Polish Tatra Sheepdog Facts

(Polski Owczarek Podhalanski)

Written By: Diana Rymarz

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Description:  Tatras were developed as working dogs. They serve a dual purpose and act as both a herding dog and also a guardian dog. Its imposing attitude and beautiful appearance make it a good companion dog.  Tatras generally do not attack predators but stand their ground, and stay with their charges (be it sheep, goats or their human charges).


The Tatra is a large dog.  He has heavy bone, a massive body and is powerfully muscled. His profuse coat is generally pure white. They are hardy strong dogs able to work on a minimal diet and withstand cold, harsh temperatures as well as hot, dry heat.  The Tatras require early socialization and then throughout its entire life.

Other Names:  Polski Owczarek Podhalanski

Height:    Female - 24”-26”, Male – 26”-28”
Weight:   80 - 130 lbs.

Colors:    Pure White-no color markings with black pigmented nose leather, lip and lid edges, dark footpads.                    
Coat:       Heavy double coated.  Top coat hard to the touch, straight or slightly wavy.  Profuse, dense undercoat.

Temperament:  This hardy breed is courageous, lively, and alert. He is an agile, swift runner. He is naturally gentle and calm and must never be treated harshly. Loyal to his owner and affectionate with children, he watches over his territory and family. Independent, self-thinking, highly intelligent, able to assess situations without human guidance.

With Children: Generally very gentle with well behaved and mannerly children.  Will not tolerate abuse from children or adults
With Pets:   Generally gets along well with other pets.
  Not highly dog-dog aggressive.

Watch-dog: Very High:  Territorial of home and surroundings.  Loud warning barks at anything it deems suspicious or strange - will bite eventually if challenged or pushed
Guard-dog: Very High:  Wakeful and vigilant during night hours.  If left outside will patrol property and territory.  Will bark at anything out of place or unusual.  Has been known to deter wolves and bears.

Care and Exercise: Daily exercise is required. Sheds its undercoat profusely twice a year and must be brushed and groomed.  If the dog remains indoors, it will shed year round.  It stays clean even when shedding due to its self cleaning coat.  Dry mouthed – does not drool.  Teeth, ears and nails must be tended to weekly. 

Training:   Needs an owner who is intelligent, preferably with prior big dog experience.  Owner must be a strong alpha leader, fair and very consistent with all rules.  Needs early socialization and then throughout its entire life.  For harmonious family living inside a home, basic obedience is a must.

Learning Rate:   Independent, self-thinking, highly intelligent, able to assess situations without human guidance.

Activity:  The Tatra is still being breed to be a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) and is happiest when given a job to do such as guardian/protecting his flock (be it goats, sheep, or humans).

Living Environment:  Not suitable to apartment/condo living or small yards with close neighbors.  While not excessive, their instincts to bark at strangers and strange occurrences can be problematic. Needs considerable space and exercise, also good fencing is a necessity and mandatory. 

Health Issues: Hip Dysplasia occasionally.  Very few reported cases (less than 1%) of Patellar Luxation, Juvenile Cataracts, Epilepsy, Allergic Dermatitis, and Bloat (gastric torsion).

Life Span: 10 – 12 years
Litter Size:
5 - 8 occasionally more

Country of Origin:  PolandTatra Mountain peaks of Carpathian Mountains in south of Poland.

History:  The Podhale, where this breed originated, is a small region in southern Poland, against the Tatra range, which is the highest peak in the Carpathians.  The Podhalanski’s history follows that of similar dogs from Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania, all of which trace back to the white guardian dogs of the Eastern World and brought west by the Phoenicians. 


Outside interest in the handsome dog, which had been guarding sheep in the mountain meadows for centuries, began in the middle of the 19th Century when mountain climbing became popular.


World War II brought the breed to the brink of extinction. This is truly a breed that “refused to die”.  The Polish Kennel Club worked to re-establish the Tatra Dogs following the War.  By the 1960’s the Federation Cynologique International (FCI) reinstated the breed. In 1981 the first Polish Tatra Dogs were documented as coming into the USA. The Tatra is still considered one of the rarest dogs in North America.

Class: Herding/Guardian
Registries: Polish Kennel Club/FCI, UKC,or American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) or in the USA the Polish Tatra Sheepdog Club of America - www.PTSCA.com



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