The Tatra Shepherd belongs to Canis familiarts inostrancevi group of dogs, which gives origin to many pastoral and molossoid breeds – strong, long coated, well boned and drop eared. The Tatra Shepherd is one of so-called “mountain dogs” descending from the Tibetan mastiff. Its ancestors were brought into Europe with nomadic tribes of Huns and Awars (IV-VI century AD) that settled in Hungarian Plains. Dogs of this type were later bred by the shepherding tribe of Wallachians, who eventually settled in the Tatra Mountains in the XVth century.
The Tatra Shepherd is a close relative to some other dogs, known in the mountainous areas of Europe – in the Carpathians, Alps and Pyrenees, e.g. the Slovakian Chuvac (Slovensky Cuvac), Maremmano-Abruzzesse and Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Similar dogs can be found also in Tibet, Caucasus and Mongolia and they all share similar characteristics, common with the Tibetan Mastiff.
The Tatra Shepherd is undoubtly an old, local breed, which primary use was flock guarding, and not herding. Isolation and selection for working qualities eventually produced dogs of good size, strong, resistant, courageous and stable, and aggressive when provoked. Their traditional colour was pure white, for white dogs can be easily distinguished from predators. Originally the breed was called “liptok”, the name coming from the Slovakian area of Liptov. It was not before establishing borders between Poland and Slovakia when both breeds started their separate development. The first attempts of planned breeding were undertaken after World War I by the two existing organisations: Polski Związek Hodowców Psów Rasowych (The Polish Association of Pedigree Dog Breeders) and Towarzystwo Milośników Psa Słužbowego (The Society of Working Dog Breeders), mainly thanks to dedicated work of prof. Maurycy Trybulski. The first standard was drawn in 1937 after the first show and breed survey, which took place in Zakopane, in the heart of the Tatras, on September 3rd -5th.
The outbreak of the War in 1939 ceased all those attempts; however the breed survived it in its native areas. Shepherds: Jan Staszel Furtok Sen., Władisław Krupa, Jan Nagłak, Stanisław Mołek, Józef Majerczyk Kasper, Władisław Stasik, Blažej Floryn Kamieńcowy, Władisław Bachleda Curuś and Józef Kalata were all breeding Tatras during the War.
After the War the local branch of the re-stablished Związek Kynologiczny w Polsce (The Polish Kennel Club) in Cracow was the first to show interest in the breed. Professors: Teodor Marchlewski, Jadwyga Dyakowska, Zygmunt Ewy, Antoni Żebracki, dr Jan Robel, Stanisław Madeyski and Lubomir Smyczynski, Marian Szymandera, Rudolf Kryspin, Emil Okarmus, Zygmunt Danek and Tadeusz Siemianowski were all involved in surveys and studies on the breed, while dr Dereziński was searching for typical specimens in Zakopane and in the Mountains.
In May 1954 the first post-war show and assessment took place in Zakopane, with some 120 dogs entered. The vast majority of them worked with sheep. After the show and meeting a new standard was drawn.
This standard was eventually accepted by FCI on August 29th, 1967 (number 252a). Small changes were introduced in 1973 and 1985 (252b). The current breed standard comes from 1988 (June 8th).
The first pedigree litter was born in 1957; interestingly, it was bred in the coastal town of Łeba by dr Danuta Hryniewicz, whose foundation stock dates from 1935. Nevertheless, the breeding centre has been and still remains Podhale.
The breed club was founded in 1981 and for many years its chairman was dr Dereziński. His dedication and knowledge of the breed is unsurpassed. There are several breed clubs abroad: in Holland, Belgium, Germany and USA as well as breed sections in the bigger clubs.
Source text: Tatra Shepherd Dog – Commentary to the FCI Standard 252 – Warszawa 2009 (ZWKP)