Moscow Watchdog: A Friendly Giant

Moscow Watchdog standing in the forest
John Walton
Written by John Walton

When you think of a Russian dog, you think of one that’s large and brutish. Of course, when we think of Russia, we also think about a large and cold country. When you actually get to Russia, it may turn out to be different from what you’d imagined. We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover—as is the case with the Moscow Watchdog. Though the Moscow Watchdog may look big and mean, this is actually a well-tempered and warm breed.

The Moscow Watchdog is no doubt a big dog. Weighing as much as a small woman, they’re definitely powerful and courageous. Obviously, they can scare some people off with their size alone. But don’t let that fool you as they actually make great family dogs. With some socialization and training, these dogs can quickly learn to adapt to their homes and families.

So, are you now curious about the Moscow Watchdog? Well, keep reading because in this article we’re going to show you everything there is to the breed. From their history to their size, you’ll get a full picture of the breed and what it entails. Then you’ll be able to decide if the Moscow Watchdog is the right breed for you and your family.

Breed Characteristics

Moscow Watchdog puppy lying

  • Adaptability: Moderate; needs quite a lot of space to move around in

  • Trainability: Moderate; not for first-time dog owners

  • Health and Grooming: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Good

  • Exercise Needs: High Maintenance

Dog Breed GroupMolosser Dogs
Height24 – 28 inches
Weight130 - 150 lbs
Lifespan 9 - 11 years

The Moscow Watchdog originally wasn’t created as a companion dog, however, over the years the breed has become a favorite for families as well.

They’re highly popular in Russia and Eastern Europe, but only recently are expanding into the United States. This is because the Moscow Watchdog was specifically designed as a niche breed which was then used within the Russian army.

When you first see the Moscow Watchdog, you may think it’s a Saint Bernard, which is half true. The other half is the Caucasian Ovcharka. They originated after World War II. Early breeders mixed these two breeds in order to get the assertiveness of the Caucasian Ovcharka and the size, strength, and temperament of Saint Bernard.

These dogs are great listeners and need to know where they stand in the pack. It’s important that the owner establishes who the leader in the pack is, making sure it doesn’t become the dog. Once properly trained, they love to be next to their leader and exploring nature.

They’re highly active dogs and need to be walked on a regular basis. Of course, they also love going off leash as well. They can be great with children and other animals, however, need to be socialized from a young age to better adapt them. Though, once they’re adapted to their homes, they will be loyal and protective till the end.

Main Highlights

wet Moscow Watchdog puppy with an owner

  • They’re huge dogs, weighing as much as a small woman

  • Though they’re giant in size, they’re not clumsy and are actually very agile

  • The Moscow Watchdog needs to have a strong owner that will establish the pack

  • Conceived after World War II, they’re a mix of Caucasian Ovcharka and the Saint Bernard

  • They need a lot of exercises as they’re large in size

  • They need consistent brushing as they can shed heavily during the shedding seasons

  • Their Russian name is Moskovskaya Storodzevay Sobaka

  • Moscow Watchdogs are highly courageous and brave dogs as they’ll do whatever it takes to guard their territory

  • Socialization from puppyhood is essential for the Moscow Watchdog

  • The breed has very few health problems

  • They require a lot of training as they need to know who’s in the pack and where they are in the pack

  • Though they look big and clumsy, they’re not couch potatoes! They love exploring the great outdoors

Breed History

Moscow Watchdog yawning

Back in the ancient world, there were Molosser-type dogs. These were giant, fierce dogs which were used during the war. From this breed, new breeds which are known to have aggressive personalities came to be.

The Moscow Watchdog was a breed that was created by Moscow dog lovers who were interested in developing a large, strong watchdog. They were looking for a dog that would be able to take instruction, follow orders with ease, and be intimidating. Naturally, breeders started with Molosser dogs as inspiration. After World War II, breeders decided to breed together the Caucasian Ovcharka and Saint Bernard. The Caucasian Ovcharka gives assertive and watchdog-like characteristics to the Moscow Watchdog while Saint Bernard gives the breed its size, strength, and warm temperament.

Over time, this breed became very popular—not only for watchdog purposes but also as companions. Yes, they may look big, but if you train them properly as a companion dog, they’re giant teddy bears. They’re highly popular in Eastern Europe and are now becoming popular in the United States.


Moscow Watchdog walking

The Moscow Watchdog is a large breed. They’re sturdy and overall just big dogs. On first impression, they look extremely powerful and not to be messed with. They weigh as much as a small woman and have a presence wherever they go.

They’re large-boned and muscular, though not as clumsy as you may think. Since they’re crossbred with a Caucasian Ovcharka and a Saint Bernard, they have the best of both worlds.

Personality and Character

Moscow Watchdog puppies playing

The Moscow Watchdog is a bold and full-figured breed which makes an excellent companion and watchdog. They are even-tempered, though they need the right owner to train them.

All dogs have a natural instinct to have an order in their pack. Thus, they need to identify which human is the leader of the pack. Then, they will have no problem following the leader. This is especially true with the Moscow Watchdog. You have to establish your position as the alpha of the pack. This is why the Moscow Watchdog may not be a suitable breed for first-time dog owners.

See Also: First-Time Dog Owner: Comprehensive Guide

They’re great dogs. However, they need to have some lines and boundaries set up in place for them. This isn’t because they’re out-of-control dogs, but rather because they’re large dogs. If you have the time and patience to train them, plus, have the space to keep them, then they’ll be a great addition to your home.

Health and Potential Problems

Moscow Watchdog lying in grass

Like all breeds, they have their own health issues. Some breeds have more problems than others. However, the Moscow Watchdog is relatively healthy with only a couple of inheritable health problems.

Of course, their food, level of exercise, living environment, and vaccinations all contribute to their health. This is why food and physical activity are so important. Here are some of the health issues that you should be mindful of:

#1: Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)

Because the Moscow Watchdog is such a large breed, this means that their stomachs are prone to flipping over its axis. What happens is that gas is trapped in their stomach, which causes life-threatening bloat.

See Also: Bloat in Dogs

In order to prevent this, you should make sure your dog is provided with high-quality dog food and rests after each meal for at least 90 minutes.

#2: Hip Dysplasia

This is a hereditary condition. Thus, you’ll be able to find out if your dog has it by looking at their parents. Hip dysplasia can be very painful and causes inflammation. There are pain-relieving medications. However, surgery will often be needed.

Care Features

Moscow Watchdog puppies

Like all breeds, it’s important that you provide them with an adequate amount of exercise per day. Of course, some breeds are less active while others need two or three walks a day.

The Moscow Watchdog is a large breed which requires an adequate amount of physical activity. You’ll need to take your Moscow Watchdog on daily walks or jogs. The Moscow Watchdog is a working breed. Thus, they enjoy physical activity and exploring their surroundings.

While walking your Moscow Watchdog, it’s important that you make the dog heel next to you as you need to make sure that this breed knows who the owner is. If not, they can quickly take the leader position. Of course, you can allow them off leash; however, first, you have to make sure that it is safe to do so.

Feeding Schedule

Moscow Watchdog eating

Like all breeds, it’s important that you provide your Moscow Watchdog with a high-quality diet. They’re going to be eating this food for the rest of their life, so, you want to make sure that the food will provide them with the proper nutrition they need.

The Moscow Watchdog is an active breed, so you’ll want to make sure that their food consists of enough proteins and complex carbs to sustain them throughout the day.

It’s best that you consult your vet regarding the brand of food as it will depend on the age, activity level, and health issues that your dog has. Naturally, you always want to make sure that they also have a fresh, clean bowl of water available throughout the day.

See Also: What are the Best Dog Food Brands?

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The Moscow Watchdog has a thick, medium-length coat which is always red and white in color. Though you may think the coat needs a lot of attention, it’s actually not true. The Moscow Watchdog’s coat doesn’t require professional grooming, unless, that is, you’re not a fan of doing it yourself. You really only need to give your dog a weekly brushing to remove dead cells from their coat as they’re moderate shedders.

Since they have a medium length coat, it can become tangly or knotted if you’re not maintaining their coat. When this happens, it can become quite a pain. Thus, a weekly brushing will do the trick. When it comes to bathing, you simply give them a bath when they start to smell or once a month.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Moscow Watchdog and a child

Though they’re a large breed, the Moscow Watchdog can be a very good family dog. Most people, when thinking about the Moscow Watchdog, assume that they’re aggressive, but it’s not true.

Though they are bred to protect and guard their territory, if trained properly and with the right family, they can be an amazing addition. Owner of the Moscow Watchdog must be willing to trainer their dog as it’ll take a lot of time to get them adjusted to family life. However, through proper training, they’ll understand their place in the family and behave well around children.

If you have other animals, you’ll have to adjust them slowly. However, it’s not impossible for them to get along with other animals in the home.

Wrap Up

Moscow Watchdog and her puppy

If you’re looking for an energetic, intelligent, and active breed, then why not choose the Moscow Watchdog? Sure, they’re a little big, but if you have the space for them, they’ll be happy.

They’re not completely reliant on human attention which is good especially if you work during the day. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’ll be able to give them the attention and exercise they need because if not, they can definitely do some damage when bored.

Though they love being around their family, they’re not completely dependent on them, so, they don’t mind guarding the house or the backyard. In fact, that’s what they’re bred to do. But you want to make sure that you socialization them with children and other dogs so that they lose a bit of their protectiveness.

Other than that, they are low-maintenance dogs which only need once weekly brushing to keep their coat healthy and shiny.

So, if you like working out and want a giant pup next to you on your walks, then why not get yourself a Moscow Watchdog? As you can see, the Moscow Watchdog is protective, loyal, and well-mannered. In your family, they’ll be the big friendly giant.

Now that you know all about the Moscow Watchdog, do you think this is the breed for you? Or perhaps you’re already living with a Moscow Watchdog? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments section below! Wondering what to name your newly-adopted Moscow Watchdog? Check out our article on military dog names.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.