About East-European Shepherds (VEO)

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East-European Shepherds are also known as VEO (Vostochno Evropeiskaya Ovcharka), Russian Shepherds (Ovcharkas), or Belarusian Shepherds (Ovcharkas).

History

In the early 20th century, when the Soviet military first started using German Shepherds, they discovered these dogs could not operate or would even die in extremely cold parts of Russia. The VEO breeding program began in Belarus with the goal of adapting the German Shepherd breed to extremely cold winters. This was a state sponsored breeding effort led by the Soviet military. Eventually, these dogs spread to other parts of the Soviet Union.

The East-European Shepherd was created between 1930-1950s by crossbreeding German Shepherds with East Siberian Laikas, Ovcharkas, and others. Laikas are among the most cold tolerant dog breeds. Molosser/Mastiff type dogs were used to add size, power, and protection drive to the breed. The Soviets also needed the VEO to be capable of adapting to hot climates in southern parts of the country.

This breed was primarily developed for military, police, and guard work. They were the Soviet military favourites. Many are used by the Russian ūüá∑ūüáļ,¬†Ukrainian ūüáļūüá¶, and Belarusian ūüáßūüá嬆militaries and police today.

Good working line German Shepherds and Malinois might be better for duties requiring a smaller dog that can be carried by a human, but when it comes to guard, personal protection, and border patrol work, the VEO is second to none.

While these dogs are popular in former Soviet countries, they are very rare outside of Eastern Europe.

Today, the East-European Shepherd breed is fully recognized by the FCI (world's largest and most important kennel club), RKF, UKU, BCU, Continental Kennel Club (CKC), and many others. Unfortunately, because these dogs are¬†extremely rare in North America, they are¬†yet to be recognized by the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club ūüá®ūüá¶) or AKC (American Kennel Club ūüáļūüáł).

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Appearance

Although this amazing breed of dog looks similar to its cousin, the German Shepherd, it is an entirely different breed with very different physical and psychological characteristics.

The VEO is significantly larger and more muscular than the German Shepherd.

On average, males weigh 77-132 lbs (35-60 kg) and are 26-30 inches (66-76 cm) at the shoulder.

Females are typically 66-110 lbs (30-50 kg) and 24-28 inches (61-71 cm) at the shoulder.

These dogs are usually black and tan/silver, solid black, or sable in colour. They have a medium length coat that is exceptionally thick due to a well-developed undercoat. Being taller than the German Shepherd, along with their large webbed paws, makes walking in the snow easier.

 

Health

While all dog breeds have some health issues, the East-European Shepherd is overall a healthy breed. Some would say very healthy.

They were bred to have toplines (backs) with little angulation. This has led to fewer hip and elbow problems, which are common in German Shepherds. Although all large dog breeds have some issues with hips and elbows, German Shepherds are especially known for these problems. This is largely since many German Shepherds today have extremely angulated toplines and/or roached backs (an arch or curve in the vertebrae). These problems are especially common in German and American show lines. Over angulation and roached backs also cripple a dog’s ability to do vigorous activity or work for any length of time. These facts do not apply to good DDR and Czech working line German Shepherds, since they also have good toplines and spines like the VEO.

It is important to know that the VEO breed standard's primary goal is to improve the breed's working abilities. It does not cripple the dog's performance and health for success in the show ring, like some other dog breed standards do. 

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Temperament and Socialization

Although East-European Shepherds are calmer, less clingy, and do not constantly nibble/lick your hands like many German Shepherds do, their playful nature makes them a fun family companion. They are very affectionate and loyal to family members.

These dogs are very protective of their family and property. They are alert, courageous, determined, and tough. Many owners compare their temperament to that of a Doberman.


Training

East-European Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They are highly trainable, but need firm handling from a strong leader/owner.

Obedience training is important.¬†It does not take most people long to learn the basics from a competent "working/sport dog" trainer. Positive reinforcement ‚Äúonly‚ÄĚ training does not work with many working dogs.¬†A combination of positive and negative¬†reinforcement is¬†needed.

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Exercise, Grooming, Diet

VEOs are an active breed that require exercise and mental stimulation. They do best when living on a property with a large fenced-in yard where they can run and play. These dogs do surprisingly well in homes, as long as they are getting their daily exercise outdoors. They are usually calm indoors and are not normally destructive. However, some dogs might cause damage when left alone. They may need to be crated or kenneled when their owners are not around, until this behaviour stops.

East-European Shepherds are a low-maintenance breed. Their coats are unlikely to become matted or unkept. They shed lightly all year round, but more heavily twice a year when the seasons change. During times of heavier shedding, brushing once or twice a week significantly reduces the amount of fur throughout the home. From our (RMD) personal experience, our VEOs shed far less than our previously owned German Shepherds.

Some VEOs are easily prone to obesity. To keep their dogs lean and healthy, owners should only provide quality dog (not human) food and take care not to over feed them. At RMD East-European Shepherds, our dog’s diet consists of kibble (Farmina Ancestral Grain) and raw (B.A.R.F. diet).

East European Shepherd

Note: It is important for VEO owners to learn as much as possible about this breed of dog, but to also keep in mind that there is a lot of inaccurate and contradictory information about the East-European Shepherd on the internet.

RMD East-European Shepherds always welcomes¬†questions about our dogs, their puppies, or the VEO in general. ūüėä

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