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Breed -

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Greek Shepherd


Breed History

Greek Shepherd or Greek Sheepdog

A breed of livestock guardian dog from Greece. Thought to be ancient in origin, the Greek Shepherd is very closely related to livestock guardian dog breeds from neighbouring countries. It is believed that some dogs are simultaneously claimed to be other breeds as they migrate annually across national borders with the flocks they protect in search seasonal pastures.

It is believed livestock guardian dogs are one of the oldest distinct dog types, with evidence the type has remained largely unchanged since ancient times. It is claimed the Greek Shepherd has been found in Greece since ancient times, Plato wrote of dogs of similar form and function being known in the region of Epirus as early as 800 BC.The Greek Shepherd is known as the Ellinikós Pimenikós (Ελληνικός Ποιμενικός) in Greek, it has been called the Greek Shepherd Dog, the Greek Sheepdog and the Hellenic Shepherd Dog. The breed is found throughout Greece, particularly in the north of the country; it is very closely related to other livestock guardian breeds found throughout the Balkans.

Many Balkan shepherds and their flocks undertake an annual migration between Greece and the Šar Mountains to capitalise on summer mountain pastures but avoid the harsh snow-covered mountain winters when no feed is available, in 1977 it was estimated over 500,000 sheep made this annual migration. Because these same dogs can be seen in multiple countries at different times of the years, some cynologists including Raymond Coppinger observe that many dogs claimed to be Greek Shepherd are in fact also claimed to be Šarplaninacs and other regional breeds; and that nationalistic kennel clubs have given separate identities and breed standards to the very same  dogs, differing appearances being due to changing appearance of these dogs as they gain their heavier winter coats and shed them again for the heat of the summer.

Typically these shepherds winter their flocks in Greece where their Greek Shepherds protect the flocks from Greek wolves and jackals, then as the weather improves they walk with their flocks, accompanied by their dogs, over 480 kilometres (300 mi) through North Macedonia to their summer pastures in the SAR Mountains on the border of Albania and Kosovo where their Sarplaninacs protect their flocks from predators found there, then in the autumn they make the return journey to Greece where their dogs once again transform into Greek Shepherds.

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