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Named after the Sarplanina Mountains of Serbia, Albania and Macedonia


The Sarplaninac (pronounced shar-pla-nee-natz) is an ancient livestock guarding breed from the mountain region of southeastern Yugoslavia, known in Roman times as Illyria. This breed was formerly named the Illyrian Shepherd Dog when first recognized by the FCI in 1939. The name was changed in 1957 to Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog Sharplanina, after the Sharplanina mountain range where the breed is most common. Like all ancient breeds developed in isolated regions, the origin of the Sarplaninac cannot be determined. It is believed to be descended from the ancient Molossian dogs of Greece and the livestock guarding dogs of Turkey. Although little known throughout the world, the Sarplaninac is still widely used in its homeland to protect flocks against predators. Until 1970, Sarplaninacs could not be legally exported from Yugoslavia. The first to arrive in the U.S. was actually carried down from the mountains by mule. Since then, growing numbers of American and Canadian ranchers have been successfully using Sarplaninacs for predator control.

Read more about the history of this breed – HERE

OTHER NAMES – Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog, lllyrian Shepherd Dog, Macedonian Shepherd Dog, Illyrian Sheepdog, Yugoslav Mountain Dog, Sharplanina


While Šarplaninacs are known to be protective, family-oriented dogs, they are not particularly affectionate or playful and are much happier when they have work to do. That’s not to say that they don’t form strong bonds, however, as once they live and work with a family for a period of time, they are endlessly loyal and will go to great lengths to protect them. Once they reach that level, they are great with nearly all family members and even children, despite their lumbering size, and are usually gentle and patient even with small kids, but should be thoroughly socialised and trained to reduce any potential issues. Training itself is a difficult task – it is not for inexperienced owners. Šarplaninacs not only like to assert their dominance, calling for a consistent and firm hand out of their trainers or owners, but even after being trained are still head-strong and independent dogs that will often override commands with their own decision making. Because of their protective nature, they are generally standoffish with strangers and new dogs and will position themselves between newcomers and their families, acting as a barrier when they sense any level of potential threats. They are also high energy dogs and usually need consistent work to do or regular and thorough exercise, leaving them best reserved for active families with big houses and large outdoor spaces for them to roam and patrol.


This information is taken from kennel clubs and other reliable sources.

COUNTRY OF ORIGINSerbia/Macedonia/Albania
PURPOSE BRED FORLivestock guarding, Service
TEMPERAMENTIntelligent, Calm, Devoted
EXERCISE NEEDEDOver 1 hour per day
HEIGHT – MALE60 cm / 24 in (to shoulder)
HEIGHT – FEMALE57 cm / 22.5 in (to shoulder)
COAT TYPELong, straight, double coat
LIFE EXPECTANCY11 – 13 years


  • They were used as Yugoslavian military dogs in the 1920’s and are still used today as guard dogs in mountainous military outposts in Serbia.
  • They are not considered a common breed but do still find a fair amount of use in their region of origin and North America.
  • Throughout their history, they’ve been used for herding, guarding and working as well as police and military dogs largely in their home region around the Šar Mountains, including Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, and other parts of former Yugoslavia.
  • Their drive to herd and protect is actually so deep that they will often treat their family like a flock if they have no true flock to guard and will often attempt to herd them if they sense any presence of danger.
  • They are also not considered an adaptable breed and are best for families with work to provide, something to protect and a large outdoor space for them to live, as they are happy to weather most conditions with their all-weather double coats.


Breed standards vary throughout the world, click the buttons below for more information about this breed.


Click on any image to view these pictures larger and in a slideshow.


Enjoy this video about Sarplaninacs, you can view the entire playlist of videos about this breed on our YouTube Channel by clicking the button below:


Here’s some websites specifically dedicated to this breed, click to view them. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, they’re just here for further information. Please note I will not advertise breeders on this site and as many websites dedicated to a specific breed are run by breeders, sometimes there’s fewer sites listed here.

Thanks for reading!

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