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The Rare & Magnificent

Owczarek Podhalanski

Breed of Dogs


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The Owczarek Podhalanski, or Polish Mountain Sheepdog
By: Tippy and Alfred

Owczarek Podhalanski, also known as the Owczarek Tatrzanski,
Polish Tatra Sheepdog, Tatra Mountain Sheepdog, or Polish
Mountain Dog is considered a rare breed in most of the
world. It is a large shepherd dog with dense, long white
hair and a tail that loosely curls up over its back.

These dogs look similar to the more well-known Hungarian
Kuvasz or the Pyrenean Mountain Dogs and likely have common
ancestors. Male dogs are from twenty-five to twenty-eight
inches (sixty-five to seventy centimeters) tall and weighs
from one hundred to one hundred and fifty pounds (forty-five
to sixty-eight kilograms). Females stand from twenty-three
to twenty-six inches (sixty to sixty-five centimeters) tall
and usually weigh around one hundred pounds (forty-five
kilograms). This breed is muscular and strong without being

The original dogs that became the Owczarek Podhalanski
migrated to a small mountainous region of southern Poland
known as the Tatra Mountains with their Wallachian shepherd
owners as long ago as the fourteenth century.

In its native land the Podhalan, as the Tatra shepherds call
the breed, are used as flock guardians against wolves and
bears, as property guard dogs, and as personal protection
and companion dogs. They tend the sheep in mountain valleys
during the spring and summer, keeping the flock together and
guarding it from predators, especially at night when the
tired shepherds must sleep, and later they guard the owner's
farms once the sheep are brought in for the winter.

Because of the necessary independence required for their
jobs, this breed thinks for itself and makes its own
decisions. They have an amazingly strong guarding instinct
and great self-control and will protect to the death the
sheep that have been entrusted to them.

A Tatra Sheepdog that is true to its breed has a calm and
courageous temperament. It is friendly to family and
strangers unless its protective instincts are stirred. It
will be fierce if its "flock" is threatened, however. It is,
of course, a rugged, hardy breed that needs exercise and
challenges to be happy and healthy.

This breed may not respond well to obedience training unless
it has an experienced owner who understands how to have a
relationship with an intelligent and independent dog. But if
you can convince a Podhalan that it wants to do what you
ask, there will be no steadier dog. This is not a breed for

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