The Armenian Gampr is an Armenian dog breed. It is one of a number of livestock guardians that can be called ovcharka. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Armenian Gampr is a formidable animal that can nonetheless be well-suited for someone with the right expertise and experience.
1. Is Indeed from Armenia
It is common for dog breeds to be named for the place of their origin. However, such labels can be misleading. Sometimes, a dog breed is so old that its place of origin isn’t clear, meaning that such a label is more a guess than anything else. Other times, a dog breed is named for a place even though it has either no or next-to-no connection to it. Having said that, the Armenian Gampr isn’t one of those dog breeds. Instead, it did indeed originate from Armenia.
2. Originated in the Armenian Highlands
To be exact, the Armenian Gampr originated in the Armenian Highlands, which is one of the three plateaus that can be found in the northern part of Western Asia. The region is named thus because it is the historical homeland of said people. However, it is interesting to note that the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire split it into two parts in 387 AD. By the early 20th century, the western part was held by the Ottoman Empire. As a result, its once-sizable Armenian population was reduced to a much smaller number of Crypto-Armenians who have started making tentative steps to reclaim their heritage in recent times.
As mentioned earlier, the Armenian Gampr is one of a number of dog breeds that can be called an ovcharka. However, it is something of a stand-out in that it is still a landrace. This means that the Armenian Gampr hasn’t been subjected to generation after generation of focused breeding to make it conform to a specific set of characteristic. Instead, it has come about through a more natural process of adaptation to both its cultural environment and its natural environment. It isn’t uncommon for people to create a standardized dog breed by using a dog landrace, so it will be interesting to see if something similar happens to the Armenian Gampr in the times to come.
4. More Genetically-Diverse
On the plus side, this means that the Armenian Gampr is more genetically-diverse, which is a rather nice-sounding way of saying that it is less inbred. This is good because this reduces the chances for a wide range of serious medical problems. However, interested individuals should also remember that this means that Armenian Gamprs aren’t as consistent as their standardized counterparts.
5. Might Have Some Wolf in Them
Technically, every single dog has some wolf in them because every single dog is descended from wolves. However, there are some dogs that have more wolf than most because of more recent wolf ancestors. Supposedly, this is the case for Armenian Gamprs because these dogs will sometimes mate with wolves in the same region. Something that a scientific study suggests is common for livestock guardians held in a traditional manner because of the existence of both dogs with recent wolf descent and wolves with recent dog descent in the same region.
6. Contributed to Other Ovcharkas
It is believed that Armenian Gamprs contributed to the creation of the Caucasian Ovcharka. In short, what happened is that Soviet breeders took dogs from all around the Caucasus mountains before proceeding to use them to breed something even better-suited for their particular purposes. Something that was possible because of Soviet control of the region. Armenia was one of the places that contributed dogs to the project along with other regions such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Dagestan.
7. Took On New Significance in 1991
The Armenian Gampr took on new significance in 1991. For those who are unfamiliar, this was when Armenia regained its independence after having been a part of the Soviet Union. As a result, it was like a lot of other countries at around that time in that it started looking for new symbols as well as new ways to affirm its identity. Armenian Gamprs benefited from that new sense of enthusiasm, as shown by how they had their first breed standard drawn up in the 1990s.
8. Meant to Take On Dangerous Animals
As mentioned earlier, livestock guardian is the traditional role of Armenian Gamprs. Naturally, this means that there are dangerous animals that necessitated them. In particular, Armenian Gamprs are meant to protect goats and sheep from wolves in upland pastures. However, they have had to take on other dangerous animals as well. One example would be the Persian leopard, which still lives in the Caucasus plus other neighboring regions. Another example would be Syrian brown bears, which might be on the smaller side of things but are still formidable animals from non-bear perspectives.
9. Aloof and Independent
Personality-wise, Armenian Gamprs are said to be aloof and independent. As a result, they aren’t the best choice for someone with no previous experience with dogs whatsoever. However, Armenian Gamprs are capable of getting along with their families. In fact, they are actually said to have a soft spot for children. Of course, even if this is the case, interested individuals should make sure to always supervise children interacting with large dogs for the safety of both parties. Besides this, Armenian Gamprs are apparently not particularly interested in getting along with other dogs, which should be considered one more reason for early socialization.
10. More Susceptible to Musculoskeletal Issues
Armenian Gamprs are a landrace. Thanks to this, they aren’t as prone to serious medical problems as some of the other dog breeds out there. However, interested individuals might want to keep an eye out for musculoskeletal issues in their old age because of their huge size. Exercise-wise, Armenian Gamprs aren’t particularly energetic, though they are still going to need exercise on a daily basis to maintain their health and happiness.