Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Caucasian shepherd dogs bred for hunting Russian bears go on sale in Northern Ireland for first time

Roll over Beethoven, there's an even bigger dog in town

A Caucasian Ovcharka dwarfs its owner

They can grow to a massive size - and are programmed to protect against the fiercest predators.

Now huge dogs bred for hunting Russian bears are going on sale in Northern Ireland for the first time.

Male Caucasian Ovcharka dogs can reach as much as 14 stone in weight and eat their way through two huge bowls of dog food a day, according to Newry man Jason Mooney, who is offering them for sale.

Mr Mooney said he has a one-year male called Bear, which has already reached 11 or 12 stone, and a 18-month female called Orya.

"I was in England a few years ago and a friend of mine has some – he was the first person to bring them into England," he said.

"It was the size that struck me – I thought they were massive.

"They can be quite protective dogs as well.

"He had three of his grandchildren with him and the dog was trying to go for me to keep me away from them. But the ones I have are quite placid – they wouldn't be as protective as his were."

Mr Mooney said the dogs were originally bred for bear hunting and have featured in Russia's Toughest Prisons series on National Geographic channel.

"They have them as guard dogs," he explained.

"Everyone is stunned by them. We live in the countryside and the postman came up and asked what they were. Then he said he had Googled them – he thought they were brilliant. Everybody is surprised by the size of them.

"I have plenty of room here for them to run about. We wouldn't take them for walks very often because we have two acres of land and they have the run of the whole place."

Mr Mooney says the dogs are great with his children Kai (4) and Alicia (18 months).

"Kai has been bred up with them and they love him. They knock him over the odd time because they are so big but they love him," he said. "They just chase each other around."

The dogs also get on well with the other animals, including the goats.

"The big dog would put his paw on the goat and try to push him to the ground," Mr Mooney says.

"The male wouldn't be fully grown yet – he's about 11 or 12 stone at the moment and he will probably reach 14 stone. He would eat two big dog bowls of food a day filled to the brim.

"I've bred Akitas too, and they wouldn't be a small dog, but when these were five-six weeks they were twice the size of the Akita pups at that age."

Mr Mooney said the breed is familiar to a lot of Polish people in the area as they know them from home.

"A lot of people would know what they are as soon as they see them," he said. "They need to go to someone who has plenty of room. It wouldn't suit them to be going to a a little back street yard – they need room to exercise."

Background

The Caucasian Ovcharka, or Caucasian shepherd dog, is a flock guardian used to protect sheep from predators and thieves. For centuries flocks of sheep have existed in Caucasia, the mountainous land mass between the Black and Caspian Seas. Dogs similar to this breed have protected the sheep from predators for at least 600 years.

Beethoven is a 1992 comedy film about a loveable St Bernard puppy named after composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who keeps growing and causes mayhem around the home.

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