Zerdava Dog
Zerdava dog.jpg
Other namesEastern Black Sea Spitz, Kapi Kopegi ,laz Kopegi Gürcu Kopegi, Turkish Laika
Common nicknamesThe Gate Dog
OriginTurkey, Georgia
Weight Dogs 17 kg
Bitches 11-13 kg
Coat Double
Colour Solid liver, liver and white, liver roan
Litter size 5
Kennel club standards
Dog (domestic dog)

The Zerdava, (Georgian: მეკვერნე) is an aboriginal laika dog breed native to Black Sea region of Turkey and Georgia. Zerdava are traditionally used as guard and hunting dog and are especially prized for boar hunting.[1][2] The name “Zerdava” is Slavic for mustelid, possibly in reference to their Marten-brown color or their treeing behavior when hunting martens.[1]


There exists very little written evidence on the origin of the Zerdava in Turkey.[1][3] The most probable is that hunting laika were acquired by trade from Russia as Baltic and Black Sea ports were the primary routes of Russian Fur trade into Europe and parts of Asia though the early Middle Ages.[1]


Native region of Zerdava dogs
Native region of Zerdava dogs


Zerdava are a spitz breed with a compact body, triangular, upright ears and a curved tail. [1][4] They have a double coat that is always liver brown or a combination of liver brown and white. The brown is described as marten-like in color, they may be solid liver or a combination of liver and white, such as liver and white-ticked except white tip of tail, piebald, ticked, or liver roan. [1][4] At birth, the brown is often almost black in color and the white parts are without ticking. Zerdava will have brown noses and yellow-brown eyes.[1]


As is typical with laikas, zerdava are hardy and versatile hunters, capable of hunting game of a variety of sizes by treeing small game, stalking large prey silently until cornered, then working as teams to corner jackals, bear, and boar.[1] [2] They are especially prized for their ability to avoid injury while hunt boar, a major pest to corn farmers.[1]

They are devoted to their humans and distrust strangers, earning them the nickname “the Gate Dog” for their excellent capabilities as a watchdog.[3][2] Puppies need considerable socialization with people to avoid overly shy or aggressive behavior. Zerdava often struggle with being rehomed and will try to escape and find their original owner.[1]

Starting in 2016, Turkish Armed Force has training Zerdava for a variety of military uses including bomb and narcotic detection, search and rescue and personnel detention.[5]


Zerdava are prized for their excellent health in harsh conditions with minimal care. Like other laika, it is more common for the females to go into estrus only once a year.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sözüer, Özgün; Sivrioğlu, Ulaş Töre. "Some characteristics of a population of a Southern Spitz Dog, called the Zerdava, in the Eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey, as a part of biocultural diversity, possibly to be identified as a "Turkish Laika"" (PDF). Primitive and Aboriginal Dog Society. 48: 1–27.
  2. ^ a b c Özbaşer, Fatma Tülin; Atasoy, Fatih; Erdoğan, Metin; Yüceer Özkul, Banu; Özarslan, Bora (2020). "Morphological and Genetic Characteristics of Zerdava, A Native Turkish Dog Breed". Kafkas Universitesi Veteriner Fakultesi Dergisi. doi:10.9775/kvfd.2020.24004. S2CID 226665063.
  3. ^ a b "Protection sought for Turkish Zerdava dog breed". Daily Sabah. 2017-03-31. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  4. ^ a b Yilmaz, Orhan; Ertugrul, Mehmet (September 2012). "Determination of Zerdava Dog (Kapi Kopegi) Raised in Northeast of Turkey". Journal of Veterinary Advances. 2: 457–461 – via ResearchGate.net.
  5. ^ Sezgin, Sergen (2019). "TSK'nin yeni gözdesi Trabzonlu 'Zerdava'". www.aa.com.tr (in Turkish). Retrieved 2021-11-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)