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Central Asian Shepherd: An Ancient Breed That's Still Popular

The Central Asian Shepherd has been a great friend to nomadic tribes of Asia for thousands of years. Initially, the breed was used as livestock guards to ward off attacks from predators but eventually made its way as a service dog in the government and military.

With its massive and muscular appearance and formidable strength, the Central Asian Shepherd has long been sought-after as a protective pet. The thick and heavy coat offered them protection from the harsh climates they had to endure.

Today, the Central Asian Shepherd dog has leaped from being a guard dog to a family pet. However, because of its sometimes stubborn nature, it is not ideal for a first-time pet owner. Many hours of training are required to ensure that this breed is well-adjusted to family life.

Where the Central Asian Shepherd originated

The Central Asian Ovtcharka, another name for the Central Asian Shepherd dog, is considered one of the most ancient breeds today. Its origins date back roughly 10,000 years, and they had their start in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

Many kennel club attendees have suggested that this dog is the result of breeding Central Asian guard dogs with the Tibetan Mastiff. Nomadic farmers used them to protect livestock from roaming predators like bears and wolves making their way down from the mountains.

Hailing from this type of environment, it's no wonder these dogs had to become resilient and tough to defend livestock from bears or wolves. Hence the reason behind their nickname of "wolf-crusher." 

Despite its violent and aggressive past, the Central Asian Shepherd dog can now enjoy a much different life than its early beginnings. Sadly, there are still dog fights in Central Asia that use these poor animals. 

Central Asian Shepherds can make excellent companions to pet owners who make an effort to understand the breed. Before choosing to bring this breed of dog home today, make sure you have an understanding of their temperament and needs. 

What a Central Asian Shepherd dog looks like

There is a distinct look to the Central Asian Shepherd dog, even though there are many variations within the breed itself. The most common features of this breed of dog are their large and imposing size. Males stand at 78cms high and weigh up to 80kg, while females stand at 69cms and weigh up to 65kg.

The Central Asian Shepherd dog has a broad, bear-like head, supported by a thick and short muscular neck sporting a prominent dewlap. Dark and deep-set eyes with small ears that naturally flop over if not cropped. A broad, sturdy and muscular body that is longer than being tall.

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog also boasts a thick double coat of fur. A more dense and harsher layer on the outside and a much softer underlayer designed to help insulate them in colder climates. The coat also can range in various patterns and colors, and sometimes sporting a dark mask.

Temperament and behavior

With the proper early training, Central Asian Shepherd puppies can grow up to be great family pets. They are known to be patient with small children. However, their size can be troublesome, so adult supervision is crucial; they inadvertently could knock over the little ones.

These dogs do not necessarily show unwarranted aggression, but they could be nervous around strangers. They tend to have a fierce instinct to guard their pet parents and are territorial.

Central Asian Shepherds can get along with other dogs and even other family pets, but they could get a little bossy! They may feel as though these other animals are challenging their authority. 

Pet parents should be aware of their dominating tendencies and take extra care to ensure that the situation remains calm. Considering the size of this breed, this is crucial!

Central Asian Shepherd care

Initially bred as a working dog, this breed requires a lot of daily physical activities. Going for hikes or jogging with this dog will give it what it needs physically and calm its emotional state. It also enjoys mental stimulation and will love games that allow it to think.

Here are some tips to keep your Central Asian Ovcharka happy and healthy:

#1. Training

With great intelligence, lively nature, and a very independent attitude, this Asian dog is slightly different from other Asian dogs. It requires extensive training to become a kinder, gentler and loving family, companion, and guardian.

#2. Socialization

Much like other shepherd dog breeds, the Central Asian Shepherd has a naturally protective nature. Introducing it to other humans or animals requires you to be calm and assertive. A nervous person may trigger the instincts to protect and could cause aggressive behavior.

#3. Obedience

Training your Central Asian Shepherd dog is essential to keep them under control. They are rumored to have the strongest dog bite, so you should avoid any volatile situations. Training is vital to command some authority over the dog around small children and other pets.

Training them to be quiet is also crucial since the Central Asian Ovcharka will bark at anything suspicious, which may become annoying! Therefore the "speak" command when you want them to speak and the "quiet" command when you want them to be quiet are essential.

#4. Feeding

Central Asian Shepherd's health is directly affected by exercise, training, and diet. Its size alone means that it will eat a lot, but what you feed your dog is just as important as quantity. A nutritious diet that consists of a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates is critical.

Central Asian Shepherd health concerns

Many types of Shepherd dogs have health concerns, and the Central Asian Shepherd is not immune to similar issues. By identifying these problems early on and taking them for regular visits to a trained vet, you can help them live a long and happy life.

Because the breed has a diluted gene pool, there are some genetic diseases pet parents should look out for, many of which are not likely to appear in other purebred dogs. Here are some conditions to look out for:

  • Hip Dysplasia - This is an orthopedic condition that affects the development of the hip joints. If left untreated, it may develop into osteoarthritis, which could drastically affect the quality of life for these dogs.
  • Elbow Dysplasia - Elbow Dysplasia is a disease of the elbow joint. It is typically inherited and results in osteoarthritis that can become chronic with a life full of pain and issues surrounding the dog's mobility.
  • GDV (Bloat) - This is a severe and painful condition in which the dog's stomach expands due to excessive amounts of trapped gas. The abdomen may rotate on itself, trapping the stomach contents and creating a severe condition requiring immediate medical attention. 
  • Shedding - Central Asian Shepherds are known to shed profusely during their shedding season. With a thick overcoat and soft undercoat, the hair can be excessive. It is essential to brush them during this period so the hair doesn't become matted and tough.

Despite these common issues, these dogs generally enjoy a long life with proper care and can live up to approximately 14 years of age. 

As with any dog that ages, this breed may need some assistance in its senior years. One way to help your aging dog to have a good quality of life is to have products that help with their mobility on hand. 

bed ramp for dogs will help your furry friend to get up and down higher areas with ease.

Is this the right breed of dog for you?

Like most dogs with pet parents who are active on social media, this breed of dog has become part of the post, like, and share phenomenon. Central Asian Shepherd dogs are no strangers to the popularity of platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Although this dog is more common in the rural places of Central Asia, they are making their way to the forefront as being a popular choice for pet owners on every continent. By experiencing life with the breed through social media, potential pet parents can figure out if this type of dog will suit them.

As with most breeds, there are forums and pages devoted to Central Asian Shepherd dogs and their unique needs. These online spaces will give those interested in the breed all the information they may need to make an educated decision.

Giving the Central Asian Shepherd the love they deserve

This Asian breed has had a tainted history, and some consider them dangerous because of the rumors of them having the strongest dog bite. However, if trained well, this breed can be a loving and caring pet like any other dog. 

Understanding this breed of dog and its inherent needs makes all the difference when deciding to bring one into your family. The Central Asian Shepherd could be a loyal and protective pet and go beyond being simply a guard dog and becoming your best friend.

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