10 Things You Didn’t Know about The Tornjak


The Tornjak is a dog breed best-known for being used as livestock guardians. It came from Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Croatia. However, the Tornjak has since managed to make its way to other countries as well to guard livestock.

1. Comes from a Landrace

The foundation stock for the Tornjak came from a landrace. This means dogs that have been shaped over time by their adaptation to their natural environment as well as their cultural environment, which is very much not the same as the much more deliberate process used to create standardized breeds. Regardless, it isn’t uncommon for landraces to provide the foundation stocks for standardized breeds, which is something that has happened in the past, is happening in the present, and will continue to happen in the future.

2. Native to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tornjaks are native to two countries. One would be Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the other would be Croatia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bosnia and Herzegovina refer to the two main regions of the country, with Bosnia being the northern part and Herzegovina being the southern part. However, it is interesting to note that the latter has never had strictly-defined borders in either a cultural sense, a geographical sense, or even an administrative sense.

3. Native to Croatia

Meanwhile, Croatia was another one of the countries that emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia. It is bordered by five countries on land as well as a sixth country on the sea, which makes sense because it is something of a crossroads in Central and Southeast Europe. In the present time, Croatia is considered to be a high-income economy, though it is still considered to be a developing country rather than a developed country.

4. Used as Livestock Guardians

In modern times, Tornjaks are seeing use in a wider range of roles. However, they started out as livestock guardians, meaning that they were responsible for protecting valuable livestock from potential predators. This was an extremely important responsibility, so it should come as no surprise to learn that its influence can be seen throughout Tornjak characteristics.

5. Came from Mountainous Places

Speaking of which, Tornjaks had a strong association with mountains. This makes sense because of the difference between land that can be used for farming and land that can be used for pasturing. Even if a particular piece of land couldn’t support farming, it might still prove useful by being capable of supporting pasturing.

However, this created a need for the livestock to travel, which in turn, created a need for various ways to protect them. After all, such land tended to be more out-of-the-way. there was a need to avoid over-grazing such land, which could make it unusable for years and years to come. On top of this, it should be mentioned that the Balkans are mountainous, so much so that balkan means “chain of wooded mountains” in modern Turkish.

6. Big, Powerful Dogs

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tornjaks are big and well-built, which tend to be combined with a certain smoothness of motion. Moreover, most of them have long, dense hairs that form manes over their neck as well as breeches on the back of their upper thighs.

7. Meant to Take On Predators

These characteristics are necessary because Tornjaks are meant to take on predators if necessary. This can be seen in how these dogs aren’t particularly aggressive but are prepared to go up against bigger animals if they believe it to be necessary. Supposedly, there is a saying in their home regions that one Tornjak is a fair match for two wolves while two Tornjaks can chase off a bear. Something that speaks volumes about their prowess.

8. Quite Social

On a semi-related note, Tornjaks have a reputation for being quite social. They can get along quite well with their human families, so much so that they have a reputation for being emotional in the latter’s presence. Furthermore, Tornjaks are capable of living in packs with either no or next-to-no friction between the members. Of course, this changes when it comes to strangers. Once again, these dogs aren’t particularly aggressive. However, there are very real limits to what they will and will not tolerate in their presence, meaning that they are capable of going on the attack if they feel that it needs to be done.

9. Not a Good Option for Apartment Living

Chances are good that interested individuals can guess this. However, if it needs to be said, Tornjaks are not a good choice for apartment living. These dogs aren’t extremely energetic, meaning that their exercise needs aren’t particularly demanded compared to some of the other options out there. Even so, Tornjaks do their best when they have a fair amount of space to roam around in.

In fact, it is worth mentioning that their thick coats provide them with plenty of protection from the elements, meaning that they can do quite well when living outdoors rather than indoors. If interested individuals choose this option for their dog, they should make sure to look into everything that needs to be prepared. One example would be convenient access to food, water, shelter, and something that the dog can occupy themselves with, but it is important to note that this would be but one of numerous considerations.

10. Came Close to Extinction

Tornjaks can trace their roots quite a few centuries into the past. For example, there are mentions of them in documents from the 11th to 14th centuries. Furthermore, they are Molossers from a region that isn’t very far from the ancient homeland of the Molossus, meaning that it is quite possible that there is a connection there as well. However, Tornjaks are like a lot of other working dogs in that they came very close to extinction in the 20th century because of a decline in the need for the services that they provided. Fortunately, local dog enthusiasts managed to preserve the breed in the early 1970s, which is why these dogs are still with us in the present time.

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