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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

For Ukrainians, Rottweiler Is King

KIEV -- Not surprisingly, the Rottweiler was the most popular breed at this year's Ukrainian national dog show. Ideal for guarding property in an increasingly dangerous post-Soviet society, the Rottweiler offers more than just companionship in a country where dog-breeding can be a serious business. Pugs are out in Ukraine. So are Scottish terriers. Birthing problems with these breeds cost money. Maintaining a top-quality dog is not for the average wage-earner in Ukraine, let alone showing or breeding. Pedigree puppies for most breeds start at about $100 -- about five times the average monthly salary. Popular breeds, like the Rottweiler, cost a great deal more -- about $500. "You want a dog which will prove to be a reliable defender," said Leonid Daichman, who traveled 450 kilometers from Odessa to show his 18-month-old Rottweiler, Justis. Most of the 2,000 enthusiasts who took part in the show in late April admit to being "businessmen" -- which can mean anything from a top job in a joint venture to reselling cheap clothes at street markets. Entering your dog in the show costs 200,000 karbovanets ($5) and trimming your dog a further 200,000. "I'm not a professional, I do this because I like it," said Oleg Kotovsky, holding in check Gero, a waist-high Neapolitan mastiff. "It's also not a bad way to make money." Mastiff puppies, he said, go for up to 4,000 Deutsche marks ($2,400) in Western Europe. With a little investment in vitamins and a good veterinarian, breeding is as good a way as any to scrape together a living. Some breeds catch the eye of the Western visitor -- like the South Russian Shepherd bred in Ukraine's steppeland, or the imposing Caucasian Shepherd or Moscow guard dog. Officials of the Ukrainian kennel club acknowledge that the emphasis on money has hurt the industry and is virtually driving some breeds into oblivion. "If a breed isn't popular or has health problems, then the value of puppies drops and no one wants them," said Oleg Razumov, one of the show's judges. The collapse of the Soviet Union, which has spawned massive military and political disputes, has also caused upheavals in more mundane matters. It has split the dog breeding industry into two hostile camps -- old Soviet-era institutions and new enthusiasts. The reason, again, is money. "It's all about the right to breed and sell dogs," judge Razumov said. "Old military and other organizations claim international recognition and try to market puppies not up to proper standards. This hurts the industry."