The history of the emergence of the Bohemian Shepherd

Table of contents:

The history of the emergence of the Bohemian Shepherd
The history of the emergence of the Bohemian Shepherd

General description of the species, the territory of its appearance, the progenitors and use of the dog, the influence of world events on it, the revival of the Bohemian shepherd dog, its appearance in art and the current situation. The content of the article:

  • Territory of appearance
  • Origin and progenitors
  • Application of dogs
  • Influence of world events
  • The history of the revival of the breed
  • In the work of writers and artists
  • Current situation

The Bohemian Shepherd or Czech Shepherd is a shepherd dog, the oldest of all breeds native to the Czech Republic and looks like a small German shepherd with a long coat. Its history can be traced back to the XIV century, and maybe even earlier. It was developed centuries before the creation of Czechoslovakia and is considered exclusively Czech, not Czechoslovakian. A versatile working animal, the Czech Shepherd Dog has traditionally served as a family companion and guard in addition to its role as a shepherd. After nearly disappearing as a result of World War II, the species is experiencing a major resurgence in popularity in its homeland, although it is still unknown elsewhere. The dog also has other names: bohemian sheepdog, bohemian herder, chodsky pes, chodenhund, czech shepherd, czech sheepdog, and czech herder.

Territory of the appearance of the Bohemian Shepherd

Adult bengal shepherd
Adult bengal shepherd

There is little data on the history of the Czech Shepherd Dog, as it was developed long before the written records of canines and in any case was kept mainly by illiterate farmers. It is established that the breed developed in the forested southwestern part of the Kingdom of Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) and arose no later than the 1300s. It is unclear whether the locals bred these dogs or acquired them from others, but the bohemian shepherd first appears in the annals as companions of the chodove, a unique family of Czech people who have lived in the region since the 14th century. The variety is very similar to a number of other Continental Sheepdog breeds, especially the German, Belgian and Dutch. Although these species are better known in the world, they are much younger than the Bohemian Shepherd Dog and may have descended from it.

The homeland of the bohemian shepherd has had a more turbulent history than anywhere in Europe. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, the region known as Bohemia has seen many battles, invasions, and waves of immigration. Located in the near-dead center of Europe, this area sits between different cultures, languages, religions and countries. The longest and most intense struggle was between the Germanic and Slavic peoples, both of whom had inhabited and tried to dominate Bohemia from the 1st century AD. NS.

Eventually, most of Bohemia (and the neighboring region of Moravia) came under the control of Czech orators, but the Germans remained dominant in the Sudetenland, and the entire area was a member state of the German-dominated Holy Roman Empire. One of the wildest and most controversial parts was the southwest of the country.

Most of the area is covered with forest, one of the few large wilderness areas in Europe. Since time immemorial, sparsely populated by people, the Bohemian forest has been home to numerous large predators, wolves and bears (from which the Bohemian shepherd dogs will soon protect the inhabitants). The reasons for the population shortage were that the region was a long-contested border between the major regional powers Bavaria, Austria and Bohemia.

As a result of competition, the kings of Bohemia constantly needed to defend their lands, especially the border regions. To do this, they typed chodove, which translates in English as "ranger" or "patrol". Experts say they were Silesians, Poles, or Czechs who voluntarily left their homes in Silesia or Poland. The Hod were offered to inhabit the local forest, on condition that they swear to the Bohemian monarch to defend the territory from the German powers. One of the main factors in their success were the dogs that helped in the national defense. These canines, the ancestors of the Bohemian Shepherd Dogs, became known in Czech as "chodsky pes" and in German as "chodenhund".

The relationship between the running and Bohemian nobility was formally codified in 1325 when King John of Bohemia granted chodove authority and freedom in exchange for continuing their service. These unique rights included permission to keep large guard dogs, the ancestors of the Bohemian Shepherd Dog, which was considered illegal for commoners. These special property rules were one of the first official historical references to a “Czech shepherd”.

The origin and progenitors of the Bohemian Shepherd

Bengal shepherd dog lies in the grass
Bengal shepherd dog lies in the grass

It is not clear where the moves acquired their dogs. Some suggest that these people brought them with them from Silesia or Poland, others say that the dogs were native to the Bohemian forest, and still others say that they were acquired after arriving in the area. The pedigree of the breed is not entirely clear. It has been suggested that the Bohemian Sheepdog is descended from other Schnauzer / Spitzen herding and farm dogs, some combination of the three types, or perhaps even a dog / wolf hybrid.

The full truth will not be known, but as the species has many similarities with the spitz, herding dogs, and the pinscher / schnauzer. The Bohemian Sheepdog was probably the result of a cross between spitzen and pinschers, which gave the breed a coat, muzzle, head, ears, coloration and protective instincts. As soon as it was used for herding, as well as for protection, it was crossed with breeding dogs, which showed herding instincts, a long, straight tail and an elongated body.

The Hody served as border guards for almost 400 years, even after Bohemia fell under the rule of German Austria. Some evidence suggests that the “Czech Shepherd” was professionally bred and trained by these people as early as the 1400s, suggesting the earliest records of pure breed breeding practices in the modern sense. For centuries the Bohemian Shepherd has been used by the chodove for purposes other than border patrols and warfare.

Application of Bohemian Shepherd Dogs

Two dogs of the Bengal Shepherd breed
Two dogs of the Bengal Shepherd breed

As the breed proved to be equally effective at warding off wolves and villainous humans, it began to protect flocks of sheep from the Hod and neighboring peoples, becoming a highly respected animal in the process. Every other day, working along the border or in the fields, the "Bohemian shepherd" guarded his family's house at night. Since these dogs were in close contact with their family, the individuals who were most reliable with children were given the opportunity to breed. The Czech Shepherd has grown into a beloved family companion and a dangerous guard dog and respected shepherd.

There is now a growing belief that Bohemian Shepherds were imported to German-speaking lands and their popularity greatly influenced the development of a number of similar Continental Shepherds, among them the Belgian, Dutch and Old German - the ancestor of the German. The Bavarian military and traders used the bohemian shepherd as border guards no later than 1325.

Due to their long history of border and royal service, the passages were one of the most nationalist strata of the Czech population and played a significant role in almost all major Czech uprisings up to the 20th century. Some of their special privileges and rights were abolished in the late 1600s by the local German aristocracy. Despite the loss of their special status, the chodove remained in the area and survived as a unique group. They continued to maintain Bohemian Shepherd Dogs, although now mainly as herding and farm dogs, rather than for military patrols.

The Czech Shepherd Dog served as the main working dog in the region until the beginning of the 20th century. In the last years of the 19th century, German breeders developed a standardized German Shepherd from the Old Germanic species. She showed success as a police, military and farm work animal and quickly spread to the Czech lands controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These dogs began to "work" in most of Bohemia, but could not completely supplant the Bohemian Shepherd in its homeland.

The influence of world events on the Bohemian Shepherd

Three dogs of breed Bengal shepherd
Three dogs of breed Bengal shepherd

A significant number of Southwestern Bohemians continued to support their native breed, especially in the vicinity of the cities of Domažlice, Tachove and Přimde. After the First World War, the Czechs of Bohemia and Moravia gained independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, forming a new nation of Czechoslovakia in alliance with the close Slovak peoples.

Czechoslovakia prospered briefly, but soon came into direct conflict with Germany. The territory given to the new nation numbered a sizable German-speaking minority that aspired to Germany or Austria. This country wanted to reclaim what it considered to be German lands in Czechoslovakia, and Poland became one of the main causes of World War II.

First, the Sudetenland, and then the whole of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany. As a result, the local population suffered immeasurably. Millions of Bohemians of all ethnic groups died, as did many of their dogs. Fortunately for the Bohemian Shepherd, a significant number of them managed to survive the war, and continued to breed on their land. The variety was one of the only native Czech breeds to survive these events, along with the little Prague ratter.

Soon, Czechoslovakia, "liberated" by the Soviet Army, fell under communist rule, whose ideas at the time were directed against the deliberate breeding of dogs other than workers, and any potentially nationalist symbols, such as the Bohemian Shepherd Dog, were not welcomed. This made the initial restoration of the breed very difficult.

The history of the revival of the Bohemian Shepherd breed

The color of the dog breed Bengal Shepherd
The color of the dog breed Bengal Shepherd

By 1980, the severity of communist rule in Czechoslovakia had eased. There was an increased interest in dog breeding, especially in native Czech breeds. In 1982, Mr. Vilém Kurz sent several photographs of rare canines that could be reborn to Mr. Jan Findeis. He was interested in images with Bohemian Shepherd Dogs. In 1982, Findays wrote an article about the variety in a major dog magazine describing the ideal standard.

Yang found that the owners of these pets, with a history of six and a half centuries, are interested in their revival. Three individuals of unknown origin, which were considered the best, were initially selected for recreation and a register of Bohemian Shepherd Dogs was formed. In 1985, the original litter was registered. Mr. Findeys and other early breeders adhered to the goal of maintaining the health, performance, good looks and companionship of Czech dogs.

Realizing that three copies are not enough to restore the health of the breed, they tracked down other surviving Bohemian Shepherds and added them to the gene pool. Each new dog was carefully examined for perfection and purebredity. Throughout the work, bohemian shepherd litters produced even by canines of unknown pedigree showed closeness to standards with no signs of other species such as the German Shepherd.

In November 1991, the Klub pratel chodkeho psa or Bohemian shepherd lover's club was founded to promote and protect the breed. Five years later, the last Bohemian Shepherd of unknown origin was enrolled in the studbook. Over time, many Czech citizens became interested in owning and reviving one of the country's oldest dogs.

From 1982 to 2005, more than 2,100 breeders were registered by more than 100 breeders. Another 1400 were recorded between 2005-2009. The breed quickly gained a reputation in the Czech Republic for its excellent family and working qualities. The Bohemian Sheepdog has impressed the Schutzhund community and its followers. Its medium size and attractive appearance has greatly increased its popularity.

Although the breed still has a relatively small population, it has performed well in its home country and will continue to grow in demand significantly. The health of the species continues to be a very important factor for breeders, and the mandatory examination of parents (and acceptable scores on these tests) in several areas of the state of the bohemian shepherd organism has been a condition for registration for 15 years.

Bohemian Shepherd Dog in the Works of Writers and Artists

Bengal Shepherd Dogs
Bengal Shepherd Dogs

During their long history, these dogs occupied a prominent place in the culture and art of their homeland. The breed has appeared several times in Czech works since the 14th century, the most notable of which are Alois Jirasek's novel "Psohlavcli" and paintings by Mikoláš Aleš. The novel describes one of the many uprisings of the Czech Republic against German rule, in which moves played an important role. Jirasek claimed that the Bohemian Shepherd Dogs were so popular with the chodove that they captured them on their revolutionary flag.

Although this is technically incorrect, Alyos included a flag with this variety in his paintings. His work had a serious impact on the nationalism and icon painting of the Czech Republic, much like in America Emmanuel Leutse's canvas "Washington Crossing Delaware". Mikolás's work is known to Czech youth because it was used extensively by local intelligence groups (like the American scouts), and one of their icons still depicts an artist's Bohemian Shepherd Dog. Simon Baar, perhaps the most famous author of the chodove, has also extensively described many aspects of the breed in his works.

The current position of the Bohemian Shepherd

The muzzle of a dog breed Bengal shepherd
The muzzle of a dog breed Bengal shepherd

In recent years, an increasing number of representatives of the species have been exported to other countries, and now, for the first time in centuries, they have been learned about outside the Czech Republic. Most individuals live in continental European powers, and a few dogs live in the United States. Despite the late introductions, the breed has not yet developed well beyond the borders of its homeland, where it remains very rare. It is believed that the number of livestock in general will grow slowly around the world, as is the case in the Czech Republic.

Bohemian shepherd is currently not recognized by the International Federation of Cynology (FCI), but most amateurs are working in this direction and hope for success in the near future. The Bohemian Shepherd Dog has received full acceptance by the Czech National Kennel Club, also known as "Cesko-Moravska Kynologica Unie" (CMKU). The variety remains largely unknown in the United States, where it is not registered with either the United Kennel Club (UKC) of the American Kennel Club (AKC) or any of the larger rare breed registries.

Unlike most modern species, the Bohemian Shepherd remains a working and companion dog. Its representatives in approximately equal numbers are hard workers (mainly in cattle breeding, personal protection) and accompanying animals. The high intelligence, great learning ability and gentle family temperament of the Czech Shepherd have inspired many lovers to teach the dog new tasks, most of which it has surpassed.

Members of the species have been successfully trained as observers, handicapped service dogs, therapy animals, police, search and rescue and war dogs. The breed is also rapidly gaining a significant reputation as a successful competitor in canine sports such as shutshund and agility. The Bohemian Shepherd Dog is one of the few predisposed to an actively expanding working role. If today the Bohemian Shepherd is likely to be regarded as a companion pet and a competing breed, the dog will continue to serve and work to thrive in popularity.