The Guardian article 1999
Ethnic dogfight grips Romania Tweet this
By Kate Connolly in Bucharest The Guardian, Thursday 15 April 1999 02.06 BST
Article historyRomania's long-haired sheepdog, the mioritic, a fashion accessory for Bucharest's nouveau rche, is at the centre of a nationalistic fight that has pitted the country's majority against its ethnic Hungarian minority.
The breed - closely related to the Carpathian sheepdog - is said to date back more than 1,000 years and has the strength to kill a mountain bear.
Even Dan Ceausescu, nephew of the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, has a mioritic, Terror, aged seven, which, he says, 'often understands me better than my own wife'.
The National Club of Romanian Sheepdogs, based in Bucharest, believes that through the dog it can win a place on the International Board of Breeders, but claims its attempts to gain pedigree status for the breed from the International Canine Federation in Brussels have been undermined by factions lobbying for Hungarian rights, particularly in Transylvania.
The club complains that Hungary has five internationally recognised breeds.
'It's a fight for a dog which exactly reflects the plight of the Romanian people,' the club's president, Cezar Osiceanu, said. 'We haven't been accepted in Nato or the European Union, the Romanian cow is not recognised abroad.'
The focus of the club's anger has been Atilla Keleman, a Romanian MP who is an ethnic Hungarian and president of the judging committee of the Romanian Kennel Club.
He insists that he has tried to get recognition for the dog and that it is now close - but says a little more scientific work must be done before pedigree status can be awarded.
He accuses Mr Osiceanu of making matters worse by forming an exclusive dog club whose members include the president's son.
'Mr Osiceanu thinks that such work can be replaced by nationalistic elan,' he said. 'His attitude is likely to put us back 10 years.'