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Central Asian Shepherd Dog: Wikis


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Central Asian Shepherd dog
Other names Rus.- Среднеазиатская овчарка (Sredneaziatskaya Ovtcharka)
Nicknames Central Asian Ovtcharka
Country of origin Russia[1]

The Central Asian Ovtcharka (pronounced /ɒvˈtʃɑrkə/; Russian: среднеазиатская овчарка [srʲɪdnʲəzʲɪˈatskəjə əfˈtʂarkə]) is recognized by FCI, as a Molossoid type dog breed of Russian origin [1]. Most 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, often rating it as the #1 breed [2]



Central Asians most likely originated in a geographical area between the Ural, Caspian Sea, Asia Minor, and the Northwest border of China.[3] 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 their duties 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.

Russian biologists and scientists have studied the local dog population [5] 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. As well, the introduction of new breeds to the region led to crossbreeding in some areas. At some point, in most areas purebred dogs were only left at herders, breed enthusiasts and farms, while crosses surfeited in access. [6] However, Central Asian Shepherd Dogs population survived the communist intrusion, and still stable in general, reproducing same true quality dogs praised for working abilities, regardless of country of origin. Trading bloodlines and purchasing unrelated breeding stock between Russia, other "former USSR repubilcs" (such as Ukraine, Byelorussia etc ) and countries where CAO still at aboriginal stage, is a common practice nowadays.

This breed consists of numerous breed types. They differ in size, color, head types, hair types. As well, 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.[7] Breed specific dog anatomy includes exclusive features, such as very noticeable extremely flexible joints, false ribs, specific head set, very strong neck with massive dewlap they can extend at no time into different directions. Special true and beyond expressive mimic and almost human eyes, revealing the inimitable intelligence finish the portrait.

By working qualities, modern Central Asians had been bred into different directions, depends on the demand for their abilities. Traditional dog fights had always been a national tradition in places of original habitat, but they had never been cruel and destructive as 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 the 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, mostly minor scratches within short period of time. Only true leaders actually had to determine, who is the strongest dog via real fight, but this still minor compare to their everyday labor duty, facing predators and venomous snakes every day.[8]

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. Vast majority of breeders are aware of their dogs’ background, and will tell, if the dog comes from lines used for fighting, or not. And one can always expect high level of aggression towards other dogs from CAOs with dog fighting background. It is always important to distinguish weather the dogs display aggression only towards strange, unfriendly dogs entering their territory, while establish and maintaining usual social relationships with other animals on premises, or illegibly attack regardless weather the other dog is a member of same social group, or not. Promiscuity in aggression towards strangers and friends is highly atypical for the breed, as well as for other breeds of dogs.

Livestock guardians still in demand, but not nearly as much, as they used to be. These dogs differ in terms of being protective against human intruders, very territorial, safe with children, love and respect elderly people, protect all small animals from predators, and very gentle with family members. [9]

Personal protection, or working dogs originated from livestock guardian dogs, being selectively bred by Russian breed experts for working abilities. As a result, they excel in obedience, territory protection and personal protection, very intelligent, and make perfect house dogs.[10] They do not need any complicated training to learn basic house rules, and treat the owner with the same great respect, their ancestors treated the herder. These dogs were introduced to sheep breeding community worldwide with a great rate of success. Dogs must be able to work as a team, protection sheep against predators, thus excessively dog aggressive CAOs, as any other dogs, cannot be members of the pack, and will not pass this simple test revealing compliance of modern generation with breed origination purpose.

To conclude temperament differences description, 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 still very rare, because most registries require working test prior to breeding.[11].

Selected for centuries for their abilities to destroy predators, 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.

General appearance

Robust dog greater than average size of great strength and power. Independent, curious and alert, yet imperturbable. Dog is as long as tall at the withers, or slightly longer than tall. Short or moderately long hair with heavy undercoat. Ears are cropped very short, tail is docked moderately long (exempt 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. Head is very solid, without pronounced stop or sculls. Neck is low set, short, dewlap. Body is fairly broad, proportionate, muscles are rather flat. Ribcage appears very long, because of developed false ribs. Straight legs, heavy boning, moderate yet defined angulation. Leg bones must be in proportion, and shall never give impression that any bone is short. Tights, and rump are broad. Typical trait is gallop, however CAO can trot for hours without wearing itself out.


Working requirements and tests

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

National Breed Club in Russia developed a temperament test, that aims to reveal dog’s willingness and abilities to protect premises. Also, one can commonly see mostly titled in Obedience (such as OKD), and in Protection (such as ZKS or KS) 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 dog’s overall stability, such as The Mentality Assessment test in Sweden.

Common tests in USA are Canine Good Citizen by AKC, ATTS Temperament Test by American Temperament Testing Society. Both tests aim to reveal primarily temperament stability, while ATTS is more important for working dogs, as it also allows to rate dog’s reactions needed for protection.

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 dog’s willingness and abilities to fight the predator. 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 being 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


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. 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.


External links

Kennel Clubs and registries that recognize the breed

Breed pictures and video

Related dogs of same or similar breeds

While experts throughout the World still working on conclusion, which dogs from this widespread population belong to the same breed, there are several kennels and kennel clubs promoting same or similar dogs under different breed names.

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