Central Asian Shepherd, the Alabai

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Central Asian Ovcharka ShepherdThe Central Asian Shepherd, the Alabai, or the Central Asian Ovcharka  is strengthening its reputation in Europe and America as one of the best Russian guard dogs. This massive and powerful dog of above average height has a bear shaped head, a harmoniously built body with a  large chest and wide back, covered in a thick and elastic, longer or shorter coat that can be one of many colors.  The eyes of the Central Asian Shepherd are deeply set, dark and alert, the nose is big,  and its ears and tail are usually cropped very short (click for video).

The Central Asian dog breed which is thought to date back about 4000 years is probably the oldest of the ancient Molossers in the world. It developed as a result of severe natural selection on a huge territory along the ancient Silk Road from China to Caspian Sea. Throughout its history the Central Asian Shepherd was used for livestock herding, flock and caravan guarding, hunting and protecting property. Left outside the house these dogs became hardy, healthy and very self-sufficient. Many of them were used for dog fighting, just as the Caucasian dog.

The breed consists of numerous types and lines which differ in size, color, head and coat. Most of these types have their own names, like Alabai (Alabay) in Turkmenistan. The kennel breeding of the Central Asian dog began in former Soviet Union in the 30s of the last century. The Russian-made Central Asian Ovcharka (sheepdog in Russian) or Sredneaziatskaya Ovcharka (CAO) is the internationally known breed, recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1996.

This Russian dog breed is of dominant type with a very strong protective instinct. Being generally calm and serene, the Central Asian dog has a very fearless and courageous personality. As a very independent guard dog it doesn't need commands to control its territory, attacking and taking down any intruder by its own.

Central Asian ShepherdFortunately, it is not as aggressive and fierce as its close relative the Caucasian dog.  When challenged it will stand its ground, but it will be usually good to the entire family. It is very important whether your dog comes from working, fighting or livestock guardian line. The last one is the best for an intelligent and well-mannered house dog.

The life span for the Central Asian dog is about 12 years. Its health concerns include hip and elbow dysplasia, and sometimes bloat.  Though shedding every spring this dog does not require much grooming.

The Central Asian Shepherd is best suited for experienced and strong-willed owners ready to work on the dog's broad socialization from the very beginning. It will adapt to living indoors, but prefers to be outside in a securely-fenced yard. This Russian dog is bright and capable of learning but it needs a proper ongoing training.

Alabai size:

Height: 24 to 32 inches (males 27-32, females 24-27)

Weight: 88 to 176 pounds (males 121-176, females 88-143)

Breed Names:

Central Asia Shepherd Dog, Central Asian dog, Central Asian Shepherd, Central Asian Sheepdog, Central Asian Ovcharka, Sredneaziatskaya Ovcharka, CAO, Central Asian Ovtcharka, Alabai, Alabay, Aziat, CAS

Central Asia Shepherd Dog Breed Standard

Find a name for your Central Asian dog in Russian.

Learn some Russian dog commands!

Browse Questions and Answers about Ovcharkas!


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  1. yılmaz says

    It is not a russian breed.it is a natural breed in middle asia....russians mixed all central asian dogs and they claim that it is a russian breed.this dog belongs to the nomadic turkic peole of middle asia.in the past it was called turkish sheepdog.later on they called it turkmen dog.by the way most turkish people are turkmen.
    so,this dog is not russian.it belongs to turkic peoples.

  2. alabaika says

    alabai Bush and york..Mele Gush even see that before someone jumps .. they were good friends .. now Mele Gush living in Slovakia...

    sometimes leads to problems when live together two males and bitches come into season..then they do not break out area and both want to be leaders..


  3. says

    Hello..I also have a labrador male and two alabai females. my alabai girls learned to handle labrador but not it..they never will despite and I do not the problems ..

    sorry for my english..☺

  4. harris says

    hello people...i want to ask something...i have labrator 2 years old female and i had alabai 3 months male and i want to know if these 2 dogs can live together in the field and if the labrator can teach my alabai how to survive...pls answer..

  5. Jeannine de Palma says

    Sure what hips scores does the parents have>? are they working livestock dogs? if not what temperament tests have they had for protection? Are they in standard 42 teeth? . What type the russian CAO? or the Alabai? which can have undershot or Shepherd dogs that have scizzor?

  6. Stacy George says

    If u want true aggression then the caucasian ovcharka is the way to go! But they need early socialization as a puppy, as not to take part everything & everyone in their path! The Central Asian Dog is more protective with their aggression it is not just straight forward in ur face here I am aggression! It is a laid back approach u try & harm what I love & protect we going to tussle!

    • Jeannine de Palma says

      That is the best lamens terms ive seen i a long time. The CO had the word aggressive to strangers, CAO still has strong distrust. I dont use words like aggressive due to attraction of US small men syndrome. I say they are territory aggressive vs human or dog. My sheep, my mom., my house so no one or anything allowed in. Each breeder selects, trains and tests for certain functions. I have been selecting away from dog aggression , want pack dogs, mid to high human distrust .I want a stable dog that defers to me in public but acts on its own when alone. Which to be is a defensive dog from a aggressive one.

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