Bulgarian Shepherd Dog

Breed Information


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Bulgarian Shepherd Dog

Other names

Karakachan, Karakachan Shepherd Dog



Breed Group


Large to Giant



Life Span

2-14 years









Male: 26-30 inches (65-75 cm)

Female: 25-28 inches (63-72 cm)


Male: 99-125 pounds (45-57 kg)

Female: 88-114 pounds (40-52 kg)


White, Black, Tricolor

Litter Size

5-10 puppies

Puppy Prices

Average $800 – $1000 USD

Bulgarian Shepherd Dogs are still a somewhat rare breed in the United States. In general, in buying to a legit Breeder you can expect to pay $800 – $1000 to Bulgarian Shepherd Dog puppies.

Disclaimer: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, dogs are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.

Breed Characteristics



Apartment Friendly


This dog does best in a clean country environment where he can receive extensive daily exercise and a job to do.

Barking Tendencies



Cat Friendly


Child Friendly


Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them. It is also friendly toward strangers.

Dog Friendly


Exercise Needs


This breed needs plenty of daily exercise and a job to do. When not actively working it should be taken on daily, long, brisk walk.



Coats should be brushed about every 2-3 days. Bathe only when necessary.

Health Issues


Hypoallergenic: No



Ranking: (N/A) Full Ranking List



Shedding Level


Moderate Shedding: Routine brushing will help. Be prepared to vacuum often!

Stranger Friendly




Moderately Easy Training: The Karakachan is average when it comes to training. Results will come gradually.

Watchdog Ability


Bulgarian Shepherd Dog Breed Characteristics

The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog is a brave and loyal breed that has been guarding flocks and families for centuries in Bulgaria. With their alert nature and protective instincts, these dogs make excellent guardians and companions. Read on to learn all about this ancient breed’s unique characteristics and whether a Bulgarian Shepherd Dog is right for you!

Origin and History

The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog has ancient roots as a livestock guardian and property protector in Bulgaria. They are thought to share a common ancestry with other Balkan sheepdogs like the Macedonian Shepherd, Bosnian Tornjak, and Sharplaninatz.

These large, rugged dogs were bred to handle the demands of life in the mountainous regions of Bulgaria. Their main role was to protect livestock from predators like wolves, bears, and jackals. The breed likely descends from ancient Molosser-type dogs that arrived with the Thracians over 3,000 years ago.

Selective breeding over the centuries produced a powerful, brave, and protective sheepdog that was highly valued by Bulgarian shepherds. The breed was later refined in the 20th century with some imports of German Shepherds to improve temperament and appearance.

The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog was officially recognized by the Bulgarian Cynological Federation in 1966. The breed later gained international recognition by the FCI and other kennel clubs in the 1980s and 90s. These dogs remain a national symbol of Bulgaria and a working staple on farms there today.

Appearance and Size

The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog has a strong, muscular build and a thick double-coat. They are a medium-large to large breed, standing 24-30 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing 66-110 pounds.

They have a broad skull with a slight stop and a long, blunt muzzle. Their medium-sized, dark brown eyes have an intelligent and alert expression. Their triangular ears flop down close to the head.

The neck is muscular and the chest is broad and deep. The back is straight leading to a bushy, curled tail carried low. Their front legs are straight and their oval-shaped feet are well-arched.

Their double coat consists of a dense, wooly undercoat and a slightly wavy outer coat that lies close to the body. Common coat colors include black, white, brown, and sable. Markings of various colors can also sometimes appear.

Temperament and Personality

The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog forms a deep bond with their family while remaining wary and standoffish with strangers. They are intensely loyal, obedient, and protective of their people. With their family, Bulgarian Shepherds are sweet, gentle, and affectionate. However, they can be quite territorial and make excellent watchdogs.

These dogs are bold, courageous, and will not back down from a threat. Their protective nature and instinct to guard property needs proper management through training and socialization.

When raised with proper care, training, and socialization, Bulgarian Shepherds are remarkably calm and steady, even around strangers. They are intelligent, independent thinkers, yet aim to please their owner. With their family, they are playful, docile, and loving.

Living Needs and Environment

The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog is best suited for more experienced dog owners who can properly train and socialize these natural guardians. Their protectiveness and dominance needs an owner who acts as the confident pack leader.

They need a home with a securely fenced yard and enough space to move and play. Bulgarian Shepherds struggle in small city apartments – they need room to roam and guard. Access to a yard is ideal so they can patrol, observe, sniff, and explore.

Owners will need to provide this active breed with at least 60-90 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. Activities like hiking, running, backpacking, and field games help satisfy their high exercise needs and prevent boredom or nuisance behaviors.

Though they can adjust to warm climates, Bulgarian Shepherd Dogs are prone to overheating and prefer cooler environments. Their thick coat provides insulation from cold mountain temperatures. Access to shade and water is essential when exercising them in warmer weather.

Training and Socialization Needs

Bulgarian Shepherds are intelligent and eager to please, though they can have an independent mind. Early training and socialization is essential to bring out their best traits as both a family pet and a guard dog.

They need structured obedience training using positive reinforcement methods while still young puppies. This helps establish important commands and strengthen the human-dog bond. Bulgarian Shepherds should never be trained using harsh punishments or force-based methods.

Extensive socialization is also key for these naturally wary dogs. They need frequent, positive exposures to new people, animals, places, and experiences as they mature. Proper management around strangers and other dogs is a must.

When trained patiently with understanding of their guarding instincts, Bulgarian Shepherds can become well-mannered companions. They aim to please their family and respond best to respectful training that doesn’t break their spirit.

Grooming and Care

The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog has a double coat that needs only occasional brushing to minimize loose hairs in the home. They shed heavily just once or twice per year and otherwise need minimal grooming.

Bathing is only needed a few times a year – their coat should maintain good condition when brushed regularly. Their nails may require clipping if not worn down naturally through outdoor activity. Their teeth will need periodic brushing as well.

This is generally a very healthy and hardy breed. Some potential health issues to be aware of include hip dysplasia, eyelid abnormalities, heart conditions, and thyroid problems. With proper diet, exercise, and veterinary care, Bulgarian Shepherds typically enjoy life spans of 10-14 years.

Puppy Buying Considerations

An ideal place to get a Bulgarian Shepherd Dog puppy is from a responsible breeder who breeds for both health and good temperament. Expect to pay $800 to over $1000 USD on average.

When meeting parent dogs, look for stable temperaments and no signs of aggression. Visit the kennel or home to ensure the puppies are raised in a clean, stimulating environment during these crucial developmental weeks.

Avoid buying from pet stores or irresponsible online sellers. Be wary of breeders who don’t health test their breeding stock or who can’t provide proof of health clearances.

Is the Bulgarian Shepherd Dog Right for Me?

The brave, loyal Bulgarian Shepherd Dog makes an excellent guardian for active owners who can properly train and socialize them. Consider if you can provide:

  • A home with secure fencing and space to roam and play
  • Vigorous daily exercise and outdoor activities
  • Obedience training and extensive socialization
  • Time to brush their thick coat once or twice weekly
  • Tolerance of some wariness towards strangers
  • Experience handling strong, protective breeds

If you’re up for the challenge, the devoted Bulgarian Shepherd Dog will reward you with unwavering loyalty and protection. Their boldness and spirit is tempered by their affection and willingness to please their beloved family.

Fun Facts About the Bulgarian Shepherd Dog

  • Bulgaria named the Bulgarian Shepherd Dog a national treasure in 2018. They appear on postage stamps and tourist souvenirs.
  • These dogs are honored with a bronze statue in Sofia, Bulgaria depicting their guarding spirit and loyalty.
  • The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog is nicknamed the Karakachan Dog in English, named after the nomadic Karakachan people whose dogs likely contributed to the breed.
  • President Biden gifted a Bulgarian Shepherd Dog named Champ to Prime Minister Borissov during a Sofia visit in 2009.
  • Bulgarian Shepherds are dedicated family protectors. Two dogs sacrificed themselves fighting off a bear that attacked a young boy in Bulgaria in 2016.


For experienced dog owners seeking a loyal protector, the brave and devoted Bulgarian Shepherd Dog has much to offer. Their long history as guardians and affection for their family make them excellent watchdogs and companions. With proper care, training, exercise and space, the Bulgarian Shepherd Dog will thrive as man’s best friend and guardian.


Are Bulgarian Shepherd Dogs aggressive?

Bulgarian Shepherd Dogs are not inherently aggressive but they do have strong protective and territorial instincts. With proper training and socialization from an early age, they can be taught to control their guarding impulses and accept strangers.

Do Bulgarian Shepherd Dogs do well with other pets?

Bulgarian Shepherd Dogs tend to be dominant and may not tolerate other dogs of the same sex. However, opposite sex pairings can work well. Early socialization can help them learn to accept other pets. Proper introductions are always advised when bringing a new pet into the home.

How much exercise does a Bulgarian Shepherd Dog need?

This energetic working breed needs 60-90 minutes of vigorous daily exercise along with access to a yard. Hiking, running, activities, and games will help meet their high exercise requirements. Without enough activity they can become bored and destructive.

What type of coat care do Bulgarian Shepherds need?

The Bulgarian Shepherd Dog has a thick double coat that requires only weekly brushing and occasional bathing to stay clean and neat. They are average shedders most of the year but will blow their coat once or twice annually when they shed heavily.

Are Bulgarian Shepherd Dogs easy to train?

This intelligent breed aims to please their owner which allows them to be trainable. However, their independent nature means they can be a bit stubborn at times. Early socialization paired with firm, positive training methods works best to bring out their best behavior. Harsh methods should never be used.

How much space does a Bulgarian Shepherd Dog need?

Bulgarian Shepherd Dogs need room to roam and play safely. They do best with a securely fenced yard or acreage rather than being kept in a small apartment or urban setting. Access to the outdoors fulfills their guarding and patrolling instincts.

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