The Central Asian Shepherd - A Legendary Breed

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka

A Historic Rare Breed Working Dog

 The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is an ancient breed of dog from the regions of Central Asia. Traditionally, the breed was used for guarding sheep and goat herds, as well as to protect and for guard duty. 

It is a large breed of dog recognized by FCI as a Molossoid type dog breed of Soviet-era origin under Russian patronage.[1] Numerous breed representatives reside in Russia,  and local kennel club officials refer to Central Asians as one of the  most popular dog breeds in the country, rating them as the #1 breed in  the country around 2000.

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka

 Central Asians most likely originated more than four thousand years ago from natural selection[3] in a geographical area between the Ural, Caspian Sea, Asia Minor, and the Northwest border of China.[4] Aboriginal Central Asians as well as mixes still can be found in its countries of origin, such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and surrounding countries.[5] Some serve as livestock guardians, some protect their owners, and some are used for dog fighting, which is a national tradition in many countries of that region. This breed bears a strong genetic similarity to other aboriginal breeds of Livestock Guardian dogs from that region such as Caucasian Shepherd (Nagazi), Kangal dog, and Akbash.[6] 

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka

 Russian biologists and scientists have studied the local dog population[7] since the 18th century. After the Communist revolution,  the Soviet government focused on working dog breeds for the Red Army,  and imported the best breed representatives to Russia as per military  dogs' and guard dogs' requirements.  Over the decades, this practice  harmed the local population. The introduction of new breeds to the  region led to crossbreeding. Eventually, purebred dogs only remained  with herders, breed enthusiasts and farms, with a surfeit of crosses  elsewhere.[8]  However, the Central Asian Shepherd Dog population is still stable in  general, reproducing some true quality dogs praised for working  abilities, regardless of country of origin. Trading bloodlines and  purchasing unrelated breeding stock between Russia, other "former USSR republics"  (such as Ukraine, Belarus etc. ) and countries where CAO (Central Asian Ovtcharka) still at aboriginal stage is a common practice nowadays.  

 This breed comprises numerous breed types. They differ in size, color,  head types, and hair types. Central Asians tend to form a social group,  consisting of different members bearing different duties; thus puppies  with different working qualities are normally born in the same litter.  These breed features, as well as different traditional names for the  breed, give grounds for complications with breed standard. Most  important, purebred Central Asians have unique breed characteristics.[9] Breed-specific dog anatomy includes exclusive features, such as very noticeable extremely flexible joints, false ribs, specific head set, and very strong neck with massive dewlap. Expressive, almost human eyes, revealing inimitable intelligence, finish the portrait.  

 For working qualities, modern Central Asians have been bred into  different directions, depending on the demand for specific abilities.  Traditional dog fights had always been a national tradition  in places of original habitat, but they had never been cruel and  destructive as pitbull-type fights. All herders from the same area  annually met together, and fought their strongest sheep guardian male  dogs to pick the winner. It was about dominance rather than destroying their own kind. Most dogs evaluated each other when met at the field and the weaker or more submissive  dog left, taking the loss. Dogs seldom injured each other, inflicting  mostly minor scratches within a short period of time. Only true leaders  actually had to determine the strongest dog via a real fight; but this  was minor, compared to their everyday duties, facing predators and venomous snakes.[10] 

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka

 Modern commercial dog fights often differ from traditional as much as  livestock guardian dogs differ from fighting dogs. There are different  rules, and different breeds involved. Most Central Asians used for  modern commercial fights come from fighting lines. The majority of  breeders are aware of their dogs’ backgrounds, and will tell whether the  dog comes from lines used for fighting. One can always expect a high  level of aggression toward other dogs from CAOs with a dog fighting  background. It is always important to distinguish whether a dog will  display aggression only toward strange, unfriendly dogs entering their  territory, while establishing and maintaining the usual social  relationships with other animals on the premises; or will attack  regardless of whether the other dog is a member of the same social  group. Promiscuity in aggression toward strangers and friends is highly  atypical for the breed.  

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka


Central Asian Shepherd dogs are still in demand as livestock guardians, though not  nearly as much as they used to be. These dogs, to differing degrees,  are protective against human intruders; they are very territorial, safe  with children; they love and respect elderly people, protect all small  animals from predators, and are very gentle with family members.[11] 

Dogs for personal protection or working dogs originated from livestock guardian dogs,  selectively bred by Russian breed experts for working abilities. As a  result, they excel in obedience, territory protection, and personal  protection, and are very intelligent. As such, they make perfect house  dogs.[12]  They do not need any complicated training to learn basic house rules,  and treat the owner with the same great respect with which their  ancestors treated the herder. These dogs were introduced to the  worldwide sheep breeding community with great success. 

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka

 Guard dogs must be able to work as a team to protect sheep against predators;  thus excessively aggressive CAOs, as with any other dogs, cannot be  members of the pack, and will not pass this simple test for compliance  with the breed origination purpose. 

 Central Asian Shepherd dogs can come from working lines, fighting  lines, and livestock guardian lines, and behave accordingly, regardless  of the country they come from. Simple pedigree research and conversation  with the breeder will reveal what basic instincts one can expect from  the dog. Central Asians from pure show lines are very rare, because most  registries require working tests prior to breeding.[13] 

Selected for centuries for their abilities to destroy predators,  and praised for their power and stamina, Central Asians sometimes are  called "Volkodav", "The Wolf Crusher" in Russian. It is very important  to select only stable dogs for breeding purposes, and avoid starting  protection training of dogs of this breed at early age. 

 This breed presents a robust dog of greater than average size with  great strength and power. They are independent, curious and alert, yet  imperturbable. The dog is as long as it is tall at the withers, or  slightly longer than its height. The hair is short or moderately long  with a heavy undercoat. Its ears are, in practice, cropped very short,  and the tail is docked moderately long (except for dogs from countries  where cosmetic surgeries for dogs are illegal). Most common colors are  black/white; fawn of different shades, from almost white to deep red; brindle. Some have a black mask.

The head is very solid, without pronounced stop or sculls. The neck is low set, short, with dewlap. The body is fairly broad, proportionate, muscles rather flat. The ribcage appears very long because of developed false ribs.  The legs are straight, with heavy boning and moderate yet defined  angulation. Leg bones must be in proportion, and shall never give the  impression that any bone is short. The rump is broad. The typical gait  is a gallop; however CAO can trot for hours without wearing themselves out.[14] 

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka

 The large Central Asian Shepherd Dog may spend a considerable amount of  time moving around in its native lands, and this kind of slow but steady  exercise is what it likes best. With a job to do and a piece of  property to protect, it will find the highest spot and keep an eye on  all that happens.

 Neither the longhaired nor shorthaired coat require a lot of grooming,  but the thick undercoat results in heavy seasonal shedding twice a year. 

The Central Asian is a working breed of dog, and different breed  fanciers organizations issue sets or rules and recommendations important  to preserve dogs’ abilities to perform certain duties. This includes  special tests to determine a dog’s inborn qualities, and training  degrees or titles aimed to show what the dog can learn to do.  

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka


The National Breed Club in Russia developed a temperament test  to  reveal a dog’s willingness and ability to protect the premises, as  well as titles in Obedience (such as OKD), and in Protection (such as  ZKS or KS) for dogs in most pedigrees from Russia and other countries of  that region. There are several other types of tests and training  titles, from simple to extremely complicated. 

Breed Clubs in European countries seldom have requirements, while common dog sports such as  Schutzhund  or IPO are not perfectly suitable for a Livestock Guardian dog. Some  European Union Countries developed special tests for large breeds of  dogs aiming to reveal a dog’s overall stability, such as The Mentality Assessment test in Sweden. 

Central Asian Shepherd Rare Guardian Breed Puppies Breeder Canada Ontario Alabai Ovcharka


Fight tests are common in countries where the breed is still in  aboriginal stage, or in the process of formation. Despite adverse  reputation of commercial dog fights, fight tests are aimed to reveal a  dog’s willingness and ability to fight predators. In countries with  highly developed open field sheepherding, major livestock herd losses  may be caused by predation from feral dogs and wolf-dog hybrids,  and the livestock guardian dogs must be able to protect the sheep from  those. The fight tests were established to maintain this important breed  trait.

And, finally, the real life test for the Central Asian is simply  to be a farm dog, or herd protection dog, in any country. Information on  Livestock Guardian dogs behavior and specifics can be found at Livestock Guardian Dog Association

 The CAO is a versatile, universal breed, and fits under different descriptions at a time, what is a reason for different Kennel Clubs to classify Central Asians under different dog breed groups. RKF, FCI recognized Russian Kennel Club, classified Central Asians as a working dog  breed, reflecting tremendous results in obedience, protection and  military-related training.  Modern breeding requirements by leading  Kennel Club in Russia include mandatory temperament test and training  title, besides show rating. UKC  fit them together with other Flock Guardians of similar breeds,  matching breed’ natural sheep guarding abilities, proven by breeders and  farmers in USA. FCI classified them as Molossoid dogs, sometimes described in different languages as Moloss or Molosser type dogs, likewise, reflecting the match by confirmation and common ancestry between CAO and related breeds.  

Other Names for Central Asian Shepherd Breed

  1. Alabai / Alabay
  2. Central Asian Ovcharka
  3. Aziat
  4. CAS / CAO
  5. Volkodav

[Article text copied from Wikipeda - Central Asian Shepherd Dog]

All photos on this page are dogs from Mishka's pedigree. Their pedigrees & photos are found at