All About the Breed Istrian Sheepdog

Have you recently fallen for the Istrian Sheepdog or do you simply love rare breeds? Learn all about the breed here, including: breed history, personality traits, train-ability, benefits and disadvantages of the breed, and common health concerns.

Also known as the Karst Sheepdog, Krasky Ovcar, Krasevec, and the Illyrian Sheepdog, the Istrian Sheepdog is a devoted and protective breed.

But how do you know whether you are ready to purchase a pet and if this breed is right for you?

This information is absolutely necessary in making the decision to purchase a pet.


The origin of the Istrian Sheepdog can be traced back to 17th century Slovenia. Enthusiasts believe these dogs to have descended from such breeds as various Romanian and Spartan Sheepdogs, though this has never been proven scientifically or otherwise.

Throughout its history, the Istrian Sheepdog has been most commonly used for herding, driving, and guarding cattle against predators such as wolves, and as a watch and guard dog, proving its superior abilities to work while providing protection and gentle companionship.

Today, while the Istrian Sheepdog has attained a regional popularity as a working and companion dog, the breed remains very rare outside of its native Slovenia.

Personality Traits

Best known for its protective and devoted nature, the Istrian Sheepdog is willing to do anything necessary in order to protect its owner and property. This breed thrives on strong and dependable relationships with humans, and is known for becoming attached to one person more so than several separate people.

These dogs are very bright, yet stubborn and independent, creating difficulty in training. As a pet, the Istrian Sheepdog is loyal, loving, and affectionate. This breed is not suited for full-time indoor or apartment living, as it enjoys spending time outdoors and having plenty of room to roam, run, and play.


Due to its stubborn and independent attitude, the Istrian Sheepdog can prove challenging to train. These dogs are known for being especially difficult to housebreak and growing bored and even annoyed with repetitive exercises and tasks.

Establishing immediate dominance, trust, and respect is key to successfully training the Istrian Sheepdog. This breed requires an experienced, confident, and patient handler with a stern and serious approach to repetitive exercises and tasks.

Benefits and Disadvantages of the Breed

There are many benefits to owning an Istrian Sheepdog. When properly socialized from a young age, these dogs get along well with children and other pets, known for its sweet and gentle approach to small children. This breed is alert, dominant, territorial, and protective, making an incredible watch and guard dog by announcing the arrival of guests and unwanted visitors, and serving as a deterrent to would-be intruders.

The Istrian Sheepdog is loyal, loving, and affectionate, making an excellent working dog, family pet, and companion alike.

Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages to owning an Istrian Sheepdog. This energetic breed requires large amounts of daily exercise and room to run and play outdoors, especially when under the age of two years. Anyone wishing to purchase this breed lacking the adequate amount of time and space to dedicate to the dog is strongly advised against doing so.

An Istrian Sheepdog not receiving the proper amount of exercise and space will often act out by destroying property, chewing, barking, whining, and ignoring basic training such as housebreaking.

The Istrian Sheepdog has a strong instinct to herd and will occasionally indulge in a good chase. When on the run, these large dogs are surprisingly quick, and may pose a threat to other animals, neighborhood pets, and small woodland creatures. The Istrian Sheepdog must be leashed or properly secured at all times when outdoors.

This breed's thick and gorgeous coat requires almost constant attention such as brushing, grooming, and bathing in order to prevent tangling and maintain its attractive appearance.

As previously mentioned, the Istrian Sheepdog remains very rare outside of its native Slovenia and can prove quite difficult to obtain. Individuals seeking to purchase this breed often encounter such challenges as inability to locate a breeder, high prices, and being placed on long waiting lists.

Common Health Concerns

While the Istrian Sheepdog is typically known as a healthy and hearty breed, they do suffer from a few health problems, including: hip dysplasia, frequent muscle strains, degenerative disk disease and other spinal conditions, progressive retinal atrophy, distichiasis - ingrown eye lashes, congenital heart defects, obesity, and bloat.

Now that you know all about the breed, do you think you are ready to own an Istrian Sheepdog?

Remember, purchasing a pet is a big decision and should be discussed thoroughly and seriously with your entire family.