The people who lived in this area and populated it long ago were engaged in animal husbandry as a result of the geographic location of the Republic of Macedonia, its natural resources, the beautiful mountain regions abounding with vegetation, the high hilly planes and the spacious pastures. Sheep husbandry was formerly one of the most developed branches of animal husbandry and contributed to the development of one of the most charismatic dog breeds – the SHARPLANINEC.
According to the existing knowledge and assumptions, the history of this breed originates a long time ago. These areas are known for many archaeological sites. They serve as proof of the civilizations that once lived here. The analysis of the old settlements’ remnants of which some are Neolithic has revealed dog-shaped objects and ornaments. Not just any type of dog, but a molossoid breed which partially proves the proposition that the ancestors of the modern SHARPLANINEC lived here.
Some history analysts think and assume that the progenitors of the modern Sharplaninec were brought by Alexander the Great when retreating from Asia which is related to the found images of the surrounding of this ruler showing molossoid dogs that look like the modern Sharplaninec. According to some assumptions, the ancestors of the Sharplaninec were brought during the Migration period in Asia. However, new researches have shown that it comes from the Balkan Peninsula i.e. from the mountain massifs in Macedonia (Mt. Shar Planina, Mt. Korab, Mt. Stogovo, Mt. Bistra, and Mt. Mavrovo).
During the past centuries, when Macedonia was under the Turksih Empire, the households – people, stock, and dogs – were being registered in the so-called “dveteri” books. These books were used for keeping records of tax collection and were protected in the History Archive. According to them, there were 12,000 sheep and 700 Sharplaninec dogs in 1901 in Galichnik alone. The Kennel Association of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed in the 1920s when Macedonia was under the rule of this kingdom. This is when the first cynological researches in the SHARPLANINEC breed, which was still unrecognized in that time, began. They were conducted until 1939 when the breed was officially recognized under No. 41 by FCI.
After the Second World War, when Macedonia was one of the six postwar Yugoslav republics, cynology developed on a larger scale. In that period of time the number of Sharplaninec dogs being bred started to grow slowly which led to transferring many quality specimens from the mountains to the urban area in an attempt to modernize and urbanise the breed thus contributing to its popularization.
Due to this popularity, the dogs were being transferred from the summer mountain pastures to the other republics within Yugoslavia and countries in Western Europe in the period between the 1960s and 1990s. A great number of these quality dogs ended up in the Yugoslav People’s Army centres where they were bred as working dogs. The Army played a key role in the breeding of Sharplaninec dogs.
After Yugoslavia’s disintegration in the beginning of the 1990s a greater number of kennels for Sharplaninec dogs were registered in Macedonia and Serbia which afterwards became a world trend. Yugoslavia was the native country of the Sharplaninec and several other dog breeds which the FCI awarded to the states that were created after Yugoslavia’s disintegration. Thus Serbia and Macedonia became native countries of the Yugoslav sheep dog SHARPLANINAC.
Macedonian institutions considered the Sharplaninec as national pride, so they decided to dedicate the one denar coin to it. It has deserved to have its own image on this coin. Its image has also been placed on a stamp issued by the Macedonian Post. When it comes to the Macedonian Sharplaninec, it is important to emphasise some experts’ opinions. What is significant is that: “The key traits were inherited by the dog that lived in Macedonia many years ago.” This breed is still present and widespread in the areas of the high mountain pastures on the massifs in Macedonia. The largest number of Sharplaninec dogs was found on Shar Planina which is where his name comes from. It is a robust and sturdy dog. It is covered in long, thick and coarse hair. It is stout and very calm and docile by temperament, but can be quite fierce if necessary.