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Central Asian Ovtcharkas

Aliases: Turkmen Alabai, Central Asian Sheepdog (CAS), Aziat, Middle Asian Ovtcharka

Central Asian Ovtcharka For Sale

The Breed That Natural Selection Created

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Tags: Central Asian Ovtcharka, Show, Origin

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When we speak about a breed of dogs nowadays, we usually refer to a group of dogs that are classified together according to a definite set of characteristics that they share. Furthermore, we also intend a group of dogs that was developed by humans; humans had a specific goal in mind for a certain breed and actively sought out and selected for very specific traits to concentrate within a breed so that those dogs could fulfill their purpose. The Central Asian Ovtcharka, though, does not fit this description; many experts agree that this is not a man-made breed, at least not up until this point. This breed is perhaps one of the oldest dog breeds and it is very close to what the ancient Mastiff-type dogs, some of the first dogs to be domesticated, looked like. These dogs have been around for thousands of years.

Indeed, while the dogs we see in show rings today have undergone very heavy artificial selection, originally at the hands of one or a small group of people, the Central Asian Ovtcharka, also known as the Central Asian Shepherd dog, underwent mainly natural selection. This type of selection either doesn't involve man at all or only peripherally involves him and favors dogs with certain working characteristics that are very specific to the geographical areas in which they're found. This kind of selection takes thousands of years; the dog here can be viewed as not being fully domesticated, but rather in partnership with humans. Some evidence suggests that as far back as 6000 years ago, dogs like the Central Asian Ovtcharka were used to guard camps, guard livestock and hunt with humans.

Also unlike a typical dog breed, the Central Asian Ovtcharka was not bred in one specific location or in small, localized areas. It developed in the area ranging from Iran to Tibet in the South, all the way to Siberia in the North; included in this area are Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Russia and Afghanistan. Essentially, the area follows the ancient Silk Road. The dog is associated with the nomadic tribes that traversed the area and it teetered on the fringe of domestication. Russia took over the majority of the territory over which this dog roamed and so the breed has become thought of as a Russian breed, but this is not the case because the dog was around quite some time before Russians stepped foot in those lands. Ovtcharka simply means shepherd dog in Russian, and this name emphasizes the lack of a standard classification of this dog. Indeed, not all dogs look alike and not all variations are the same age; different countries have given each variation a different name.

There are no known breeds from which the tribes of Central Asia derived their stock of shepherd dogs; essentially, then, these dogs have no real ancestors and are simply semi-domesticated dogs that are in continuous evolution. There have never been any requirements for these dogs except to be big, strong, courageous and protective. Any dog that possessed these qualities got to stay with the humans, and receive food and shelter; more importantly, it wasn't killed by predators or the harsh nomadic life of its owners. This type of selection gave us the Ovtcharka of today.

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