Romanian Carpathian Shepherd dogs – the best protection for Carpathian livestock
Location: Bucova – Romania,
Story by: Cosmin Alboni
The Alboni family from Bucova village, western Romania, has a long tradition of “ciobănit” (sheep herding, producing and selling cheese), passed from father to son. Few years ago they were donated an electric fence system and a pair of Romanian Carpathian Shepherd dogs to test the efficiency of these prevention measures against large carnivores attacks.
Livestock owners from Bucova village (Caraș-Severin County) lose around 15-20 sheep to bears and wolves every year, because
there were only a few prevention measures implemented. The compensation system is far to be efficient, and usually the
locals don’t take the long and time consuming process to recover the damages inflicted by large carnivores.
Romanian Carpathian Shepherd Dog
The Romanian Carpathian Shepherd Dog is a dog breed resulted from natural selection along the millennia of the strongest, most agile and resilient dogs, capable to adapt to the climate conditions of the Carpathian mountains and to protect the sheep against the attacks of large predators – the bear and the wolf. It’s a big sized dog, with a vigorous appearance, that doesn’t require special care or life conditions. A very devoted, intelligent, well-mannered, courageous dog, it has been said to battle bears in an attempt to protect flocks of sheep or its master from harm. Its protective side occurs instinctively, and can be observed even to pups. This dog keeps near to his flock all the time, day and night, protecting it all along the shepherdess period. Long famous throughout Romania for its strong protective drive, immense courage, and gentle nature with its family, the breed has only recently earned international recognition.
A few years ago a new project started in the area to promote measures to prevent human-large carnivore conflicts. In this project the brothers Alin and Cosmin Alboni received a system of electric fences and a pair of Romanian Carpathian Shepherd dog as a donation from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the Zarand Association.This breed has impressive native characteristics that make it the most effective guarding measure for the sheep flocks.
Since we have Doru and Prada, we haven’t lost a single
sheep. This is 100% protection for our animals, which is a great achievement
says Alin Alboni, proudly wearing his traditional long sheep wool coat.
Unlike other dogs, these will not bark unless their fine sense of smell spots the presence of a wild animal that might represent a threat to the flock. At that moment, they immediately dash off to directly confront the bear or wolf.
It’s very important to keep this breed exactly as it developed itself over the years in the company of Romanian shepherds. Breeding will harness these characteristics instilled over the millennia
explained Radu Luca Popa, a local ranger working for FFI. Not only did his furry companions reduce livestock losses, but they provided a precious offspring – a pure breed Romanian Carpathian Shepherd pup. The market value of Iancu – the young shy and fluffy pup – is around 300 Euros. As a result of the good care of the dogs, the Alboni family got a certificate for opening an authorized kennel. Now they can reduce their costs by selling puppies to other shepherds.
Livestock Guarding Dogs
Livestock guarding dogs defend the herd against attacks by wolves. They feel like part of the herd and settle down with the pet owner. The dogs live permanently outside and defend “their” herd against all intruders from the outside. Well-trained livestock protection dogs are no danger to walkers and hikers, but these should lead their dogs on a leash. To make this work, well trained herd protection dogs are required, which are adapted to the type of grazing by the livestock. This requires regular checks made by experienced people so that the dogs do not start to behave incorrectly.
There is still lots of work to do when it comes to preventing large carnivore attacks on livestock in the region. But the demonstrative project of FFI and Zarand Association created good examples that can be followed by other shepherds and established a base for further projects. Their efforts will be continued in the area by WWF Romania, as a partner in the LIFE EuroLargeCarnivores project. Electric fences systems and pairs of Romanian Carpathian Shepherd Dogs will be donated to other livestock owners as well, to measure the efficiency of these prevention tools.