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Two Worlds of the Caucasian Sheep Dog

For centuries, farmers in Georgia's highlands have relied on a particular breed, the Caucasian Sheep Dog, to care for their herds. But as farm life gives way to cities and factories, the country's dog lovers are conflicted on how best to preserve the breed.

On the one hand, the dogs, which are a symbol of Georgian pride, make beautiful pets - so beautiful that some have taken to staging exhibits and competitions. On the other, the Caucasians' size and weight, which ranges between 120 and 200 pounds, means that they easily get restless, and fall ill, in city circumstances.

In addition, experts say artificial breeding may harm the sheep dogs in the end: because record keeping is spotty, this kind of matchmaking may produce weaker, less healthy dogs through interbreeding. But can the best option for preservation really be simply releasing the sheep dogs into the wild?

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Temo Bardzimashvili is a freelance photojournalist based in Tbilisi.

Two Worlds of the Caucasian Sheep Dog

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