Alabai or Central Asian Shepherd: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

The Alabai dog is known as the “Central Asian Shepherd”, this is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.

It is an imposing dog that demands to be respected, its physiognomy and the expression of its eyes help to achieve this task. It is one of the most sought after and ideal as a sheepdog as a livestock guide.

Origin of the Alabai dog

Also known as Ovcharka, a Russian word that makes an exact description of what this dog is, since it means “guard dog” and “shepherd dog”.

Until now, this breed does not have an exact definition regarding the place where it originated. However, as one of their names indicates, these are from central and southern Asia.

There is some data that says that these dogs are native to the region extended from the Caspian Sea to the Pamirs, and even from the border that exists between Afghanistan, Russia and Iran, to the south of what is known as Siberia. This breed is rarely seen outside its region of origin.

What is clear is that it is one, or perhaps the oldest of all the existing dog breeds in the world . According to the data that have been gathered, these have existed for more than 4,000 years and are considered a pure breed, that is, they do not come from a mixture between races.

In Russia, this dog is known by the name of ” Volkodav “, as this word means ” Hunter of wolves “. These dogs can usually be found in Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Siberia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

In some of these places, these dogs have the job of being guardians, while in others they are used in dogfights , although with regard to the latter there are already animal defenders who are fighting to eradicate this cruel activity.

Currently these dogs are beginning to arrive and be bred in the United States , however, they have not gained as much popularity as in their countries of origin. An unfortunate fact is that in Russia this breed is in decline.


This breed of dog is characterized by being of a great height and having an imposing and majestic bearing. In the case of males, they can measure between 65 and 90 centimeters , while females are usually between 60 and 75 centimeters .

In the case of weight, males can weigh between 55 and 90 kilograms , while females weigh between 40 and 65 kilograms. The body of these dogs is in perfect harmony and their back is wide.

Although they are large and thick-built dogs, they have formidable agility and can be very fast with good endurance.

The Alabai tend to live between 12 and 14 years when they are in normal conditions, this means that if you have excellent care and a good quality of life is provided , they could live a little longer.

In addition to having a robust body , they have thick fur that gives them that well-known bear-like appearance .

Thanks to their fur, these animals have the facility to tolerate the cold , therefore, people have taken advantage of this favorable condition to subject them to really harsh and extreme weather conditions , due to their work as sheepdogs.

The coat of these dogs can be represented between cream, black, brown and white tones , but also in possible combinations of these.

It has two coat variations, some have short hair that can measure between 3 and 5 centimeters , while others can have it a little longer, between 5 and 8 centimeters .

Another of the physical characteristics of these dogs that is very important is the shape of their head, which is rectangular, and the males have a slightly longer length than the females.

Their nose is large and black , although, in the case of those with white fur, they may have a slightly lighter nose, becoming brown.

Its muzzle is wide, which makes it look like an imposing and dangerous dog . It starts out being wider at the base, while it is slightly thinner at the tip.

The eyes of these animals have caused a sensation in those who observe them, as it is said that they are extremely penetrating, becoming very similar to the gaze of wolves .

The color of the eyes of these dogs is usually dark, they are distanced from each other and slightly sunken. The upper eyelids are slightly drooping , giving them a sleepy and sometimes intimidating appearance.

Alabai care

As these dogs are from the mountains, for many years, they have had to live under quite extreme climatic conditions, they are not a breed that is going to require exhaustive or excessive care .However, it is recommended that they be trained from an early age , especially if you want to domesticate and have it as a pet. These sheepdogs require a monthly bath at a minimum, but always being very careful with their ears and eyes .

This breed does not usually lose much hair during the year, so a weekly brushing will be enough to maintain it . However, if the dog is long-haired, it is advisable to comb it regularly and always in the direction of its growth.

This should be done especially when the hottest season arrives and the shedding begins . During this time, the ideal is to brush at least every two days, in this way, the coat is kept in the correct order and knots are avoided.

Just like any other dog, the Alabai will need regular monitoring by a veterinarian. This will be responsible for placing vaccines, deworming and any other type of preventive method of parasites, bacteria, viruses and infections.


The Alabai dogs must have a diet based on meat, it may give you raw or cooked, however, it is ideal lean beef or veal . Apart from this, it can consume visors and some waste, heart, kidneys and liver.

What is not highly recommended is to feed pork , since the fat it contains is usually absorbed by the body of these dogs. We can give you cereals (rice or oatmeal), fruits and vegetables, either fresh or steamed.

In the case of vegetables, they are considered the main source of vegetable fiber , so ideally , carrots, zucchini and spinach should be included in your diet .

After the Alabai puppy dog stage passes , that is, during their adulthood, they can be fed twice a day , one portion in the morning and another at night. Always keeping in mind that the food portions must correspond to the size and weight of the animal.

Something that we must bear in mind is that feeding these animals with food prepared at home can be a complex task, for those who have an active and very busy life.

In these cases, you should resort to packaged or canned foods , which are the safest and most appropriate option. From BARF food , to traditional dog food or wet food.

However, if you eat this type of food, you must be very aware of the quality of the product and that it meets the nutritional needs you need .

You can also add to your diet, some solid foods (Bones especially indicated for them) which will help you develop and maintain your jaw , being as powerful as you need it.

Exercise and physical activity

For many years, these dogs have had the task of being guardians, they have been in charge of guiding the livestock, protecting and taking care of their owners and the property where they live . These types of activities have achieved that over time, these dogs develop their physical and moral character.

Although it appears to be a lazy dog, when it concentrates on playing its role as a watchdog this animal has a lot of energy , which it will need to drain and release to maintain good physical condition.

For this reason, it is essential that these dogs maintain constant physical activity , thanks to this they manage to develop their strength and maintain the resistance that characterizes them so much.

In general, the Alabai is capable of quite demanding physical efforts, but it should not be abused, although it needs constant physical activity, it is also necessary that it have good periods of rest .

One of the most common and ideal exercises for this breed is walking or jogging on a daily basis . The best thing is that they live in a wide place, where they can exercise running and practicing their jumps.

If they don’t exercise properly, they can develop heart disease, joint problems, obesity, or diabetes . If we do not allocate at least two hours of physical activity a day, their life expectancy could decrease considerably.

Alabai dog character

The Alabai is a generally calm dog, so it does not usually intimidate by barking or pretending to be aggressive. It is an independent, faithful breed that is not usually aggressive, unless there is some reason that makes them act this way.

When they are puppies or young they are usually very playful and active, but in their adulthood they prefer to dedicate their time and energy to doing their work as guard dogs.

They are extremely obedient and are always attentive to the needs of their owner, as they have the ability to understand their gestures.

Although they need a fairly large space, you will always find them in strategic areas, where they can observe all the territory that belongs to them, both them and their family and livestock, in this way they can protect it.

Even though they seem to be indifferent to their surroundings, they are actually aware of your every move. Therefore, they are not ideal dogs for those who live in cities or apartments .

Although the Alabai is a dog full of tenderness, intelligence, obedience and good manners , they are not recommended for everyone. Being guardian and herding dogs, the ideal is that their owners are able to meet their needs and know how to understand them and give them what they need.


These dogs are able to coexist without problems with other domestic animals, with humans and even with strangers, as long as they do not represent a danger to their family or the livestock they protect.

If the rest of the animals that will have contact with him are smaller than his, these dogs tend to be even more sociable with them , because the smaller the animal, the less danger it represents.

It also activates their protective instinct, so that sometimes, the Alabai tend to adopt other pets as their small children or friends .

On the other hand, it is a dog that likes to be affectionate and attentive with children and with its family, so it will not have any problem with them at home. Although care must be taken with their interaction with very young children, because due to their size they can be a bit rough in handling and without wanting to trip them up.

Being family dogs they love to always be in daily interaction with the humans in their family.

Diseases and deficits

They are generally dogs in excellent health, especially if they have a complete food plan and adequate physical activity.

This indicates that, generallythe Alabai is a breed that does not develop diseases during its life , because, from its inception, it was exposed to extreme conditions.

They have had to survive in places where the resources they have are minimal, remain in the open and also have been forced to submit to the natural selection of life over the years .

However, some diseases that can be found in this breed are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia

In the case of hip dysplasia, it is a condition that tends to affect all giant breeds, because they are extremely heavy.

In addition, it is a disease that is inherited from parents and ancestors, so other different races can also be prone to it.

This condition causes excessive pain, so much so that it can make the dog incapacitated, in addition, it must be taken into account that it is a degenerative pathology , that is, it worsens over time.

Although so far no specific tests have been performed to determine other conditions in the breed, the diseases that have been most recorded in the Alabai are:

  • Heart problems.
  • Back problems.
  • Arthritis.
  • Swelling.
  • Deafness.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Waterfalls.
  • Heat intolerance

10 curiosities of the Alabai dog

  1. They are considered the oldest dogs in the world, or at least one of them.
  2. Although their size and physical appearance often make them seem intimidating, these dogs are very calm and sweet, especially with their owners.
  3. It is a breed that loves to be in the company of its own, so it always makes sure to be around.
  4. They are capable of surviving in extreme situations that other dogs could not.
  5. They are known as the “nightmare of the wolves” because, to protect the livestock, many of them killed the wolves that threatened their flock.
  6. This breed is sexually dimorphic, that is, the male has a considerable difference in size.
  7. One of the most effective ways to know if one of these dogs has a health problem is by observing the lower eyelid of its eyes, if it is droopy and colorless (when it is always black) it means that something is wrong.
  8. This breed of dog is said to have more than 4,000 years of active life.
  9. Previously, their ears and tail were amputated for better field work. However, this is a practice that has been banned in several countries around the world.
  10. The closest ancestor and predecessor to this breed is believed to be the Tibetan Mastiff, another imposing-looking giant dog.

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