The culture and country of origin
In Armenia, the gampr is commonly referred to as both a chobani shoon (shepards dog) and as a gampr. There, those are general terms, which we are seeking to clarify in order help promote and preserve this great breed. The gampr has been in Caucasian mountains, also known as the Armenian Highland, for thousands of years. The divisions amongst the related breeds have been relatively recent, which leads to some blurring of the definitionsThey have been called 'caucasian shepherds dogs' for centuries, and although the FCI 'Caucasian Ovcharka(Ovcharka is a Russian word for shepherd)' is now generally a show dog, a fighting dog and more commandable, it is has been changed from the original type. During the Soviet era, many dogs were taken to the Red Star Kennel and other places and were subjected to an intense breeding program, the progeny of which are now registered FCI as Caucasian Ovcharka, Alabai, etc. These breeds often had inclusions of german shepherd, doberman, rottweiler, bulldog etc. The dogs coming from this program, and others, emerged with very long pedigrees, but also many genetic faults that come with 'line breeding' and other practices that are used to 'improve' a breed. However, dogs with long pedigrees and an impressive physical appearance are often perceived as more valuable than the dogs living in the mountains without papers or written history. The papered dogs are frequently imported back into Armenia, cross-bred with the native stock, and mistakenly considered pure. The AGCA seeks to find and promote the original, 'un-improved' dogs from the mountains in Armenia. This can be difficult. Many of the dogs imported here to the USA have a parent or grandparent that happens to be alabai, Caucasian Ovcharka, or Kangal. The dogs here in the USA are, on average, about 75% geneticaly pure. It is our goal to improve this through providing guidance for prospective buyers. A winning fighter or show dog is not necessarily a pure dog. We as a group do NOT support or endorse any particular breeder or kennel in Armenia, but will seek to find individual dogs in the mountains with verifiable lineage.
The club in Armenia
The Gabrielyan family and others have obtained recognition of the Armenian Gampr with the IKU, see
There have been several shows in Armenia. See http://kinologia.am/ for more information. The next show will
be April 20, 2014. The type that is popular to show is Ark'unakan, the historical companion of Armenian nobility.
The Shepherds dogs: Hovashoon
In the USA, we are very interested in importing the native working type - and that means mainly working as a sheep, farm and home guardian. There are Yezidi Kurds and Armenian shepherds in Armenia still using the gampr primarily for it's original purpose. In Armenia, working dogs do end up in the fighting ring at times, but it is not necessarily their main occupation, and they still must be able to do their regular work. Ideally, this type of dog is what we would like to import. Looking for a puppy? Go find a shepherd, observe the entire family of dogs, then pick your puppy. Often there will be a variety of characteristics in each litter, but observing the whole family of related dogs will give an idea of how the puppies will mature.
Yes, Dogfighting happens
...but that is not an activity that the AGCA supports, we are not involved in any way in fighting. However, it is part of the culture from which the gampr has come, and must be faced honestly.
Dogfighting happens. It's not honorable or admirable, but the dogs do not sustain the damage that more vulnerable breeds do.
The concern for the dogs safety is more a genetic concern than a physical one. Champions are popular, they get bred more than plain working dogs. If the goal is to win, and an impure dog is a recent champion, then many bitches may get bred by that champion, in hopes of creating more winners. But not all puppies in a litter are good prospects, so the extras are sold off, and their impure genetics are spread. It is hard to find a professional breeder in Armenia who does not have one eye on the fighting ring - and therefore will likely have a few impure dogs as well as purebred.