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Bukovina Sheepdog: Breed Info, Pictures, Traits & Care

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on May 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

Bukovina Sheepdog

Bukovina Sheepdog: Breed Info, Pictures, Traits & Care

You don’t usually hear “giant breed” and “energetic” in the same sentence, but that’s exactly what you can expect with the Bucovina Shepherd. It’s quite likely that you’ve not heard of this breed, but in their homeland of Romania, particularly around the Carpathian Mountains, the Bucovina Shepherd is a well-known and beloved working dog and companion.

Breed Overview


25–30 inches


110–200 pounds


10–15 years


Black and white, black, white, gray and white

Suitable for:

Active families or singles, house with a large yard


Energetic, protective, devoted, fearless, gentle, playful, calm

Not much is known about the origins of the Bucovina Shepherd, which is also known as the Bukovina Sheepdog in Germany and the Ciobănesc Românesc de Bucovina in Romania. It’s believed that they are an ancient breed that happened naturally over time and that they are descended from the Mastiff and possibly the Dogue de Bordeaux and Alaunt.

This giant breed has a thick and shaggy double coat, which helps keep them warm in the harsh weather of the Carpathian Mountains. They are most commonly black and white but can also be gray and white or all white or all black.

Bucovina Shepherd Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Bucovina Shepherd Puppies

Bucovina Shepherd puppies
Image by: Jametlene Reskp, Unsplash

The Bucovina Shepherd is rare outside of Romania, so unless you live there or nearby, you won’t have much luck finding one of these dogs. Some breeders are willing to fly their puppies to other parts of the world, but this will increase the price exponentially!

If you do find a breeder of the Bucovina, you should take steps to ensure that they are an ethical and responsible breeder. This includes asking them plenty of questions that they should be more than happy to answer. We typically recommend adopting pets, but the rarity of the Bucovina in most of the world makes this virtually impossible.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Bucovina Shepherd 🧠

The Bucovina Shepherd is quite typical of most giant-breed mountain working dogs. They are calm and gentle but independent and brave. They were bred to protect sheep and goats in the Carpathian Mountains, and the predators that these dogs had to deal with were lynx, wolves, and bears, as well as humans intent on stealing from the flock.

The Bucovina had to be large, intimidating, and courageous to deal with these threats, so even now, they tend to be quite wary around strangers. They have a huge bark and make excellent watch and guard dogs, but they are affectionate and smart companions.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Bucovina can be an excellent family dog! They are known to be wonderful with children because they are playful but gentle. They form strong bonds with their families and are highly protective of them.

But you must ensure that your children are taught to respect all dogs, which means not treating them like a horse by riding them or pulling on their ears and tails. Have your children take part in caring for the dog, which will teach them responsibility and respect.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

If the Bucovina is raised from puppyhood to adulthood alongside pets in the home, they will likely view these animals as a part of their pack. That said, these dogs are independent and more likely to become aggressive with other animals and might even attack smaller pets.

It would be best to have the Bucovina be the only pet in the home to rule out any potential aggressive behavior. Still, you might consider another dog of the opposite sex.

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Things to Know When Owning a Bucovina Shepherd

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

You’ll want to ensure that you purchase high-quality food. For your new Bucovina Shepherd, this should be large-breed puppy food, which will help support their growing body.

Throughout your dog’s life, their food should be geared not only for large breeds but also for your pet’s current age and activity level—the Bucovina is an active breed, so aim for brands that meet that need.

Consult with your veterinarian regarding the frequency and amount of food for your dog. The instructions on the food container can also help you determine this. Just be careful with treats, which should only make up about 10% of your dog’s daily diet. Obesity is always a concern. Finally, ensure that your Bucovina has constant access to clean and fresh water.

Exercise 🐕

Large to giant breed dogs don’t always need a great deal of exercise, but the Bucovina is the exception to the rule. This breed isn’t necessarily hyperactive, but they were bred to roam mountainous areas for hours with the flock that they were guarding. At a minimum, the Bucovina will need 1 hour of vigorous exercise, which should include active playtime.

Due to their exercise needs and large size, they need room to roam, so apartment living is not in the cards for this breed. They also have an enormous bark, which won’t make your close neighbors happy. Ideally, a country home with acres to explore or a house with a large and fenced backyard would be perfect.

Training 🦮

Training the Bucovina is best left for people with experience. This dog was bred to be independent so they could spend the day guarding the flock without the need for direction from humans. This makes the Bucovina a bit of a challenge to train, as their independent nature can translate to stubbornness.

The Bucovina can be a dominant dog if not trained by an owner who knows how to balance firmness and patience. You should only ever use positive reinforcement. These dogs also need a great deal of socialization from a young age to encourage them to become well-adjusted adults.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming the Bucovina can take a while. They have a thick, coarse double coat that can easily become matted. They require brushing daily or every other day at a minimum. These dogs shed excessively (like most double-coated breeds), so expect a great deal of hair flurries, particularly during the fall and spring shedding seasons. The Bucovina only needs a bath when necessary, but it should be with a good dog shampoo. Due to their size, bathing this dog is all about endurance!

You’ll also need to trim their nails about every 3 to 4 weeks, check and clean their ears once a month, and brush those pearly whites every day.

Health and Conditions ❤️

The Bucovina Shepherd is a healthy breed, but like all dogs, they are susceptible to certain health conditions. Their size makes them more prone to conditions that plague many large and giant dog breeds.

Minor Conditions
  • Ear infections
  • Eye problems
Serious Conditions
  • Luxating patella
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Obesity
  • Bloat
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus

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Male vs. Female

There is a decided physical difference between male and female Bucovina Shepherds. Females can be 25 to 28 inches in height and weigh roughly 110 to 180 pounds. Males are heavier and physically larger overall; they can range from 27 to 30 inches in height and weigh 120 to 200 pounds.

Beyond size, some people believe that there are temperament differences between male and female dogs. For example, females are said to be easier to train and less affectionate than males. The female Bucovina will likely be just as stubborn as the male with respect to training, though.

Bear in mind that while there might be differences in temperament between the two sexes, what will truly define a dog’s personality is the training and socialization that they receive and how they are treated throughout their lifetime.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Bucovina Shepherd

1. The Bucovina Gained Popularity in Romania in the 1990s

Romania went through social unrest after communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown and executed during the 1989 revolution. The Bucovina Shepherd was an excellent guard dog and companion, and their intimidating size made them the perfect breed to help protect Romanian homes and families.

2. The Bucovina Is Not Widely Recognized

The Bucovina Shepherd is only recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), so they haven’t gained any recognition from kennel clubs like the AKC. The FCI has placed the Bucovina in the Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs category.

3. Some Bucovina Wear a “Jujeu”

A jujeu is a chain placed around the dog’s neck from which a horizontal stick hangs. This device prevents the dog from running because their legs bang into the stick, slowing them down. The purpose of this is to stop the dog from chasing and hunting wildlife, such as rabbits and deer. The jujeu also sends the message that a shepherd owns the dog.

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Closing Thoughts

The Bucovina Shepherd is a gorgeous, heavily coated, loving, yet fearless gentle giant of a dog. Unfortunately, they are practically unheard of outside of their native Romania. Training this dog is definitely the most challenging aspect of this breed. Due to their dominant and independent nature, they are best with an owner who knows how to use a firm yet gentle hand.

For the right family, the Bucovina Shepherd can make an incredible companion. They are protectors and gentle with children, so if you’re somewhere in Europe and are looking for a loving dog that is great with kids but will be a fearless friend, the Bucovina might be perfect for you!

Featured Image Credit: Fabian-Emanuel-Balint, Shutterstock

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