The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred Sarplaninac

Information and Pictures

Front side view - A huge, thick coated black and grey Sarplaninac dog is standing in grass and behind it is a wooden structure. It is looking to the right. The dog looks like a bear.

"This is Hera, a three-year-old Sarpie that we encountered on one of our foot patrols in northern Kosovo. Her owner had recently gotten rid of his sheep, so the dog was more interested in guarding the property. She seemed pretty aloof to us as we were just walking by, but you could tell that if we had gotten much closer, she would've started to show some aggression."

Other Names
  • Charplaninatz
  • Illyrian Dog
  • Illyrian Sheepdog
  • Illyrian Shepherd
  • Macedonian Shepherd
  • Macedonian-Yugoslav Shepherd Dog - Sharplaninec
  • Ovcarski Pas Srbije I Crne Gore
  • Sarpie
  • Sar Planina
  • Yugoslav Mountain Dog
  • Yugoslav Shepherd Dog



The coat of the Sarplaninac is about 4 inches (10 cm) long. The hair is dense and evenly distributed. Colors include: gray, white, tan and black. Colors can be solid or blended. The Sarplaninac is one of the few flock guards that come in solid colors other than white. The body is medium in size and bone. The feathering on the underbelly and legs and the bushy tail, however, give the appearance of a much huskier dog. The tip of the nose is quite large, but not protruding. The tail is slightly curved in repose. The forearm is well-boned, well-muscled and almost vertical. The eyes are dark and almond-shaped. A keen, discriminating expression is characteristic.


The Sar is a flock-guard dog that needs to be working. This sheep-herding guard dog is unaffectionate toward its humans. It prefers the flock it so enthusiastically protects. It has natural guarding qualities and independent thinking typical of the flock guard group. Usually calm, but when the situation warrants, it is ferocious in its efforts to protect the flock. It takes its work seriously. When on sheep-guarding duty it will investigate anything that catches its eye, and has no hesitation about confronting adversaries larger than itself. This is not a brainless tail-wagger; the Sarplaninac is a very wise dog that chooses friends carefully and trusts no one completely. He is more obedient to his ingrained code of proper behavior than to accept commands from one master, to whom he is most loyal. These dogs are very devoted to their flocks. One 6-month-old Sar in the United States flock-guarding program began working with sheep in a barn. His name was Bruno and he could not be coaxed away from "his" barn, even to play. In the spring, however, some sheep were sold, others purchased and the flock was put out to pasture. The dog was the ideal employee, happily adapting to new sheep and new quarters. Sheep and goat raisers are discovering advantages to owning a Sar when the majority of their predator problems disappear. These dogs will tolerate family members including children if they are raised with them, but will be aloof with outsiders. The Sar will protect all of its territory and the living creatures within it. This is a breed that is not to be taken lightly. It can be a rewarding experience if placed in the proper situation. They require work, time and, like anything else on a farm, proper management. If you plan to keep this breed as a companion and not as the working farm dog it was bred to be, make sure you are 100% a firm, confident and consistent pack leader. Meek owners will find themselves not being able to control this dog. This is not a dog for beginners.

Height, Weight

Height: 22 - 24 inches (56 - 61 cm)
Weight: 55 - 88 pounds (25 - 39 kg)

Health Problems


Living Conditions

The Sarplaninac is not recommended for apartment life. It has an all-weather coat and will be content to live and sleep outdoors. His character demands a zesty, outdoor life. He will do best living on a farm with a flock to protect.


This breed needs a lot of physical exercise. On a farm running free it will take care of its own exercise needs, however, if it is not actively working on a farm, it needs to be taken on a daily walk or jog.

Life Expectancy

About 11-13 years

Litter Size

About 5 to 8 puppies


The coat will benefit from occasional brushings.


The name Sarplaninac is pronounced "shar-pla-nee-natz." It originates from the southwest part of Srbija (southern Kosovo) and the northwest part of Macedonia (Shar Planina, Bistra, Korab, Stogavo, Mavrovo, Jablanica and Pelister, etc.). This geographical area was once known as Illyria, the original name given to the breed. The region is now called Macedonia, but the dogs worked mainly in the mountains of Shar Planina and were renamed for the range. In 1939 the dogs were registered with the FCI under the name Illyrian shepherd dog. In 1954 FCI accepted the name change from Illyrian shepherd dog to the name Yugoslav shepherd dog-Sharplaninec. After the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, Macedonia requested the name of the dog be changed to recognize both countries, Macedonia and the Serbian side. It was agreed to change the name of the dog to Macedonian-Yugoslav Shepherd Dog - Sharplaninec. The Sarplaninac has the honor of being one of only two dogs to be recognized by the Yugoslavian Kennel Club, the official club of its native land. Thought to be older than the Istrian Shepherd (although not as old a breed as the Greek Shepherd Dog or the Turkish Akbash), this reserved guardian exists in sustainable numbers in Albania and Macedonia. First recognized as a distinct breed in 1930. Although turmoil in Bosnia has reduced this breed's population in its previous heartland, since 1975 successful exports have been carried out to the United States and Canada to control coyotes, and this is where its future security rests. It is now gaining recognition as a hard-working, readily able flock guard in those countries. Numerous in its homeland, the Sarplaninac is still part of the great flock. It is versatile and occasionally works cattle or serves as guard. In fact, a military line of Sars was created in Marshall Josip Tito's kennels.


Flock Guard

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
Side view - A large breed black with tan Sarplaninac is standing across grass and it is looking forward. Its mouth is open and its tongue is out.

Alma the Sarplaninac at 2 years old from Hungary—"Alma is a young female dog who is typically very calm. She is due to have puppies soon."

A very large black, gray and white Sarplaninac dog is laying down on a brown leather recliner chair and the dog takes up the entire chair.

"Sasha is a Sharplaninec also known as a Macedonian Shepherd shown here at 2 years old. She has a great personality and is a very good protector of her owner. She is a large breed with a long coat. Sasha is very intelligent and great to train. Her only problem is her barking. We are working on that and she is learning."

A large breed black and gray Sarplaninac dog is standing outside of a square wooden building with a red roof and it is looking to the right

Hera the Sarpie at 3 years old

A black with tan Sarplaninac dog is sniffing the person standing in front of it. The person has one hand in its pocket and the other hand in the air. There is an old building in the distance.

"This is Bear, a six-year-old Sarpie and his owner near the city of Novo Brdo in southeastern Kosovo. Bear started growling at us once we got close, but the owner came out and persuaded me to pet him. He still seemed pretty apprehensive about the new visitors, and I know for a fact that if the owner hadn't been there, I wouldn't have gotten as close as I did. When I mentioned I had read that they were great sheepdogs, the owner started smiling and told me that Bear had killed two wolves for sure that he knew about. You can't see in the picture, but half of his left ear is missing—presumably from one of those fights."

A black with tan Sarplaninac is sitting in dirt and it is looking to the right. There is a person standing to the left of it. The dog is tied to a chain.

"Bear the Sarpie at 6 years old—one thing I've never been able to get over when seeing these dogs is their beautiful coats, especially those with the black outer coats. I have a few other pictures of dogs that I'm sure are mixed with Sarplaninacs and what I would guess are German Shepherds (as they are fairly common here), and they've got the same coloring, but the bodies aren't built the same, and there is a definite difference in temperament —with the mixed-breed being much more sociable."

"Bear's owner said that he tends to be dog-aggressive, citing it as the main reason for chaining him up when the sheep aren't out to pasture."

A large breed tan with black Sarplaninac dog is sitting on dirty snow with a stick in its mouth and in front of it is a small black dog standing on its hind legs and batting at the stick.

"The last picture I attached somewhat contradicts that, as it's a Sarpie "playing" with another dog in northern Kosovo near the Serbian border. The smaller dog was more of a nuisance, but the Sarpie seemed to be enjoying playing around with him."

A tan with black Sarplaninac is laying on grass and it is looking up. The dog's nose is black.

This is Bistra the guardian of my village in Lazaropole-R. Macedonia. She is not owned by one person, but is owned by people of our village and we all are taking care of her and her pups. Her pups are grown up now. In winter the employees of the meteorological station take care of them. They are all super friendly with us, but not very playfull. I suppose it's their natural protective instinct of staying alert. Do not adopt this breed if you can't give it space to run free.

Close up front view - A thick coated, tan with black Sarplaninac is laying on a concrete surface and in the background are people sitting at an abandoned building.

Bistra the Sarplaninac looking after the village

The back left side of a Sarplaninac dog that is walking up a concrete surface and it is being followed by two Sarplaninac puppies.

Bistra the Sarplaninac with her pups

See more examples of the Sarplaninac