Gampr, also known as the dog-bear, the Armenian gampr, is not a lap dog, but a big and sturdy guardian dog. The modern Gampr has changed very little within the history of its existence in the Armenian Highlands. Any color is permissible, except blue eyes or eyelids lacking dark eyeliner, and pink noses. The thick coat of the gampr is excellent protection in all weather extremes. There are varieties of Gampr and they come in 3 coat types. Gamprs have strong, muscular bodies with large bone structure.
Being a landrace animal there is significant variation within the breed, one thing they all share is the way they remain primitive in their nature and do their respective jobs instinctively without much intervention from their handler.
The gelkheght – literally, “wolf-choker” – are what is generally being promoted as the “true Gampr” by the Armenian club. In the United States, the Gampr Club of America focuses on the hovashoon (livestock guardian/shepherds dog) variety.
There is also a bear-hunting variation known as "archashoon" ("bear-dog"); an avalanche dog is named "potorkashoon". The Gamprs are very tied to people, especially those dogs that live in human houses, because they feel themselves a family or pack member. There are two strains of gampr, the palace guardian type and the livestock type. The livestock type tends to be smaller, tireless, and more aggressive.
Females: weight 60-95 pounds; height 23+ inches.
Males: weight 85-115 pounds; height 25+ inches.
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The Armenian Gampr is the native aboriginal landrace livestock & family guardian dog of the region from the southern Caucasus mountains (Current Armenia, southern Georgia, and new Azerbaijan) and the Armenian Highland, which is now known as Anatolia. The genetics of the gampr are diverse, which is an indication of a healthy gene pool and excellent adaptability. The gampr has regional varieties, which over the millennia have been intermittently crossed with each other, maintaining a healthy genetic diversity. The semi nomadic nature of some shepherds, and changing boundaries of countries, have helped move the gampr genetics across regions from the north caucasus to the Taurus mountains.
During the Soviet domination, many gamprs were taken from their homeland to the breeding kennels that eventually produced the modern Caucasian Ovcharka (CO). While perhaps 60% of the genetics of the modern CO is of gampr origin, the CO is no longer a gampr, but a separate standardized breed. The Central Asian Ovcharka (CAO) was standardized by the Soviet breeding program, and particular regional types blended. It also is not aboriginal; it is more modern in origin. Goals of the Soviet breeders and most modern breeders were different than the original breeders of history, therefore selection for breeding different, and the results of those breedings have become different than the original landrace type.
A landrace, by definition, is a localized breed developed for a purpose and chosen for function, regardless of appearance. Over time and successive breedings, landraces tend to maintain a higher degree of genetic health, and generally consistent and predictable function.
The gampr is not: An Alabai, a modern Caucasian Ovcharka, a modern Kangal, a Karakatchan, a Central Asian Shepherd, a Koochee, a Tornjak, a Sharplaninatz, or a cross of these. The history of the Anatolian, Akbash and Kangal are all of Armenian origin, but in the last 100 years modern breeding practices, such as line-breeding, outcrossing and standardization has occurred, creating some level of separation. Aboriginal dogs of Anatolia (western Armenia) may, with proper investigation, be accepted as gampr.
A gampr is NOT a pure gampr if it has any alabai, CAO, CO etc in it's genetic history.