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Tornjak Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care, & Traits

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

Tornjak_Simun Ascic, Shutterstock

Tornjak Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care, & Traits

If you’re looking for a furry friend who is easy to get along with yet a bit tenacious and protective, then we’ve got the dog for you. The Tornjak is a large sheepdog that can become a giant sheepdog and hails from countries like Bosnia, Croatia, and Herzegovina.

A purebred dog, this breed can turn on a dime from loving to his family to fiercely protective of anyone who he thinks is trying to harm them. This protective breed goes by a few names, such as Croatian Shepard, Bosnian Shepard, Bosnian, and a few more.

Breed Overview


23 to 30 inches


60 to 110 pounds


12 to 14 years


White and chocolate, red and white, black and white, piebald

Suitable for:

Someone looking for a watchdog that is laidback, families that have a large space and large yard


Calm, tough, easy to get along with, decisive, tenacious, protective

Weighing in at between 60 to 110 pounds and growing to between 23 to 30 inches, you’ll need plenty of space for this loyal creature to run. If you’re considering purchasing or adopting a Tornjak, there are a few things you’ll want to know first.

You’ll want to know how much this Tornjak puppy will cost you, a few little-known facts, their temperament, intelligence, and how well they’ll get along with other pets and your children. Then, we’ll give you the scoop on all things Tornjak to help you decide whether they are the best pet for you and your family.

Tornjak 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.

Tornjak Puppies

Tornjak puppy
Image Credit: Nikolina Mrakovic, Shutterstock

There are a few things you should know about your Tornjak pup before you bring them home. If you’ve seen a picture of a Tornjak online, you might think the camera and photos are a bit out of focus. They aren’t. Tornjak puppies are just so fuzzy that they look out of focus. Fuzzy and so darn cute, it’s not funny.

Adorable, yet clumsy. You’ll often see these giant babies tripping over themselves. However, it’s important that you do your research well to determine if the Tornjak is indeed the right choice of pet for you. Your puppy will grow to a large size, and you’ll need plenty of space for them to run in. For example, if you live in a small apartment, this might not be the best choice of pet for you.

This lovable breed has been around for thousands of years now and is thought to be related to the Tibetan Mastiff somewhere down the line. This breed is intelligent, loyal, lovable, and faced extinction at one point in its history. Luckily, the breed was saved, making it possible for you to purchase or adopt one today.


Temperament & Intelligence of the Tornjak

We’ve already established that the Tornjak is an intelligent breed. But, as far as temperament, some people worry that a large dog could be dangerous. The Tornjak, however, is laidback, loving, and hard to make angry.

Many people worry because these dogs can fight off wolves and bears, which means they have to be aggressive. Don’t worry, he isn’t. The only way this breed will become aggressive is if they are protecting you or your family from a threat.

Since the Tornjak are extremely intelligent, they are easy to train as well. Not only does the Tornjak make a great companion and family dog, but they make an excellent guard dog also. Brave, determined, and very trustworthy, this breed will make someone a loyal dog for life.

As with any other dog, however, your Tornjak needs to be trained and socialized from an early age to ensure they are good with people and not overly aggressive.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?🏡

Since they are easygoing and patient, the Tornjak breed makes a great family pet. While they aren’t anxious and high-strung, this breed can run with your kids for days without becoming overly tired. While they aren’t prone to being overly aggressive, you do need to train and socialize them as puppies and keep an eye on them when your kids have guests over. It’s also better to teach your children how to roughhouse with this dog so that no accidents happen.

They will become aggressive if they feel that you or your children are being threatened. However, this breed will also protect your property, and if you have a farm or ranch, they will see it as their own to be protected.

The Tornjak is a bigger dog, so you need plenty of space for them to run. A farm, ranch, or a big house with a big yard is the best choice for this breed. However, living in a cramped apartment would make them unhappy, unable to have fun, and uncomfortable, so if you live in an apartment or a small house without a yard, this might not be the best pet choice for you.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?🐶 😽

The Tornjak breed doesn’t have a strong prey drive, so they generally get along well with other pets. This means that he won’t be tempted to chase after your cat, and since they love to play, other canines will be welcome in your home.

It is important to note that the Tornjak is protective of his family above all else, so make sure the animals that come to your home can’t be perceived as a threat to you by your dog.

While this breed will do well with pets they are raised with, you do need to keep an eye on them at the dog park and make sure they are socialized with other animals before taking them out so they don’t see strangers and other dogs as a potential threat to you.

Since the Tornjak is fearless, any threat you meet will be met head-on.


Things to Know When Owning a Tornjak

Now that you know all there is to know about the Tornjak breed, you’re probably already looking for a breeder to get one of these fuzzy pets for your very own. However, you do need to know a little about what to expect when you own a Tornjak. We’ll go into food and diet requirements and other things you should know in the section below.

Food & Diet Requirements🦴

Your Tornjak puppy is going to grow into a large dog and is prone to obesity. Most dogs need a diet that’s high in protein, but the Tornjak is on the other end of the spectrum. Therefore, your dog will be better off on a low-protein diet because too much protein can lead to health issues for him.

However, that doesn’t mean this breed needs no protein in its diet at all. You just need to watch how much by checking ingredients in their food and always reading the labels. It’s important to keep portion control in mind with this breed because they are prone to being obese. It’s not a good idea to free-feed your dog. Instead, keep them on a strict feeding schedule and make sure they get plenty of exercise.

Tornjak outside
Image by: satynek, Pixabay


Speaking of exercise, it’s the next thing on our list. You probably already know that the Tornjak loves to be able to run and play in wide-open spaces. They are big dogs, so they need plenty of exercise to stay fit, avoid obesity, and run off excess energy.

As a puppy, you can limit the amount of exercise they get because they are just a puppy. Once they start getting older, you can let them run until their heart’s content. Make sure to exercise them by taking them on hour-long hikes, trips to the dog park, and just on a run around the backyard for the best results. Having a Tornjak dog will be good for helping you to develop daily exercise habits as well.


As previously stated, this is a very intelligent breed, which makes training much easier than it can be with some other breeds. However, the Tornjak still needs a firm hand to be sure the training is a success. It’s better for them to be trained by someone who has the experience, meaning a beginning dog owner might not have much success with training this breed.

The Tornjak can be stubborn, and if they think you’re meek, they might not listen to you. It’s best to start their training when they are young and then on into adulthood. If you feel that you can’t train your dog correctly, it might be best to take them to the professionals if you want to get the best results.

Grooming ✂️

The Tornjak does shed, so expect to have to vacuum and sweep up the hair around your home. This breed is high maintenance in the grooming and care department, so you should be prepared for that. Since their coat is long and thick, they are going to need to be brushed regularly to prevent tangles and matting. Also, since this breed loves to explore, you’ll have to comb daily as they can pick up debris and burrs that become stuck in their fur.

Only bathe them when it’s needed, as constant bathing can dry out his skin and cause problems. Also, make sure that you check their ears weekly, brush their teeth once or twice a week, and trim their nails when needed. If you’re unsure of grooming your Tornjak or don’t have the time, it’s best to take them to a professional groomer. Make an appointment to see your vet if you’re unsure what to use for grooming and cleaning. Your vet can give you suggestions and tell you what the best equipment to use is so that you don’t hurt your pet.

Image By: Vesna Kriznar, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions❤️

As with any breed of dog out there, the Tornjak has its own set of possible conditions and health issues you need to watch out for. While he’s a fairly healthy breed, conditions such as getting too much protein or becoming obese can happen if their diet isn’t closely watched. We’ll list a few of the most serious and minor health conditions you should watch out for with this breed below.

Minor Conditions
  • Coat and skin issues
Serious Conditions

As previously stated, the Tornjak breed is fairly healthy except for the few issues above. If you notice any of these issues with your pet, make an appointment right away with your vet for diagnosis and further treatment.

The best way to ensure your Tornjak dog is healthy is by watching their diet, making sure they get plenty of exercise, taking them to the vet for regular treatments, and loving them like there’s no tomorrow.


Male vs. Female

There aren’t very many differences to speak of between the male and female of the Tornjak breed. The males do tend to get quite a bit bigger than the females. The females, however, tend to mature faster than the males of the breed do. This makes the females easier to train than the males as well. Other than that, the male and female of this breed are pretty much similar.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Tornjak

Now that you know what it costs to purchase and take care of a Tornjak puppy, you might be interested to know a few of the little-known facts about the breed as well.

1. The Tornjak Breed Likes Snow

If you live in a colder climate, you might find your Tornjak scratching at the door on snowy mornings. This is because this breed loves to play and lie in the snow.

2. The Tornjak is an Old Breed

Many people don’t know that the Tornjak has been around for thousands of years. They are an old breed but friendly and lovable as well.

3. The Tornjak Breed Almost Became Extinct

In the 20th century, this breed almost became extinct but was luckily saved by scientists. That could be why the breed is so difficult to find, especially in the United States.


Final Thoughts

This concludes our guide on the Tornjak breed of dog. This is an intelligent, protective, yet gentle, and loving dog that would be the perfect fit for any family. It is best to keep this breed where they have plenty of room to run and play. Since they are a big dog, you should make sure that no one in your family is afraid of larger dogs or make sure they get to know your new pet as a puppy and be there to watch them grow into the gorgeous dog they are destined to be.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Simun Ascic, Shutterstock

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