Canine Breed Menu



Breed Organization
United Kennel Club (UKC)
Native Country
Other Names
Central Asian Shepherd, Sredneasiatskaya Ovtcharka, Middle Asian Ovtcharka, Mid-Asian Shepherd, Alabai, Turkmen Alabai, Central Asian Ovcharka
Life Expectancy
Approximately 11-15 Years
Litter Size
Average 5-10 Puppies
Breed Group
Working, Flock Gaurdian
Breed Appearance
The breed presents a robust dog of greater than average size with great strength and power. 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.

Breed Description
Head: Massive, broad. Flat forehead. Very slight stop. Large black or brown nose.
Ears: Cropped unless it is banned in specific countries
Eyes: Wide set, round. Dark color.
Body: Powerful. Short neck. Deep, broad brisket. Rounded ribs. Short, broad, slightly arched loin. Belly moderately tucked up. Broad, muscular, almost horizontal croup. Strong, straight, broad back.
Tail: Docked unless banned in specific countries. 
Hair: Harsh, straight, and coarse. Long-haired variety: 7 to 8 cm in length (2.5-3 in); Short-haired variety: 3 to 5 cm in length (1-2 in), smooth. Thick undercoat.
Coat: White, gray, black, straw, reddish-brown, tiger, pied or mottled.
Size: Dog: Dog 26-34 in. Bitch: Bitch 24-28
Weight: Weight 90lbs to 140lbs.

Central Asians most likely originated in a geographical area between the Ural, Caspian Sea, Asia Minor, and the Northwest border of China. Aboriginal Central Asians as well as mixes still can be found in its countries of origin, such as Kyrgyzstan, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and surrounding countries.[4] 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 Northern Caucasian Volkodav, Kangal dog, and Akbash.

Russian biologists and scientists have studied the local dog population 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 number of crosses elsewhere. 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" and countries where CAO still at aboriginal stage is a common practice nowadays.

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is a protective dog who bonds first to its human caretaker and next with its perceived possessions. Bred to solve problems, it is independent minded, strong, brave and responsible. It is a large but agile dog, sometimes described as a cat in dog's clothing. With its strong guarding and territorial instincts, it is not a breed for the novice owner. Sensitive and smart, the Central Asian Shepherd responds best to someone who can inspire loyalty while also providing strong leadership. Heavy-handed training will backfire with this breed; but respectful, thoughtful training will yield an undyingly devoted companion.

The CAS has hip and elbow problems that require screening for all genetic related disorders commonly found in large breeds.

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.

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. 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. 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.

Selected for centuries for their abilities to destroy predators, and praised for their power and stamina.

Horse Herd