Labeled as Gampr by the shelter, a volunteer rescuer pulled sight unseen
To understand the importance of proper identification, it is necessary to first have a basic understanding by reading What is a Gampr, then take a look at the Breed Description, which also includes a mention of what is NOT a gampr. Finally, we describe the problems facing the breed with fighting dogs, also known as Eurasian Gladiators, which leads to false labeling here in the US.
Since the beginning of AGCA, there have been ZERO club-affiliated Armenian Gamprs in shelters (that we have ever heard of). There have been very few re-homes, but those are often handled internally, usually with AGCA networking help. However, Eurasian gladiator types in the Los Angeles area shelters are occasionally improperly labeled as Gampr. There have been legitimate Gamprs, but more on that below.
In the last couple of decades, many Eurasian Gladiators, falsely labeled as Gampr (per the breeder in Armenia), have been independently imported to the greater Los Angeles area. Many years later, many of these dogs have reproduced and are still being called "gampr" when they were actually descendants of fighting mixes and other breeds. Many breeders and importers in the greater Los Angeles area own dogs who have been purposefully bred to be meaner, more aggressive, and typically, extremely large. Many of these dogs are later cast off when they no longer want to deal with behavioral issues and often end up in a shelter.
To make matters worse, even the most well-known breeders in Armenian are fraudulently selling mixed and fighting dogs to unsuspecting farms and homesteads in the US who think they are buying a Gampr. In the past, these breeders were more trustworthy and have had many great dogs, but in the last few years have started participating in dog fighting and scamming buyers who do not know breed differences. AGCA is not affiliated with these kennel breeders but is aware of the situation and is trying to combat it with public education.
Often these type of dogs arrive at a shelter with short ears that look similar to a Gampr. Sometimes per the owner, and at other times a shelter volunteer decides, they are labeled Gampr and made available for adoption. AGCA often gets contacted about these mixes through word of mouth or the website. Our breed is difficult for some to understand, and understandably so, many shelters do not know the breed, nor do most understand the placement risks or appropriate behavior.
Gladiator dogs are not Gamprs; they are not livestock guardian dogs. When Gladiator dogs need pulling from shelters, it is a problematic situation since these dogs typically do not possess the correct instincts for self-control and gentleness with children or livestock. Therefore, placing in homes with children, livestock, or individuals who lack profound dog behavior knowledge is incredibly risky since they are no longer Gampr Some of these dogs may be great dogs, but it's a risky decision.
The same dog in the photo above, after pick up from the shelter, obviously not a Gampr, but rehomed anyway. Afterwards, the dog ended up attacking her owner twice, unfortunately resulting in euthanasia.
Prior Rescue Work
in years past
During the start up of AGCA, our founder, Rohana Mayer, rescued many Gampr, gladiator type dogs, and random mixes. With diligent outreach, new volunteers arose to help pull from shelters and homes that stepped up for placement. There were, at times, terrible results, especially with the gladiator types. There were too many that could not work with livestock. Some dogs caused great harm to people, livestock, or other dogs.
One dog, in particular (see photos above), attacked her new owner, resulting in euthanasia. The shelter staff assured us the dog was an Armenian Gampr, so we coordinated volunteers to pull her sight unseen. It was clear once seeing the dog in person that it was not Gampr but looked like a Malinois/Retriever-type mix. Still, the volunteers took her because the shelter wanted her gone asap. She was re-homed but unfortunately turned out as a failed rescue.
Gladiator type but labeled as Gampr in shelter. He rescued but rehabilitation failed due to aggressiveness, lack of self control, zero LGD ability. Failed placement.
in years past
There have been times a dog was mislabeled as Gampr, and when AGCA didn't offer placement, there was negative feedback from some rescue community members. It was said that AGCA does not care, that they are “sick of seeing our breed dumped at the shelters.” We are equally saddened each time we see any dog show up in a shelter, all breeds, even the Eurasian Gladiator dogs. It is heartbreaking and unfortunate.
We must, however, understand the difference between a true Armenian Gampr and an incorrectly labeled dog and realize that our livestock homes, which is the majority of our community, are typically not the place to test unknown, mixed-dogs. The placement of dogs is a serious task and a potential danger to our network of farms, livestock, and families.
Currently, there aren't any homes within our network that have placement for temperamentally failed mixes or risky fighting lines but do work diligently with reputable rescues helping stable dogs in need on an individual basis.