Central Asian Shepherd, the Alabai

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!





  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.

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