Canis lupus

Last updated: November 13, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© OgnjenO/


Sarplaninac Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Sarplaninac Conservation Status

Sarplaninac Locations

Sarplaninac Locations

Sarplaninac Facts

Name Of Young
Intelligent, loyal
Litter Size
5-7 puppies
Average Litter Size
5-7 puppies

Sarplaninac Physical Characteristics

  • Brindle
  • Beige
  • Black-Brown
  • Grey-Brown
Skin Type
Up to 100 pounds
24 inches

Sarplaninac as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Cold climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
Dog group
Male weight
75-100 lbs
Female weight
65-88 lbs

View all of the Sarplaninac images!

Share on:

“According to some sources, the Sarplaninac (pronounced Shar-pla-nee-natz) had ten name changes before gaining its current name.”


Sarplaninac dogs are an ancient herd-guarding breed originating in the southeastern mountains of Yugoslavia, known thousands of years ago as Illyria. Breeders first called the dogs Illyrian shepherd dogs until 1957, when they received their current name, which references the Sharplanina mountain range.

The breeding lines of the Sarplaninac are uncertain due to how long they’ve been around. Experts believe they descended from ancient Grecian and Turkey dogs that worked alongside farmers, protecting their animals from predators such as wolves.

Until 1970, Sarplaninacs could not legally leave Yugoslavia. The very first dog that arrived in the U.S. had to be carried down from the Sharplanina mountains by mule. Since the breed arrived in the States, a growing body of ranchers has successfully employed Sarplaninacs to protect their flocks, just as farmers did in their home country. These medium-sized dogs with great strength, supreme intelligence, and devotion to their families make excellent partners and companions if trained with solid leadership.

Read on to learn more about Sarplaninac dogs and what to know before adding one to your family.

The Best Dog Food for Sarplaninac

Sarplaninacs should eat high-quality dog food that provides balanced nutrition and the right mix of vitamins, protein, and healthy fats, whether it’s dry food or vet-approved human food recipes. You should also consider your dog’s diet based on age, as puppies, adults, and seniors all require different formulations to match their current life stages.

While Sarplaninacs enjoy people food as treats, we recommend keeping the amount to 10 percent of their diet. Instead, aim to provide a high-protein formula that supports muscle growth, promotes healthy joints and bones, and keeps coats and skin healthy. 

A formula like Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe High Protein contains real beef and animal-sourced protein ingredients to help your dog develop appropriate muscle mass and support its high energy. The blend also contains the following:

  • Antioxidants
  • Healthy supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
  • Plenty of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for skin health

In addition to food, make sure to provide clean, potable water to your Sarplaninac at all times. Treats are helpful as positive reinforcement during training, but don’t give out too much, or your pup can start to gain weight.

3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Sarplaninac

Highly intelligent and easily trainable
These smart dogs will learn your commands and new tricks in no time.
Lacking proper training, your dog may not respect your leadership and decide to do what it thinks is best.
Exceedingly loyal
Sarplaninac are ever loyal to their families.
Wary of strangers
Dogs may feel the need to protect their families from newcomers.
Healthy with low medical maintenance
Sarplaninac have no common health issues.
High-maintenance grooming needs
These dogs shed their double-coats year-round and require weekly brushing.

Sarplaninac Size and Weight

At full maturity, Sarplaninac females average about 22.5 inches from the withers, while males stretch slightly taller at 24 inches. Full-grown females weigh between 65 to 88 pounds, while males weigh as much as 100 pounds.

Male24’ Tall, 100lbs, fully grown
Female22.5’ Tall, 88lbs, fully grown

Sarplaninac Common Health Issues

While Sarplaninac dogs are generally healthy, diligent breeders will test their parent dogs for commonly inheritable genetic conditions. Sarplaninac can be susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, similar to other medium-sized, high-activity dogs. While you should confirm whether a pup is likely to inherit this before purchasing, proper nutrition and joint-health supplements can help prevent the condition.

Sarplaninac also have a propensity to bloat, so be careful only to feed your dog a well-balanced diet crafted with high-quality, nutritious ingredients. Watch food intake, too, to mitigate obesity or weight issues.

Sarplaninac Temperament

As sheep-guarding dogs, Sarplaninac are mild-mannered but exhibit a general wariness towards strangers, ever watchful of their “flock.” They form close bonds with their family and sometimes physically stand between strangers and their loved ones to protect them from danger. Despite their protective instincts, Sarplaninac are neither aggressive nor violent, requiring high levels of provocation to make them react.

These dogs are brilliant and loyal and will respect their masters as leaders of the pack once they’ve earned it. 

How To Take Care of Sarplaninac 

Your Sarplaninac requires moderate levels of grooming, but he will come to love these rituals if motivated with proper treats and positive experiences. They ask for more dedication to training and regular exercise than the average pup. But if regularly stimulated and adequately socialized, your Sarplaninac will be a loyal protector for life.

Maintenance and Grooming

These dogs developed thick double coats to protect them from Yugoslavia’s cold mountain winters. They moderately shed, requiring regular brushing and the occasional bath to keep their coats in top shape and prevent hair from getting everywhere. Make sure to trim their nails regularly if they don’t naturally grind down, as too-long nails can make walking uncomfortable and lead to hip or elbow issues. Periodically check for dirt or debris in the ears, and routine teeth-brushing is a must.


Sarplaninacs are highly intelligent dogs, thanks to their working purpose, and generally are a breeze to train. However, sometimes they will think they know better than their owners, given their strong independence. A determined and consistent training routine will establish you as the pack leader, and your sarplaninac will be happy to follow commands.


The Sarplaninac thrives in wide open spaces, used to roaming the mountainsides with their flocks. As such, they’re usually unhappy being confined to apartments, much preferring to run in a vast open space. They require plentiful outdoor exercise, whether walking for about an hour daily or running around in a fenced yard or dog park. Mental stimulation is also necessary to prevent your Sarplaninac from becoming anxious and potentially destructive. 


New Sarplaninac puppies require a watchful eye, consistent, dedicated training, and plenty of socialization. Keep them busy with new tricks, potty training, and eventual puppy school, so they can learn proper doggy manners and get acquainted with strangers. This breed is naturally wary of new people and dogs – early socialization will go a long way toward getting them used to new encounters. 

Sarplaninac puppy

Sarplaninac puppies like to keep busy with new tricks, potty training, and school.


Sarplaninac and Children

This breed is very loving to children, especially if they are raised alongside the kids in their family. As protectors, they are watchful guardians of their flocks and will alert their masters to any danger. Sarplaninac are just as happy protecting other animals in the family and generally get along well with other dogs if raised together.

Dogs Similar to Sarplaninac

The Sarplaninac is closely related to other herd-guarding breeds, such as the Moscow watchdog, Maremma sheepdog, and Akbash.

  • Moscow watchdog: These mild-mannered dogs are watchful, protective guardians of livestock.
  • Maremma sheepdog: Maremmas also were bred to guard their herds against predators.
  • Akbash: The Akbash is another ancient breed of dog, originally bred in Turkey.

Popular names for Sarplaninac dogs include:

  • Buddy
  • Toby
  • Tucker
  • Bella
  • Ellie
  • Abigail

Up Next

View all 293 animals that start with S

Share on:
What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?
About the Author

Shanti Ryle is a content marketer with nearly a decade's experience writing about science, real estate, business, and culture. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Global Finance and Banking, Weedmaps News/, and other publications. Her favorite animal (by far) is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi!

Sarplaninac FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Sarplaninac good pets?

Sarplaninac make excellent family pets for those who can provide them with lots of exercise or a job that keeps them busy. These intelligent creatures are highly independent and require more socialization and regular training than the average pup.

Does Sarplaninac shed?

These dogs are medium-level shedders with long double coats that require weekly brushing with the occasional bath to keep them clean.

What does a Sarplaninac dog look like?

The dog is medium-to-large sized with big heads. Thick, coarse coats keep them warm in the wintertime.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.


  2. United Kennel Club, Available here:
  3. Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, Available here:

Newly Added Animals

A Cobalt Blue Tarantula
Cobalt Blue Tarantula

Cobalt blue tarantulas spend most of their time in self-dug burrows and only emerge when it's time to eat

A Dried Fruit Moth
Dried Fruit Moth

In the event of adverse environmental conditions, dried fruit moth larvae will become dormant and stop developing.

Most Recently Updated Animals

A Cobalt Blue Tarantula
Cobalt Blue Tarantula

Cobalt blue tarantulas spend most of their time in self-dug burrows and only emerge when it's time to eat

A Dried Fruit Moth
Dried Fruit Moth

In the event of adverse environmental conditions, dried fruit moth larvae will become dormant and stop developing.