Of all the places you wouldn’t want to end up in right now, it could be a maximum security Russian prison.
Not only are the prisons located in the coldest parts of the country, but they are also guarded by two brutal beasts, sadistic Russian guards and Russian prison dogs.
Dogs guarding Russian prisons are real beasts bred to be aggressive towards humans. Google them and look at the pictures. Better yet, watch a video, it’s easy to find. See: youtu.be/PvzBMq5GPes.
These are huge animals called Caucasian shepherds or ovcharka. Originally, they were an agricultural protection breed used to protect pets and humans from things like Siberian tigers, brown bears, and carnivorous dinosaurs.
Over time the breed has been bred to be impossibly large, intimidating and vicious when trained/tortured for use in Russian prisons. Physically, they still look like an oversized, cuddly stuffed prize that no one wins at the carnival dime toss.
Functionally, they have jaws and a bite strength similar to that of a dire wolf crossed with a woodcutter. Most are cream colored with dark black fur and often a white chest. At the shoulder, about 30 inches, they are waist high for a tall person. They often tip the scales at 220 pounds or more. Your head, when the fur is fluffed up, won’t fit in a bushel basket.
One video shows an Ovcharka playing four-way tug-of-war with three adult Rottweilers. Guess which ones are being dragged around the pen like they’re already dead?
As a giant breed, they can live 10 to 12 years, but often die before that. They are prone to diseases like hip dysplasia, bloat, cataracts, and kneecaps slipping out of their anatomical groove. Great, just what you want…a bloated, half-blind, arthritic killer who can crush a human’s femur on the first bite.
you eat A lot of. And what comes in has to come out. As you know, a properly fed dog of this size needs a substantial exercise about four times a day. Think of it this way: invite a corps of four college linebackers into your home every day to drop the same thing in your yard. I think you get the picture. Have a shovel and a separate heavy metal trash can handy.
Of course there is a subset of people who enjoy such things and God bless them. You may have the patience and dedication to turn them into the large, fluffy stuffed animal mentioned above. There are also many examples of this on the internet. While I don’t condemn any particular breed as downright bad, I do condemn the use and abuse of the same breed of animals in Russian prisons and military installations.
Nevertheless, the animal is known for its combat intelligence, independence and protective nature. I first saw these dogs about a decade ago in a National Geographic Television documentary about Russian supermax prisons. An internet search revealed even more vicious members of the breed.
Two thoughts crossed my mind at the time: Big dogs being used so aggressively to clean up, say, the garbage in a Russian prison will not last long before they become arthritic, disabled, and likely to be fed to their kennel mates.
Secondly, despite what is happening to them in Russia, there are probably people who are worse off in the underground world of dogfighting. For some sick reason people have been sending along videos of different races involved in bloodsports, perhaps to shock me when instead they’re brushing up on my opinion on animal cruelty.
Powell is the Public Information Officer for Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which offers this column as a nonprofit service. If you have any questions or concerns about any animal you would like to read about, email [email protected]