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Romanians have created four breeds of such dogs
In the past, people and beasts have shared the same space, in a natural balance. In order to defend themselves, and their farm animals, people, especially mountain dwellers, have taken protective measures, such as wooden palisades. Another defense was breeding sheep dogs, able to keep at bay wolves, and even bears. Out of necessity, Romanians have created four breeds of such dogs. Their main purpose was to keep in check the natural fauna. They kept dangerous wild animals away from households and sheepfolds, so that people didn't have to eradicate them. It was an attempt for man to live alongside wild fauna, by ancient methods. Nowadays it is still used in this complex economic and social context, in order to preserve the natural riches of the Carpathian Mountains. The Conservation Carpathia environmental foundation has a program that provides puppies of the Romanian Carpathian Sheep Dog breed to shepherds in the Fagaras Mountains area. The are raised at the Cobor Biodiversity Farm.
This domestic breed has been at the side of Romanian shepherds since times immemorial, says Adrian Aldea, a fauna management biologist:
“In order to get wild fauna to be accepted in local communities, we have to ensure that conflicts are kept at a reasonable level, those between man and wild animals. Of course, carnivores can kill farm animals, boars can root through pastures, and we, being in charge of managing fauna in hunting grounds, have to ensure that we avoid these problems as much as we can. Our priority is to avoid conflicts to begin with, and this is the reason for which we initiated this program of breeding and donating guard dogs of the Carpathian Shepherd breed, which is very effective in guarding farm animals. You may ask why we picked this breed. First of all it is because it is a breed specific to the mountains of Romania, which lately tends to be replaced with all sorts of hybrids, or other breeds that are less effective in the fight against wild animals, but more aggressive towards people. This is a balanced breed, that knows its mountain business.”
The farmers that get Carpathian sheepdogs through the Carpathia program become the owners after a year, if they comply with obligatory care conditions: decent treatment, proper food, and all the necessary veterinary care. Since 2019, the organization has donated 46 puppies. In Romania there are four domestic breeds, all of them guard dogs for sheep or cattle: the Mioritic Romanian Sheepdog, the Carpathian Romanian Sheepdog, the Bukovina Romanian Sheepdog, and the Corb Romanian Sheepdog. We talked about these dogs with Petru Muntean, spokesperson for the Romanian Canine Association:
“Romanians cannot live without dogs, neither in the mountains, nor in their rural households, considering the situation we are facing, for a few years now in fact: the bear and wolf population is growing. Shepherds cannot live without a dog, they can't provide security for their flocks. Now, let's talk about the four breeds. In expert language, two of them belong to the first FCI group, which is dedicated to sheepdogs, and the other two breeds, which are bigger and sturdier, the Bukovina and Corb, belong to a section of the second group, dedicated to guard and defense dogs of large size. The difference is in body structure, their head is different. In the Carpathian and Mioritic, the head is wolf-like, they are more streamlined, longer, while the other two breeds have bigger and sturdier heads, recalling closely the Tibetan Mastiff, or the better known Saint Bernard. They are imposing and very strong. What brings them together, these four breeds, is their exceptional ability in guarding flocks of sheep. They have a natural instinct for this, they are very good guardians of people and households. The fauna of this area imposed for these breeds to be created, to be guardians. They are suspicious of strangers, and are very good at guarding their territory, but, contrary to expectation, when they are taken by their masters to a new, unknown area, they are very well behaved, they are balanced, they mind their own business. They are fiercely loyal.”
You can find out more about these wonderful Romanian dogs on the association website, www.ach.ro, in Romanian, English, and French.
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