Central Asian Shepherd Dog

This Rare Working Dog is an Independent Thinker

Central Asian Shepherd Dog

Also called the Central Asian Shepherd Dog (or Ovtcharka), This Rare Working Dog is an Independent Thinker

As the "offspring" of the oldest dog group in existence, the Central Asian Ovcharka's ancestors date back at least 4000 to 5000 years, and probably more. Unlike other breeds, the Central Asian Ovcharka's origins are not limited to one specific country or area. Instead, as the American Kennel Club's history page says, "They were created by the climate and culture of uncivilized time long forgot… Their history is merged with the civilization of man and their timeline can be found by tracing the history of the ancient silk route."

Ancestrally, breed types have differed for the Central Asian Ovcharka, also called the Central Asian Shepherd Dog. Nomadic tribes still use breed types of these dogs today, as they have for thousands of years. These large, mastiff-like dogs are still strongly utilized as working dogs in Iran, Afghanistan, Kirgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Their power and stamina gives them the rare ability to kill wolves if need be, earning them the Russian nickname "Volkodav," which means, "The Wolf Crusher."

Central Asian Shepherd Dog, or Central Asian Ovcharka?

The former USSR first standardized the breed in the 1920s, but a new Russian standard has been written recently, years after the USSR ended its rule. Today, a modern version of the 1920s Russian breed has been created, called the Central Asian Ovcharka. The differences between the ancient native dogs and these "modern" incarnations are still being discovered. Thus, the Central Asian Ovcharka is still called the Central Asian Shepherd Dog, even though this modern breed differs from the aboriginal or native dogs that are both its ancestors and still in existence today. It is currently recorded in the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service®. The breed still remains rare in the United States.

Just to clarify any confusion with the word “Ovcharka” which is also sometimes spelled “Ovtcharka” as well as “Owtcharka,” (but pronounced “uff-’char-ka” in every case), be aware that it is a Russian suffix often used to modify many working dog breeds including those which originate outside of the country. Its meaning is the equivalent of a blend of “sheepdog,” “livestock guardian dog” and “shepherd’s dog.”


Standing at least 24 to 32 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 88 and 176 pounds, the Central Asian Ovcharka is an imposing breed that in fact does not have a maximum size for the male. Male dogs can be larger than 32 inches tall at the shoulder and 176 pounds in weight. This muscularly huge mastiff-type dog almost oozes rugged strength and latent power. Its wide, powerful chest, massive back and strong thighs show that the Central Asian Ovcharka was bred by nature – and history – to work in the harshest and most extreme of climates, whether hot or cold. The Central Asian Ovcharka's thick double coat can be long or short, but it provides protection from the harshest of temperatures. It can be of any color, with the most common colors being varying shades of fawn, black and white, nearly white to deep red or brindle, sometimes with a black mask.

Perhaps most arresting about this dog’s appearance (besides its overwhelming size) is its deeply expressive eyes. Eerily human, they display a deep intelligence and unflappable courage.


This dog will assume the role of "flock guardian" to you and your family. A very independent animal which will not back down if challenged, these dogs are nonetheless gentle with and devoted to family members when chosen from a reputable breeder and properly socialized. It is essential, however, that you immediately establish yourself as the alpha dog in the family (or leader of the pack) because even though your pet has been naturally bred to be devoted and loyal to you, it has also been bred to work largely on its own guarding livestock or other important jobs. Therefore, this independentlyminded pet must always know that you are in charge, and you must use gentle but firm guidance to establish this.

The Central Asian Ovcharka is relatively tolerant of strangers, although it will tend to be aloof and somewhat wary. It's important to supervise small children around this dog especially as it grows bigger since these massive dogs may not be initially aware of their own strength and size.

If you need help with herding livestock, this reliable working dog can simply figure things out on its own to provide you with valuable initiative in getting the job done.

Proper Environment

The Central Asian Ovcharka needs plenty of exercise and something to do – such as, guarding you and your family. Its best living environment is a yard that's large enough to roam around in. If you hike or jog, the Central Asian Ovcharka is an excellent running companion, but a long, brisk daily walk is also beneficial. Give your pet as much exercise as possible. It's important to note that although your pet may look "lazy" when at rest, it can be up and running in a flash if it senses you are in danger. In addition to plenty of exercise, this dog prefers to spend as much time outdoors as possible – particularly with you. This is not a dog who will enjoy being left alone, and needs to have you in its sights at all times.


The Central Asian Ovcharka is remarkably healthy for such a large dog, although like most large breeds, it can be prone to hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, elbow dysplasia, bloat, arthritis, joint problems, and obesity. Bloat can be an especially deadly problem for large dogs. This is a condition where the stomach twists so that gas cannot escape, resulting in fatality within an hour of onset. If you see symptoms of dry vomiting, depression, pain, and a hard, distended belly, an emergency visit to the vet is crucial! Surgery can correct the condition. On average, Central Asian Ovcharkas live between 10 to 14 years.


Despite its thick, heavy coat, the Central Asian Ovcharka is relatively easy to groom. Although a heavy shedder in the spring, this dog is a light shedder throughout the rest of the year and will only need frequent brushing during shedding season. The rest of the time, an occasional brushing should suffice.


AKC Meet the Breeds®:

Get to know the Central Asian Shepherd Dog.

Central Asian Shepherd Dog History. cfm

Retrieved January 18, 2014.

Central Asian Ovtcharka (Middle Asian Ovtcharka) (Mid-Asian Shepherd)

(Central Asian Sheepdog) (Central Asian Shepherd Dog) (Alabai) (Sredneasiatskaïa Ovtcharka) (Turkmen Alabai).

Retrieved January 18, 2014.

Central Asian Ovcharka Home / Среднеазиатская Oвчарка.

Retrieved January 18, 2014.

Central Asian Shepherd Dog.

Retrieved January 18, 2014.

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