The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is an ancient breed of dog from the regions of Central Asia. Traditionally, the breed was used for guarding sheep and goat herds, as well as to protect and for guard duty.
It is a large breed of dog recognized by FCI, as a Molossoid type dog breed of Soviet-era origin under Russian patronage. Numerous 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, rating them as the #1 breed in the country around 2000.
This breed presents a robust dog of greater than average size with great strength and power. They are independent, curious and alert, yet imperturbable. 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. Some have a black mask.
The head is very solid, without pronounced stop or sculls. The neck is low set, short, with dewlap. The body is fairly broad, proportionate, muscles rather flat. The ribcage appears very long because of developed false ribs. 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 rump is broad. The typical gait is a gallop; however CAO can trot for hours without wearing themselves out.
The large Central Asian Shepherd Dog may spend a considerable amount of time moving around in its native lands, and this kind of slow but steady exercise is what it likes best. With a job to do and a piece of property to protect, it will find the highest spot and keep an eye on all that happens.
Neither the longhaired nor shorthaired coat require a lot of grooming, but the thick undercoat results in heavy seasonal shedding twice a year.
Working requirements and tests
The Central Asian is a working breed of dog, and different breed fanciers organizations issue sets or rules and recommendations important to preserve dogs’ abilities to perform certain duties. This includes special tests to determine a dog’s inborn qualities, and training degrees or titles aimed to show what the dog can learn to do.
The National Breed Club in Russia developed a temperament test to reveal a dog’s willingness and ability to protect the premises, as well as titles in Obedience (such as OKD), and in Protection (such as ZKS or KS) for 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 a dog’s overall stability, such as The Mentality Assessment test in Sweden.
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 a dog’s willingness and ability to fight predators. 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 simply to be 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.
The 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. RKF, FCI recognized 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.