Ancient Sheepdog Breed Returns to Romanian Landscape to Fend Off Wolves

The Carpathian shepherd dog is being reintroduced to key portions of the country where predators are regularly attacking livestock.

An ancient breed of shepherd dog native to the Carpathian Mountains of Romania has been reintroduced in a part of its home country to do what it does best: guard livestock.

In an area known as the Zarand Landscape Corridor - tying the western Carpathian Mountains with the southern portion of the range - the European Commission-backed organization LIFE Connect Carpathians (LCC) has given eight Carpathian shepherd dog puppies to shepherds at three locations.

The sites are known ecological pathways for big carnivores such as bears and wolves - predators that routinely attack sheep. Enter the Carpathian shepherd dog, a breed known for its dedication and innate sense of devotion to the animals it's guarding. The idea, with the reintroduction, is to train the shepherds in how to handle, breed and best employ the dogs in the tasks for which they're hard-wired. Ultimately, the goal is to keep people and wolves from coming in such frequent contact, and conflict, with each other.

Carpathian sheepdogs have been employed for centuries in Romania to protect farmers' livestock. They live for about a dozen years and are considered to have calm, stable temperaments as well as a fair share of courage.

Over time, according to Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the dogs have become less adept as guard animals, thanks to cross-breeding, and local shepherds have begun to lose the art of properly training and handling the dogs.

Now, though, shepherds at the three sites are receiving training from LCC staff in how to train the guard dogs. The shepherds are also receiving instruction in how to raise more of the animals themselves so they can help revive both the breed and the traditions that go with it.

Top Photo Credit: LIFE Connect Carpathians (LCC)

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