The Croatian Sheepdog, also known as the Hrvatski Ovčar, is a medium-sized herding breed originating from Croatia. The Croatian Sheepdog has been traced back over 600 years and is believed to have been bred primarily for herding and guarding livestock. The breed is native to Croatia and was first documented by a Croatian vet, Dr. Stjepan Romić, at the end of the 19th century. After World War II, the breed nearly went extinct, but enthusiasts helped revitalize it.
The Croatian Sheepdog is an overall healthy breed, but may suffer from patellar luxation. Genetic testing is recommended, including for the following additional conditions: hyperuricosoria, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration.
Croatian Sheepdogs are known for their intelligence, agility, and strong work ethic. They have a lively and alert temperament, making them excellent watchdogs. These dogs are often reserved with strangers but loyal and affectionate with their families. Croatian Sheepdogs are very active and require regular physical and mental stimulation. If not given a job to do, they may become bored and develop problem behaviors.
This is a breed that requires an active lifestyle and is ideally suited to a rural environment where it can have space to run and work. They are generally good with children and other dogs if properly socialized from a young age. However, due to their herding instincts, they may try to herd small children and animals.
Given their herding background, Croatian Sheepdogs can excel in dog sports such as agility, obedience, and herding events. Their intelligence makes them relatively easy to train, but they can have a stubborn streak, so consistent, positive reinforcement methods work best.
The Croatian Sheepdog was recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1969 and to the American Kennel Club (AKC) Foundation Stock Service Program in 2017.
According to the AKC, the earliest written document about Croatian Sheepdogs, titled, "Canis pastoralis croaticus", dates back to 1374. It was discovered in the archives of the diocese of Djakovo, by “father of the breed” and veterinarian Dr. Stjepan Romić.