So, what does average CAS mean? By average, I mean a Central Asian Shepherd dog that is one hypothetically placed somewhere between softer versions and harder representative of the breed. In other words, it is a “classic” representation of the breed as per standard (FCI), without the extremes. Every breed has a range of appropriate temperaments for that breed. That being said Central Asian Shepherds also have that range so you can find softer and harder representatives of the breed with an average being the closest to internationally recognized standard.
According to FCI standard, CAS dogs are “Self assured, balanced quiet, proud and independent. The dogs are very courageous and have high working capacity, endurance and a natural instinct of territory. Fearlessness towards large predators is a characteristic feature.” UKC (United Kennel Club) notes that “While these dogs are very devoted to their family members, they expect to be treated with respect. They are inclined to be suspicious of strange people or dogs. Central Asians are steady, even-tempered dogs who adjust well to change in their environment. When threatened, they react quickly and with complete seriousness.” Finally, UKC concludes its standard by noting that in the show ring “Central Asian Shepherd Dogs are not to be penalized for mild dog aggression, as it is a normal characteristic of this breed.” What does it mean? It means that an average, the Golden Mean or “standard” recognizes the dog to be serious, independent, and suspicious of strangers with a possible degree of aggression.
On the other hand, a softer version of a Central Asian Shepherd will accept a stranger with an owner being there and with a proper introduction. A Central Asian Shepherd who completely lacks human aversion, meaning that are friendly to everybody on their own property with or without owner present, allowing strangers in the yard without owner present, are probably on a too soft side and not really the most representative of a breed as we know it. However, remember, acceptance of a human is not against the standard. If you have one like this it doesn't mean that you don't own a Central Asian Shepherd, it just means that it's not as human aversive as the typical one. Furthermore, do not judge your dog too soon. CAS are slowly maturing. Our Saba, for example, has been quite friendly until the age of 3. Now, she is pretty territorial and cannot be introduced to people on property. She is, however, quite well behaved in public settings.
We own CAS that are both highly human aversive and more accepting of humans when we are present. However, even those that are more accepting, they still would not a stranger onto a property without us there.
Like I said, an average Central Asian Shepherd is one that may have a degree of human aversion but, more importantly, a degree of (strange) dog aversion. It's a job of a Central Asian Shepherd to be dog aversive and to not allow strange dogs near its flock if protecting livestock so you cannot expect this innate behavior to go away. Often, CAS do very well with dogs with which they were raised but much less frequently will they eagerly accept a strange dog.
So what is it harder Central Asian Shepherd? Well, a harder Central Asian Shepherd is one that has very narrow circle of friends. Usually, a harder Central Asian Shepherd dog will accept only those individuals that are members of the household. I mean, those members of the household that are actually living with them, not occasional family member who pops up for a visit once in a blue moon. A harder Central Asian Shepherd will not accept strangers on the first try. Instead, it may take him weeks or even months of constant work to accept a stranger.
The same goes for a human guardian. These dogs are serious guardians, they are on guard all the time (even if they look like lazy bums snoozing around). What I mean by this is that even if they may not look like it, they always watch and make sure everything is safe. They should not always be Red Zone though. By red zone, I mean in mental state that resembles constant attack. Whether one owns an average, soft or harder temperament Central Asian Shepherd, a Central Asian Shepherd should be an absolute softy with its family members with whom s/he's been raised and who he has accepted and continuously accepts.
Now think about consequences of owning a dog like this type of temperament. This means that if you own an average Central Asian Shepherd or even a softer one you have to be prepared that your dog is not going to like certain people or even all strange people. So if you're a very social person and your home has always revolving doors, chances are you will not be able to just let your friends in and hope the dog will be fine with them just walking right in. In an easy situation, a proper introduction will suffice. In the medium effort situation proper introduction may be necessary and keeping dog on a leash. In a tougher situation you may have to put up your dog in its own room, its crate perhaps temporarily or let it play in the yard that is safely fenced with a high secure fence where the dog does not have to interact with your guests.
More on this, in the next blog post. Frankly, when we have company, we rarely introduce ALL of our dogs to our company. Perhaps, we may introduce one or two dogs to our company and always a puppy if we have one (or entire litter) as part of socialization process .
So you think you want a Central Asian Shepherd dog?
Let me attempt to describe what you may expect if you chose to own one. Before we start, let’s state a few obvious things. In this article, I will try to highlight what you may expect from a CAS dog. This is, of course, somewhat simplistic view of the breed. Temperament has many complexities and is not only dependent on breeding and genetics but also on the environment in which your dog grows up. Because of that, it is a true summary. Also, please know that while every breeder may be focused on breeding “true” or “average” Central Asian Shepherd dog, definition of what true or average will vary from breeder to breeder. What you will read below is our take based on 15+ years of experience owning the breed, acquiring and raising CAS dogs from different genetic lines, from different breeding programs across the world, discussions and mentorship from breeders across the world and FCI standard. I mention this because it is of great importance. Having access to wide variety of genetics allows shaping our views not only from reading about dogs, experiencing one or two genetics lines but a wide variety of genetic make up. This hands-on exposure is critical to an open minded approach and ability to note potential diversity within the breed.
Majority of our own dogs do well with proper introduction some of them will need to be leashed for first time meeting strangers, while others will accept strangers with us being there. The important piece of information is this: “they are likely to accept strangers with us being there”. Please do not attempt to access our property without our presence. Other dogs that we own will not accept strangers on property at all but they may ignore the same strangers off the property (which is why CAS are said to be territorial but there is more to it, so please read this). However, even off territory, CAS dogs are prepared to engage if they encounter a threat (more on this in my previous blog here).
So what do we shoot for in our breeding? We try to breed dogs that are true to standard, an average Central Asian Shepherd dog; this means that we want our dogs to be working dogs with livestock or as family guardians. A breed representative that is likely to be strange dog aversive and have a degree of human aversion. While we may breed some softer and some harder ones (because genetics is not simple math), we typically avoid breeding extreme breed members on either spectrum. Most importantly, we try to breed dogs that are balanced, healthy and capable of working, all within breed standard.
To summarize, the purpose of this post was to introduce you to types of temperament you may expect from a CAS. Please know, like with every living creature, temperament is more complex than anything we can attempt to describe in one short blog post. We will try to reveal some of those complexities piece by piece in our future blogs.
Remember, we always try to match puppy potential with owner’s expectations. Feel free to read previous blog on Optimizing Our Puppies’ Genetic Potential, particularly #4.
Unfortunately, while many breeders use it and are successful with it, it is not a perfect approach but only the most knowledge based approach there is. There are too many factors at play beyond genetics and early development such as: environment in which the dog grows up and training s/he receives, to name the most generic ones. This is why, it is important that you are prepared that your dog is likely to have a degree of aversion toward strangers and dogs. There can be a combination of human and dog aversion in your CAS or s/he may be mostly dog aversive but less human aversive and vice-versa. Though, quite honestly, strange dog aversion is highly common due to simple fact that these dogs have been used for centuries to protect from predators. This will affect your lifestyle: you will have to be prepared to introduce and re-introduce strangers, never leave strangers alone with your dog, potentially put your dog away when you have company, etc. Like I said before, more on this topic will be covered in the next blog.
I am not trying to scare you. CAS are a beautiful, independent and extremely loyal breed of dogs. Beyond that, they are also serious and fearless guardians. I want to prepare you for both sides of this complex and wonderful breed.
So you still want a CAS puppy? Check out our puppy page.
This blog featured the following dogs (from top), Saba and a puppy (now Cyrus), Gryf and puppies, Artemis known as Artie from litter A owned by Manda T., two pictures of Diego from litter D, owned by Selena D., Crux known as Drax from litter C , our toughest dog to date, owned by Andrea K., Ebenezer known as Cyrus from litter E owned by Suzy and Carey R. and , finally, a duo of puppies.
written 7/20/2018 by Dr. Ania Rynarzewska
Breed Introduction: What to Expect?
You have been reading about Central Asian Shepherd (CAS) dogs and it all sounded appealing....so now you think you want one.
Frankly, I am not surprised. This is a very large, majestic and independent breed of dogs. Their eyes and expression just convey wisdom and something unique, hard to describe. Finally, who wouldn't want a cute bear cub-like puppy??
This is the average CAS. As someone who teaches statistics, I need to remind you that an average permits a degree of variability which means that your CAS can be spot on in terms of how close it is to standard or it can exhibit a degree of variation. It may be somewhat softer or harder than the standard. However when I say “softer”, I don't mean a member of a different breed softer, not a Labrador retriever, that is for certain. I mean a Central Asian Shepherd softer. This means that it is still relatively hard dog as compared to other breed and even as compared to other livestock guardian breeds.
What is an average Central Asian Shepherd dog? Well, typically a Central Asian Shepherd dog is human aversive, suspicious of strangers and has a larger “personal space” requirements. This means that one cannot expect walking right up to Central Asian Shepherd without an owner being there. More so, even with an owner there, you may not be able to walk up to a CAS dog as if you would do another breed (not that we would ever recommend walking up to a dog you do not know personally).
In most instances, especially off territory, you're okay to be present in the space with the Central Asian Shepherd on the leash. In which case, there is a good chance that the dog will be ignoring you. An average Central Asian Shepherd will accept a stranger if the dog has been heavily socialized and with a proper introduction. By accepting, I mean the dog will most likely ignore you as noted above. If the owner and the dog feel comfortable, the dog may allow petting but it is not something that one should expect to happen. A CAS that is suspicious of you will bark, posture or even lunge if you continue approaching.