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  • Temperament: Loyal, Active, Alert and Intelligent
  • Height: 16-20 inches
  • Weight: 29-44 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 13-14 years
  • Group: Foundation Stock Service

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Breed Standard
Croatian Sheepdog standing in a field.
Croatian Sheepdog laying in a field.
Croatian Sheepdog sitting in a field.

About the Croatian Sheepdog

Petar Horvat, the bishop of Djakovo, wrote in 1374 that Croats had brought a shepherd dog along on the move to their new land. He referred to the dog as Canis Pastoralis Croaticus—the Croatian Shepherd Dog.

The bishop of Djakovo, Peter Bakic also wrote about the Croatian Sheepdog in his 1719 manuscript “On the Life of the People and Raising of Stock in Djakovo and it’s Surroundings in 1719”. He quoted the words written by Bishop Petar in 1374 and, providing his own description of the dog, stated that the Croatian Sheepdog had not changed since the record (from 1374 to 1719) and had not changed in appearance from that described by Bishop Petar in 1374.

A systematic selection breeding program was started by the “father of the breed” – veterinarian Prof Dr Stjepan Romic in 1935 with dogs in the territory of Djakovo.  After 34 years of work, the breed was recognized by the FCI in 1969.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Croatian Sheepdog swimming with a ball in its mouth.

Find a Puppy: Croatian Sheepdog

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Find Croatian Sheepdog Puppies



Croatian Sheepdog fanciers provide a variety of diets depending on the needs of their dogs. Follow your breeder’s and/or veterinarian’s recommendations to determine frequency of meals as a puppy and the best adult diet to increase his longevity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


The Croatian Sheepdog is an easily cared for breed. Occasional baths, a combing or bushing to remove dead hair, and regular nail care is sufficient for this wash-and-wear breed.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Occasional Bath/Brush




Croatian Sheepdogs are very energetic dogs. Though they are calm and relaxed in the house, once outside they appreciate a good run. Not surprisingly, a Croatian Sheepdog excels at flyball, obedience, herding, and frisbee. They are quite playful and can be mischievous, particularly when it comes to digging. They are also noted for their extraordinary jumping ability. A well-exercised Croatian Sheepdog is a Croatian Sheepdog who tends not to find trouble elsewhere.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Needs Lots of Activity


The Croatian is alert, energetic, intelligent, biddable, adaptable and always enthusiastic about any job that needs to be done. Needless to say, these traits make them very trainable and eager-to-please. The Croatian Sheepdog is also sensibly suspicious and, therefore, an excellent watchdog.


May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please


Reserved with Strangers


The Croatian Sheepdog is an overall healthy breed.

Croatian Sheepdog running outdoors.
Croatian Sheepdog leaping over an agility pole.


The Croatian Sheepdog was developed over several centuries in the Republic of Croatia.  They are a working sheep and cattle dog.  The earliest written document about Croatian Sheepdogs, Canis pastoralis croaticus, found in the archives of the diocese of Djakovo by “father of the breed” – veterinarian Prof Dr Stjepan Romic – dates from 1374.

Did You Know?

At the November 2017 Board Meeting the Croatian Sheepdog was added to the Foundation Stock Service Program.
The Croatian Sheepdog is a breed with combined habits, which means it can be used for herding of livestock as well as a guard dog or companion dog.

The Breed Standard


The Croatian Sheepdog is a medium-sized dog with a spitz-type, rustic appearance and a head with a fox-like expression with a characteristic coat and color. He gives the impression of a proud, agile, strong, compact but on no accounts coarse dog.


The head shape like a blunt wedge. The skull and muzzle lines are parallel. Skull: Seen from all sides it is harmoniously rounded. The width of the skull is not more than half of the whole length of the head. The oval shape of the skull is characteristic. The frontal furrow is not very pronounced. The superciliary arches are not pronounced. Occipital protuberance slightly pronounced. Stop: Moderately developed in depth and length. Nose: Must not be set higher or lower than the nose bridge. The tip of the nose is rounded. The nostrils have to be well open but not too pronounced. The nose and the inside of the nostrils have to be completely black pigmented. Muzzle: Tapers towards the nose in the shape of a wedge. The nose bridge is straight and parallel with the line of the skull. The lower jaw has to be strong and harmoniously developed. Lips: Of medium thickness, tight fitting to the jaw; the visible parts are pigmented black. The labial commissure is not visible. Jaws/Teeth: The jaws are strong well developed and the teeth are white and placed evenly in the jaw. Scissor bite but a pincer bite is tolerated. The incisors are placed vertically into the jaws. A complete bite is desirable (42 teeth in accordance with the dental formula). The missing of premolars PM1 and molars M3 is not taken into account. The missing of other teeth is undesirable. Cheeks: Not very pronounced but lean, rounded and well muscled. Eyes: Of medium size, oval shaped, set in an angle of 30–40 degrees. The eyeball is neither bulging nor placed deeply. The eye colour varies from black to dark chestnut brown. The eyelids must not be loose and not show any signs of Entropion or Ectropion. The eyelids have to be completely black-pigmented. The expression has to be intelligent, lively and inquisitive. Ears: Of an even triangular shape with slightly rounded tips. They are set on a line, which follows from the tip of the nose and the inner eye corner. The size of the ears must be well proportioned to the size of the head. The ears can be carried either pricked or semi-pricked. The semi-pricked ear should be erect to 3/5 of the length and the tip, the upper 2/5 should be folded down. A-symmetrically carried ears is a fault; the same applies to inadequate firm ears which bend more or less during action.


Neck: Of medium length, muscular, tapers towards the head, well connected with the body. Its upper and lower lines are straight. It is carried in an angle of 45 degrees to the horizontal line and has to be without wrinkles. The neck appears to be stronger due to the profuse mane, which is especially distinctive in males. Body: Strong, harmoniously developed still elegant. The body outline is of rectangular shape, which means that body length slightly exceeds the height at the withers, in males by 8-10% and in females by 8-12%. Withers: Slightly prominent with a gradual transition to the neck. Back: Straight, horizontal, well muscled. When moving the back should be firm. Loin: Short, well muscled, well connected to the back and the croup, the transition to the top line is hardly visible. In females the loin is slightly longer than in males. Croup: Well muscled, strong, broad, slightly rounded and slightly oblique. Chest: Deep, broad, capacious but not barrelled. The ribcage to reach down to the elbow. The ribs are well sprung. Underline and belly: Underline has a slight rise from sternum to belly, which has a slight tuck up. Tail: The tail is a continuation of the line of the croup, strong at the root, gradually tapering towards the tip of the tail, set moderately high. Stretched downwards it should reach the hock joint or be slightly longer, (ca 2–3 cm. longer. At rest it is carried below the topline and usually in the shape of a sabre or hook. When the dog is alert the tail is carried above the topline, either in a sickle shape, ring or rolled, in case of the latter it may lean on to the back. It is profusely covered with hair. There are also dogs, which are born tail less or with a short tail, which is permitted.


General appearance: In good proportion to the body. The height of the forearms from the ground to the elbow is ca 50% of the height to the withers. The bone is strong but not coarse and with strong musculature. The imagine line which goes through the shoulders, the elbows, the axis of the forearm and the foot is parallel with the middle body axis of the dog and vertical to the ground. Shoulder: Of medium length, rounded at the top, well fitted to the body, forming an angle of 90–110 degrees with the upper arm, which allows the elbow normal movements. The muscle tone is strongly developed. Upper arm: Well connected to the body, well muscled and strong, sloping in an angle of 50 degrees to the horizontal line. Parallel seen from front. Elbow: Well fitting to the body. Forearm: Vertical and muscular. The elbow is placed on a parallel line with the middle axis of the body. Parallel seen from front. The bone is strong and has to be in proportion to the body. Carpus (Wrist): In extension of the vertical forearm line, elastic; the pisiform bone should be well pronounced. Metacarpus (Pastern): Short and elastic. Seen from the front, it should be on the same line as the forearm axis. In profile it is slightly sloping. Forefeet: Oval in shape and with tight and well arched toes. The pads are firm, elastic and black pigmented. The nails are strong, curved and also black pigmented.


General appearance: Strong but not too heavy, elastic in action, with medium angulations. Thigh: Long, broad, well muscled. The backside is slightly rounded. Lower thigh: Muscular. It forms an angle of 55–60 degrees to the horizontal line. Hock joint: Strong, firm and broad. The imagined vertical lines, which go through the tip of the hocks, have to be parallel. Metatarsus (Rear pastern): Strong, elastic. In an angle of 80–90 degrees towards the ground. Hind feet: Oval in shape but slightly longer than the forefeet. The pads are firm, elastic and black pigmented. The nails are strong, curved and also black pigmented. There might be single or double dewclaws. With or without either is permitted and of the same value.


Hair: Profuse, dense, relatively soft of good quality, this means that it is neither woolly nor harsh to the touch. It consists of a topcoat and an undercoat. The topcoat is wavy to curly with a length of 6–14 cm; it is a stand off and elastic coat. There must be no parting on the back. The undercoat is dense, compact and soft; together with the topcoat it forms an excellent protecting cover for the dog. Long hair to be found on the neck (mane), on the back, on the croup, the rib area, on the back part of the forearms (fringes), trousers on the hind legs (culottes) as well as on the tail (flag), unless the tail is short. The longest coat is at the culottes and near the root of the tail. At the parting between the short hair on forehead and the longer hair on back of skull, length is around 3,5 cm. The short hair is straight with a length of 1–1,7 cm. It is on the muzzle, the forehead, on the ears, around the eyes, on the cheeks, on the front part of the forelegs and also on Carpus and Metacarpus. On the hind legs the hair is short on the feet and from the Metatarsus to the hock. Females usually have slightly shorter hair and less profuse coat than males. Color: The color is black. A few white hairs, evenly spread over the basic color (provided they are hardly visible) are allowed. White strands as well as body or leg coat, which is completely inter weaved with white hair is not permitted. White marking on the chest is permitted, provided it is small (maximum 5 cm.). White markings on any other body parts are not allowed. The undercoat is definitely black. During the shedding of the coat, the undercoat often goes greyish or sometimes even shows a brown tinge, which is not a fault.


Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
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