The Caucasian Shepherd is a relatively unknown dog breed compared to most others, especially when speaking about the American Pitbull Terrier, who is one of the most well known dog breeds of all time (unfortunately not always for good reason!)
The Caucasian Shepherd and the American Pitbull Terrier are two beautiful dogs, but unfortunately, they are both unfairly feared by those who do not know them well. Their formidable appearance (albeit very different) is the only real similarity between them, almost everything else is very different. The Caucasian Shepherd is a giant breed, who is low energy and independant, and needs a firm and experienced master. Whereas the Pitbull Terrier is a high energy pooch, who is athletic and craves human company, but very trainable.
The Caucasian Shepherd has only been recently introduced to the USA as a purebred pooch, and as such he is only recognized in the Foundation Stock Service group, so the American Kennel Club (AKC) is yet to officially recognize him. The AKC does not recognize the Pitbull Terrier as a dog breed in his own right either.
Despite this, they are increasing in popularity as family pets and working dogs across America, and as such many people find themselves wondering which pooch would make the best family addition. If that’s you, or whether you’re here simply to educate yourself, you have come to the right place! So, let’s take a closer look at their similarities and differences.
Breed Comparison Chart
17 – 20 inches (F)
Up to 100 - 175 pounds (F)
30 – 50 pounds (F)
In order to fully compare the breeds, we need to compare the breed histories to understand where they come from. The Caucasian Shepherd and the Pitbull were bred for very different uses. Below we will dive into the detailed background of each breed, as well as what activities they are best suited for.
The Caucasian Shepherd, also known as the Caucasian Ovcharka or the Russian Bear dog, comes from the Caucasus Mountain range in the intersection of Europe and Asia (formally part of Russia). Being widely bred and used as working dogs across Eastern Europe and Russia there are many variants of the breed, but those from the country of Georgia are commonly accepted as the breed standard.
He is one of the most ancient Molasser dog breeds believed to be 2,000 years old, whose purpose has always been to protect and serve his master. Used in the army as a personal protection dog and to guard the Berlin Wall, breed selection in the USSR in the 1920s focused on fearlessness, brute power, endurance, sharp hearing and eyesight, and a thick dense waterproof coat. Unstoppable and feared describes this dog well.
He still retains these qualities, but nowadays he is mainly used to protect cattle from bears and wolves. Despite his ferocious reputation he is also now becoming popular as a family pet, as a protector come cuddly canine bear. Because they look so similar, they are often times compared to other long-haired molosser breeds.
American Pitbull Terrier
The American Pitbull Terrier is a seriously misunderstood pooch simply because of his history. His ancestors arrived in America in the 19th Century, and he was used in pit fights for betting in cruel blood sports. Thankfully blood sports were eventually banned, and ever since then his soft and sweet side has come out, leaving his fighting days behind.
Because he is such a loyal dog who adores his master, he has found employment on farm ranches and love in many family homes. A properly bred Pitbull Terrier will not be found in protection services, as this is surprisingly not in his nature, but will be found on the sofa soaking up all the attention and belly rubs.
Regularly used as a therapy dog, he is one of the sweetest dogs around. Dogs are actually considered Pitbull Terriers if they are part of four different types of breeds in the United States. They are common as a parent breed of many mutts, and as such, they often end up in shelters.
The Caucasian Shepherd and the Pitbull Terrier are very different in their appearance, and there’s no chance of mixing the two up. Weighing being 100 and 170 pounds in weight, the Caucasian Shepherd is considered to be a giant breed, compared to the Pitbull Terrier who weighs between 30 and 65 pounds. The Caucasian Shepherd also measures 23 to 30 inches in height, whereas the Pitbull Terrier measures between 17 and 21 inches tall. With the Caucasian towering over the Pitbull, as well often weighing twice the amount, if space is an issue then the Pitbull might be your only option between the two.
The Caucasian Shepherd is a large dog, who, with little muscle definition looks like a cuddly bear. Whereas the Pitbull is much more muscular and athletic looking, and when put on a high protein diet and worked, he looks ripped! As with most large dogs, the Caucasian Shepherd has droopy jowls, whereas the Pitbull doesn’t, and with jowls comes drool, so you need to be prepared for this!
The Caucasian Shepherd has three coat variations, short, medium and long. Generally, the longer the coat the larger his mane is, with plenty of feathering fur around his legs and tail. He has a double coat that will keep him warm even in the most extreme of climates and sheds throughout the year with a full blow-out during shedding season.
The Pitbull also has a double coat, but it is very short and smooth, and whilst he does shed throughout the year it is nothing like the Caucasian. The Pitbull comes in almost any dog color including blue, white, and red. The only color you won’t find is merle. Caucasian Shepherds come in shades of brown, reds, black and gray, either in a solid color or a mixture.
Surprisingly, the Caucasian Shepherd is a gentle giant when in the home, and is very low energy, calm and quiet. But, when faced with danger or someone trying to harm his family, these quiet doggos will fight anything that is brave enough to take him on. He can take down bears, wolves, and any other animal who threatens his flock or family, so if it is a family protector you are after then look no further than this guy.
The Caucasian Shepherd is aloof and nervous of strangers, and will not take kindly to strangers on his estate. If you are thinking about getting one of these guys then you need to understand that he is highly territorial, and as such when you are not around you need to ensure no one can get onto your estate. However, once his master has welcomed a stranger the Caucasian will accept them too. His challenging temperament needs to be taken seriously, and whilst this is not for everyone it is a trait that suits many families.
Then there is the Pitbull, who is thought of as a vicious protector, but is actually the complete opposite! Because of his love for humans, he is so sociable that he would greet intruders with a wagging tail, a wide smile and a key to his home if he could.
Inside the home, the Pitbull Terrier is much more playful and energetic compared to the Caucasian, so you need to be able to spend time with this guy and play interactive games that will stimulate his mind and body. In addition to his athleticism, Pitbull Terriers are known for their determination.
Both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Pitbull Terrier are very loyal and affectionate with their families. However, the Caucasian is much more independent, and enjoys spending much of his time outside. The Pitbull, however, is much more intense in that he craves human company, and hates to be left alone, so you can expect separation anxiety with the Pitbull. So, if you are thinking about getting a Pitbull Terrier, you should check out our favorite crates perfect for pups that suffer from separation anxiety.
The Caucasian Shepherd and the Pitbull Terrier are very different when it comes to their exercise needs. The Pitbull is an energetic dog who needs around 60 minutes of intense exercise every day otherwise you can expect a restless and destructive dog. He makes a great jogging partner, and excels at agility courses, so if you are an active family then he would make a great canine companion.
The Caucasian, on the other hand, is much lower maintenance when it comes to exercise. Whilst he needs around 45 minutes of exercise every day, this should only be in the form of long walks that aren’t going to be particularly fast-paced. He would much prefer a larger garden to roam and patrol compared to intense exercise.
Again, the Caucasian Shepherd and the Pitbull Terrier are very different when it comes to their training needs. Firstly, it is important to understand that the Caucasian Shepherd is not for the first-time dog owner, as he is very independent and territorial, which is a combination that needs to be managed throughout his entire lifetime. He is a challenging dog who needs a firm leader who will be able to take on the role of pack leader. If the Caucasian does not feel you are the pack leader, he will try to challenge you and behavioral problems will soon start. As such, training needs to start as soon as you get him home, and it would be wise to take him to obedience training.
However, the Pitbull, who craves human company and praise, would do anything to please his master, which is what makes him very trainable. For this reason, he is suited to a first-time dog owner, but just be sure to be consistent with your training and he will excel. Because of their highly trainable nature as a working dog, they are often compared to other working breeds like the German Shepherd, and also the Rottie.
Both dogs need to be socialized well, particularly with other dogs. The Caucasian because he is naturally territorial of everything, and the Pitbull because he can sometimes exhibit fear-aggression against other dogs. Socialize them well as young puppies and they will grow into confident and well-behaved pooches.
Both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Pitbull Terrier suffer from Hip Dysplasia, which is where the hip sockets develop incorrectly that, over time, can lead to painful arthritis of the joints and mobility problems. The chances of developing this condition can be decreased with correct nutrition as a puppy, however it usually requires surgery to correct it.
The other main concern that the Pitbull Terrier is known to suffer with is skin allergies, but this can usually be easily alleviated with ointments, medication and nutrition. The main health concern of the Caucasian, besides Dysplasia, is obesity. Because he is such a large dog who has very little want to exercise, and loves food, he is prone to pilling on the pounds very quickly. His weight needs to be monitored, and if his weight begins to creep up then switch him to a weight management kibble to reduce the number of calories in his bowl.
They are both healthy pooches, who enjoy a long lifespan for their size, with the Caucasian living 10 to 12 years and the Pitbull Terrier living longer between 12 to 16 years.
A typical Caucasian Shepherd will consume six cups of food every day, whereas the Pitbull Terrier will consume around 2 ½ cups of high-quality food engineered for the breed. Both the Caucasian and Pitbull Terrier would do well on a high-quality kibble that supplies a high protein content to provide support for their large muscle mass, and the Pitbull’s high energy needs. Just be sure, when it comes to the Caucasian Shepherd, that you don’t feed him more calories than he burns, and often a highly fibrous diet will resolve constant snack scavenging.
Both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Pitbull Terrier are both at risk from Gastric Torsion, which is where their stomach twists and it can be fatal. Never feed them too close to exercise and spread their daily food allowance across 2 or 3 meals a day.
The Caucasian Shepherd, whether he has a short, medium or a long length coat, needs a lot more attention when it comes to his grooming schedule. He will need brushing 2 or 3 times a week as a minimum, but if he has a long coat, he will need a thorough brush most days to ensure that painful matting doesn’t occur. The Pitbull, however, only needs a brush once a week to keep his coat looking shiny and healthy. Pitbulls are single-coated dogs and shed less than the Caucasian Shepherd.
The Caucasian Shepherd also needs his ears cleaning 2 or 3 times a week, because they are prone to a quick build-up of wax and bacteria.
The starting price for a Caucasian Shepherd starts from $1,000, and the starting price of a Pitbull Terrier is $800, both from a reputable breeder. It is always important to work with a reputable breeder, but especially for dogs such as these. Both the Pitbull and the Caucasian Shepherd are powerful dogs who could cause a lot of damage if not raised correctly, and puppy mills will not care for their pups as they should. So, avoid puppy mills or backstreet breeders if you want a healthy and stable pup.
If you are thinking about rescuing one of these beautiful dogs, then you’ll likely be able to find a Pitbull in most rescue centers as there are sadly so many of them waiting for homes, or try the Pitbull Rescue Center website. Caucasian Shepherds are much rarer, so much so that a dedicated website is not available, instead, try the Facebook Caucasian Shepherd Club of America group, where other like-minded Caucasian lovers and rescuers can be contacted.
Overall, these two dog breeds are very different from one another, more so than most of the other breeds we have compared before. They both love their families very much and are very loyal, but this is where the similarities end.
So, if you are looking for a family protector and you are an experienced owner who is up to the challenge of the Caucasian, then you need to be prepared for lifelong training. Or, if you are after an intensely energetic fun sidekick that will always be under your feet, but one that cannot be left alone for too long, then the Pitbull is the better choice. Whichever dog suits you and your lifestyle better, you can be sure that you will have a canine companion who will love you endlessly!