Polish Tatra Sheepdog Temperament: The Gentle Protector



There’s a lot to love about the Polish Tatra Sheepdog temperament. He is a livestock guardian dog (LSG) with a gentle nature. But he is also brave enough to face a pack of wolves.

This breed is not for an inexperienced dog owner. The independence he needs to do his job well makes him difficult to train.

But the Tatra is a loving and devoted breed. In the right hands, he can contentedly transition to family life.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Temperament

1. Intelligent

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog is a textbook example of a “thinking dog.” He is a clever strategist when it comes to fending off a wolf (or an entire pack of them).

2. Independent

As with most LGDs, the Polish Tatra Sheepdog is an independent thinker. He often needs to make instinctive decisions.

3. Loyal

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog temperament is faithful. He is devoted to his flock and his humans.

4. Protective

This is the hallmark of the Polish Tatra Sheepdog temperament, as with all LGDs.

5. Gentle

He is usually gentle with children, just as he is with the sheep he protects. Children will need to be taught to treat him with respect, though, simply because of his size.

6. Courageous

This breed is known for its bravery. A Tatra Shepherd Dog will not hesitate to face down wolves or any other threat to his charges.

7. Vigilant

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog is always alert to what’s going on in his territory. He is an ideal watchdog.

8. Vocal

Barking is a natural part of the Polish Tatra Sheepdog temperament. It’s critical to how he does his job.

He will bark at anything he finds suspicious, which makes him a great watchdog.

9. Calm

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog temperament is relaxed and easygoing until he senses a threat to his flock. He is usually calm and quiet in the house.

10. Friendly

He is happy to meet people, dogs, and other animals. He will bark to alert to suspicious strangers, but he is not aggressive toward humans.

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog will attack predators when he’s provoked but only as a last resort.

11. Hardy

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog temperament needs to be tough. They sleep outside with their flocks, even in the winter. They have thick, weatherproof coats for comfort in a cold mountain climate.

12. Adaptable

The Tatra Mountain Sheepdog adapts very well to indoor family living, as long as he gets enough outdoor exercise each day.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog History

His origins are not completely known, but the Tatra Mountain Dog is an ancient breed. They originated in Southern Poland.

The breed is believed to be descended from the Molosser dogs of Greece and Turkey. Some historians think the Tibetan Mastiff is one of his ancestors, which would mean that he has Asian roots as well.


The Tatra is a mountain dog whose primary job has been guarding sheep. But they are also used for other jobs. In some cases, they work as shepherds in the warmer months and in town in the winter, hauling carts for dairy farmers and bakers.

Some become police or military dogs. Others are mountain guides, and still, others are kept like sheep for the harvesting of their fur to be made into wool.


The Tatra Mountain Sheepdog came near to extinction during the communist rule of Poland. The breed was revived in the 1960s, probably with the help of the Hungarian Kuvasz. The Kuvasz is another large white LGD.

Three Polish Tatra Sheepdogs were brought to the US in the 1980s, and the breed spread to Canada shortly after that. It is sometimes used to guard livestock against coyotes. But it is more often kept as a family pet.

The breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1995.

The Tatra Shepherd Dog is still a rare dog outside of Poland, but it is growing in popularity in Europe and in North America.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Training

In order to do his job properly, the Polish Tatra Sheepdog needs to an independent thinker with a strong will. These dogs were designed to be self-sufficient.

He works without human supervision most of the time. He often needs to make his own decisions.

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog traits that make an excellent shepherd also make him a training challenge.

He needs a strong trainer who is willing to be an alpha leader. He needs strict rules that are consistently enforced. Otherwise, he will trust his own instincts before he will trust yours.

You may also have to train him to control his barking. If he doesn’t have a natural flock to tend to, he will make his human family his flock.

He may take it upon himself to be “on duty” anytime he senses something unusual. His first line of defense is to bark an alert. This may be considered nuisance behavior by close neighbors.

With good training and socialization, the Polish Tatra Sheepdog can make a devoted and loving house pet. All the same, he will likely need refresher obedience training throughout his life.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Polish Tatra Sheepdog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Appearance

General Appearance

The Tatra is a very large dog with a powerful, compact build. He has a rectangular shape with slightly sloping back and shoulders.

He has a large head with a slightly rounded skull and a square muzzle. His ears are rather high-set and triangular. The eyes are dark brown with a gentle but alert expression. His nose is black.

His most striking feature is his beautiful coat. The Tatra is always white with no markings of any other color.

The outer coat is long and coarse to the touch. The inner coat is also thick and very dense.

His tail is thick, bushy, and set high. The tip can be curved slightly. When he’s excited, he carries it high. Otherwise, it hangs straight down.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Size

Average Polish Tatra Sheepdog weight is 80 to 130 pounds.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog height averages 24 to 28 inches.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Information

Other Names

  • Polish Tatra Sheepdog.
  • Tatra Shepherd Dog.
  • Polish Mountain Sheepdog.
  • Polish Mountain Dog.
  • Tatra Mountain Sheepdog.
  • Polish Mountain Herder.
  • Owczarek Podhalannski.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Lifespan

The life expectancy of this breed is 10 to 12 years.

The Polish Tatra at Work

This dog has a very interesting working life. He’s a mountain dog from the Carpathian Mountains in the Podhale region of Poland. For centuries, he has worked as a sheepherder and guardian.

It is unusual to find this combination in one dog. Where most herders round up livestock by nipping at their heels, the Tatra uses his body to nudge them in the direction he wants them to go.

The beauty of this combination is demonstrated in his style of guarding. When a predator approaches, he will not pursue it. Instead, he will herd the sheep into tight little groups and stand his ground.

Rather than attack, he will place his body between the predator and the sheep. He attacks only as a last resort when a predator gets too close.

This keeps the sheep from panicking and running. It is because of Polish Tatra Sheepdog behaviors like this that he is considered a thinking dog.

As above, this dog is quite versatile and has been used for other types of work as well.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Health Issues

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog is a very healthy breed with no known issues. However, there are a few conditions that are common in large breeds.

  • Hip dysplasia. A malformation of a dog’s hip joint that results in lameness, arthritis, and eventual loss of function.
  • Patellar luxation. Displacement of a kneecap.
  • Bloat. Also called gastric torsion. This is a medical emergency, so you should know the symptoms.

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your doggy friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.

Caring for the Polish Tatra Sheepdog

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Grooming

This dog’s gorgeous coat is self-cleaning for the most part. He rarely needs a bath, but he does need brushing several times a week. Otherwise, be prepared to vacuum a lot.

He will “blow his coat” in the late spring when he is an even heavier shedder. He will need daily brushing during that time.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Diet

This dog would do well on high-quality dry food, but you may want to consider a large breed formula.

If he is a working dog, he may need food formulated for active or working dogs.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Exercise

The Tatra Shepherd Dog has a moderately high exercise need. They are not very active when inside, but outside they are very energetic.

They are used to patrolling large areas and have developed a need to walk. As a result, they need an open rural area or a fenced-in yard to roam in and a good long walk every day.

This breed does not make a good apartment dog because of its size and its tendency to bark.

Finding a Polish Tatra Sheepdog

Finding a Polish Tatra Sheepdog Breeder

This breed is still considered rare in North America, but it is possible to find a Polish Tatra Sheepdog puppy.

At the time of this writing, we found several breeders in the US and Canada. An Internet search should turn them up.

You could also try the American Tatra breed club, the Polish Tatra Shepherd Dog Club of America (PTSCA). They maintain a breeder directory on their site.

There are also a number of videos on YouTube featuring this breed. Some posters give contact information.

Facebook dog owners’ groups are another good way to connect with current owners who could recommend a breeder.

Expect Polish Tatra Sheepdog cost to be from $800 to $1500. You may also be put on a waiting list for an upcoming litter of Polish Tatra Sheepdog puppies.

Vetting the Breeder

When you find a breeder, be very careful. You should first get trustworthy recommendations from one of the sources above. You don’t want to buy a dog from a puppy mill.

If you do, you may not get what you’re expecting. Most people choose a breed based on typical traits and temperament for that breed.

If you buy from an unethical breeder or puppy mill, you’ll be less likely to get the Polish Tatra Sheepdog traits you’re hoping for. These people breed their dogs with no concern for their “trueness to type.”

Worse, they do not care about the health or the genetic soundness of the individual dog or the breed.

These breeders often inbreed their dogs as well. This can cause all sorts of problems in the puppies they produce.

Worst of all, they usually keep their dogs in inhumane conditions. These dogs have no quality of life.

Buying a puppy from breeders like these would be perpetuating a cruel practice.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog Rescue/Adoption

If you would prefer to find a Polish Tatra Sheepdog for adoption, you probably won’t find one at your local shelter.

The breed is gaining popularity, though. It can’t hurt to alert area shelters that you’re looking for one.

Your best bet will probably be the PTCA website. They keep a breeder directory.

There are so many advantages to adopting an adult dog rather than a puppy. If the dog comes from a shelter or rescue, it will be spayed or neutered.

The dog will be up to date on its immunizations and may even be microchipped. Finally, the do will probably already be housebroken.

With an adult dog, its personality will already be formed. Hopefully, you will have a chance to spend time with the dog. You can get a sense of whether you and the dog are a good fit for each other.

That’s hard to do with a puppy. If you can’t find one locally and need to have one shipped, it's not possible at all.

Most importantly, you would have the joy of providing a good home to a dog that needs one.

Is the Polish Tatra Sheepdog the Right Breed for You?

The Polish Tatra is a working dog that can make the transition to family life quite well. But he needs proper training and socialization in order to do that.

This breed needs an experienced dog owner to help him make that transition. He is used to making his own decisions, not to following commands.

If you can commit to this for the life of the dog, the loving and loyal Polish Tatra Sheepdog temperament may be just what you’re looking for. If not, another breed would be a better choice for you.