The Polish Tatra Sheepdog, also called the Owczarek PodhalanskI and the Polish Mountain Sheepdog, originated in southern Poland, and takes her name from the region’s Tatra Mountains. There is some mystery around her exact heritage, but she bears a striking resemblance to other Molosser breeds, including the Hungarian Kuvasz, Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd. For centuries, Polish Tatra Sheepdogs were kept by mountain shepherds to guard and protect their flocks, but the breed was brought to the brink of extinction after the World Wars. Today, there are around 7,750 registered Polish Tatra Sheepdogs in the world, mostly in their native Poland.
Like her Molosser cousins, the Tatra Sheepdog is a large dog, weighing between 80 and 130 lbs. Her dense, all-white double coat is meant to protect her through cold Polish winters, so she is especially well-suited to colder climates. In the late spring she sheds her undercoat completely, but otherwise she needs only occasional brushing and bathing. What she does need regularly is plenty of outdoor exercise and the freedom to run around, so a large, fenced-in yard is best – particularly for puppies, who tend to wander.
At home, the Tatra Sheepdog is loyal and friendly with people and other pets. A natural guard dog, she will keep protective watch over her home and family, using her characteristic loud bark to alert them to any suspicious activity she senses.
Booming bark aside, the Polish Tatra Sheepdog is still prone to a number of hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect her health – not to mention your family budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses Tatra Sheepdogs are prone to include skin conditions such as allergic dermatitis; digestive conditions such as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV or bloat); eye conditions such as cataracts; joint conditions such as hip dysplasia; and neurological conditions such as epilepsy.
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Tatra Sheepdog inherits her mother’s bad eyes or her father’s bad skin, you’re covered.