell that is Siberia.

According to a book written in the late 1940s about the forced labor camps, dogs such as the Caucasian Ovcharka were trained to despise any person dressed in torn, ragged clothing.

The poor souls forced to live there had no chance of escape with such an intimidating animal barring any break for freedom.

Times have changed, however, and Russian prisons are now used to house actual criminals. The Caucasian Ovcharka is still valued for its prey drive, but intellect and health are factors in selection for this job as well.

The Ovcharka possesses the intellect to differentiate between prison guards and the prisoners, just as it does between members of its family (including other animals and people) and strangers.

They are expected to attack prisoners on command, yet they are equally expected to maintain their composure and allow their handlers time to assess a situation before jumping into it head first.

Prison guard duty is certainly no job for a weak-minded or nervous dog; in fact, a dog with these traits would be ruthlessly cut from the training regimen as it would be liability and a threat to other guards.

Russian Guard Dog Extraordinaire – The Caucasian Ovcharka is Unmatched

The Caucasian Ovcharka is and will always be a guardian, regardless of how many appear in the show ring. Though their job title switched from protecting livestock in the mountains to protecting people in many capacities, they are virtually still the same intelligent, assertive, courageous animal.

As such, it should be handled and taught to respect people and other animals of all shapes and sizes. The Caucasian Ovcharka Working Dog Club of America states that Ovcharka cannot ever have enough training or socialization.

Per their guidelines, these powerful dogs should be trained in basic obedience prior to six months of age, including sit and stay with distractions, proper healing and leash walking, manners and being neutral to other people and animals in situations such as the park or in a crowd.

The idea that the Caucasian Ovcharka can never receive too much training and socialization cannot be repeated enough. With proper training and handling, these dogs can and do become excellent guardians and loyal friends.

Russian Prison Guard Dogs: Everything You Need To Know About Caucasian Ovcharka

Did you know that Russian prison guard dogs are some of the most vicious in the world? The Caucasian Ovcharka or Caucasian Shepherds are strong, courageous, and protective. These dogs have been used as working animals for centuries, and in recent years, their use in law enforcement and the military has increased.

Russian prisons are said to be one of the world’s most violent and dangerous places. These prisons are highly guarded using prison guard dogs. These dogs have been trained to attack and kill anyone who tries to escape from prison, making them a formidable force against inmates.

This article will take a closer look at these terrifying animals and discover why they are used in prisons. We will also explore how you can look after one if you wish to pet one of these dogs. So, if you are curious about Russian prison guard dogs, keep reading!

Russian Prison Guard Dog

Russian Prison Dogs: Key Takeaways

  • The Caucasian Shepherd Dog (CSD) is also known as the Russian Prison Guard Dog.
  • Russian prison guard dog is a large dog breed with many names.
  • This dog was used for protection to guard livestock against dangerous predators, but in the modern world, they are used as prison dogs and military dogs.
  • Over the years, the Russian prison dog has grown in popularity, with people bringing them into their homes.
  • Russian prison guard dogs are not suitable for novices, and only skilled and trained pet parents should own them.

What Is a Russian Prison Dog?

Prison Dogs are breeds of dogs that were originally bred to keep sheep and livestock safe from predators like bears, coyotes, and wolves.

They have an exciting history in the Caucasus mountain region, where they were used by farmers who needed someone quick on their feet with plenty of guarding power when needed most.

Today, prison dogs are trained canines that guard and protect prisons.

History and Origin of the Russian Prison Dog

The history of the Russian prison guard dogs starts in ancient times. It is believed that these dogs originated from a breed found throughout Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Chechnya, and Southeastern Russia.

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is one of the oldest breeds in existence, with some people believing that they came from domesticated wolves and others tracing their lineage to Mastiffs or even old-world dog breeds like Bulgars.

The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the giant breeds in this world, but there are many other giants that can trace their lineage back through time. These large dogs have long been used as working animals, and both resemble each other quite closely; it is hard not to notice how similar they really seem.

In the Soviet Union in the 1920s, Russians began breeding Caucasian Shepherds as military, prison, and police dogs. The majority of its essential qualities were developed during this period.

The courage to face a challenge, the power of observation, and quick wit are some things that can be found in dogs. They also have an excellent sense of smell which helps them hunt down their prey or enemies with ease.

This breed’s impressive characteristics allow it to be used in different climatic conditions, from good winters and summers all the way up to harsh weather.

They are also an excellent working breed that was introduced to assist with tasks like herding cattle. With their long coats and sharp features, the Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are also used as show dogs today.

What Types of Dogs Guard Prisons?

The Rottweiler is a muscular, large breed of dog defined as familiar for its fearless nature and protective capabilities. For years, this dog breed was initially bred to guard and provide protection against those who would enter your property without permission.

They are used as pet dogs nowadays, but they are usually more inclined towards being used for protection rather than a company.

When we talk about prison dogs, the most popular breed is the Caucasian Ovcharka. There are two main types of Russian prison guard dogs, depending on where they are from in the area:

The Steppe: The Steppe type is a thicker build and darker browner coloration than the Mountain variety.

The Mountain: The Mountain form has a giant-sized and thick coated body than Steppe.

brown caucasian shepherd dog walking

Russian Prison Dog Breed

The Russian Prison Dog is Caucasian Shepherd or Caucasian Ovcharka dog. The Caucasian Shepherd Dog or Russian Prison Dog is registered by both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Unitedwrites kennels Club (UKC).

This breed of dog has become popular worldwide, and as a result, it has been given many different names.

  • Kaukasische Schaferhund
  • Caucasian Shepherd
  • Caucasian Mountain Shepherd
  • Kawkasky Owtscharka
  • Caucasian Mountain Dog
  • Caucasian Ovcharka
  • Caucasian Sheepdog

The Caucasian Shepherd is a lookalike breed for the Central Asian, but these are two separate breeds.

Many similar dog types also come from this region, including Georgian Shepherds. You will also find some similar breeds in Turkey, such as Akbash or Kangals.

They share some characteristics with each other yet still maintain their individual differences.

Different Names Of The Russian Prison Guard Dog?

The Russian prison dog gets his name from a fascinating history with humans – one that has been full of tragedy and sadness at times but is now starting to turn around, largely due to an emerging trend toward using such dogs as guard dogs than attack animals.

Caucasian Shepherd is a unique breed of dog that has many names, but they all stem from where this animal comes from or what role he plays in their history. Some are more accurate than others, though, so let’s take a look at them.

The most dogs used as Russian prison dogs are:

Caucasian Shepherd Dog:

The name of this breed is derived from its geographic origins, which are in the mountain ranges between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

It is often called the “Caucasian Shepherd” or CSD for short because those names refer to where it originated – the Caucasus regions like Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ossetia, Stavropol, Krasnodar Krai, Dagestan, and Krai.


The generic Russian term for a livestock guardian dog is Ovcharka. It is not uncommon to see this breed being called by other names containing the word, such as Vostochnaya Evropeiskayas’ or South Russia’s Ovdeshchenskiyatcheriya Onka (a mouthful, we know!).

Caucasian Ovcharka:

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is an ancient breed that was initially bred to herd animals. They have a long history of working in this capacity and make wonderful family dogs.

Caucasian Sheepdog:

The traditional role of the Caucasian Shepherd is to guard livestock, including sheep. This alternate name comes from this history and function in society for so long ago.

Caucasian Mountain Dog:

This is a little more specific but still can be seen as too broad since several breeds come from this region.

Kavkazskaïa Ovcharka:

This is the name of his breed in his fellow citizens’ native Russian language.

Russian Bear Dog:

The nickname ‘Russian Bear dogs’ was given to early shepherds who were used to protect livestock and to attack during bear hunts.

What Does the Russian Prison Dog Look Like?

The Russian Prison Dog is a muscular, strong breed. They have a tall height and build. This canine can stand up to 30 inches and weigh as much as 220 pounds! The male species are bigger than the females.

It has a bear-like appearance with a big, black nose and dark round eyes. The well-opened nostrils are something you will notice about this animal. The long tail covered in thick feathered hair makes them look like a fur ball.

The Caucasian Shepherd’s ears are round and covered in hair. Their long, straight forelimbs give them a unique appearance that makes it easy for these dogs to track prey down with great precision.

The size of their paws and hair that is thick and confirmed between the toes make them excellent at protecting themselves from cold weather conditions.

Their coats are thick and waterproof, with plenty of feathering to keep them warm. They typically come in a range of colors like gray, tan, black, agouti, and white.

Russian Prison Guard Dog Temperament and Personality

The Russian prison guard dog was initially bred to protect livestock. Therefore, these dogs are assertive, courageous, and strong-willed. These are all great qualities, but sometimes these dogs can be very overprotective.

They guard their territory and do not like strangers. Therefore, they can come off as scary and unwelcoming. However, with proper training and socialization, their attitude can be molded.

Distract them with toys and playtime to reduce their aggressive traits. This will keep them stimulated and keep them busy. Otherwise, they will spend their high energy doing disruptive behavior. Once trained, these dogs are the kindest and most loving canines on the planet.

Russian Prison Dog Health

Black caucasian shepherd dog

The Caucasian Shepherd dog is a strong and rugged breed. It has an average lifespan of 12 years. Healthy dogs can live up to 15 years.

These dogs are usually healthy but prone to the usual health concerns that most giant dog breeds face. These include:

Hip Dysplasia:

Dogs face this issue when the hip joint becomes loose. It causes a lot of pain and dysfunction. It is more common in younger dogs but can occur in older dogs with arthritis. This condition can also lead to immobility and muscle atrophy in severe cases. 

Luxating Patella:

If you notice your dog running on three legs or skipping a step, it means he has luxating patella. This is a condition in which the dog’s kneecap dislocates. It is more common in big dogs and active mature dogs.


Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat, is a severe health concern for dogs. It can be fatal if not treated correctly and on time. Common symptoms of bloat include restlessness, itching, pacing, swollen abdomen, drooling, rapid breathing, and vomiting.


Many dogs often get cataracts and other eyesight problems that are mostly irreversible. Some dogs get lucky and get their eyesight back with surgeries.


Russian Prison guard dogs are enormous in size and require a fulfilling diet to thrive. However, overfeeding large breed dogs can result in obesity, leading to a slew of health concerns. Make sure to give your pup quality food and plenty of exercises so they stay healthy.

Russian Prison Guard Dog: Care Guide and Training

Cleaning and Grooming

The Russian Prison Dog has a variety of coat variety, from small to very big. And daily brushing is necessary for those with long-haired dogs because it can help avoid tangling or matting in the future. It is also a great way to bond with your pup!

Give your dog the best chance for healthy living by trimming their nails and ears on schedule. If you don’t, they might develop problems with excess growth. Sometimes dogs also get infections under long nails, leading to more severe complications like pulp shielding.

While the Russian Prison dogs don’t need frequent showers, make sure to brush their teeth at least twice a day.


The Russian Prison Dog is one of the most energy-efficient breeds on earth. This pooch still has enough endurance to hike and walk for hours with its human companion. So, this dog breed is perfect for people who love the outdoors and enjoy an active lifestyle.

They need lots of exercise each day, but it is worth it because they are so happy when you take them on walks or even just playtime in your backyard. These dogs are clever, curious, and attacking, so keep them on a leash to avoid any incidents.


The independence and intelligence of a Russian Prison Dog make them hard to train. Another thing that makes training the Russian prison dogs challenging is their aggressive nature. The aggressive tendencies of this dog are something you wouldn’t want to see.

So, this dog is not for beginners and requires dominance training. Therefore, employing a strict approach may be more suitable for training these dogs.

Moreover, to avoid spoilt behavior, you should start traditional obedience training as early as possible.

If you cannot train them on your own, call an expert handler who will teach your Russian prison dog proper dog etiquette.

Are Russian Prison Dogs Safe For Households?

Huge, powerful, and extremely ancient, the Caucasian mountain dog is formidable with immense size, presence, and courage.

The dog has mustered a fearsome reputation for being able to kill wolves and bears. This dog is ready to defend his family and flock from all that threatens him.

But is this huge and imposing ancient breed as dangerous as people say? Or can they be loyal and warm home companions and pets?

One of the world’s most powerful canines, the Russian prison guard dog, has gained massive popularity over the past few years. The hashtag “#russianprisonguarddogs” has over 38.2 million views on TikTok.

More and more people are drawn toward this intriguing creature. These dogs are loyal, devoted, and loving. However, this dog is not for everyone.

Here are some things pet owners need to keep in mind before getting a Russian prison guard dog:

Need A Dominating Owner

The Russian prison guard dog needs an assertive owner who displays strong leadership. You need to exert alpha energy to make these dogs behave and follow the rules.

Otherwise, your Russian prison dog will grow to be aggressive and ill-mannered.

So, if you are someone who gets easily swayed with gooey eyes, you should not have this dog.

Need A Spacious Home

Moreover, due to their large size, they need a spacious environment to grow in. So, they are not suitable for apartments and houses with small square footage.

Not Suitable For Crowded Homes

The dog is a very protective breed of dog. This means that it may take some time for them to become comfortable with other pets.

Moreover, they have attacking tendencies, so they should be kept away from small pets like rabbits and cats.

They are not suitable for households with infants and a lot of pets.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Russian Prison Dog

So, are you still on the fence about whether or not to get this one of these incredible dogs? We hope our pros and cons list can help you decide.


  • Russian prison guard dogs are excellent security and watch guards (duh!)
  • They have a deep sense of loyalty to their household
  • These dogs typically live long, healthy lives
  • They are a warm and lovely breed
  • The activity requirements are average
  • They have exceptional endurance
  • They can adapt to different climates


  • Russian Prison Dogs are not for inexperienced and first-time dog owners
  • Training them is no easy feat
  • They are highly aggressive towards strangers and many other pets
  • They need a big backyard and a tall fence
  • Requires regular grooming

Russian Prison Dog Puppy Price & Expenses

caucasian shepherd dog standing in the snow

The cost of having a Russian Prison Dog can vary depending on what you want from them. The average price is around $1500 to $3000, but some important things, such as food and water bowls, also need to be purchased, so keep those in mind when figuring out how much it will add up!

Also, think about the cost of keeping a dog. This includes medical expenses like vaccinations and checkups and animal-related expenditures such as pet care items or boarding fees for when you are away on vacation.

Why Are Russian Prison Dogs Used In Prisons?

The Russian prison guard dogs are specially trained to recognize friends from foes and will attack anyone who poses a threat.

This breed was bred to protect guards during riots or other high-risk situations where escapees might be trying desperately for themselves and their partners in crime.

Were Russian Prison Dogs Used For Hunting Bears?

Yes, these dog breeds were employed to hunt bears in the past. In old times people would protect their flock of sheep from attacks by this type of canine and even use them as a source of entertainment at festivals.

Do Russian Prison Dogs Drool?

Yes, the Russian Prison Dog is known to slobber and drool excessively. But it does not always happen if you have a clean towel ready for when they do decide to salivate all over your things, then no problem.

Can Russian Prison Dogs Be Left Alone?

No, the Beardedie is a high-maintenance breed that requires plenty of attention and care. If you’re not up for the challenge, this may not be your best option!

Do Russian Prison Dogs Bark A Lot?

The loyalty of this dog is unmatched. They will notify their owners of any danger, particularly in the middle of the night, when they need assistance most immediately. The bark can be pretty loud so that everyone knows something’s wrong.

How Big Is A Russian Guard Dog?

Russian prison guard dogs are big dogs. On average, the height of a Russian prison guard dog is 23 to 30 inches. Moreover, it can weigh as much as 150 to 200 pounds and more.

The females grow up to 110 pounds. Due to their big size, they can ward off even the biggest wildlife creatures. 

Wrapping Up | Russian Prison Guard Dogs

So, there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know about Russian prison guard dogs. Here is a quick recap!

Countries with the world’s most hazardous and deadly prisons include Russia. The Russian Prison Dog is one of Russia’s most intimidating guard dogs.

They are still used as protection animals, but many people are now welcoming this breed into their homes. They make excellent guard dogs and are known for their loyalty, but they do require a lot of exercise and can be pretty territorial.

If you are thinking of adding one of these furry friends to your home, first you need to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

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Jackob Evans

Hi, I’m Jacob. I’ve been a professional blogger for over six years, and in that time, I’ve written countless blogs that have helped millions of people worldwide. A DVM by profession, I have treated and cured thousands of dogs, if not millions.

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