Dog Breeds


aka Central Asian Shepherd Dogs

Alabais get called many names: Central Asian Shepherd Dogs, sredniaziatskaya ovcharka, Central Asian Ovcharka or Ovtcharka, Turkmenistan dogs, or Turkmen Alabai, but purists can distinguish between these breeds.

Alabais originated in Turkmenistan, where they are national treasures. The Republic of Turkmenistan used to be part of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan is bordered by Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the Caspian Sea. Many countries in the area have mixed in local mastiff-like dogs to produce the breed we know today as alabai: eg  Russia, Siberia, Tibet, Mongolia, and Mesopotamia. 

Puppy at 5 months.


Alabai male, with big head and thick neck.


Central Asian shepherd, or alabai, relaxing on the floor.

A tricolour, and a white, alabai

The white dog pictured above is imported from Russia, where ear cropping was allowed.


The alabai is an ancient breed. These massive dogs - molosser type - were around in the days of the Roman Empire, and Alexander the Great. They are said to have protected the traders on the Silk Route to China. In Russia they are nicknamed, "vokodav" meaning "wolf crusher." They have been used to protect livestock from wolves and other predators. They also fearlessly protected the shepherds and stockmen. The true alabai lives in the fields with the sheep and is unafraid to protect them. They have also guarded and herded cattle.

Alabai puppies quickly grow into big powerful, strong dogs, so they need an owner who will take the time to train the puppy and dominate the growing dog. They need exercise and should be taken for walks every day. In return the dog will be extremely protective of the owner, making a good watch dog that is suspicious of strangers. Alabais will probably win a dog fight, hopefully stopping short of killing the opponent. Alabai puppies need careful socialisation and input from the owner.

Alabais are tough, hardy dogs that are easy to keep.

Weight: 90 kg / 200 lbs

Height at shoulder: over 80 cm / 31 in.

Alabai on a sheep farm in South Africa

An alabai amidst a flock of sheep

A fawn alabai after wading in water

Alabai photos courtesy of Theuns Botha of Landbouweekblad. Ogan (red) is owned by Chrisridogs.

CAO (Central Asian Ovtcharka) with flock of sheep

3 alabai puppies with white faces

Alabai are also known as Asian Shepherd Dogs



Paws to Ponder

We can admire the courage of the ababai: if a predator comes, he does not run away. He is like Nehemiah, who was taunted by his enemies and said, "Should a man such as I flee?" Nehemiah 6, 11. He stood his ground.

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