The Russian German Shepherd Dog

The East-European Shepherd (Russian German Shepherd Dog)

Russian shepherds  - East-European Shepherds

The East European Shepherd (Russian German Shepherd Dog) bears a close resemblance to the German Shepherd Dog although it is actually a distinctly different breed in its own right, and is the result of a Soviet Military and KGB breeding programme following WW2 and achieving its success in the late 1940’s.

Many German Shepherd Dog’s were captured during WW1 after the Russian military noticed the impressive working abilities of the Germans military dogs in general and in particular the German Shepherd Dog. Unfortunately they soon discovered that German Shepherd Dog’s were not well adapted to the harsh climatic conditions of the icy cold Russian winters and the majority did not survive. Those that did were unable to function effectively in such an environment.

To counteract this problem the East European Shepherd was, bred to be larger and heavier, and more powerful and muEE Shepherd alldogbreed tkscular. It also sported a typically black, somewhat denser double coat of medium length, and as required by the Russians, a stronger bite and a very strong protection drive.

The development of the East-European Shepherd or Russian German shepherd started in the Byelorussian region.

During WW1 local Belarusians took a liking to the Germans military dogs as thousands of them travelled through their then, and for most of the war, occupied country which we know today as Belarus. By various ways and means, they took possession of a number of the enduringly popular German Shepherd Dog. In order to avoid unsavoury connections to the, obviously, highly unpopular Germans these dogs were initially known as Byelorussian Owtcharka, or Belarusian Shepherd. For this same reason in the UK the German Shepherd Dog became known as the Alsatian although their official title is still German Shepherd Dog.

German Shepherd DogGerman Shepherd Dog 2

Moving forward in time to WW2 the Russians successfully captured as war trophies, thousands more German Shepherd Dogs from the German military.

A breeding programme led by the Soviet Military and the KGB involving the systematic crossing of GSDs with various Russian dogs, in particular the Laika led to the evolution of a new Russian dog breed, the East-European Shepherd, or the Vostochnoevropejskaya Ovcharka in the late 1940’s; This new Soviet military dog became their main military working breed and also that of the KGB.


East European Shepherd is today classed as a rare breed owing to the fall of the Soviet Union which saw its popularity wane dramatically. However, it is still used by the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian Armed Forces and also by a reasonable number of the republics of Central Asia.

The Cynologic Council of the Soviet Union, a division of the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture were the first organisation to produce a formal breed standard for the East European Shepherd and to record pedigrees for it, in 1964. At the present time the Russian Kennel Club is the only organisation granting full recognition to the breed. The Dog Registry of America and the Continental Kennel Club are amongst a number of US rare breed organisations that recognise its breed status.

East-European_Shepherd_РУССКАЯ ПСОВАЯ БОРЗАЯ (русский вокодав)The  East-European Shepherd easypetmed com


37 thoughts on “The Russian German Shepherd Dog

  1. Beautiful creatures you have shared within us,
    Thank you, I enjoyed this post….
    Take Care…You Matter…

  2. Totally fascinating post. My interest in this breed was high due in fact to ownership at one time. They are a quick, good natured, and excellent companions.
    Didn’t realize the extensive background they had; appreciate this information. A wonderful post Wolfie.

    1. Ooh! I’d love to hear the story behind that! I didn’t know they were around outside of the Russian regions…or did you spend time somewhere in those areas I wonder…Maybe you will tell me sometime…and then again maybe you won’t 😉 But either way, if you owned one of them you were a lucky man indeed! I posted on this subject because I’m learning Russian (language) and I was curious about other aspects of Russia…this dog I tripped over on my computer in a folder I didn’t know I had and had forgotten I had the dog notes…it seemed meant to be! Not sure that too many others would agree with that thought lol but it really needed sharing with the virtual world if you ask Wolfie!! Ok so you didn’t but!! 🙂

  3. Very interesting, Icewolf, but also quite frightening that these dogs were engineered in this way. It’s easy to see why some don’t recognise the breed. Still, a fascinating history, and I do like fascinating histories!

    1. Many of our “pure-bred” dogs are developed by cross breeding for particular traits and characteristics or for particular appearances…this may seem a little more ominous when the breeding is done by the military for their own use. We have many new breeds that are very much engineered, often from crossing breeds we know and love 🙂

  4. Wolfie, my dear….

    Nice post, interesting & informative, if a bit hard on the eyes to read…. just my old eyes, I would guess. I do like your new background, too… I’d love to live wherever the window view at the bottom is located; it’s somewhere off this planet, for sure, & looks like another star system altogether….

    I’m going to go out on a limb, and guess… you like dogs… right? Just a hunch, but, I have a good sized bet on it with a friend….


    Take care, Lady Lupine…..

    gigoid, the dubious


    1. So you noticed Dubious one!! Congratulations! Yes I do like dogs a little bit lol 😉 they are wonderful creatures 🙂 The background is nowhere as difficult to read as trying to the process involved in trying to get a post to fit properly on it I can tell you!! Terrible! But I like too so it will have to stay…and we won’t find out where the view from the window is located if it doesn’t! lol 😉

    1. It is sad…but it also shows the value of new breeding programmes. I went to a dog show at the weekend. “Discover Dogs” at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre in London. Obviously didn’t see that dog but I was surprised to see a Russian something or other Terrier with a very similar history which was interesting. A great big, tall black animal! I also saw two lovely, though very unhappy and dejected looking Pyreeeeeeees 🙂 I’ve left the Russian German Shepherd’s temperament and charactistics for another post…suffice to say it’s very protective!

  5. Lovely informative post Wolfie.. And and I apologise for not seeing your post sooner.. But I am on catch up in emails.. .. I have several memories of GSD’s mostly good ones.. But as I child I remember always having to pass our local vicarage where a GSD would stand at the gates and bark.. One day he got out… I was very scared… But it appeared his bark was worse than his bite.. as he wagged his tail and slobbered on me,, Lol 🙂 Always love finding out something new.. and the history here was something I didn’t know.. 🙂
    Hugs and Howwwwwwlllllls Sue

    1. No problem Sue, I’m on permanent catch up despite my best efforts! There is quite a distinct difference between the temperament of the GSD and the Russian GSD (East-European Shepherd) you might be interested in the comparison…the EE Shepherd probably has a bite worse than his bite lol he rarely barks 😉 Hugs and howls back! xxx 🙂

  6. Hej Wolfie..
    Roligt att du gillar att följa med på mina resor det känns mycket bra att ha en varg med sig..
    vackra bilder på hundar i det här inlägget Wolfie jag gillar verkligen schäfer dom liknar vargar.. men mina favorit hundar är Rottweiler..
    Önskar dig nu en härlig helg kram på dig wolfie.. Nicki

    1. Hej Nicki 🙂
      Rottweilers? !! 🙂 Farliga stora hundar Nicki! Wolfie passerar inte dem!
      Min nya chef på jobbet hade två så hon säger … de var väldigt väluppfostrade … från vad jag har sett av hennes svåra skrämmande attityd på jobbet, kan jag väl tro det !! Hon är bara en liten kvinna, men jag kan tänka mig att hon skulle beställa sina rottweilers runt! Hon har nu en liten Yorkshire Terrier … deras bett är mycket värre än deras bark! lol …. bara gillar henne !! Inte för att vara under uppskattat 🙂
      Precis tillbaka från att resa med dig;) Alltid bra att expandera Wolfie sinne!
      Kram Wolfie;)

      1. Hej Wolfie..
        Nej då alla Rottweilers är inte farliga dt beror på ägaren och vad du gör med hunden i vår familj hade vi Meja världens finaste rottweiler jag älskade henne hon dog för 2 år sedan ska blogga lite om henne sen och göra ett album åt henne på facebook.. Men det finns nog många som inte är snälla samma med pitt bull men jag tror att människan gör hunden.. Kram på dig wolfie och kom snart tillbaka och besök mig igen // Nicki

      2. Hej Nicki
        Oroa dig inte jag arbetar hårt för att komma tillbaka för att besöka dig!
        Normalitet är sakta återvända till Wolfie världen och på line tid bör återgå till det normala också … Jag tror att jag har sagt att flera gånger under de senaste månaderna;)
        Men hoppas att den här gången kommer det att visa sig vara faktum.
        Jag har en lista över dina ingen besökta inlägg som väntar i min dator så oroa dig inte jag kommer att bombardera dig med kommentarer för dem alla på en gång!
        Det är inte bara dig om det känns personligt … Jag har väldigt krävande vänner i den “verkliga” världen som kräver alldeles för mycket av Wolfie tid!
        Jag kämpar för mitt på linjen gången nyligen
        mitt vänner i kris vill Wolfie att vara deras axel att gråta på 🙂
        Jag har försökt att förklara Jag har underbara vänner på linje också som också behöver enstaka besök! Men det är svårt att nå fram till människor i kris !!
        Jag kanske behöver en Rottweiler å att backa upp mig !! Yours lät underbara 🙂
        Wolfie kramar 🙂

  7. Hi Wolfie, saw this post previously and meant to comment but forgot, sorry, I admit to not liking this hybrid as much as the true GSD, though the second pic of one standing side on next to the head study , is very definitely one of the modern ilk, that looks like it’s been shut in a box for the first six months of life, DO NOT like the horrible roach back and over angulated stifle, Give me the good well build Atstan, , Brittas , Greyvally etc, type any day. even my beautiful Tarc, ADDCROSS EMPEROR bred for Bristol Police. but times change, interesting article.

    1. 😉 Oh dear! You definitely do not like my fine example of a GSD do you Arlene! lol 😉 I guess it is a touch over exagerated but I was trying to offer a good comparison between the two breeds in terms of build. I do agree in general though about the over angulated stifles on some GSD’s. I don’t like the ones that have such low cut hind legs that they don’t look much like they have any at all. It looks deformed and extremely uncomfortable like their hind legs are collapsing under them and can’t hold them up properly. It has to be a safe bet they are not working types! Can’t imagine a working ‘Shepherd being able to function in that state! I like the characteristic sloping back of the GSD and would have like to have seen that bred into the Russian version. But in moderation! Everything in moderation! And most importantly in the best interests of health and well being of the dog being bred!

    1. Danke Gislinde! Schön dich zu sehen … ich bin nicht immer Updates für Sie wieder!
      Ich kann nicht einmal jeder im gelöschten Ordner …. das neue Postfach für die meisten Meldungen!
      Jetzt kann ich dich wieder finden 🙂
      Nicht sehr gut bin ich? Hoffnungslos, Katastrophe von einem Wolfie!
      Ich werde versuchen, jetzt besser machen hoffentlich die Freunde in der Krise haben sich beruhigt …
      versuchen, ihnen zu sagen, ich habe ein Online-Leben zu leben und zu betreuen sowie sie!
      Haben Sie eine gute neue Woche! Wolfie Umarmung;)

    1. Cool! Thanks Kev! Learned a lot about Russian history and its involvement in the wars too! I’m learning Russian language so finding this Russian hound buried deep in the heart of my laptop, dusty and long forgotten lol was a timely bonus and also linked into other dog/wolf blogs I’ve produced from time to time 🙂 Perhaps I should look up the history and connections of the Russian Blue…the cat breed that is 😉 It’s a very beautiful cat in my Wolfie opinion…I think you’d like it Kev! 🙂

      1. Wow, Russian! You’ll have to show off your skills when you become adept. 🙂 I’ve always had an odd attraction about Russia, but never been. Russian Blue… I’ll be expectantly awaiting a special post on this with some beautiful kitty pics! You raised the bar now. 😀

      2. Oops! I did raise the bar a bit high didn’t I? lol 😉 Wonder if I’ll be able to jump over it now! Could be some time before I could consider myself adept at Russian lol….but I did Polish first so it gave me a head start. I love the Russian language…but I also love the Russian Blue! lol 😉

  8. I live in Mongolia and foud a small puppy on the street. It turned out to be a Russian Shepard, just like in your picture: “east-siberian-laika-dog-side-view-photo_thumb.jpg” above. She is very smart and loving, good with babies and small children. She was raised with much love!

  9. Greetings Ichbin lovely to have visitor from Mongolia! I hope you are well… Your pup sounds beautiful and it’s good to know she’s enjoying a loving home with an understanding owner who clearly has done a great job of raising her and caring for her ☺ She sounds to be a lovely dog!

    1. I think the problem is that people are so focused on the political issues relating to Russia, and their disposing of spies etc, that it is forgotten in general that Russia has a whole bunch of other much more interesting things going on! Thanks for taking an interest in this one 🙂

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