Livestock Guardian Breeds: Ukrainian Ovcharka (South Russian Ovcharka)

SRO pup

Yes, the Ukrainian Ovcharka is more commonly known as the South Russian Ovcharka, however, there seems to be some agreement that the breed was developed in the Ukraine, then moved with sheep throughout Russia.

The breed is also sometimes called the South Russian Sheepdog — most commonly though, they are known as SROs – South Russian Ovcharkas. 


Those who follow this blog might think of a sheepdog as a herder that lives and works alongside people. SROs were traditionally used more like livestock guardians and have been bred to independently watch their flocks, territory, and families without a person overseeing their activities. As a result, this is a very independent and active breed of dog.

This is also a large dog. Very heavy boned, their height makes them look a bit smaller than they actually are. At 62 – 65 cm (24-25″) there are solid dogs weighing 48-50 kg (108 – 110 lbs). They are also a long haired dog, with hair reaching up to 15 cm (6″); apparently their hair has been used for spinning.

While the SRO are starting to be bred by some for a slightly ‘softer’ personality — at times the military has used them as guard dogs — this is still a breed that is not for many. They require a strong, steady handler who is consistent. This breed can be stubborn and needs exercise. They are also known, however, for their great devotion to their people. During the chaos of war SRO were sometimes shot because they refused to accept a new handler if something happened to their original person. That’s devotion.

Still an uncommon breed, there are a few kennels who are now breeding the SRO for showing and exports. With the increasing popularity of livestock guardian dogs as a more ‘natural’ way of protecting animals, this is a breed that may start to show up amongst northern farmers, ranchers and fanciers who want a self reliant guard dog. 

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