The Caucasian Shepherd (or Caucasian Ovcharka) is not very well known in the West, but the breed has been in existence since ancient times. However, the Pit Bull is a dog most people know. Unfortunately, most of the information people hear is either exaggerated or untrue.
This article is titled Caucasian Shepherd vs. Pit Bull, but I’m sure you know there is no single breed called a Pit Bull. Even though we will refer to the Pit Bull dog, we are talking about the American Pit Bull Terrier. Under the blanket term Pit Bull, there are five ‘breeds.’ The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), the American Staffordshire Terrier, The American Bulldog, American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
The Pit Bull and the Caucasian Shepherd are amazing dogs and look nothing alike. The Shepherd is a giant dog and looking at the dog for the first time, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at some kind of lion. The Pit Bull is a medium dog with a close, short and smooth coat. These two dogs are like chalk and cheese when you look at them.
Giant dogs seem to take their time, and everything they do is deliberate and thoughtful; the Caucasian Shepherd is no different. Pit Bulls, however, are athletic, high-energy, and want to be people-pleasers.
Neither of the two dogs is recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club), although the Caucasian Shepherd has the Foundation Stock Service Group designation. Even though the AKC does not recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier, they recognize the American Staffordshire Terrier. They have him in the Terrier group and rank him at eighty-fifth most popular dog. The AKC also recognizes the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as the eightieth most popular dog breed also in the Terrier group.
Why Compare Caucasian Shepherds With Pit Bulls?
Pit Bulls are one of the most abandoned dogs or the most commonly seen in animal shelters throughout the United States. Why is this? One factor is the lack of research by potential owners before they purchase a puppy. During the Covid pandemic, more families have been adopting puppies, and inevitably this will lead to even more abandoned dogs in another year or so.
Research is crucial before bringing any dog into the family; more so with Pit Bull dogs because they are not dogs for first-time owners; many people simply don’t recognize this fact. Researching a dog like the Caucasian Shepherd is even more vital. They are not a breed that’s well recognized, and there isn’t a considerable amount of information. So it means digging deep to find this information to appreciate what it means to own a giant dog.
Both the Pit Bull and the Caucasian Shepherd are highly-intelligent dogs with specific needs; not every potential owner can supply these needs, such as firm control, patience, consistency, and sufficient exercise, so the dog doesn’t become bored and listless. We compare the Caucasian Shepherd to the Pit Bull not because we believe it’s a direct choice between one or the other but to provide more readily accessible information on both breeds.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog Vs. Pit Bull History
Comparing breed history is an excellent way to compare individual breeds. The Caucasian Shepherd and Pit Bull were bred thousands of miles apart, during different times and for different purposes. They genuinely don’t have that much in common.
But looking into each dog’s history will give you an idea of what this dog’s original purpose was and how that breeding will impact his personality and temperament today.
Caucasian Shepherd (Ovcharka) History
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog or Caucasian Ovcharka is an ancient Molasser breed from the Caucus Mountain region. They have been around for centuries, perhaps even for as long as 2000 years. Archaeologically they seem to originate from Mesopotamia.
Wherever their point of origin, they were guard dogs of livestock and the human owners from predators such as wolves, bears, and jackals. For such work, a dog would need to be robust, fearless, aggressive, and possess an intimidating presence. With the harsh climate of the region, the dog would need to be self-reliant and capable of withstanding such a terrible environment.
Because the Caucus Mountain region is a vast area and covers many thousands of square miles, it was inevitable that the breed would have many varieties; however, one in particular, from Georgia, is recognized as the breed standard.
During the USSR communist era, the dog began guarding prisoners, and in the 1960s, East Germans used them as border patrol dogs along the Berlin Wall. But soon after the Berlin Wall came down and the USSR’s breakup, the dogs were given away.
Over time the Caucasian Shepherd has become a popular family pet. But they still retain many traits, such as independence, suspicion of strangers, and aggressiveness. Early socialization, from six weeks, is a must, as is training, so the dog has no reason to show any undesirable traits.
Pit Bull History
Humans have been breeding dogs for centuries; their behavior and physicality have always characterized them. Years ago, dog owners needed them to perform specific tasks for them. The jobs given to dogs were always work-related, be it guarding, shepherding, hunting, killing vermin, or companion dogs. Breeders experimented with cross-breeding dogs to obtain the perfect dog that could perform tasks given them better than those dogs that came before.
Pit Bulls descend from the original English Bulldog bred purely to bait bears and bulls by biting at their head and around the animal’s jaws. In those days, this was a sport and a way to pass the time for the locals. Of course, it was a vicious, nasty so-called sport, but times were very different from today. The sport was banned in the 1800s, locals then created ratting. Handlers put dogs into an enclosed pit, where they had to kill as many rats as possible within a time frame.
When that sport was also outlawed, the breeders pitched the dogs against one another. For this sport to be a spectacle, dogs had to be robust, fast, and agile; so breeders crossed the Bulldog with local terrier breeds. This new breed of dog was very successful, but there had to be one proviso; they couldn’t bite humans, especially, of course, the dog handlers. Dog breeders religiously followed this rule and any dog that transgressed they put down.
This history is where the nickname of Pit Bull originated. Around this time, the early immigrants began arriving on America’s shores, and with them came their dogs, the Pit Bulls amongst them. Many of the original families didn’t bring their dogs to fight; they were there to work on the farm and protect the family and the young children from predators. Unwittingly the original Pit Bull breeders in England helped create a dog that loved humans and was kind and gentle around them. A personality that today’s Pit Bulls are famous for.
There have been countless famous Pit Bulls throughout early American history, but a change was about to happen concerning ‘America’s Dog.’ Beginning in the 1960s, a resurgence in dogfighting began. Using Pit Bulls as intimidation, people began to fear the dog; the owners created a bad reputation for the Pit Bull. Many dog owners began breeding their dogs, and that saw an explosion of this type of dog. Even though dogfighting in all its forms was outlawed in 1978, dogfighting continues today.
Caucasian Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull Size
Pit Bulls are medium-sized dogs where the Caucasian Shepherd is a giant, so in direct comparison, the Pit Bull will look like a tiny dog.
Caucasian Shepherds hit the scales between 110 and 220 pounds, with the female being somewhat lighter. If the Shepherd is from the mountainous region, he will be heavier and pack more muscle than the plain’s dog, which are leaner and weigh less. The male Caucasian grows to a height of thirty inches up to the shoulders; add on the massive head, and you can see how these dogs look so colossal.
By comparison, the Pit Bull weighs between thirty and sixty-five pounds and females around ten pounds less. Male Pit Bulls grow to twenty-one inches at the shoulder. Pit Bulls are powerful, muscular dogs, without doubt, but up against the Caucasian Shepherd, they look tiny.
Caucasian Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull Strength
It’s not just the sheer size of the Caucasian Shepherd that dwarfs a Pit Bull; if you were to compare the relative bite force of each breed, there’s a massive difference here too.
With a bite force of between 550 and 700 psi, the Caucasian Shepherd has one of the strongest bites in the canine world. The Pit Bull, while no slouch in the bite strength category (he comes in at 13 of the top twenty), can only muster 235 psi which is no match for the Caucasian Shepherd.
Pound for pound, the Pit Bull is incredibly powerful, and there aren’t many dogs that can out pull a Pit Bull. Frankly, there wouldn’t be any competition if you were to compare both the Pit Bull and Caucasian Shepherd’s strength.
Caucasian Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull Temperament
Caucasian Shepherd Temperament
Giant dogs such as the Caucasian Shepherd are rarely a wise choice for novice or first-time owners. They are loyal, very affectionate family dogs, which extends to the family’s children. But the Caucasian Shepherd is an independent dog, wary of strangers and, because of their prey drive, not overly friendly to other dogs or animals, unless they grew with them from a puppy.
Typically, not energetic dogs, they enjoy their peace and quiet, but if Caucasian Shepherds are threatened, they never back down. However, what animal would risk a confrontation with this dog is a mystery. Caucasian Shepherds are intelligent dogs, but as with other dogs with high intelligence levels, they can be stubborn and wilful, training one takes, patience, firm handling, and consistency.
Socialization is critical with every dog, from toy breeds to giants like the Caucasian Shepherd. But with giant dogs, socialization is crucial because, with their size and natural tendency to be stubborn, you don’t want them to be anxious around strangers or other dogs. This anxiety can quickly turn to aggression if the dog decides he perceives a threat, even if it’s only in his mind.
Pit Bull Temperament
Pit Bulls have a reputation for aggressiveness to both humans and other dogs, is it deserved? Sometimes, I would say so, and on many different occasions, no, it isn’t? It’s impossible to get past the genuine reality that certain sections of society gave this dog the reputation for their personal ends. Now it’s an uphill battle for the dog to lose this fear factor he generates.
It’s undoubtedly true there have been many reports of ‘Pit Bull type’ dogs biting humans and attacking other dogs. But what the pieces don’t tend to investigate too deeply is the cause of the attack and the actual dog involved; neither do they check the dog’s background.
The flip side to this is the enormous numbers of Pit Bull-type dog owners that swear their dogs are the most affectionate and loving animals they have ever known. It is a concern when you meet a Pit Bull in the street, especially if you have your dog with you. The reality is you don’t have a clue which Pit Bull personality you’ll meet. Even today, dogfighting still goes on, and Pit Bulls are being bred to take part, and criminals still use them as guard dogs.
Thankfully reputable Pit Bull breeders only focus on the dog’s positive side and attempt to breed their dog lines with those attributes at the forefront. Pit Bulls grow to be strong, muscular dogs and need daily exercise to keep them in top physical condition. They shouldn’t be left alone in the backyard; they need lots of activities to keep their brains occupied.
It’s pretty strange, what with the reputation they have just how friendly they are to strangers. You can walk by a Pit Bull you’ve never met before, and his tail will be whipping around so enthusiastically at the apparent pleasure he feels coming across someone new. He might not feel quite so enthusiastic if you have a dog with you. He might not be the instigator of any aggression, but he will undoubtedly join in if there’s a confrontation.
Training is super crucial with Pit Bulls; they need firm, controlled leadership. These are dogs for experienced owners who know how to treat and control dogs of this nature. For the benefit of other people, dogs, and the Pit Bull’s ongoing reputation, keep them leashed when you’re out on walks.
Bottom Line – Caucasian Shepherd Vs. Pit Bull
These two breeds are opposites in looks and size, yet they are loving, affectionate dogs to their respective families.
They have different personalities in some respects. The Caucasian is a giant of a dog wary around strangers and having an independent nature. In contrast, Pit Bulls greet strangers more readily and constantly wants to be in the company of his family and behaves more like a lapdog.
Which one you choose is down to your lifestyle and personal preference, but both dogs are perfect in their way.