The Tornjak Dog Breed

Shepherd Dog Tornjak guarding

The Tornjak sat in silence as it watched the the flock. The Shepherd was fast asleep in his hut. It was up to this dog now. With every breath a puff of steam came out of it’s nostrils. It was cold and dark on this Croatian night. Suddenly a scent in the air brings this Tornjak dog to attention! Wolves! With a bark and a bellow it alerted the other guard dogs to the threat and off they go bounding towards the source of the scent. The Tornjak stands tall at the edge of the flock as the wolves run off as a warning to others!

This was the typical job for the Tornjak. Breeders created these dogs to guard sheep flocks. Because of their protective qualities and relaxeed attitude these dogs make great family dogs and are good for new owners. Herders also know the Tornjak Dog Breed as the Bosnian Herzegovinian and Toraši (Torashi) in areas surrounding Croatia.

The Tornjak History

Tornjak Showing Group

This dog breed is ancient! Historians found records with this dog as far back as the 11th century. Writing exist about this dog from 1067. Peter Horvat, (a bishop of Đakovo, Croatia) wrote about these dogs in 1374. Others wrote about this dog in later years. Descriptions of these dogs from the 11th and 14th century are the same as the dogs today.

The Romans used to use dogs like this in war. They also fought these dogs in the arena. Breeders eventually bred this dog to be sheep guardian. As the flocks of sheep dissapeared, so did the Tornjak. The breeds numbers dwindled until the 1970s when a group of dog enthusiasts collected the dogs that resembled this breed and started recreating the breed based on writings from the past. People started importing Tornjaks into the UK starting in 2013.

Where did the Tornjak Come From?

The Tornjak originally came from from Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Croatia. These dogs exist in and around the and in the Dinaric Alps.

What Were They Bred For?

Breeders created the Tornjak as a shepherding and livestock guard. During the early days of Roman times these dogs were also used in dog fights for sport as well as War!

Are They a Pure Breed?


Tornjaks at a Glance

Good For Families
Tolerates Other Pets
Prey Drive
Health Score
Energy Level
Space Needs
Good for New Owners

Physical Traits

Tornjak on road

This dog is stocky and with a square build. It’s a medium to larger sized dog and very powerful. The Tornjak’s coat is a double-coat, with the inner layer being very thick for harsh winters. Any coat color is acceptable with white, black, red and yellow being the most prevalent.

They have longer hair around the neck. This was thought to maybe protect the dog during fights but certainly keeps it warm. They also have longer hear on their upper thighs or breeches.

The markings helped to distinguish this dogs from the herders livestock.

Breed Standard

Tornjak Size

  • Male: 25–28 inches (63–72 cm)
  • Female: 23–26 inches (58–65 cm)

Height measurements are always from the ground to the highest point of a dog’s shoulder blades. The highest point on a dogs shoulder-blades are known as the withers.


Female Breeds has a weight of 27 and 40 kg while Male breed is at 35 and 50 kg.


Tornjak Showing

The Tornjak is fairly easy to groom. They have two coats. A weekly brushing will keep these dogs looking good. During shedding season they will need more brushing as they shed their undercoat. Also brush or bath when dirty. Giving them an occasional bath will keep them clean.

Check their nails to make sure they are not split or cracked and trim as needed.

Check their ears to make sure they are not full of debris or wax and clean as needed.

Do They Drool?


Best Climate for the Tornjak

This type of dog can tolerate heat and cold.


Tornjak is a type of dog that is good for family. this type of dog is a quiet and respectful dog but if the situation arises, they are more than capable of becoming defensive and even aggressive and territorial. They are not typically nervous and are courageous when guarding their livestock on farms. Devoted with their owners, they are known to be affectionate and loyal.

How Easy are They to Train?

Tornjak is a shepherd and guard dog. They are naturally easy to train. They are also smart and devoted to the pack. These dogs are attentive to their owners and eager to please!

Do They Tolerate Other Pets?

The Tornjak gets long easily with other pets. They have adapted to living harmoniously in packs of dogs and tend to get on well with other canine pets in the household.

Are They Good for Families?

Tornjak is good for families and children. by its nature they are respectful and loyal to their owners. They were bred to be protectors and will protect children and other members of the family. They are also very social and friendly.

Do They Have a Strong Prey Drive?

Turnjak side

These dogs have a fairly normal Prey drive. These dogs were bred to protect cattle and are really more focused on guarding from threats. They can be easily trained not to chase small prey.

Are They Social With Other People?

These dogs can very sociable with people. They are especially social outside of the herding environment or when they are not protecting their herd. These days that mostly means it’s human family. 🙂

Is The Tornjak Dog Good for New Owners?

The Tornjak is a great dog for new owners that have a lot of space. They are very social, respectful, and easy to train.


This dog is a healthy breed in general. They live to be a decent age for their size. With few health issues except for ones common to large dogs these dogs will make a great companion without breaking the bank in health bills!

The Tornjak Lifespan

Tornjak has a lifespan of 12-14 years.

Health Issues

The Tornjak does one breed specific issue. Too much protein can cause issue with this dogs coat.

They also have health issues related to thier larger size like Hip dysplasia.


Turnjak standing on grass

The Tornjak enjoys the chance to exercise when possible with a minimum of two long walks a day needed to keep them happy. They enjoy being exercised alongside other dogs, as they are incredibly social. Dog parks are a great place to let them stretch their legs.

Tornjak Rescues

No available information on rescue groups.

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