The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is an ancient breed that many people have never had the privilege of meeting. Also referred to as the Central Asian “Ovtcharka,” this large Molossoid breed is a livestock guardian that was historically used to protect sheep from predators. In more recent times, they are used by nomadic traders to keep themselves and their precious belongings safe from any threats including bears and wolves.
1. They Are One Of The Oldest Dog Breeds In Existence
Although there is much debate over which dog breed is actually the oldest in the world, the Central Asian Shepherd is one of the oldest in existence.
According to artifacts found in their native lands, the breed has been around for more than 5000 years dating them back to around 3000 BC. They originate from several countries in Central Asia including Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan among others.
Fun Fact: According to Guiness Book of World Records, the “Saluki” is the oldest dog breed in the world. They are an Egyptian breed that dates back to 7000 BC. This highly revered breed was kept as royal pets. They were even mummified like their human counterparts after death.
2. The Alabay Is A Symbol Of National Pride In Turkmenistan
The Alabay, one of the many varieties of the Central Asian Shepherd, is considered the National symbol of pride in Turkmenistan. So much so that the country erected a beautiful golden statue of the dog that stands an astonishing 19 feet tall.
It towers over the streets in the capital of Ashgabat and features a modern LED screen that shows video clips of the breed in different settings.
When the statue was revealed in 2020, the ceremony included a young boy being given an Ahal Teke racehorse, an Alabay dog and handmade carpets. All three items symbolize Turkmenistan’s national heritage.
The dog is so popular in Turkmenistan, that the “National Holiday of the Turkmen Alabay” was created in 2021 to honor the breed. They even had a best-of-show competition which was won by a Central Asian Shepherd that worked in the border guard service.
3. President Vladimir Putin Was Given A Central Asian Shepherd
On October 7th of 2017, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan, gave Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, an Alabay dog as a birthday present.
The dog’s name was Verny, which translates to “faithful” in Russian. Putin kissed the dog on the forehead after receiving it.
Berdymukhamedov gave the Russian President the dog hoping to improve business relations and pick up some previously lost Russian markets for his gas empire which consists of the 4th largest gas reserve in the world.
The video of the incident went viral after the Turkmenistan President received criticism for grabbing the dog by the neck before handing it to Vladimir Putin.
This wasn’t the first puppy Vladimir has received. He has been given a total of 5 pet dogs during his Presidency. One of them was an Akita named Yume that he was gifted back in 2012 from Japan. He also was given a Karakachan puppy called Buffy from the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
4. The Breed Isn’t Man-Made Like Most Dog Breeds
In contrast to most modern-day dog breeds like the German Shepherd for example, the Central Asian Shepherd wasn’t designed or developed by man or any specific country.
In other words, no other breeds were added to its original makeup. Its heritage has links to ancient Tibetan dogs, Cattle dogs, Mongolian Shepherd dogs and Tibetan Mastiffs.
All of their characteristics and traits were defined by the rugged terrain, extreme climates and ability to protect man and animal from predators in Central Asia during the early days of civilization.
Because of this, several varieties of the dog exist based on particular regions depending on the topography which ranged from deserts to mountains in many different countries.
5. The Central Asian Shepherd Is Fight Tested
To this day, some countries conduct fight tests to measure the breed’s ability to guard and protect flocks of sheep from imminent danger. This mainly happens in countries where the breed is still in its true aboriginal form.
While the CASD is not a fighting dog, it will defend its territory and fight any predator or dog that is a threat. To test these skills, males battle other males until one of them submits.
The huge dogs, weighing up to 220lbs and known locally as Alabai, are pitted against each other to test their worthiness, breeders claim.DailyMail.com
There is a lot of debate over this fighting and whether it is humane or justified. In most parts of the world, dog fighting is outlawed. However, in Kyrgyzstan, it remains tradition as breeders must prove that their dog is worthy of defending their livestock at all costs.
Owners risk losing their livestock to predators if the Alabay is unable to thwart their attacks. One of the most famous and well-known fighters was “Akgush,” who is said to have never lost a fight.
6. There Are 3 Distinct Lines of Central Asian Shepherds
There are three unique lines of Central Asian Shepherd dogs. Each line is used for specific reasons and the breed will act accordingly.
Ancient Livestock Line:
This is the traditional livestock guardian line that shepherds have used for thousands of years to protect their flock and possessions. They are extremely territorial yet safe around their family and small children.
Developed and tested though fighting tests, dogs from this line are more aggressive though it is still only towards strangers or unfriendly dogs that have overstepped their boundaries.
Guard Dog Line:
The guard dog line or working line are more for personal protection and originate from Russia. These make better house dogs than the livestock or fighting line. They are obedient, protective, smart and territorial.
There is also the show dog line that many don’t consider a real line because the breed has been mixed with other breeds to create the massive shepherds you see online in the pictures. The true Central Asian Shepherd dog doesn’t exceed 110 pounds.
7. The Central Asian Shepherd Is Banned In Denmark
In June of 2014, Denmark amended their list of banned dog breeds to include the Central Asian Ovtcharka and 12 other breeds.
This is apparently an effort to prevent dangerous dog breeds from entering the country. This is apparently an attempt to avoid attacks although bite statistics don’t seem to correlate.
According to the Danish Act on Dogs, the police are obligated to euthanize dogs, which savage a person or another dog in an attack. However, the amendments introduce a new, more specific definition of ‘savaging’. Also according to these new provisions, the owner of the attacking dog can request an expert assessment of the case.Danish Legislation on Dogs
The Pitt Bull Terrier and Tosa Inu which are on the current list have been illegal in Denmark since 1991. One man named Dan was unfortunately a victim of the ban losing his beloved dog “Zanto” who was taken from him and euthanized due to the legislation on Pit Bulls.
He was given eight days to prove that Zanto wasn’t a Pit Bull. He was unable to do so and the dog was put down. Unfortunately, Dan couldn’t live with the fact that he let his dog down. He took his own life overdosing on pain medication.
The Central Asian Shepherd dog is a big and powerful canine. They have been protecting the flocks of nomads and shepherds for thousands of years. They are loving and gentle with their family. Yet they are fiercely devoted to keeping them and their flock safe from any intruders or predators.
Similar to the Kangal Shepherd dog, they are not recommended for inexperienced dog owners mainly due to the fact that they are not suitable around other dogs or strangers. They have a high propensity to protect which can be overwhelming for someone who has never owned the breed.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Do you have any experience with the Ovtcharka or have you ever owned one? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story!