By Jags Goldie Last updated: 27th October 2022

Central Asian Shepherd Dog


Jags Goldie
Last updated: 27th October 2022

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog, commonly called Alabai by the Central Asian people, is an ancient breed of large-sized dogs bred for herding, guarding, and protecting flocks of sheep. It is of strong, muscular build, characterized by a slightly rectangular head, large nose, blunt muzzle, medium-sized, oval eyes, triangular, low-set, hanging ears, well-muscled neck, broad chest, straight legs with strong bone, and a moderately high-set tail. The males are larger, more courageous, and have a more massive head, and pronounced withers than the females.

Central Asian Shepherd Dog Pictures

Quick Information

Other NamesCentral Asian Ovcharka, Mid-Asian Shepherd, CAO, Middle Asian Ovcharka, Turkmen Alabai, Central Asian Sheepdog, Aziat, Sredneasiatskaia Ovtcharka
CoatShort/long, straight, coarse, dense undercoat
ColorBlack, white, gray, straw, russet, brown, brindle, piebald
Breed TypePurebred
CategoryLivestock Guardian, Utility, Molosser, Mountain type
Lifespan12-15 years
WeightFemale: 88-143 lb
Male: 121-176 lb
HeightFemale: 24-27 in
Male: 27-32 in
SheddingSeasonal, heavy
TemperamentCurious, bold, adaptable, independent, balanced
Litter Size5-7 puppies
Good with ChildrenYes
BarkingOccasional, moderate
Country Originated inRussia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan
Competitive Registration/ Qualification InformationANKC, AKC/FSS, ACR, ACA, ARBA, APRI, FCI, DRA, NKC, NAPR, UKC

Video: Central Asian Shepherd Dogs Playing


The Central Asian Shepherd possibly evolved over 4,000 ago as a result of natural selection in a vast region extending from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and from the Ural Mountains in the north to Afghanistan in the south. It is thought to have descended from ancient cattle dogs that are related to the Tibetan Mastiff and the Mongolian Shepherd Dog. These early CAOs protected cattle, dwellings, and caravans of the nomadic tribes.

Over the years, the population of these shepherds has remained stable despite being used as military dogs for the Soviet army. Today, these dogs are rarely seen outside Central Asia, although a few dog fanciers have started breeding them in the US. The modern Alabai has a strong genetic resemblance with other livestock guardians from that region including the Kangal and Akbash.

Temperament and Behavior

The Central Asian Shepherd is an affectionate family pet noted for its devotion to its people. It gets along well with its family members, also having a patient demeanor with children. However, interactions between toddlers and the Alabai require supervision else it can accidentally knock down young kids due to its enormous size and strength.

While it does not show unwarranted aggression, it is naturally suspicious around strangers and will quickly assume a defensive position if it feels threatened. It will alert its owner to any intrusions with a loud bark, resorting to protecting its territory till death.

It can coexist with other dogs and non-canine animals. However, being a self-assured, fearless flock guardian, it will be bossy around other pets, not putting up with those challenging its authority.



Bred for working tirelessly, the Central Asian Ovcharka requires daily strenuous activities. It makes an excellent hiking and jogging partner for active owners and enjoys going for long, brisk walks on a leash. Puppies can also be kept busy with tough rubber toys that they will happily pounce on, chew, or chase. Provide your Central Asian Sheepdog with a large, securely fenced yard so that it can perform its job of watching and guarding its territory.


The CAO does not need much grooming, as it can naturally keep its coat clean. However, you need to brush its coat regularly during the shedding season to remove dead hairs.

Health Problems

Being a large-sized dog, the Alabai is prone to genetic conditions like elbow and hip dysplasia.


These bold, intelligent, lively, and independent dogs are not for a timid or an inexperienced owner. They need firm, consistent, and fair training to help them become a gentle and loving family guardian.

Since the Central Asian Shepherds have an innate protective instinct, you need to be calm and assertive when introducing your pet to unknown people and animals. If you are nervous that it might act out, it will read this energy, which might cause it to behave aggressively. Invite your guests and their dogs to your house but be sure to choose those who can remain calm and relaxed around your CAO.

Train your Alabai to stop barking on the “Quiet” command. If your dog does not learn this, it may bark continuously at anybody or anything unusual, which may become a nuisance at times. First, you need to teach your dog to bark upon hearing the “Speak” command. Then use a word like “Enough” or “Quiet” and give immediate praise when it stops barking.


As a large working breed, the Central Asian Sheepdog requires a nutritious diet featuring food with a balanced proportion of protein, fat, and carbs.

Interesting Facts

  • The Central Asian Ovcharka is now used as therapy and ranch dogs.
  • There are different breed types within this group, such as the livestock guardian, the fighting, and the working types. Each of them differs in their temperament, ability, and functions.

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