The Central Asian Shepherd, sometimes called the Central Asian Ovtcharka, has been used to guard humans, their camps and flocks for centuries; they considered themselves a part of the livestock, ready to spring into action if any threat should arise. The same held true for the personal property and land of its humans. In the harsh Central Asian countries that it called home, the Ovtcharka often found itself battling large, fierce predators, such as bears, wolves, leopards and even tigers. Only the strongest, most courageous and most intelligent dogs would be able to survive the life that these dogs led.
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These requirements led humans to devise tests of a dogs strength and fierceness; in essence, humans would organize dog fights to see which dogs had the essential traits needed to make effective guardians and hunters. Nomads did not want to risk counting on a dog to protect their family and livelihood only to realize the dog didn't have what it takes. Necessity and the struggle for survival may have brought about the creation of these organized dog fights, and they don't seem to have been the spectator sportt that they are today. There is no record of betting, or any kind of money exchanging hands; these fights were not held for entertainment purposes, but rather to choose which dog could mean the difference between your family's and flock's life and death.
Nowadays, unfortunately, Central Asian Ovtcharkas are still being used in dog fights, but these fights have none of the purpose they once may have held. Dog fights in Central Asia, as dog fights everywhere else, are mainly for the sport of humans watching them, who gain a monetary benefit from the win of a dog. The owner of the winning dog, furthermore, can command quite a high price for stud services. Many dog fights are tainted, with trainers using tricks like steroids, wolf fat or Novocain to increase their dog's chances of winning.
While dog fighting is illegal in many countries around the world, it is still legal in certain parts of Kazakhstan, and most of the other Central Asian nations where Ovtcharkas are found; fights are still held in some parts of Russia, where the government has not been effective at enforcing legislation. Indeed, organizations exist that sponsor breeders and events for Volkodav (wolf-killer) fights. The Russian organization, called the All-Russian Association of Russian Volkodavs even puts out a magazine, has a web site and hosts annual championships. Other countries have their own organizations.
When outsiders criticize the sport, dog fighters claim that they are keeping alive a tradition and allowing the dog to do what it was bred to do. They claim to be keeping alive the characteristics of these ancient dogs, integral parts of the history of the land. Dog fighters also state that the fights are not to the death and serious injuries are very rare. Fights continue until at least one of the dogs gives signs of fear or pain; in other words, they'll whimper, drop their tails, or refuse to fight. This is not always the case, though; other breeds of fighting dogs are often included in the tournaments and dogs are known to die.
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