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Tornjak, the shepherd of the Bosnia Herzegovina and of Croatia, is an excellent guardian dog. In its part, the shepherds, his employers, said that if not one but certainly two of these animals side by side would be able to give two wolves a hard time and put a bear to flight "without any awe" . Yet with the owners they are eternal affectionate puppies. Large, hairy, belonging to the group of dogs of the type pinscher, schnauzer, molossoid and Swiss cattle dogs.
The Tornjak it is certainly a descendant of the ancient shepherd dogs, crossing between genetically uniform specimens gave life to this breed. These are animals that live right in the mountainous areas and not properly populated of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. It is therefore not easy to trace exactly how the breed developed, you should climb inaccessible peaks: it is better to rely on the first historical references that date back to 1067 and 1374.
Undisturbed, the Tornjak, he continued to be a shepherd for centuries, until the danger of extinction began, around the 70s. Thus began studies and rescue actions for the breed, both in Croatia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in 1978 thepure breeding. The official recognition of the breed by the FCI is very recent, 2007, one of the reasons why it is not a well-known dog outside its territory where instead there are specimens of excellent quality and character.
For a healthy purebred male the weight indicated by the standard goes from 35 to 50 kg, for the female it drops by not a few kg: the accepted range for the ideal weight is 28–40. It goes without saying, therefore, that we are in the presence of a large and powerful animal but not clumsy, not a “bear” but with a proportionate and agile body. The body of the Tornjak is inscribed in a square, the height at the withers is about 70 cm, 65 for females, well carried thanks to the typical strong posture, self-confident, serious and calm. What a sheepdog like him must have. But it is not obvious.
The head is in the shape of an elongated wedge and may appear too small but it is an optical illusion due to the effect of the soft hair that makes the body look bigger than it is. Powerful and regular jaws, straight muzzle, proportionate and not pointed, the Tornjak has sweet almond-shaped eyes and that inspire serenity. The ears are very large, gently falling downwards. Let's move on to the tail: it is long and we find it in the shape of a saber, annular or hooked.
Long and thick, this big dog's coat is double layer and you see, or imagine. It is also imagined that the undercoat is very thick: it serves to protect it against any adverse weather conditions.
According to the breed standard of the Tornjak the hair must be thick, rough, straight and long, but particularly long on the upper part of the rump, on the shoulders and on the back where it can also appear a little wavy. On the contrary, it is shorter than average on the muzzle and forehead, on the ears and on the front parts of the legs and feet. It's not over: around the neck the cloak becomes a mane, above the thighs it forms “mountain” trousers.
As for the colors, all are accepted, and a solid color coat or with inserts of different colors is fine, even if usually white predominates. Among the specimens that we can meet, as long as you can see some around, there are the White tornjak almost completely and gradually every more imaginative variety up to almost 100% black passing through for yellow, red, brown and gray, perhaps the least appreciated. The main types are that of piebald and that of mottled.
Accustomed to looking after herds, rather alone and serene, this dog has a balanced, friendly, courageous, obedient, intelligent and trustworthy temperament. Precisely because he is obedient, the Tornjak if someone threatens the property he is in charge of guarding, he becomes very ferocious and above all tenacious, remains very suspicious of strangers but turns into a huge soft and affectionate puppy with the owner and family.
Despite being a character dog, it is not a difficult undertaking to train him, he learns quickly and remembers for a long time what we teach him, he is therefore a watchdog good, very alert and very attentive but never nervous or aggressive.
In Italy there are no farms that deal with this breed, at least not among those recognized by ENCI. If you fell in love with this big dog, and I understand you, you can see what there is in his homeland or look for one of the many populated kennels of our country if there is an equally soft and friendly dog waiting for you.
Even if it's not a Tornjak but does he remind you, what difference does it make? Become your dog, it will be unique. And you can always baptize it "Tornjak" in name even if it is not in fact. Difficult to pronounce, but certainly suggestive.
As you study how to get a Tornjak puppy or, I hope, the phone number of the nearest kennel, you can enjoy some pictures of the breed in this video.
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