Central Asian Ovtcharkas are one of the oldest breed of dogs, dating back thousands of years, and some think they are the ancestors of many of today's modern breeds. Some experts think that they may have been brought to Mesopotamia by nomads and helped in humanity's rise to civilization.
The Central Asian Ovtcharka was not bred artificially in the manner in which modern dogs are bred. Humans did not play the most important role in this dogs development; rather, natural selection was the driving force in creating this breed.
The Central Asian Ovtcharka is known by a variety of names, which reflects the great amount of diversity within the breed. Some of the names by which the breed is known include the Central Asian Shepherd, the Central Asian Sheepdog, the Alabai, the Aziat, the Sredneasiatskaia Ovtcharka, the Middle Asian Shepherd, the Tobet, the Asiatic Mastiff, and others.
The Central Asian Ovtcharka doesn't need to be trained to guard his family and their belongings; guarding is instinctual in this breed.
This dog has protected humans against such fierce predators as the bear, wolf, leopard and even tiger.
The Central Asian Ovtcharka is still used in dog fights in many Central Asian countries. Well-developed organizations are in place in these countries to promote the sport. In the past, shepherds and nomads would organize dog fights to test the skills of their dogs; those who survived would be worthy of guarding their owners and the property of their owners. Today, dog fights are organized mainly for sport, though participants fervidly claim that their purpose is to keep tradition alive.
These dogs are said to be of the Molosser type, traditionally thought of as Mastiff-type dogs. The term Molosser is a misnomer, though, as the dogs of the Molossi tribe, from which the name is derived, were not Mastiff-type dogs.
The breed is much more active at night, having evolved to be more alert during the hours in which the main threats to humans and flocks were active.
Though the name ovtcharka is Russian and though the breed has been declared a native Russian breed, the breed is not fully Russian. Russia took over the lands traditionally considered to be the home of the CAO, but the dog was around long before the Russians arrived.
The Russian Military has set up breeding programs around the Central Asian Ovtcharka.
The breed was not very popular outside Central Asia until recently because of a ban in place during the Communist rule of the area. The breed first started trickling into Europe, becoming popular in places like Italy; the breed is now gaining popularity in the US as well. It is currently recognized by the United Kennel Club but not by the American Kennel Club.
These dogs are so intelligent that some owners claim the dogs know what should be done before owners even give commands.