The home of these big white dogs are not the Tatra Mountains. Their origin is found in the high plains in the northern region of the Polish Carpathians, the endless sheep pastures. This landscape is called Podhale and it is as the name does not say “in” but “the mountains”.
The meaning of the word Owczarek in english is not sheepdog, but the diminutive of Owczar = shepherd, and means “little shepherd “, or shepherd called “sheep boy “.
A Polski Owczarek Podhalanski, translated into English, is a Polish shepherd from Podhale.
The Tatra Shepherd Dog belong to the group sheepdogs and more specific the mountain- or guard dogs. Large and strong, with hanging ears, they have a naturally thick heavy coat, suitable in any kind of wheather and powerfull enough to defend their flock against any opponent.
This kind of sheepdog exists since living memory, more specific in the regions of the Eurasian highlands, stretching from the Pyrenees in the west to the Himalayas in the east.
The silvergray coat for herding the goats (Sarplaninac), the colorful for the cows (Bernese Mountain Dog), black dogs for the yaks (Tibetan Mastiff), the white for the sheep (Pyrenean Mountain dog, Kuvasz, Maremmer, Cuvcac, Tatra Shepherd Dog) and a golden coat for spotted goats and sheep (Estrela Cao).
The white coat of some shepherd dogs is explained by the Swiss scientist Conrad Gesner.
A cattle – and/or sheepdog must be strong, powerful, brave and bold, an awesome whine and bark, and the same color as the sheep or cattle.
Thus cattle or sheep are not afraid of him and the wolf does not notice him directly between the flock.
The shepherd does not confuse him for a wolf and kill by mistake. Thus over the years several regional dog breeds arose in the Eurasian mountain regions. Allthough they look different, their work was and is the same everywhere. Their work is not gathering sheep on command of the shepherd, but they move along with the herd as they grew up amidst them, they see it as their pack, always following and monitoring. They defend their herd against predators through thick and thin.
Originally, the dog came along with the nomads who settled in the vicinity of the Tatra mountains where mountain slopes and valleys (Podhale) were used to graze their large herds. These large white dogs are the ancestors of our Tatra Shepherd Dog or Owczarek Podhalanski called in Poland. The dogs were and still are of great aid to the shepherd, particularly in the areas where wolves, brown bears and lynx live and were good protectors are a prerequisite for this form of farming in the area. Dogs have not only an incredible sense of smell, they also have a very good ear and excellent sight in the dark.
The shepherds of the High Tatras are very proud of their dogs who are strong, agile and intelligent enough to scare of a brown bear so that he takes a run and chasing a wolf pack to get back the spoils.