One of the oldest breeds in existence, these appropriately named shepherd dogs, also known as the Central Asian Ovcharka, were bred to be guardians and working dogs that have been used by nomads to protect livestock and family property for centuries. These shepherds were brought along the Silk Road with ancient tribes who traveled around Northwestern China, the Caspian Sea, and Asia Minor. The exact origin of the breed is uncertain, but it is believed that the Tibetan Mastiff is a forefather due to their nomadic lifestyle and originating in the same region, both tracing their history back more than 5,000 years. Unlike many other types of dogs, the Central Asian Shepherd Dog was not created by man but was shaped and developed from extreme climates. These large, powerful dogs can still be found in Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, and other Middle Eastern countries working just as their ancestors did.
The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is one of great size, power, and character that has existed for thousands of years due to their high level of adaptability. There are two recognized coat varieties: long, about 2 to 3 inches in length with feathering on the ears, neck, legs, and tail, while the short coat type is about 1 to 2 inches in length with no feathering. Regardless of the length, the breed has a long and coarse topcoat with a soft, fine-haired undercoat to make a very weather-resistant double-coat. Central Asian Shepherd Dogs have dark, oval-shaped eyes, triangular-shaped ears, and a large muzzle with a broad black nose. The natural tail of this massive shepherd is thick at the base and tapers to the end, but some dogs may be seen with docked tails.
Bred primarily to be a guardian of livestock and property, the Central Asian Shepherd Dog is renowned for their loyalty, confidence, and fearlessness. Their protective nature tends to make them very territorial and suspicious of strangers or unfamiliar animals. Socialization and obedience training is a must for this bold and independent breed, especially if they are acting as a companion instead of a full-time working guardian. Even with a serious temperament, they are known for being extremely devoted and affectionate to their families, protecting them at all costs. Central Asian Shepherd Dogs are very intelligent, needing minimal human supervision, and are great at problem-solving during new situations but can be a bit stubborn. Not recommended for first-time dog owners, training their strong-willed personality requires patience and positive reinforcement after establishing leadership and a strong bond; harsh corrections can backfire when dealing with large powerful breeds. The Central Asian Ovcharka may look like an inactive dog, but they were developed to be able to work long hours in harsh conditions - they require regular exercise and can make a great hiking or running partner. Best suited for families that live in rural areas, this massive breed needs a "pack" that can give them strict training from a young age and plenty of affection.