Sinka, a Hungarian sheep dog- from my point of view.

 

First of all I have to point out that Sinka is a new breed to me too. I have liked it and admired it for several years. It has interested and fascinated me, but we shall have our second litter only in the near future. It means that the following what I share with you about the Sinka is reflecting my personal opinin on the other hand it is based on information what was received from shepherds. I am also working with Sinka dogs what has helped me to gain practical experience too.

History:

Sinka is not an internationally recognized breed yet. It is still in lack of both pedigree and official standard. Int the early history of Hungarian herding culture no one of the Hungarian shepherd dogs were recognized as a breed. The standard of the Puli dog was established by the beginning of the 20th century. It was soon recognized that beside the Puli there were several other breeds too. Until the 1920's  the systematical breeding separation of Puli and Pumi standards was completed. In this time the existance of a 3rd sheep dog breed became also known. The standard of Mudi breed was established int the 1950's and its breeding with pedigree avalibility was also started.

The professional shepherds has never breeded their dogs according to the official standards. They always prefered the working ability of their dogs. The carriage of their dogs was taken into consideration only when it was believed that some carriage aspects may affect the working ability of their dogs. Side by side with the standard conform breeding of Puli, Pumi and Mudi, the shepherds have breeded dogs which should meet more their expectations. Mostly the efficiency and working ability were their only selective breeding points of view. It is interesting that this way of breeding resulted a more or less homogene look what can be seen in case of Puli, Pumi and Mudi. The standards of the Hungarian herding dogs have always reflected this unified habit.

In the favour of increasing their working ability, the herding dogs were also interbreeded by the shepherds. The technology of the professionally called blood drop interbreeding was not done consciously. But the efficiency based selection what followed it was already done with utmost consciously. The same process happened with Puli and Pumi breeds in the old history of the Hungarian herdig culture too. Some hundreds years ago economically more intensive sheep breeds were brought to Hungary. The foreign herding dogs who helped to take these sheeps to Hungary were interbreeded with the Hungarian ones. Interbreeding of the French terrier like herding dogs with Hungarian herding ones resulted the Pumi which is also called Hungarian Herding Terrier. This interbreeding happened according to the selective expectations of the Hungarian shepherds. The same process can be seen by interbreeding the Hungarian herding dogs wit the German Spitz like dogs and it resulted the Mudi. It is told that the Sinka is the interbreed of Hungarian herding dogs and German Shepherd, Boxer and Bull type breeds. A new type of Hungarian herding dog has appeared which is already more or less homogenous.

The story of Sinka started approximately 50 years ago in the Hungarian Plain in Hortobágy. The working ability focused selective breeding activity of the shepherds resulted the spreading of a new breed. Nowadays it overspread the Hortobágy and it can be met countrywide. The word Sinka means straight, short coated in Hortobágy dialect. There are many other differences between Sinka and other Hungarian herding dogs.

Species signs or form of appearance

Hair

There are several types of Sinka depending what they are used for. The shortest haired one is called Mirror (Tükör) Sinka. The whole body is covered with very short and bright hair clinged to the body. Longer haired Sinkas are also known. The length and thickness of their hair is far less than the hair of Mudi. More hairy Sinkas have a little bit more thick hair collar around the neck and minimally longer hair ont the line of the back. These more hairy Sinkas are called "cat haired" by the shepherds.

Colour

The colour of the hair is nearly the same of hair colour of other Hungarian herding dogs. Maybe there is only one exception. It is the striped fur. Shepherds call it "Cirkás". It may be originated from the blood drop cross breed of Boxer and Bull type breeds. Black is the most common colour of Sinka. There can be seen white, fakó, brown, grey (genetically blue) and honey footed (genetically black and tan) colours too. These colour variations characterized other Hungarian herding dogs too before their standartization. Spotted, multicoloured fur is not preferable.

Badared tail

Not only the short, body clinged hair and the upright ears are characterizing the Sinka but its thick curly-tail too. In most cases there is a double curl of the tail. It has been preferred by the shepherds saying that it reflected an ancient character. The Badared tail has a thick base than it is continued with a double curl what is tightened to the flank region. The hair on the tail is short but a small flag of hair may occure.

Wolve nail on the rear feet is considered to be the symbol of good working ability by Hungarian shepherds.

Height of withers

Sinka is the tallest Hungarian herding dog. It has been a target of the shepherds when breeding. Musculature and body structure of the Sinka is resembling to the ones of a big, less hairy, long footed and angular figured Mudi but the Sinka is bigger having more stringy musculature and more tight skin.

It should be pointed out that the height of withers is also depending on what animals are considered to be herded by the Sinka. Sinkas, herding cattle are bigger while Sinkas herding sheeps have shorter feet and their body is more cobby.  The sort of animals to be herded is also reflected in the character of the Sinka.

Crooked character  

Its special character traits most the Sinka. Sinkas have been selected mostly according to it for many years. Its character has been determined by the native domestic animals. Sinkas are herding essentially Hungarian domestic animals but their working ability was already improved in herding foreign species too. The ancient Hungarian domestic animals still display a behaviour what has formed the special Hungarian herding style. Their temperament requires a strong minded, barking dog who does not afraid to express its will in need with nipping too. The working style of the Hungarian herding dogs is much different from the one of all other herding breeds of the world. It is the best expressed in the herding work of Sinka. This breed has an outstanding will to work with endless energies. The biggest Racka sheep and Hungarian Grey cattles are located in Hungary in Hortobágy region. It is obvious that they needed this type of herding dog. Thanks to the breeding selection for work, Sinka is an outstanding healthy and durable dog.

The agility of Sinka has not yet been tested in other dog sports but its good motivation and instinct could make Sinka an excelent sport dog.

Sinka is working agressively and hard with cattle. These animals are big and their skin is rother thick. It requires a hard working herding dog. It is a special must when herding Hungarian Grey cattle who have long horns and who may attack not only the the dog but the humans too. Racka sheep can run fast and its movements are very quick. Racka often attacks the dog with its long horns. Working with Racka requires a dog which was adopted to these conditions.

The life of the shepherds in the Hungarian plain is very desolate. Life does not dandle them and they do not dandle their dogs.  They prefer to reduce from the character of their dogs because reducing it is much easier than to build up the character. It is obvious because the life of the shepherd has been depending on the working of his dog. That is why the instinct working ability of the Sinka is so strong that its teaching, training means its reduction to the required level. Sinka is not a sensitive, easily offended dog. Those ones who did not meet this criteria were selected by the shepherds or by the herded animals.

When the dog is working in far distance from the shepherd it is guided by the shepherd's crook. Sinka is getting used to the crook already during its puppyhood. It is barking, growling at it and paying attention how it moves in the hands of the human. The crook is respected by the dog because it is a tool of punishment too.

The Sinka is neither a family pet nor a toy dog. Its huge claim for endless motion can be met by different kinds of dog sports but it can be completed exclusively with regular herding.

International acknowledgement

The estimated Sinka population is already over 1000. There is still time to have it internationally acknowledged. To be frank the Hungarian shepherds do not really want to have it. They are afraid that the international acknowledgement of Sinka would result a breeding selection to figure, colour appearance what could reduce the working ability of this breed. That is why Hungarian shepherds breed Sinka among themselves, far from the fad of the world. That is why nowadays Sinkas are mostly working as professional herding dogs.

 

József Tari - Rasztari Duci Kennel

English version: Ferenc Tenke