The oldest stock breeds in Europe are believed to be the Karakachan horse and the Karakachan sheep. They were developed and bred by (wait for it), the Karakachan, a nomadic people now found in Greece and in Bulgaria. Renowned stock breeders, the Karakachan also bestowed the world with a remarkable breed of dog known as (wait for it), the Karakachan Dog. Since the dog also known as the Bulgarian Shepherd Dog is believed to have originated from ancient Thracian dogs, some make the claim that this is Europe’s oldest dog breed. Fighting words, we think.
This indisputably massive dog was used to guard livestock, property, and the people who owned both. Though it develops slowly, an adult Karakachan has the strength, agility and aggressive skills needed to deal with the bears, wolves, and other predators that populate in big numbers the country of Bulgaria. Unlike other domesticated dogs, the Kaakachan was treated as a respected family member to the extent that they were even allowed to eat first: Their typical diet: A vegetarian diet comprised of oats and wheat mixed with a little milk.
The breed flourished for centuries until the 1940s when the Bulgarian government placed livestock on communal farms. Karakachan dogs were no longer needed and became dangerously close to extinction. It’s now estimated that there are only about 700 of these dogs worldwide, and between 100 and 200 in the U.S.
It helped bring attention to the breed that Vladimir Putin was gifted a Karakachan Bear Dog from Bulgarian PM, Boyko Borissov, to “seal the deal”, as it were, on Bulgaria signing on to the South Stream energy pipeline. When asked how the dog he named, “Buffy” was adjusting to his new family, Putin replied, “He draws me huge puddles around the entire house, and leaves piles. But he’s a very pretty boy, of course, and I love him.” Above is a picture of “Buffy”grown up, but the video below is of when Putin first received him. Isn’t he adorable? (Buffy, not Putin):