Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
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fast facts

About Sarplaninac

66-99 lb
11-13 years
Not applicable
Best Suited For
Families with children, active singles, house with a large yard, farms/rural areas, guard duty
Independent, protective, calm, loyal
Comparable Breeds
Tornjak, Caucasian Shepherd Dog
23-24 inches
Sarplaninac Basics

A large, fluffy dog with a dark-colored coat, the Sarplaninac is more than just a big, cuddly bear of a pooch. The Sarplaninac is a livestock-guarding breed that was developed in the mountainous regions of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. Despite its large size, this dog is good with people, even if it does take them a little while to warm up. Because of their natural protective instincts, this breed makes a great guard dog.

The Sarplaninac is a livestock-guarding breed that was developed in the mountainous regions of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo.


The Sarplaninac originates from an area that was once called Illyria but is now called Macedonia. The breed was developed as a livestock guardian and it has been known to fight off large predators like lynxes, wolves, and bears. When the breed was first registered with the FCI it was under the name Illyrian Shepherd Dog – that was changed to Yugoslav Shepherd Dog – Sarplaninac in 1954. The exact origins of the breed are unknown, though its ancestors may have come to the Balkan Peninsula with people who migrated from ancient Asia. The Sarplaninac is actually one of the oldest native breeds in the world, developed from ancient Molosser breeds.


The Sarplaninac was developed from ancient Molosser breeds in the mountainous regions of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo.


As a large-breed dog, the Sarplaninac requires a commercial dog food diet that is specially formulated for dogs of its size. This breed is not particularly active, though it is a working breed, so if you train your dog for herding you may want to consider an active or working breed formula.

The Sarplaninac is an intelligent breed that lives to do its job.


The Sarplaninac is an intelligent breed that lives to do its job. These dogs have strong protective instincts and a natural tendency to herd things. Because the breed is intelligent it may respond well to training, though its independent nature may pose a challenge. This breed requires a great deal of socialization to make them capable of getting along with strangers, though they will always be gentle and calm with family. A firm and consistent hand in training is recommended.


The Sarplaninac is a very large breed of dog with males standing an average of 24 inches tall, weighing between 77 and 99 pounds. Females of the breed stand an average of 23 inches tall, weighing between 66 and 88 lbs.


The Sarplaninac was developed as a livestock guardian so it has strong protective instincts. This bred is naturally a little bit wary around strangers, so it makes a good guard dog. It might take this breed a little while to warm up to people but once they form a bond they will do anything to protect their families. This breed is known to treat humans like sheep, trying to herd them like they would a flock. This dog has independent tendencies due to its job as a livestock guardian, though it will become very devoted to its master once a bond is formed.

Common Health Problems

The Sarplaninac is generally a healthy breed and it has a surprisingly long lifespan for such a large dog. Like all dogs, however, it is prone to several health problems, primarily related to its size. The breed is prone to developing musculoskeletal issues like hip dysplasia. Gastric torsion, or bloat, may also be a problem.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for the Sarplaninac breed is about 11 to 13 years which is fairly long for a large-breed dog.

Exercise Requirements

The Sarplaninac is a livestock guarding breed so it is not especially active. It can produce bursts of speed when needed, however, to protect its flock.

This breed is known to treat humans like sheep, trying to herd them like they would a flock.


The Sarplaninac is not currently recognized by the AKC.


The Sarplaninac has a very thick, dense double coat that is designed to keep it warm in the harsh mountainous regions where it was developed. The length of the coat is about 4 inches and it may be either rough or smooth in texture. All dogs are solid in color – either fawn, iron gray, white, or almost black – with gray or sable-colored overalls as well as coloration on the head and back. The undercoat is a paler color than the topcoat.


The average litter size for the Sarplaninac breed is 5 to 7 puppies. Because this breed is so large, puppies may take longer to develop than for smaller breeds. Early socialization and training is incredibly important for this breed to make sure they get along with people and other animals. Untrained Sarplaninac puppies have been known to kill small animals until they are trained not to hunt.

Photo credit: GPPets/Shutterstock; HASPhotos/Shutterstock; Eric Isselee/Shutterstock

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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