The Central Asian Shepherd

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog (The Central Asian Shepherd - CAO) or Alabai is a unique breed. When you get to know this beautiful, strong, muscular and tough animal, you will never think of it as an average dog again and you will love it forever. This dog keeps your heart and if you had the Central Asian Shepherd once and understood its soul you will never change it to any other breed.

The CAO is a breed whose history stretches out for more than 4,000 years – it is the world’s oldest native guardian dog. Unfortunately its origin is lost, but many believe that this independent breed descended from native dogs and the giant Tibetan Mastiffs who mated during the time of Silk Road trading and tracking. Similar breeds to the Central Asian Shepherd may have accompanied the Mongols when Eastern and Central Europe were invaded. These dogs were likely the source of Europe’s herd-protecting sheepdogs, whose life was all hard experiences.

To understand their past history means to understand a time when surviving one day against severe climate, predators, invading tribes and the everlasting enemies – wolf and bear, was a goal not easily achieved. Due to environmental conditions of Central Asia, from high-mountainous areas to hot deserts, people were engaged in cattle and sheep breeding. For centuries the life of a cattle breeder or nomad was unthinkable without a working dog, protecting his domestic animals and travelling caravans in the deserts, steppes and mountains from carnivores and robbers and helping to run the cattle to a new place. This dog had to be large, athletically fit, with a natural instinct of protection of property, unpretentious, strong, fearless, friendly, smart and mistrustful to strangers. All these qualities and characteristics are found in the CAO. In difficult environmental and rather severe living conditions, with lack of food and water for both human and dog, constant struggle with cold winters and very dry and hot summers, always requiring the highest level of performance, this breed has passed a rigid natural selection throughout thousands of years.

For ages these dogs have never been out of a job: at all times they were considered an important asset by every owner, no matter what his possessions were — huge flocks of sheep, or a small house, or just a beautiful daughter. This is probably why time has not made any impact on the appearance and temperament of these dogs. Instead, generations after generations, centuries by centuries, they have been slowly and thoroughly polished by mother nature with very little help from man, for the skills needed to survive and for doing their job: outstanding intellect, combined with highly instinctive and intuitive behavior, independence, enormous physical strength and size, tolerance to pain, adaptability, hardiness and a very stable nervous system.

Along with natural selection and with no possibility of feeding large quantities of dogs, shepherds conducted primitive artificial selection, leaving alive only the puppies which possessed the best working qualities and calm, reliable temperaments. The puppies must have grown-up naturally strong and healthy due to much physical activity and lack of food. In villages and mountain camps, dogs that showed in-adequate behavior, excessive aggression to people, family members or children, as well as too pugnacious and excitable dogs, were killed. Fights or struggle for leadership among the dogs were not desirable, because they brought disorder into the well-coordinated work of a pack: usually if two dogs have been fighting too much, shepherd killed one of them. A similar practice exists even today.

From time to time shepherds themselves selected the adult dogs to fight and kept the winner - in fact, they needed a courageous fighter, capable to protect a flock of sheep. The task of the fighting dog demanded specific basic anatomical traits and temperamental features. These requirements led humans to dog fights, but there were no record of betting or any kind of money exchanging hands. The goal was to breed a dog that would attack animals but was affectionate towards humans. In many of the countries, where the Central Asian Shepherd Dog resided, they have been used in such dog-duels, which were more than dog fights, organized for entertainment, but were actually held for testing of dogs’ strength, courage and skills. No cruelty or violence took place towards the dogs. Such duels had always been safe for the dogs as shepherds mainly pitted their dogs to test their nervous system and spirit. Dogs never harmed each other and injuries happened very seldom. It was more about obtaining dominance than destroying the other dog. In most cases, the dogs would evaluate each other before the fight and the less strong animal would simply leave. The skilled eye of the shepherd noticed all merits and demerits of the dogs during a duel. On fights the shepherd made the choice whether it was possible to take this or that dog for work and protection of the flock. Without such check of dogs on "professional usefulness", work and a life in a flock were totally inconceivable because a dog was shepherd’s eyes and ears. Only the strongest specimens, that had proven themselves in conflicts with other dogs, wolves and bears, were allowed to breed and pass their genes onto the next generation. Nowadays, the Central Asian Shepherd is still being used in dog fights, but these fights sharply differ from fights of the past and have none of the purpose they once may have held. Today the demand for livestock guardian dogs is not as great as it was in the past. Unfortunately, ancient traditions are not followed any longer and those methods, that had been successful for many ages, have lost their traditional values, instead a brutal sport is having its place. Huge mass, strong muscles, fighting skills that were perfected over centuries and unbelievable endurance are not used today for the designated purposes. Dog fights are mainly for the sport of humans watching them, who gain a monetary benefit from a winning dog. A victory at any cost is more and more often present on fights. The owner of the winning dog, furthermore, can command quite a high price for stud services and trainers use tricks like steroids to increase their dog’s chances of winning. That is why a number of impure dogs have been encountered in recent years, valued simply for their fighting skills and not for their livestock guarding abilities or correct temperament and health.

Especially popular dog fights have become since the Soviet Union's collapse 20 years ago. Today they are not only legal, but flourishing and are held on a regular basis. When outsiders criticize dog fights, dog fighters themselves claim that they are keeping alive a tradition and characteristics of these ancient dogs, allowing the dog to do what it was bred to do. Dog fighters also state that the fights are not to the death and serious injuries are very rare. This is not always the case and very often dogs, included in the tournaments, are known to die.

But we still hope that finally we manage to keep the core of good sense inherited from the previous generations, because the Central Asian Sheepdog today is a devoted family member in modern society. They can be wonderful companions and work well with the elderly and children. The working nature of the breed makes them naturally distrustful of strangers and protective of their homes and people. They are even-tempered and have very balanced mentalities. They are super intelligent and loyal. They learn quickly and have a logical way of thinking. Some dog-fanciers even say that this breed possesses an almost human way of thinking and, when necessary, can make own decisions. Most of these decisions are quite adequate. Its reaction is instant, but when you command it to do something, the dog will make its own judgment first. Only when it agrees that the command is rational does it act. This dog has an astounding serious character. Calculated, noble and obedient, they respond well to training. Devotion to their family or job is their heart's desire. This breed's physical and mental qualities make it a truly many-sided breed, highly adaptable to many conditions and lifestyles and successful in different fields. The CAO's roles in the modern world include police and military work, personal protection, country property and livestock guarding, sport, family companionship, hunting and, of course, Show career.

Centuries-old friendship and nature itself have created a breed that today combines great strength, power and unlimited love for people in one beautiful dog, who has big heart and strong spirit. One should be really proud of this masterpiece of nature!

Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is a bold, undemanding and a very clean dog with a calm and independent character. Body is proportional and well muscled. Males are 38,5–41,5cm high at the withers, females – 35,5-38,5cm. Weight is 8-12 kg. Skull size is moderate and in proportion to the body. Forehead is broad and flat with a slight furrow. Muzzle is firm, full and round with a stronger lower jaw projecting from full cheeks. The bridge of the muzzle is straight. Muzzle tapers slightly from stop to nose tip. Lips are tight and black. Nose is black. Bite is scissors, with a full complement of strong, substantial, evenly aligned teeth. Ears are triangular in shape, firmly pricked and small, but in proportion to head and body size. Ears are set well apart and tilt directly forward with the slant of the back of the ear following the arch of the neck. Eyes are dark brown, somewhat triangular in shape, deep set, and upward slanting toward the outside base of the ear.

The smallest of the Japanese native breeds, alert and agile with keen senses, the Shiba Inu is an excellent watchdog and companion. Descended from the primitive dogs of the ancient people of Japan, the Shiba Inu was bred to hunt small birds, wild game, boar and bear. The name Shiba in Japanese means brushwood and the dogs were named for the brushwood bushes where they hunted or the color of brushwood leaves in the fall, and Inu means dog. Originally there were three main varieties of Shiba, each named for its region of origin: the Shinshu Shiba, from the Nagano Prefecture; the Mino Shiba, from the Gifu Prefecture; and the Sanin Shiba from the northeastern part of the mainland. Although similar, the Shibas from each area contributed to differences in breed type seen today. The Sanin – black-and-white, spotted, much bigger than Shiba. The Shinshu – mostly red, with soft, dense undercoat and strong, straight outercoat. The Mino – mainly dark red. All these ancient breeds had small triangular ears, curled tail, curried up and over the back, small eyes, deep-set and slant slightly upward, and had been used mostly for hunting.

The Shiba is a very intelligent, loving, kind and agile dog, charming and open. Still, if the Shiba is not completely convinced that its owner can handle the pack leader position, they will believe that they can make up their own rules and will show to their owner that they do not need him at all for living.

Thanks to its small proportions and attractive exterior the Shiba Inu is now the most popular breed in Japan and in recent years has been gaining popularity in the United States and Europe.

back to the top

© "Heruvim" 2009. Аll rights reserved. The content of this web site is copyrighted. Portion or all material can not be used unless written permission of the owners were given.