The Polish Tatra Sheepdog is a breed of dog introduced into the Tatra Mountains of Southern Poland by Vlachian (Romanian) shepherds. Tatras are primarily considered livestock guardian dogs. Their instinct, through hundreds of years of breeding, is to protect livestock, though they easily adopt a family as a flock. They are a good companion dog as well as a protection dog. They are not an attack dog, but rather move threats away through intimidation. They have a loud bark. They are not all that similar in temperament to their Mountain dog cousins the Kuvasz, Great Pyrenees orMaremma Sheepdog. They are less aloof than the other breeds, tending to be better tied into their breeding and not as domesticated or inbred as some of their cousins. In the USA the Tatra sheepdog is considered a rare breed. It is not recognized by the AKC.
The Polish Tatra Sheepdog, which sometimes goes by the Owczarek Podhalanski and the Polish Mountain Sheepdog, originated in Podhale, in the Tatra Mountain area of Poland, hence the breed’s name. The breed has lived in the Polish mountains for thousands of years, but no exact date for the start of the breed was ever recorded. There is a similar mystery around what breeds were mixed to form the Polish Tatra Sheepdog. While no one is certain, many dog breeders say that the Polish Tatra Sheepdog came from the Mastiff breed. The breed was very popular among mountain workers for several centuries, and up to today. It was so popular because, as its name implies, it was a fantastic sheepdog. This success at herding sheep was mainly due to their high intelligence. When predators were around the sheep, the Polish Tatra Sheepdog would gather up the sheep and stand by them instead of trying to attack the predator, which would leave the sheep open for other attacks. This demonstrates their intelligence. Their white coat also made them easily distinguishable from a bear or wolves, which was very helpful for workers. Also, owners could shave the dogs and use their coat to produce wool. Mountain workers also used to hold their tails while they lead the workers through the mountains and rough terrain. Herding sheep was not the only job the breed could perform. They were often used as personal guards and frequently guarded factories and other private property.
The Polish Tatra Sheepdog is used for herding, and as a guardian for flocks of sheep and goats. It can also be kept as a companion and a watchdog. This natural working dog is independent, self-thinking, highly intelligent and able to assess situations without human guidance. Socialize them well while they are still young and throughout their entire life. Basic obedience is a must. Devoted and loving to their family and close friends but will often be reserved around strangers. This flock guard tends to be territorial of the home and their surroundings so consistent human leadership is a must. They will give big warning barks at anything deemed suspicious or strange and will bite eventually if challenged or pushed. If left outside they will be awake and vigilant during night hours, patrolling the property.
Even though being bred more frequently, the Polish Tatra Sheepdog is a very rare breed. There are about 7500 dogs of this breed in the world right now registered on http://www.owczarek-podhalanski.eu/. The majority are still in Poland, with about 600 being there, butAmerica is sporting around 300 Polish Tatra Sheepdogs. In other European countries, such as France, the breed is growing in popularity, as in 2003 there were 150 births there. The Netherlands now has a booming breeding business for Tatras. About 150 of them are still used for herding.