Alabai or Central Asian Shepherd Dog (also Turkmen Alabai and CAO, English Central Asian Shepherd Dog) is an ancient native breed of dog native to Central Asia. Local residents used Alabaev to protect and protect property and livestock.
At home, this is one of the most popular breeds, they are also common in Russia, but are rarely found abroad. This popularity is deserved, because it is one of the largest, strongest dogs that can survive in the difficult climate of Asia.
Nothing can be said for sure about the origin and formation of this breed. They were kept by steppe nomads, among whom there were few literate, and writing was not held in high esteem. Add to this the dispersion and constant movement, which does not add clarity.
One thing can be said for sure, the Alabai hails from Central Asia, the regions now located in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. They have been used to protect property and livestock since time immemorial, but it is impossible to say exactly which country was home. The very first written sources mention these dogs, but they existed before them.
According to various estimates, the breed is 4000, 7000 and even 14000 years old.
There are two groups of theorists, some believe that these dogs came from ancient Asian shepherd dogs, others that came from a Tibetan mastiff. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, in the blood of the Alabaevs there are many breeds, because they developed naturally in at least 4000 years!
Where and how they appeared is not so important, because these dogs have occupied an important niche in the life of nomadic tribes. They served as their eyes, ears, and swords to their masters, constantly looking for a potential threat.
Although modern weapons and hunting methods almost destroyed predators in Central Asia, once populations of wolves, hyenas, jackals, foxes, lynxes, bears, leopards and the Transcaucasian tiger lived on its territory.
Central Asian Shepherd Dogs were looking for potential predators, drove away or entered into battle. And often it was far from people, the service was continuous, and the herds were huge.
Moreover, it was necessary to protect not only from animals, there was never a shortage of bandits, thieves and greedy neighbors in the steppe, hundreds of years continued in wars between tribes.
Alabay took part in skirmishes, protecting his own and violently attacking strangers. Add to all this not the most pleasant climate of the steppe. Central Asia is an arid climate, steppes and snowy mountains.
The temperature there may be higher than 30 ° C during the day, and at night below 0 ° C. All this served as a natural selection for the Alabai, only the most powerful, intelligent, adapted dogs survived.
Finally, the Alabai played an important social function when tribes and clans gathered to communicate. Usually it was during the holidays or peace treaties. Each tribe brought with them their dogs, especially males, for dog fights.
The essence of these fights was different from what is happening today in illegal fighting pits where different dogs are baited. What was important was not the death of the animal, but the determination of who surpasses whom. A typical battle consisted of a demonstration of rage and posturing, and rarely it came to blood. Even when the strength and ferocity of the males was equal and it came to a fight, one of them gave up and cost little blood.
These fights were a popular entertainment where betting was done. In addition, for members of the tribe, victory was a great achievement and reason for pride.
But, implicitly, such meetings were analogous to the current exhibitions, where the best representatives of the breed, which were left for breeding, were determined. Indeed, in order to guard, large, strong dogs were needed. But most importantly, the Central Asian Shepherd Dogs should not have retreated before any threat.
The harsh climate and remote location would make Central Asia one of the most isolated places on earth, if not one but. Central Asia borders four of the richest, most populated, and historically important regions: Europe, the Middle East, China, and India.
The famous silk road ran through its territory, and for hundreds of years only gold was more expensive than silk. In order to avoid thieves and for protection, merchants bought Alabaev for the protection of caravans.
But, the wealth of neighbors incited the greed of countless nomads, their hordes constantly attacked the neighbors with the goal of robbery. Born riders, they learned to sit in the saddle before walking, instantly flew in and retreated with their prey. Hundreds, if not thousands of nomadic tribes have sunk into oblivion, leaving behind only names: Magyars, Bulgars, Pechenegs, Polovtsy, Mongols, Turks, Turkmens, Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans.
And although the horse was considered most valuable to the nomad, it was the dogs that brought fear to the enemies. They say that even Molossians (fighting dogs of the Greeks and Romans) were inferior to them in battle. And, most likely, most of these fighting dogs were SAO or close breeds. Most historians are sure that Europeans and Middle Easterners were so impressed with them that they took it for themselves.
The Central Asian Shepherd Dog has been forming in Central Asia for thousands of years. The onset of Islam adversely affected dogs, as they are considered a dirty animal. But, not in Central Asia, where dogs played too big a role to abandon them. She continues to live without change until almost the 1400th century.
By that time, Russians were adopting the experience of Western Europe, including firearms. No matter how ferocious the dogs were, they could do nothing against the guns. Ivan the Terrible in 1462 begins to push the boundaries, crushing the nomads. The lands are settled by immigrants, who are also impressed by dogs. They call them shepherds or wolfhounds.
But the First World and Communist Revolution had little effect on the region. Communists who came to power are ready for war and are looking for a breed capable of guarding, patrolling borders, and guard duty.
Someone's gaze turns to the side of the Central Asian Shepherd, the number of exported dogs is growing dramatically. As the authorities select the best dogs, the quality of the population begins to suffer.
At the same time, new breeds arrive from all over the Soviet Union. These breeds intensively interbreed with Alabai to improve performance. However, the breed is considered unpromising for military purposes, since the Alabai are difficult to train.
They are being removed from the army, but the breed’s popularity has already grown in the USSR, more and more people wanting to get a wolfhound.
In those days when the Soviet government became interested in Central Asian Shepherd Dogs, it was not a single breed. These were similar local variations, many of which had their own unique names. All of them crossed both with each other and with other breeds.
As a result of this, modern Alabai can be very different from each other, more than the rest of purebred breeds. Many breeders from Central Asia and Russia still contain old variations, but more and more mestizos appear.
In July 1990, the Gosagroprom of the Turkmen SSR approved the standard for the breed “Turkmen wolfhound,” but this is the sunset of a great country. With the fall of the USSR, they begin to gain popularity in Europe. More and more Americans and Europeans learn about the breed and begin to breed it.
Most of them are interested in a massive dog for guard service or participation in illegal dog fights, but there are those who need guards for herds. Alabaev is beginning to be recognized in many cynological organizations. The first is the International Canine Federation (FCI).
It is quite difficult to unambiguously describe the appearance of Alabai, due to the fact that they are very different from each other. There are literally dozens of variations of Central Asian shepherd dogs, most of which cross with each other. In addition, they interbreed with other breeds. They are similar to other large guard dogs, but more athletic are more easily built.
There is one thing in common for all Alabais - they are massive. Although it is not the largest breed in the world, it is a very large dog.
Dogs at the withers at least 70 cm, females at least 65 cm. In practice, most dogs are significantly higher than the minimum figures, especially those living in Asia. The weight of males ranges from 55 to 80 kg, bitches from 40 to 65 kg, although among males it is often possible to meet Alabaev weighing up to 90 kg. The largest alabai named Bulldozer weighed up to 125 kg, and standing on its hind legs reached two meters. However, at the moment has already died.
Their sexual dimorphism is more pronounced than that of other breeds; males and females differ significantly in size and appearance.
The Central Asian Shepherd must be muscular and powerful, her appearance suggests that she is ready to meet with any opponent. However, she should not look squat and stocky.
The Alabaev’s tail is traditionally docked to a short stump, but now this practice is out of fashion and is prohibited in Europe. The natural tail is long, thick at the base and tapering at the end.
Characteristic and late development, dogs develop physically and intellectually completely by the age of 3 years.
The head and face are large, massive and impressive, but not as disproportionately huge as most mastiffs. The top of the skull and forehead are flat, the head smoothly passes into the muzzle, although the stop is pronounced. The muzzle is usually slightly shorter than the skull, but very wide.
Scissor bite, large teeth. The nose is large, wide, usually black, although brown and its shades are allowed. The eyes are large, deep set, oval in shape and dark in color. The general impression of most Alabais is dominance, strength and determination.
Alabai’s ears traditionally stop close to the head, so they are practically invisible. Puppies usually do this, but ear docking goes out of style even faster than tail docking. The natural ears are small, triangular in shape, hanging and set low, below the line of the eyes.
Wool of two varieties: short (3-4 cm) and long (7-8 cm). Both that and that - double, with a dense undercoat and a rigid top shirt. The coat on the face, forehead, and front of the legs is short and smooth. SAO can be of almost any color, but most often they are pure white, black, red, fawn.
As in the case of appearance, the character of Alabai can vary significantly from dog to dog. There are four lines, each of which varies significantly in temperament. Anyone who wants to buy alabai should find out who his ancestors were and carefully choose the nursery, as some lines can be extremely aggressive.
In general, these dogs are stable in character, but the lines that were bred to participate in dog fights are often unpredictable. But even carefully selected dogs are very dominant, often aggressive, and given the size and strength ...
The combination of these factors makes Alabaev one of the worst breeds for beginner dog lovers. Content requires experience, patience and will.
Turkmen alabai form a close relationship with the owner, to whom they are infinitely attached. Most of them are defined - the dog of one person, ignoring or negatively relating to everyone except the owner.
This affection is so strong that most Central Asian shepherd dogs hardly change ownership. Moreover, many are so attached that they ignore other family members, even those with whom they live for years and spouses.
This breed is not suitable as a family dog or for families with children. Most Alabais do not know that they should be gentle with children, and their brute strength can be a problem. Yes, they protect children and do not offend them, but ... this is a large and severe dog.
Even with decorative dogs, children should not be left unattended, what to speak of such a giant. Although often they get along great with children, they even allow themselves to ride. It all depends on the specific character and upbringing.
This is a guard breed, and most Alabais are suspicious of strangers, to say the least. Training and socialization are necessary from puppyhood, otherwise you will get serious problems as you grow.
Training allows you to reduce the level of aggression, but some representatives of the breed can still experience it with strangers. The owner needs to understand that even the slightest aggressiveness is a serious problem due to the strength of the dogs.
Even the least aggressive dogs remain highly suspicious and unfriendly to strangers. They are protective, territorial and always alert, one of the best guard dogs. And her bites are much worse than barking ...
They are completely intolerant of anyone who tries to enter its territory unaccompanied, but always try to scare and warn first. Although they do not hesitate to use force.
Central Asian Shepherd Dogs are excellent bodyguards that will do anything to protect the owner. In past centuries, they went out against tigers and bears, instilled horror in the Roman legionnaires, so that unarmed people can not stand against them.
And participation in dog battles did not add to their love for other dogs. As you can expect, the Central Asian Shepherd Dog is aggressive towards other dogs and aggression is diverse: territorial, sexual, dominant, possessive. Socialization and training reduce its level, but it cannot be completely removed.
This is especially true for males, which often do not tolerate other males. They are best kept alone or in company with a dog of the opposite sex. Owners must remember that SAO is able to cripple or kill almost any dog without much effort.
These dogs defended cattle, and if Alabai grows on a farm, it becomes a protector for animals. But in general, they are aggressive towards other animals, especially strange ones. Alabai will attack another animal to protect the territory and family and will probably kill him, even if it is a wolf.
The upbringing and training of Turkmen Alabais is a very difficult matter. This is not the dog that lives for the tenderness of the owner, most of them are very stubborn and masterful. In addition, they are dominant and they are trying to push the boundaries of what is permitted by man.
Since the Central Asian Shepherd completely ignores the commands of someone whom it considers below itself on a social or hierarchical ladder, the owner should always take a dominant position.
This does not mean that training Alabai is impossible, it just takes more time, strength and patience. There are no difficulties only with the guard service, which is in their blood.
In the steppe they wander for days on end, often passing over 20 km per day. As a result, they need serious physical activity. An absolute minimum of about an hour a day, daily.
Representatives of the breed who do not receive enough load can develop problems with behavior, destructiveness, hyperactivity, endlessly bark or be aggressive.
These are good jogging companions or while cycling, but what they really need is a spacious courtyard. Due to its size and requirements, the alabai in the apartment does not get along well; they need a yard with a large area or an aviary.
Central Asian Shepherd dogs bark to warn the owner of the slightest changes. They know about a person’s disabilities and often bark at night, reacting to unusual smells, sounds or events. If you have close neighbors, this will lead to complaints of excessive noise. You can reduce the intensity with the help of training, but it is impossible to completely eliminate.
What care may be required for a dog living in the steppe called the Turkmen wolfhound? Minimum. They do not need any professional groomer, only regular combing.
It is very, very advisable to teach puppy care as soon as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of acquiring a dog that weighs 80 kg and does not like to bother with it. Shedding, and very plentiful. Most are moderate throughout the year and intense twice a year, but some are intense all the time. At such moments, they leave behind themselves just shreds of wool.
There are no exact data, since no serious studies have been conducted, and indeed many different lines. But, the owners claim that Alabai is one of the most persistent and healthy breeds, and there is no reason not to believe it.
They have a gorgeous gene pool, one of the best among large breeds.
The Central Asian Shepherd Dogs have excellent heredity. Their ancestors lived in harsh conditions, only the strongest survived. However, the situation was spoiled by late crosses with other breeds.
Life expectancy of 10-12 years, which is good enough for large dogs.