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Guardian Dog Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


The almost extinct descendants of genetically homogeneous, native historical types of shepherd dogs served as the foundation stock for the re-creation of the breed. The dogs belonging to the original stock had been dispersed in the mountain areas and surrounding valleys of Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia. Written documents dating from 1067 and 1374 mention the Bosnianherzegovinian-Croatian breed.

The research on the breed’s historical and more recent existence, and then a systematic recovery from extinction began simultaneously in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovinia around 1972, and continuous pure breeding began in 1978. Currently the breed population consists of numerous purebred dogs selected during a series of generations dispersed throughout Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia.

The Tornjak (also known as the Bosnian and Herzegovinian - Croatian Shepherd Dog) was recognized by the United Kennel Club August 18, 2011.

General Appearance

The Tornjak is large, powerful, well-proportioned and agile. The shape of the body is almost square. The length of the body should not exceed its height by more than eight percent. The bone is not light, nor is it heavy or coarse. It is strong, harmonious and well-balanced when standing and moving. Coat is long and thick. The ratio between the length of the skull and the muzzle is 1:1. Skin is thick and well-fitting all over the body.

Disqualifications: Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Eliminating Faults: Cosmetic alteration of dog, or evidence of cosmetic or surgical alteration.
Faults: Bone too heavy or too fine. Distinctly over-built dog. Faulty angulation.


The Tornjak has a steady disposition, is friendly, courageous, obedience, intelligent, and full of dignity and self confidence. Fierce in guarding property entrusted to him, he cannot be bribed, and is suspicious of strangers. The breed is devoted to its master and very calm in his presence. They are very affectionate towards people with whom they are familiar. The breed is easy to train, learns quickly, retains it for a long time, and gladly performs tasks assigned to him.

Disqualifications: Viciousness or extreme shyness.


The head is elongated. The ratio between the length of the skull and the muzzle is 1:1. The upper lines (planes) of the skull and muzzle are divergent. Supra-orbital ridges (brows) are slightly visible. The hind part of the skull is elongated, but moderately wide. The area from the brows to the occiput is flat. The occiput is very slightly pronounced.

The stop is slightly pronounced.

Fault: Head too fine or too coarse.
The nose is large, with sufficiently wide nostrils. Pigmentation color depends on the color of the coat. Dark pigment is preferred.
Eliminating Fault: Dudley nose.

The muzzle is rectangular. The bridge of the nose is perfectly straight. The lips are tight-fitting and have dark pigmentation. The strong jaws are very long.


A full complement of strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite.

Eliminating Faults: Overshot or undershot bites. Missing teeth other than those mentioned.
Faults: Even bite. Absence of 2 p2, 2 p3 teeth. Absence of more than 1 p1.


The dark, almond shaped eyes have close fitting lids. The eyelids have dark pigmentation.

Eliminating Faults: Entropianism, ectropianism. Anomalies in color and shape of eyes (wall eyes, vicious expression, eyes of different colors).


The medium size, triangular shaped ears are folded and pendant; carried close to the cheeks. The hair is short on the ears.

Faults: Ears too long, too short. Hanging ears.


The medium length, powerful neck is carried slightly low. Skin is tight-fitting. Long, abundant coat forms a mane.


The withers are moderately developed. The back is short, taut, moderately broad and straight. The loin is short and moderately broad. In females, the loin may be a bit longer. The medium length croup if broad and slightly sloping.

Faults: Back too long. Roached or saddle back.

The chest is very strong, deep, spacious, broad and oval-shaped. The lowest point of the brisket reaches at least to the elbows. The point of the sternum is moderately pronounced.

Serious Fault: Barrel shaped chest.

The belly is well-muscled. The underline is not tucked up but gradually slopes from the end of the sternum to the rear.

The front legs are well-developed, have strong bones, tight muscles, and are well angulated. They are parallel and straight when the dog is standing. The strong, muscular upper arm is almost the same length as the shoulder.

The shoulders are well laid back and of medium length. The scapula-humerus angle is about 120 degrees. The elbows are held moderately close to the body. The upright forearms have strong bones and developed muscles. The pasterns are slightly sloping. The front feet have arched, tightly knit toes. The nails are pigmented, with dark pigmentation preferred. The pads are resilient, hard and tight. Dark pigmentation is desired. The front feet are more developed than the hind feet.

Faults: Elbows turned in or out. Weak feet.


The hind legs are strong, parallel, well angulated and upright when standing, and have adequate angulation. The knees are well bent. The upper thighs are broad, strong and well muscled. The lower thighs are well-muscled, strong and broad, and are the same length as the upper thighs. The firm hocks are set a bit high. The rear pastern is strong. Dewclaws may be found; removal is acceptable.

The hind feet have arched, tightly knit toes. The nails are pigmented, with dark pigmentation preferred. The pads are resilient, hard and tight, dark pigmentation is desired.

Fault: Weak feet.


The tail is long, very mobile, and is set at medium height. When relaxed, it hangs down. When in motion, it is always raised over the level of the back, which is a characteristic of the breed. The tail is abundantly coated, and has a distinct plume.

Eliminating Faults: Kinked tail. Absence of tail.
Faults: Tail laid on the back. Poorly coated tail.


The breed is double-coated. In general, the Tornjak is a long-coated dog, with short hair on 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 an imaginary line connecting the ears, over the ears, and on the front part of the legs and feet, it is short.

It is especially abundant around the neck (mane), and dense and long over the upper thighs (breeches). There are feathers along the forearms.

In well-coated dogs, it is also especially abundant on the rear of the hind pasterns.

The tail is richly coated, with very long hair.

Winter undercoat is long, very thick and of nice woolly texture. The hair is thick and dense, but should not part along the back.

Faults: Hair of insufficient length. Lack of undercoat.


As a rule, the Tornjak is parti-colored, with distinct markings of various solid colors.

Usually the dominant ground/base color is white. There may be dogs with a black mantle (all over the body), 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, but usually with spots/markings on the legs and head (similar to a mask), and on the body.

Disqualification: Albinism.
Eliminating Fault: Solid colored dog.
Fault: Dark mask.


The Tornjak customarily moves at a trot. Movement is well-balanced, supple, long-reaching and harmonious, with strong drive from the hindquarters. The topline remains firm during movement.


Height at the withers for males is from 25½ to 27½ inches (65 to 70 cm), with a tolerance +/- of ¾ of an inch.

Height at the withers for females is from 23½ to 25½ inches (65 to 70 cm), with a tolerance +/- of ¾ of an inch.

Eliminating Fault: Diversion from height limit (tolerance included).


Any departure from what is listed regarding the following is to be considered a fault, the seriousness of which should be in direct proportion to its degree, and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Bone too heavy or too fine
Head too fine or too coarse
Ears too long, too short.
Hanging ears.
Even bite
Absence of 2 p2, 2 p3 teeth
Absence of more than 1 p1
Back too long
Roached or saddle back
Distinctly over-built dog
Faulty angulation
Elbows turned in or out
Tail laid on the back
Poorly coated tail
Hair of insufficient length
Lack of undercoat
Dark mask
Weak feet

Eliminating Faults

(An Eliminating Fault is a Fault serious enough that it eliminates the dog from obtaining any awards in a conformation event.)
Kinked tail.
Absence of tail.
Diversion from height limit (tolerance included).
Dudley nose.
Entropianism, ectropianism.
Overshot or undershot bite.
Missing teeth other than those mentioned.
Solid colored dog.
Anomalies in color and shape of eyes (wall eyes, vicious expression, eyes of different colors).
Cosmetic alteration of dog, or evidence of cosmetic or surgical alteration.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation show, and must be indicated on the judge’s book.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.

Download Tornjak Breed Standard (PDF)

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Official UKC Breed Standard

Revised May 1, 2017

©Copyright 2011, United Kennel Club