Consent to Be Bred By a King

It would be a mistake to assume that the dog in this image is a shepherd mix. The Bohemian Shepherd, also known as the Chodský pes or the Chodenhund, is a native Czech purebred herding breed that was developed in the heavily forested portion of the Kingdom of Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. With a history dating back to the 14th Century, and possibly earlier, it is quite possibly the oldest of all the native Czech breeds, and far older than the German Shepherd Dog for which it is often mistaken.

The first written mention of the breed described it as a companion dog to the Chodové, a subset of Czech people who’d lived in the region since the 14th Century. In 1325, the King of Bohemia acknowledged the rights of these people to breed their special dogs to assist them in patrolling their borders, and thus the Bohemian Shepherd was one of the first breeds for which a king gave consent to be bred for a particular reason.

These people were nicknamed “Dog-heads” because their pennants featured the silhouette of their dog’s head. The image would carry over 700 years later and be seen in badges and pins worn by Soviet border guards:

This Border Guard Badge, circa 1950s- early 60s, is available for purchase here:

After World War II,  the Bohemian was almost forgotten and all but lost, but Dr. Vilem Kurz and Mr. Jan Findejs launched a renewal of the breed in 1984 and sought to find remaining dogs to reestablish the breed. A breed standard was approved, and the first litter born in 1985.  Since the 80s, Czech breeders have put a particular emphasis on reducing rates of hip dysplasia, and passing a hip test is required for all breeding stock. The litters of parents that haven’t both earned an acceptable score are not allowed to be registered with the CMKU.

With an emphasis on health, this is a robust breed bred to work for long hours, and has been described as one of the canine world’s greatest athletes. While not as driven as, say, a Border Collie or Jack Russell Terrier, the Bohemian does best with active owners. It is enjoying a major resurgence in popularity in its homeland, though it remains essentially unknown anywhere else. The FCI has recognized the Bohemian Shepherd since 2019, and in the AKC, it is registered as part of the Foundation Stock Service

Image: Bohemian Shepherd by © Zuzana Tillerová |

4 thoughts on “Consent to Be Bred By a King”

  1. Are there Bohemian Shepherd breeders in the United States? If so, is it possible to provide interested potential owners with a list of those breeders?

    We are active seniors who have enough fenced property (39 acres) in the Colorado mountains to both protect the dog and help us maintain our activity levels in safety. In our married lifetime we have had four collie family members, and earlier in life a Great Pyrenees and an Irish Setter.

    I there is a US breeder please let us know.

  2. Good article. However, the part about the Soviet border guard using Chodský pes image on their badge pins, is very doubtful. This is the first time I’ve heard that. The badge with the dog profile was actually missused by the Czech border guards, who’s role was to guard the border from Czech citizens trying to escape the Communist regime. Not, as the Chods, who were actually guarding the border from outside invaders and smugglers. The dog image on the Soviet badge is not the Chodský pes image used by the Czech Boy scouts to this day.

    • Thank you for fleshing out the article, Zdenek. We’ll do some more investigating and welcome more of your insights

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