Here the controversy of the Central Asian Shepherd, as it is known in America today. The word "shepherd "in the U.S. and Canada denotes a dog that does not specifically guard, but is talented in moving animals where man commands them to go. Examples are the Border Collie, Dutch Shepherd, Blue Heeler, and the Australian Shepherd. These dogs take commands from their owners or handlers, but rarely take the initiative to protect WHILE moving the animals in their charge to safer areas.
The Central Asian "Shepherd" discovers a threat quickly, and while most of the dogs meet the intruders, as the instinctive guardian ability shows itself, several show the reasoning ability by safely migrating the herd/flock to a safer area within the roomy territory they have established earlier. They then circle the herd/flock constantly, in the rare case one of the attackers eludes the ferocious rebuttal of the pack to a threat and approaches "their" animals.
This is not a true shepherd in the sense of taking their orders from man on how to handle a herd/flock in danger. This is a very intelligent, independent-minded breed who recognizes a threat and confronts it, while a smaller number of the pack migrate the threatened animals to a safer location within their territory without human intervention. Most of the time, a human is not even present to witness this concerted action of the dogs. Certainly this is an instinctive action, but it is not the prevailing action of this mainly guardian breed. It is an action done out of necessity to maintain the safety of their charges.
Thus, the word "shepherd", as understood in the western continents, is a very poor description of this amazing breed. The Middle or Central Asian Ovcharka or Ovtcharka, a Russian word with no translatable version in English, is the correct name in English, not "shepherd". Surely they can move livestock or even people if danger is imminent, but their guardian abilities control that action--get their charges to safety and THEN face the threat without fear of death. Protection, by first moving their charges out of the danger zone, and then meeting the threat head on is the mindset of this nearly invincible breed group. No matter which of the three types recognized as Sredneaziatskaya Ovtcharka, Alabai, Central Asian Ovcharka by FCI is specifically a "herding" dog. They can and will herd if the situation warrants it. However, the herding aspect is merely a part of their protection instincts.
This is a guardian breed that CAN act as a shepherd if the conditions are of a protection nature. Calling it a "shepherd" is an insult to the breed. They are far more than that in any situation. They are too intelligent to take orders unless there is a purpose to them that relates to their basic instincts.
Written by V Evans