Pastor of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Croatia

The Tornjak or Shepherd of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Croatia is a large breed dog, which can become giant, originally from Bosnia and Croatia. Traditionally used to guide and protect livestock , as well as defend the farm and its family, it is known by other names such as: Bosnian Shepherd, Bosnian and Herzegovinian Shepherd, Croatian Shepherd, Kanis Montanus, Bosco-Herzegovinian Shepherd and Croatian. Besides being hardworking and courageous, he is a stable and friendly companion.

Tornjak developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and has been around for thousands of years. The name Tornjak was what the locals called it, this word was the name given to a traditional enclosure for cattle and sheep . It is believed to be related to the Tibetan Mastiff. References to the Shepherd of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Croatia can be found in records from various periods, including the years 800, 1000 and 1300. It may also have been used in war and to fight in arenas by the Romans.

Characteristics of the Shepherd of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Croatia

Being a working dog, it is a very intelligent dog, but it shows certain points of aggressiveness, necessary to carry out its protection and defense tasks. Due to his work in the mountains, he was raised so that he could survive without needing to eat much and so that he hardly needed shelter.

Physical Appearance

The Tornjak is a large to giant breed that weighs between 27 and 50 kg and is between 60 and 75 centimeters tall. He’s muscular and strong, but he’s in proportion, and he’s also agile and powerful. Its shape is almost square with strong hindquarters and a shaggy tail that is held up like a flag. He has almond-shaped eyes with shorter hair on his face and dense, thick hair around his neck creating a mane.

The coat is thick, dense and long, the undercoat especially and then the outer coat is hard and straight. Ditch some of that thick coat in the hot summer months. Typical colors are gray, red, black, yellow, white, and brown , with common patterns such as Irish spots. The coat is also shorter on his legs and feet.


This is a confident and even temperate dog when raised well and in the right home. He’s friendly and social, but he’s also a great watchdog. It will bark to let you know if there is an intruder or a stranger on your property. He will also act to defend you and your family and your territory if necessary. It is a brave, determined and reliable dog. He’s also smart, hard-working, and dedicated to bonding his owner and his family together. It prefers to be around humans and while it can endure moderate periods of time alone, it prefers family.

The Tornjak is calm and affectionate, and when raised well should not be aggressive , too shy or too demanding. With strangers, he is cautious at first in evaluating them, but with time to adjust and the right introductions, he will accept them. It is a hardy breed that needs space. In addition, he does not like unpleasant and shrill noise very much, so he can be nervous in large cities. If he is cramped or exposed to such problems, or if his needs are not met, he can become destructive, noisy, and difficult to get along with, just like any other dog.

Bosnia and Herzegovina Shepherd – Croatia with Children and Animals

The Tornjak can tolerate aggressive behavior from some children , but you must be careful when playing with the smallest children in the house. It is a giant dog that is used to working as a shepherd and guardian and that can cause it to herd your children abruptly.

With Other Animals

It is a very dominant breed, which often has problems with other dogs , so the owner should closely monitor his pet when there are unfamiliar dogs. However, the Bosnian and Herzegovinian-Croatian Sheepdog will protect all pets in your household, especially if you grew up with them.

Basic Information

  • Height at the withers:  60 to 75 cm.
  • Weight:  from 27 to 50 kg.
  • Coat:  gray, red, black, yellow, white and brown.
  • Average life span: approximately 15 years.
  • Character:  brave, determined, intelligent and hard-working.
  • Relationship with children:  can be good
  • Relationship with other dogs:  bad.
  • Skills:  shepherd dog and guard dog.
  • Space   needs : you need daily exercise.
  • Feeding:  1-1.5 kg of feed.
  • Fix:  brushing every other day.
  • Maintenance cost:  low.


FCI classification:  Group 1:  Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs  (except Swiss Cattle Dogs). Section 2: Molossian. 2.2. Mountain type.


There are several theories about the earliest history of Tornjak. It has been suggested that this type of flock guardian arrived
in Europe about 2,500 years ago with nomads and their herds from the Fertile Crescent (Mesopotamia, Assyria, Phenicia). The
Tornjak are, without a doubt, a member of the great group of protective races. Its original name was Hrvatski Pas Planinac –
Croatian Mountain Dog.

He worked mainly in remote areas like western Bosnia; in Lika, a mountainous area in the middle of Croatia; and in Sinj and Knin, both in southern Croatia. Actually, where there were sheep, one could find Tornjaks . And it is believed that they have remained unchanged since Roman times

The First References

Most dog writers mention that the Tornjak’s history dates back to 1067, referring to a document in the episcopal archives of Djakovo (or Đakovo), a Croatian city in the Slavonia region. In 1374, Bishop Peter Horvat, also in the city of Djakovo, documented a large mountain and shepherd dog . These dogs, known as Canis montanus, lived scattered throughout the mountainous regions of Croatia.

Four hundred years later, in 1752, historians found the same description, now written by Petar Lukić, who also works in the diocese of Djakovo. Lukić described a mountain dog with a black, gray, yellow, or brown coat (sometimes with red and white). They measure between 60 and 75 centimeters, so they were already a large breed.

At the time, the Tornjak was still a herd keeper, not a driver, protecting livestock (mainly sheep) and defending it against thieves and vagrants. The Tornjak was extremely well adapted to its mountainous environment ; regions with snow and extremely low temperatures in winter.

The Twentieth Century

Von Stephanitz is considered the creator of the modern standard of the current breed that he published in 1923 under the name «Bosnian Shepherd Dog». In 1958, Ratomi Orban published an article about these dogs in Moj Pas (my dog) magazine. In the following years, the Tornjak was mentioned frequently in books and magazines . The breed’s name derives from the Croatian word tor, which means “A fenced-in area for sheep,” specifically a wooden fence in which a flock of sheep can spend the night.

However, around the 1970s, when nomadic herding of sheep became less common, the need and demand for Tornjak began to wane and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Sheepdog – Croatia faced possible extinction . The Balkan War also did not help the race, which was further depleted during the harsh confrontation. Despite everything, the breed managed to survive and is now relatively common in Central Europe, where farmers greatly appreciate the protective qualities of this breed.

International Recognition

Although the breed has been known since ancient times, it was not until 2007 that it was provisionally recognized by the FCI, being accepted as a breed and publishing its official standard in 2017, under the name Tornjak.

Training and Education

As a guard dog for almost 1000 years, he is always suspicious of strangers. This breed does not need additional training to be an excellent guard but they do need socialization to avoid problems with third parties. At first glance, this dog appears to be highly distracted, but is constantly on the lookout for threats and can instantly turn into a ferocious beast . Luckily, he is very smart and that makes him easy to educate by learning quickly.


The Bosnia and Herzegovina Shepherd – Croatia is a pretty healthy dog, but there are a few things to keep in mind. He doesn’t do well with too much protein in his diet, so check with a vet or his breeder about what to feed him. Despite being a really healthy breed, it can suffer some ailments

Hip Dysplasia

The hip dysplasia is one of the most common diseases in large dogs and occurs when the bones in the joint do not fit properly. This means that the dog may suffer a limp in one or both legs, although it will not always be accompanied by pain. Unfortunately, most dogs with Dysplasia tend to also suffer from arthritis in old age.

Elbow Dysplasia

It is a heritable problem and is common in large breed dogs. It is believed to be caused by different growth rates of the bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint strain and generally causing a painful lameness that can lead to disability. It is advisable to operate on the animal.

Ear Infections

Even being a really healthy dog, due to its coat and it is usually outdoors, it is prone to ear infections that, depending on the degree, can be very painful and even cause deafness in our dog. It is important that we observe any redness in the area and go quickly to the vet , since caught in time it will not be more than a slight annoyance that can be solved with drops or medication.

Basic Care

The Tornjak should not grow in the apartment, because it is very active and needs a large space to expend its energy . It loves to play with its owners, but even if you leave it alone it will still be active and that could destroy your home. In addition, it is important that you bear in mind that it was bred to carry out its work in frozen mountains, so the heat affects it too much to be valid in areas of high temperatures.

Hygiene and Bathroom

These dogs are relatively undemanding in terms of grooming . They need to be combed and brushed regularly. If you are going to have it at home, it is important that you do it regularly to help avoid tangles and mats. And you should do it at least every other day, but that would increase daily during seasonal shedding periods.

You should look for ticks and fleas during the summer season. Bathing him twice a year is enough to keep him looking good. But do not do it more frequently or you will affect the natural oils that cover your skin to protect it from the elements.


The Tornjak will eat between 1 and 1.5 kg of a good quality dry dog ​​food daily, divided into at least two meals. The amounts vary, as it really depends on exactly how big the dog is and its activity level, health, age, and metabolism.

How to get a Shepherd from Bosnia and Herzegovina – Croatia

In Spain, this dog is still a stranger and it is not recommended to have it in the southern part of the country due to the high temperatures. If you want to do with no, you can contact our experts to inform you of the existing options or of other breeds that are similar and better adapted to the climate of your area of ​​residence.

Other Similar Dogs

If you can’t find a Bosnia and Herzegovina Shepherd puppy – Croatia you can try these breeds:

  • Aïdi
  • Kangal Sheepdog
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Saint Bernard
  • Central Asian Shepherd
  • Caucasian Shepherd Dog
  • Rafeiro do Alentejo
  • Dog of the Sierra de la Estrela
  • Castro Laboreiro dog
  • Laandser
  • Yugoslav Shepherd Dog by Charplanina
  • Karst Shepherd
  • Pyrenean Mastiff
  • Spanish Mastiff
  • Newfoundland
  • Pyrenean Mastiff
  • Leonberger
  • Hovawart

Divyesh Patel