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any one of a group of work dogs that vary in place of origin and in appearance. Sheep dogs are used for herding, guarding, searching, and other types of work. They are distinguished by their large size, well-proportioned build, and thick fur. These powerful, hardy, and courageous dogs can be easily trained. The principal breeds of sheep dogs are the German shepherd, Caucasian sheep dog, Middle Asiatic sheep dog, South Russian sheep dog, collie, puli, pumi, kuvasz, and komon-dor.
The German shepherd is the most commonly used work dog in the world. It belongs to the group of European sheep dogs. In the late 19th century, when the German shepherd was first used for police and army work, a type of general-purpose work dog was developed. In 1904 the German shepherd was brought to Russia, where it was used in the army.
As a result of many years of selection work with the German shepherd breed in the USSR (beginning in 1924), an East European type of German shepherd was developed, which was well suited to local climatic conditions. The dog is larger than its European counterpart and has a leaner and stronger build. The head is wedge-shaped, the ears erect, and the tail saber-shaped. The height at the withers is 64 to 72 cm for males and 58 to 68 cm for females. The animal is used to herd livestock; it is also trained as a scent hound and a watchdog. The dog is used by special agencies of the militia and the army.
The Caucasian, Middle Asiatic, and South Russian sheep dogs are of ancient origin. They closely resemble one another: each has a large and broad head, heavy bone structure, powerful paws, pendent ears (clipped at pup age), and a sickle-shaped tail. The tail of the Middle Asiatic breed is docked. The height at the withers is at least 65 cm in males and at least 60 cm in females. These three breeds of sheep dog are bred mainly in the USSR.
Dogs very similar to the Caucasian and Middle Asiatic sheep dogs are common in Mongolia and other Asian countries, as well as in North Africa. Popular breeds in many countries include the Scottish collie and border collie; the Hungarian puli, pumi, kuvasz, and komondor; the Polish podgal and lowland sheep dog; the French Briard and Beauçeron; and the Belgian Gro-enendael and Malinois.
REFERENCESSluzhebnaia sobaka, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Standarty sobak sluzhebnykh porod, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1972.
Posobie po sobakovodstvu, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1973.
A. P. MAZOVER