The Central Asian Ovtcharka is a dog breed meant for livestock protection as well as other kinds of work. Given their name, interested individuals should have no problem guessing that it came into existence in the titular region. However, the Central Asian Ovtcharka has long since managed to spread outside of its homeland, which speaks well of its popularity. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Central Asian Ovtcharka:
1. Ovtcharka Is a Russian Word
Ovtcharka is a Russian word that covers “sheepdog,” “shepherd’s dog,” and “livestock guardian dog.” As such, it can refer to a number of breeds that are native to Russia and the other components of the former Soviet Union, with another excellent example being the Caucasian Ovtcharka. However, it is interesting to note that Ovtcharka can also refer to breeds that originated from other places, as shown by the examples of both German Shepherds and Belgian Sheepdogs.
2. Not Quite a Herding Dog
Generally speaking, when people think of sheepdogs, they think of herding dogs. However, the Central Asian Ovtcharka isn’t a herding dog. Instead, it is a livestock guardian dog. Essentially, herding dogs are focused on controlling the movement of livestock. In contrast, livestock guardian dogs are full-time members of the groups of animals that they are responsible for, thus serving to keep away unwelcome intruders.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this means that the Central Asian Ovtcharka is a very courageous breed. Yes, there are predators that will stay away from livestock guardian dogs. However, that isn’t enough, particularly since predators can be driven by various circumstances to go against their normal instincts. As such, it is common for livestock guardian dogs to use strategies such as barking and other shows of aggression to tell unwelcome intruders to stay away. Something that can extend to standing their ground against large predators when that becomes necessary, which takes a lot of courage to say the least.
4. Multiple Lines For Multiple Roles
Having said this, it is important to note that Central Asian Ovtcharkas are a very old breed, meaning that there are multiple lines out there meant for multiple roles. For example, some are meant as livestock guardian dogs, while others are meant as herding dogs. On top of this, dog fighting is a tradition in the countries where Central Asian Ovtcharkas came into existence, meaning that there are members of the breed that have been bred for said purpose. Due to this, interested individuals should keep this variability in mind lest they wind up being surprised by wholly unexpected behavior.
5. Related to Similar Breeds From the Region
Given this fact, it should come as no surprise to learn that Central Asian Ovtcharkas are close relatives with other breeds with the same role from the region and its surroundings. For example, the breed is related to Georgian Shepherds, which is another one of those ancient working breeds that have proven to be popular enough to make it into the present day. Similarly, Central Asian Ovtcharkas are related to Kangals, which originated in Anatolia but have become surprisingly popular in Africa because their fearsome reputation made them a popular choice to deter lions, cheetahs, and other big cats. Amusingly, their success in this regard has proven helpful in the conservation of those big cats because lower losses reduces the incentive for locals to cull endangered predators for the purpose of protecting their livelihoods.
6. Underwent Refinement Under the Soviet Government
After the Russian Revolution, the Soviet government put serious effort into breeding better working dogs for the Red Army. As a result, it brought in suitable dogs from not just Russia but also the other regions that made up the Soviet Union. Said country is no longer in existence. However, the standardized breed produced through said effort is still around in the present time. At the same time, the dogs used to breed the standardized breed also have descendants in the present time, meaning that the population of Central Asian Ovtcharkas is a bit more wide-ranging than what interested individuals might have expected.
7. Not a Good Choice For a First-Time Dog Owner
As mentioned earlier, different lines of Central Asian Ovtcharkas have been bred for different purposes. Due to this, there can a fair amount of variation from member to member of the breed. However, Central Asian Ovtcharkas tend not to be good choices for a first-time dog owner. In part, this is because interested individuals must be able to not just build a strong relationship with these dogs but also establish themselves as leaders over these dogs, which can be challenging for those with none of the relevant expertise and experience.
8. Negative Reinforcement Is a Bad Idea
Some people have been known to use negative reinforcement when training Central Asian Ovtcharkas. However, this is a bad idea. For starters, negative reinforcement is just less effective than reward-based training, meaning that it is the less optimal method. Furthermore, negative reinforcement has been linked to higher chances of fear as well as aggression in the dog, which aren’t exactly what anyone would consider to be desirable traits in a breed that can take on large predators.
9. Smart Dogs
On the plus side, Central Asian Ovtcharkas are smart dogs. This makes sense because they are meant to be working dogs. As a result, people would have selected for traits that made these dogs easier to train for their intended roles in generation after generation. Something that would have been particularly true because the wellbeing of livestock is a matter of paramount importance of livestock owners.
10. Protective Dogs
Naturally, Central Asian Ovtcharkas are also protective dogs. They aren’t extremely aggressive dogs. However, Central Asian Ovtcharkas won’t hesitate to go on the attack if they believe that their familes are being threatened. It is interesting to note that these dogs tend to be affectionate around children, though they need to be supervised when interacting with younger children because of their great size. Besides this, Central Asian Ovtcharkas are cautious around strangers, with the result that they won’t hesitate to bark if they think that their dog owners need to be alerted.