HERDING DOGS OF EASTERN EUROPE
THE HERDING DOGS OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Above, a Chodsky Pes moving a flock of sheep along a lane between crops. (Photo from Friends of the Chodsky Pes.)
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country slightly smaller than South Carolina and slightly larger than Scotland. There are low mountains in the west, and hills in the east. Water from its rivers flows into the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Black Sea, but the republic itself has no port and "rents" space in the port of Hamburg from Germany.
Like most of the nations in Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic (previously known as Bohemia) has had a checkered history, including invasions, wars, and the rise and fall of Communism. The Czech Republic today is one of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states. Sheep have been known in the region since the Copper Age. The Czech Republic has an indigenous breed of sheep called the Sumavka that is a descendant of aboriginal sheep. It is a landrace breed, adapted to the conditions of the pastoral regions of the republic, regions that have higher amounts of precipitation, lower temperatures and a shorter growing season. However, this breed, like other landrace breeds, is not considered a "good performer", and in recent years intensively bred foreign meat breeds have been introduced. Consequently, the Sumavka sheep, and two breeds of goat (the white and brown shorthaired goats descended from indigenous goats that were bred to Saanen and Hartz breeds) were considered at risk and a breed regeneration program is in place for them since the 1950s.
Ninety percent of sheep and ninety-five percent of goats in the Czech Republic are kept in traditional small scale flocks with up to five ewes and one to three does on 2.5 to 5.5 acres. Ten plus sheep or goats are considered a "larger flock" but are not generally the primary source of income. All sheep and almost all goat farms use a grazing system in the summer months, and feed in the winter. Sheep are raised mainly for meat, a small number for milk products. Wool is not even mentioned. Goats are raised for milk and cheese, kids and culled goats are sold for meat. Sheep and goats are also used in landscape management, and those farmers that participate in this practice receive an allowance. Pasture rotation is practiced and possibly some transterminace.
Bohemian Shepherd or Chodsky Pes or Chodenhund
Left, a handsome Chodsky Pes. (Photo from Friends of the Chodsky Pes.)
The Chodsky Pes, a herding dog from the Czech Republic, developed from farm and border guardian dogs used by the Chodové, a group of people living in Bohemia, a region occupying the western two-thirds of the Czech Republic today, but an independent kingdom in the late Middle Ages. The history of the Chodsky Pes goes back at least as far as the 14th century, when it was known for guarding farmsteads and forest homesteads, and it was used for patrol of the Czech-German border from the 13th century to the 17th century. A breeding program was begun and a standard was drawn up in 1984 which helped in the recovery of its numbers.
The Chodsky Pes has a rough, double coat of black-and-tan and prick ears, that gives it a look more like a GSD, but it is a medium-sized dog about the size of a Border Collie. The Chodsky may have similar roots as the Altdeutscher Schäferhunt. It has been used for herding sheep, but primarily it is a farm dog. Today it is chiefly used for dog sports, search-and-rescue, as guide dogs for the blind and in other services. However, there are still Chodsky Pes herding sheep in the Czech Republic today. It is not recognized by the FCI.
Copyright © 2014 by Carole L. Presberg
Friends of the Chodsky Pes (www.kpchp.org).
Mátlová, Vera. "Sheep and Goat Production in the Czech Republic", Research Institute for Animal Production, undated.
Wikipedia: "Bohemian Shepherd" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Shepherd).
Wikipedia: "Chodové" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chodové).
Wikipedia: "Czech Republic" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_Republic#Economy
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