Tornjaks belong to the rare livestock protection breeds and share many characteristics with other Mountain dogs. The Tornjak is one of the very old breeds from ancient times, and it was mentioned in handwritten papers for the first time in the 9th century, in the documents of the Catholic Church. The breed was later mentioned in the 11th and 14th century. Descriptions of Tornjaks from these documents are the very same as they are today, except for the name of the breed, which was Bosanski Ovčar, meaning Bosnian Shepherd Dog.[2] It was also called the Hrvatski pas planinac, meaning Croatian mountain dog.[3] The dogs in these documents were described entirely equal (in respect to their function and their appearance) as they are today: a protective guarding dog which keeps and watches all that their owners ask from them, but are highly intelligent and selectively bred to be without excessive aggression. They are also pleasant toward strangers that they meet outside of their domain.

It is considered that the dogs of the Tornjak’s type have existed in the area around and in Dinarides (Dinaric Alps), especially in the region around Vlašić (close to the city of Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina) as a central area of the region since the Roman times. The Romans used their dogs for war and as guardian dogs, as well as for fighting in the arena. Although the Tornjak is a very old breed, with the vanishing of nomadic sheep herding, the Tornjak also gradually vanished. In the early 1970s, a group of local cynologists began to collect the remaining dogs which best corresponded to the old writings about the breed.[4]

The first written traces about the existence of Tornjak dogs date back to the 9th century. Descriptions of the Tornjak were found in the writings of Peter Horvat, bishop of Đakovo, Croatia, which date back to the year 1374, those descriptions were also found in the writings of Peter Lukić, Canon of the Đakovo diocese, which were written in 1752. The term ‘Tornjak’ evolved from the Bosnian/Croatian word “tor”, which means an enclosed area where the sheep live in. To this day, these dogs are called Toraši (Torashi) in the surroundings of the city of Sinj and on the Kamešnica mountain, whereas the shepherds of the Dinara-mountains call them Dinarci.

It is theorized (although not proven) that the Tornjak, as with other Livestock guardian dog breeds, are descended from the dogs that were developed somewhere around 9000 years ago in Mesopotamia following the domestication of sheep and goats in the same area.[4]

Tornjaks were first imported to the UK in 2013 with intentions of working towards UK Kennel Club Recognition.


Tornjaks are large and powerful dogs, with well proportioned, almost square-bodied features and agile movements. The dog’s bones are not light, but nevertheless not heavy nor coarse. They have a long and thick double coat with a thick undercoat. The bodies of these dogs are strong and well built, with harmonious and dignified movements. The dogs have long and thick hair and this adequately protects them against poor weather conditions. The dogs typically possess shaggy tails, kept high like a flag. Tornjaks have a clear, self-confident, serious and calm disposition. In general the Tornjak is a long-coated dog with short hair over the face and legs. The topcoat is long, thick, coarse and straight. It is especially long on the upper part of the croup; over the shoulders and the back it can be slightly wavy. On the muzzle and the forehead, up to the imaginary line connecting the ears, over the ears. On the front parts of the legs and feet it is short. It is especially abundant around the neck (mane), dense and long over the upper thighs (breeches). It forms feathers along the forearms. With well-coated dogs it is also especially abundant on the rear of hind pasterns.

Tornjaks can be either solid colored or parti-colored, usually the color white predominates. The color of Tornjaks is unrestricted, all colors are accepted. It ranges from nearly completely white to almost black with yellow, red, brown and not-quite-desired gray in between. There are two main types: piebald and Irish spotting. Originally, the goal was to breed varying colors and patterns so shepherds could distinguish their dogs easily from a distance. Breeders also strive towards distinction compared to other breeds.

Lupine, wedge-shaped and elongated. Due to the heavy coat it sometimes looks too small. Powerful and long jaws, teeth complete, scissor bite. The back of the muzzle is straight. The zygomatic arches above the eyes may be slightly noticeable. Back of skull is elongated but not narrow, straight from zygomatic arches to occiput. The top of the muzzle is straight, proportional, never pointed or excessively fleshy, lips fitted tightly to the jaws. Almond shaped eyes, eyelids close to the skull. Large ears, that are single turned downwards, set high up nearer to the vertex than in other sheepdogs breeds.
Long, carried low, set at 45 degrees when alert. Neck muscles firm and taut. Skin thick especially at the nape of the neck and adheres to the inner tissue not only on the upper but also on the lower side of the neck. Covered with a rich crop of long hair (ruff).
Relatively short, firm, moderately wide and level.
Long, can be saber-shaped, annular or hooked (slight upward turn at the tip), set medium high. Highly mobile, at rest hanging downwards. When in motion – trotting – or when alert or excited, always carried above the back.
Very broad, conically deep, wide and rounded, but ribs not heavy. The breast is well-proportioned and forms a firmly connected unit between shoulder joint and chest. As a rule, the sternum (breast bone) tip is a little below the shoulder joint.
Firm muscles, continuous lower line, moderately tucked-up from the back end of sternum to the inside of loins.
As a rule, long-coated with short hair on face and front part of legs. Top coat is long, hard-textured (similar to goats) and straight. On the front part of shoulders and backside of rump it can be slightly wavy. Particularly well developed on the neck and also very rich and long below the tail, forming trousers. Feathering on the forearm and very rich feathering on the tail. Upper hair is especially long on the upper rump just before tail set. Firmly closed and not able to be opened in parting. (Wikipedia)

A list of all the dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club:

























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