Armenian Gampr (Armenian: գամփռ gamp’ṙ) is a breed of livestock guardian dog native to the Armenian Highlands, including the territories of modern Eastern Anatolia of Turkey and the Republic of Armenia. The Armenian Gampr was bred by local people using primitive selection. Though not recognized by notable kennel clubs or fancier organizations such as a selective, pedigree dog breed, they are a distinct landrace, which has been the subject of intense genetic research.
History The exact time of Gampr domestication is not known with precision.
Appearance The modern Gampr has changed little within the history of its existence in Armenian Highlands. It is one of few natural breeds not subjected to hard selection by phenotype. They preserved the genetic variation that other dog breeds had initially. This genetic variation was promoted by spontaneous and, in some cases, intentional periodic matings with locally indigenous wolves (still present). Gamprs differ by their vital capacity, independence, mind, strong self-preservation instinct, ability of the trustworthy defense and protection of livestock, and exclusive friendliness to humans. This mountain dog's head is large, well-outlined and well-developed but lacks prominent cheekbones. The back is wide, straight, muscular and strong. At the withers, the height in male dogs is 65 centimetres (26 in) or more, and in female dogs is 62 centimetres (24 in) or more. Weight corresponds to the total size of the dog, and usually varies from 45 to 60 kilograms (99 to 132 lb). The Armenian Gampr has a well-developed undercoat, in order to protect it under harsh conditions. Depending upon the coat length, there are two types: long-haired, with long top hairs, and short-haired, with dense, relatively short hair. A brown or piebald coat is undesirable according to the breed standard.
Character and behavior Gampr dogs are not trained, instead performing the necessary functions naturally. The Armenian word "Gampr" means "watchdog", but the same breed may instead be called a "gelkheht" (from "gel" - "wolf" and "khekhtel" - "to choke") if it is predesposed to be used as a wolfhound; a bear-hunting dog is known as "archashoon" ("bear-dog"); an avalanche dog is named "potorkashoon", and a shepherd dog is named "hovvashoon". The Gamprs are very tied to people, especially those dogs that live in human houses, because they feel themselves a family or pack member.
Kennel club recognition The Armenian Gampr is not recognized by any of the major kennel clubs or other fancier organisations around the world. In April 2011, a new organisation called the International Kennel Union (IKU), but acts in 17 countries, including Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and others, officially recognized the Armenian Gampr as Armenia’s national dog breed.
In Armenia Gampr dogs are bred by "Gampr", Tiknapah", Aralez" and "Aspar" Clubs, as well as "Amasia" Kennel that carry on the breeding to preserve the phenotype and working traits of Gampr dogs. Only dogs without any inclusions of non-Gampr (i.e. CAO, Alabai, Kochee etc.) bloodlines shall be bred as Gampr, in order to keep the breed pure. There are two strains of gampr, the palace guardian type and the livestock type. The livestock type tends to be smaller, tireless, and slightly more volatile. The palace guardians are generally taller, more square-built, and fairly congenial but still very protective. They have a tendency to be more sedentary, and to stay in one location. During the invasions of Armenia over the last several hundred years, the palace guardian type dogs have been dispersed, with a few remaining in remote villages, but many were taken out of the country and used in the development of the breeds elsewhere, such as the CAO, and in the Red Star Kennel in the USSR. Gampr is supposed to be unique by its genotype, because of belonging to the haplogroup of dogs of other parts of the Armenian Highlands that cluster only with the dogs of Spain and Scandinavia The geographic and cultural coexistence of the Caucasian Ovcharka and the Central Asian Ovcharka, and its use as a standard, is itself seen as an issue threatening the continued existence of the Armenian Gampr dog landrace. The Armenian Gampr Club of America states: "The gampr is not: An Alabai, a Caucasian Ovcharka, a Kangal, an Anatolian, an Akbash, a Karakatchan, a Central Asian Shepherd, a Koochee, a Tornjak, a Sharplaninatz, or a cross of these."