Alabai (Central Asian Shepherd Dog)

Country of origin:
Soviet Union
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
any, except genetic blue and genetic brown in any combination and black mantel on tan
very large
Hair length:
long, short
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons
• great stamina
• calm disposition
• exceptionally proficient guard- and watchdog
• relatively friendly with non-canine pets
• needs moderate amount of daily exercises
• doesn’t fit well for a family with small kids
• wary and even hostile towards all unfamiliar people
• tendency to bark at nights
• can be somewhat canine-aggressive

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is a massive canine variety of a multifunctional guardian native to Russia. For thousands years it protected the livestock and nomadic herdsmen on the vast plains of Central Asia and it still remains a popular working dog in this area. With proper socialisation this strong and even-tempered breed makes a wonderful companion animal.

Written sources testify that the Central Asian Shepherd Dog came to existence in the region between the Caspian Sea, Turkey, Ural, and the north-western Chinese frontier. This dog was an essential part of the everyday life of local nomadic tribes for over 4 000 years. It’s commonly thought that the primary predecessor of this breed is an ancient Tibetan Mastiff. It also may have escorted the Mongols during their invasion to central and Eastern Europe.

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog was actively bred for working purposes in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and other countries in the region. The vast majority of these dogs were used exclusively as livestock and personal guardians while some others were acquired for participation in dog fights. Nonetheless this type of dog fights was much less sanguinary than notorious pit bull fights. More often than not dogs would assess each other before real actions and the weaker rival would simply retreat. As the matter of fact serious injuries were fairly uncommon in such type of entertainment.

When communists came to power in Russia they started favouring breeds that could be used for army. This resulted into deterioration of both quantity and quality of the Central Asian Shepherd Dog, which was considered unsuitable for this role. Eventually its pure-blooded specimens were kept only by herders, farmers and breed’s loyal fanciers. Thanks to their good breeding practises it managed to preserve its unique identity. Since the Caucasian Sheepdog came into vogue as a highly dependable guardian, the breed slipped into a further decline. Nevertheless it is still prized for its strong protective instinct and stable temperament in its native land so its long-term future is rather well-secured.

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog can be rarely met outside the Central Asian area although recently American breeders have been showing certain interest in its breeding. This dog is recognised by majority of reputable canine clubs including Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and the United Kennel Club (UKC).

There are several lines of this breed.

In Russia the most popular and common type is a so-called flat-land-type (these dogs used to inhabit plateaus and foothills, but in a while were spread to the flat land). These dogs are higher and thinner, with smoother coat than a mountain type of the Central Asian Shepherd.

Those dogs that inhabit mountain regions are lower in height and have wider and more powerful build. The real mountain Central Asian Shepherd is really a table as a person can literally sit on this dog without damaging its bones.

Besides those two types there are two more lines – Italian and American.

American line of the Central Asian Shepherd is in conformation something in the middle of the flat-land-type Central Asian Shepherd and the Caucasian Shepherd. These dogs are very irregular in phenotype.

In Italy the most common Central Asian Shepherd is a smaller version of a flat-land-type. For example, this dog can weight 45 kg and have height of 60 cm, which is too small for the normal flat-land-type Central Asian Shepherd.

In Pamir region one can find another line of the Central Asian Shepherd. These dogs are higher and more powerful than other types, have long hair and are more of a Saint Bernard type. These dogs won’t have a problem saying hello to a jeep driver without standing on their hind legs. A puppy of this line one can find in India or Tajikistan, but in other countries it’s almost impossible to meet this dog.


The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is a powerful, brave, level-headed and independent dog, which requires a strong and confident master. Once correctly socialised it can be successfully kept as a family dog and will make an undaunted protector of all family members. This dog is fine with kids as long as they don’t abuse or excessively tease it. Its interaction with small children must be closely supervised because this huge dog can accidently injure them while playing.

Suspiciousness towards all strangers is in the nature of the Central Asian Shepherd Dog and sometimes it can even grow into pure aggressiveness. Plan to put a reliable muzzle and leash on your dog if you take it out in public. Being a highly territorial dog it usually becomes a very effective watcher, which will never let an unfamiliar person pass in the dwelling uncharged. Naturally it will make a ferocious and fearless guardian. Be mindful though that this dog has the nasty propensity to bark at night-time, which may not be appreciated by your neighbours.

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog gets on relatively good with other dogs. Of course it gets used to dominate in the group of other canines and can act aggressively in order to prove its alpha status. This dog lacks prey drive so it’s usually polite with other creatures especially with familiar one. It can live peacefully with virtually any type of pet; just make sure to introduce your puppy to their existence as early as possible.
Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• gastric torsion;
• arthritis;
• entropion.

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog has fairly minor grooming requirements. Brush you dog once a week and its hair will remain tidy and tangles free. Actually its coat effectively repels dirt and occasional slush can be easy wiped down with a damp cloth or simply brushed out once it dried. The nails of the Central Asian Shepherd Dog should be trimmed every other month as well as its teeth need weekly brushing.

The breed changes its coat once a year (usually in the spring) so get ready to resort to more frequent and thorough brushing during these periods. The remaining part of the year it’s a moderate shedder with insignificant coat maintenance.

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is a highly trainable breed if one applies a correct approach to the learning process. The well-socialised specimen is commonly eager to please its master and can cope well with very sophisticated tricks. Having regard to authoritative and independent nature of this dog it’s crucial to gain its confidence and respect and then its obedience won’t be long in coming.

The Central Asian Shepherd is prone to become mulish and defiant if you try forcing its submission by rude treatment and yelling. It’s worth to emphasise once again the importance of the early exposure of your puppy to various situations, people, sights, sounds and grooming procedures.

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is an athletic and hardy dog, which demands average amount of physical activity and a job to do. Naturally it must be taken for a daily walk of at least 45 minutes long. In fact, according to the reports of lots of its owners it’s prone to evolve into a true coach potato with maturity. Spacious securely fenced yard will satisfy the dog’s need for roaming and playing.

The enthusiasts of hiking and jogging will find in this dog a willing and indefatigable companion. But without sufficient daily exercises the Central Asian Shepherd Dog will demonstrate destructive and even aggressive tendencies in behaviour.