The almost extinct descendants of genetically homogeneous, native archaic types of shepherd dogs have been the foundation stock for the re-creation of the breed “Tornjak”. The dogs belonging to the original stock had been dispersed in mountain areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and their surrounding valleys. 

The major historical dates are the years 1067 and 1374. Written documents from these periods mention the Bosnian-Herzegovinian- Croatian breed for the first time.

The research about their historical and more recent existence and then a systematic salvation from extinction started simultaneously in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina around 1972 and continuous pure blood breeding began in 1978. Nowadays, the breed population consists of numerous, purebred dogs selected during a series of generations dispersed throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. 1.


The Tornjak is a large and powerful dog, well - proportioned and agile. The shape of the body is almost square. The bone is not light, but nevertheless not heavy nor coarse.

He is strong, harmonious and well balanced when standing and moving. His coat is long and thick.

The body is almost square. The length of the body should not exceed its height by more than 8%.
The ratio between the length of the skull and the muzzle is 1:1. 1.

Eyes are almond shaped, close fitting lids, dark colour. Dark pigmentation on edges of eyelids.

Ears are of medium size, triangular, folded and pendant, set rather high. Carried close to the cheeks. With shorter hair.

Tail is long, set at medium height, very mobile. When relaxed it is hanging and in movement it is always raised over the level of the back, which is characteristic of the breed. Abundantly coated with distinct plume. 1.

In general, the Tornjak is a long coated dog with short hair over the face and legs. The topcoat is long, thick, coarse and straight. It is especially long on the upper part of the croup; over the shoulders and the back it can also be slightly wavy. On the muzzle and the forehead, up to the imaginary line connecting the ears, over the ears and on the front parts of legs and feet it is short. It is especially abundant around the neck (mane), dense and long over the upper thighs (breeches). It forms feathers along the forearms. With well coated dogs it is also especially abundant on the rear of hind pasterns. The tail is richly coated with very long hair. Winter undercoat is long, very thick and of nice woolly texture. Hair is thick and dense and should not part along the back. 1.

As a rule the Tornjak is parti-coloured with distinct markings of various solid colours. Usually the dominant ground colour is white. There may be dogs with a black mantle and with white markings most often found around the neck, over the head and along the legs. There may also be almost white dogs with only small markings. 1.

SIZES:  Height at withers: Males: 65 - 70cm, Females: 60 - 65cm. (with a tolerance of + /- 2cm. 1.


Of steady disposition, friendly, courageous, obedient, intelligent, full of dignity and self-confidence. Fierce in guarding property entrusted to him, cannot be bribed and is suspicious of strangers. Devoted to his master and very calm in his presence. Very affectionate towards persons living in his immediate vicinity. Learns quickly and keeps this in his memory for a long time, gladly performs tasks assigned to him. He is easy to train. 1.


The Tornjak is used for herding and protection of livestock; a farmyard guard dog. He has a stable temperament and is friendly, calm, courageous, obedient, intelligent, full of dignity and self-confidence. When working he is fierce in guarding property entrusted to him, cannot be bribed and is suspicious of strangers. He will protect his owners, herd and property with his life. 2.

The Tornjak is friendly with people he knows. Devoted to his master and very composed in his presence, he is very affectionate toward people living in his immediate vicinity. 2.

Learns quickly and does not forget things easily, gladly performs tasks assigned to him. Strong and hardy, during the snowing winter nights, these dogs lie on the ground and often get covered by snow. He is easy to train. The objective in training this dog is to achieve pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in its pack. When we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader; lines are clearly defined. You and all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. That is the only way your relationship can be a success. 2.

The Tornjak is not recommended for apartment life. They need space and will do best with at least a large yard. Because its thick coat protects it so well, it can happily cope with living outdoors provided it has proper shelter. 2.

This breed of dog is best suited to a family with lots of space surrounding the home. It needs to be taken on a daily walk. 2.


1. FCI Standard No 355 - ANKC website


In Conclusion

Now you know a little more about the Tornjak you may think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your state controlling body for purebred dogs and they will be able to give you more information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Tornjak and its needs and whether this breed would indeed suit your lifestyle.