The Central Asian Ovcharka or Central Asian Shepherd Dog is a large sized, heavy and muscular dog that was developed in Russia. The Central Asian Ovcharka was used for protecting flocks of sheep and their owners from predators and robbers and their tasks quickly grew to being a guarding protect or fighting dog as well.
Central Asian Ovcharka History
The Central Asian Ovcharka is a mountain dog an ancient breed akin to the Tibetan Mastiff and the Caucasian Ovcharka. The breed was originally bred by nomadic shepherds for the protection of their livestock against large predators, such as wolves and leopards. However the main risk they had to fight of where human Crimea Tartar thieves, sometimes mounted and ready to steal the flock. The Central Asian Ovcharka originated in Central Asia, the huge region stretching from Caspian Sea in the west to the Pamirs in the east, and from the border between Russia and Iran and Afghanistan in the south to South Siberia in the north. Six modern countries: Kazakhstan (Ural Mountains range), Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Russia, currently share that territory.
They served as livestock guardians, protected their owners or were used for dog fighting, once a national tradition of shepherds of those regions. All herders from the same area annually met together, and fought their strongest sheep guardian male dogs to pick a winner. It was about dominance, the dogs evaluated each other when they met at the field and the weaker or more submissive dog left, taking the loss. True leaders had to determine the strongest dog by means of a real fight. This ensured the shepherds that the dogs remained capable of facing though predators such as wolves, leopards and venomous snakes and allowed them to breed selectively with these dogs. This process along with the harsh conditions of climate, thieves and predators resulted in strong dogs, while staying social towards dogs or other animals on the premises.
Their demand lowered with the rise of modern agriculture. In the Soviet Union, the Central Asian Ovcharkas were later taken and selectively bred in the state-run kennels for the needs of the Red Army and the police, as well as the plant and warehouse security and livestock protection work. In Russia the breed is nicknamed Volkodav, which means "The Wolf Crusher" in Russian. Efforts have been made to preserve the working abilities, strength and beauty of the breed.
Today, they are used as guard dogs or family dogs. While they do well as family dogs with young and old, it suits best for responsible and experienced owners. The breed is also used in modern day dog fighting in Russia and some of the breed's original countries. Central Asians are also still in demand as livestock guardians, though not nearly as much as they used to be. 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. Most registries require working tests prior to breeding, so you could do well requesting the results and what tests were done.
Central Asian Ovcharka Appearance
If you had to describe them as simple as possible, they are something out of a half polar bear, half wolf combination, but their movement is more like a cat. Of course these dogs were created differently.
Body: the Central Asian Ovcharka looks robust and is slightly longer than its height or sometimes as long as it is tall at the withers. A CAS should be rugged with big bones, large chests and wide backs. The body is fairly broad, proportionate and the muscles rather flat. The ribcage appears very long because of developed false ribs. The well-boned forelimbs have powerful shoulders muscles. The legs are straight, with heavy boning and moderate yet defined angulation. Leg bones must be in proportion, and shall never give the impression that any bone is short. The thighs are powerful. The back is strong, and moderately long. The rump is broad. The neck is low set, short, with dewlap. In countries where this is allowed the tail is docked moderately long.
Head: the head is very solid, without pronounced stop or skull. The skin on the face is thick and may form wrinkles. Its ears are, in countries where this is allowed cropped very short.
Height at Withers: the dogs have on average a shoulderheight of 65 up to 78 (25.6 to 30.7 inches) centimetres and bitches on average measure 60 up to 69 centimetres (23.6 to 27.2 inches). There is no maximum height.
Weight: for dogs it's between 55 to 79 kg (121 and 173.8 lbs) and bitches are between 40 to 65 kg (88 to 143 lbs). Much heavier dogs do exist, but as a rule this comes at a cost affecting the dogs health.
Coat: the dense coat comes in two varieties, moderately long and short. The have a heavy undercoat.
Colors: the coat comes in a wide variety of colors. The most common colors are black, white or fawn of different shades, from almost white to deep red or brindle. Some have a black mask.
Central Asian Ovcharka Temperament
Character: the Central Asian Ovtcharka is a calm, fearless flock guardian. Independent, they stand their ground and do not back down. Bred to solve their master's problems, it is independent minded, and they are strong, brave and responsible.
Social Build: they go well with all members of their own family, however, they should be supervised with children. Outside the home they may try to dominate other dogs. The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is a protective dog who bonds first to its human caretaker and next with its perceived possessions, they are wary of strangers, they will act as real guardians. So be careful, this is not just a watch dog. They bond very strongly to their first master and will hardly bond to a new owner. With its strong guarding and territorial instincts, it is not a breed for the novice owner.
Central Asian Ovcharka Socially
Care: the CAS do not require a lot of grooming. They are light shedders, with easy coat care, brushing is only done to remove dry dirt or dead hairs cloths. Weeds and even the brush tend not to stick in the heavy, double coat, and mud, once dried, brushes right out. These dogs shed their coats heavily in the spring. The coat should be brushed extra at this time to remove the dead hairs.
Education: they need an owner who understands the flock guard type and the temperament that comes along with it. 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. This is not a breed for the timid, or meek owner. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in their dog pack and they include humans in their pack, the entire pack cooperates under a single leader. The objective in training this dog is to achieve a pack leader status. Lines are clearly defined and rules are set and maintained. Socialization is a must for the Central Asians, unless they are being used as flock guards. They get along with cats and other non-canine animals and (depending on their type, if none fighting lines then also) may go well with other dogs, as long as the dog is not a threat to their charge. If their are challenged by another dog, they will not easily back down. They want and seek interaction with daily family life.
Activity: the Central Asian Ovcharka really likes his exercise. They do great when you take them on a hike or even when you go jogging. On days that this isn't possible, they need a daily, long walk. They may appear to be lazy when they are laying down watching their property, but they tend to save their energy for some real action.
Usability: Central Asian Ovcharka are large but agile dogs, sometimes they are described as a cat in dog's clothing. The Central Asian Ovcharka is still rarely used as flock and livestock guardian. More often they are used as estates guards, and personal guardians this is a modern task that they excell in. The Russian army has used the breed during periods of war and for their guarding skills and still uses this breed for various tasks. They like to bark at night every now and then and this may present a problem if you have close neighbors. They require secure and high fencing around the property that you want them to guard or they will try to secure the whole area for you.
Central Asian Ovcharka Quotes / Trivia