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CAO Puppy Assessment

 

Hi there

 Two weeks ago, when my CAO female puppy was a bit over 8 months old, I asked a friend to stare at her across the fence, without me being present. The outcome was signs of submission and avoidance. The test stopped here. I wasn’t expecting my puppy to lunge at my friend but was hoping that she would simply show more confidence.

 During text messages exchange with one of the breeders, when I told him about what I did, it turned ugly, and he told me off telling me that by doing what I did I am making my dog submissive and could ruin her and that CAOs take a long time to mature.

 My reply was that if an 8 months old puppy would be ruined by a stare, then this puppy is genetically ruined. I added that blaming the owner for the failure of the breeder to produce dogs with thick nerve and authentic traits is classic. This was the point which I was trying to communicate to no avail, that is a stranger staring at an 8 months old puppy would not cause the puppy any harm or damage unless the puppy is genetically no good.

 Unfortunately, this breeder kept beating around the bush and started to be disrespectful, so I blocked him. By the way, my understanding is that this is a hobby breeder who has only had one litter.

 Then a week later it was brought to my attention that this breeder had made a big fuss of our discussion on the ‘Central Asia Shepherd Dogs: Australia’ Group on Facebook.

 This breeder didn't mention my viewpoint to the audience, or the age of the puppy.

 I am not into Facebook. I used my son's Facebook to take a peak and was amazing by the amount of support this breeder received. None of the audience asked about the age of the puppy. The overwhelming response was: How dare this idiot to get a stranger to stare at his puppy!

 I sent a text message to my puppy’s breeder to tell her: “We get extra-good night sleep now, as my puppy rarely barks; I don’t remember when I last hear her barking :)”.

 So my puppy’s breeder offered to take her back, and give me a big aggressive male pup from the next litter.

 In Australia, no breeder would dare to say the word 'aggressive' to describe his/her dogs. I felt that she was being cunning and that she must have heard about the argument I had with the hobby breeder. It is a very small CAO community in Australia.

 So, I told her that I am not interested in an aggressive dog and that I am interested in tick nerve, confidence an alertness. I added that I like the bloodline of my puppy’s mother but not that of her dad, and asked the breeder if she has another male to breed from.

 The breeder got worked up as a result of my text, and I ended up telling her I am not interested in a CAO Jack Russell strain. I am not really interested in a puppy from the type that she now breeds. I don't think this breeder will ever give me a puppy again, as most breeders in Australia take breeding like a religion.

 Then, the breeder replied that I have offended her and that I have a top-quality puppy.

 Previously, even before I got my puppy, the breeder described the past and my puppy’s litters as 'perfect'. She also said something like: she finally achieved what she was trying to breed after her numerous years of breeding – Recently, the breeder imported a stud that produced two litters so far; all his puppies are almost identical except some have the mum's colour. This stud is my pup’s father. He must have very strong gene. None of the puppies look like the mum, which is a more traditional thick boned type. This breeder is the one who brought the breed to Australia and has been breeding for at least 20 years, but not on a large scale.

I am very disappointed with the breeder as I was hoping to get something close to Tzar, whom I lost to bloat less than 3 months ago. I think breeding extreme types of smaller and submissive CAOs, and shying away from mainstream types should not be described as ‘perfect’, whether the extremity in traits or physique. It might be that the breeder meant that her puppies are perfect for the CAO type that she likes.

I believe that my puppy will become a good guard dog in time; my wife also wouldn’t let her go; however my puppy’s submissiveness might make her more dangerous, if she ever needs to defend as a result of her lesser level of confidence; unlike Tzar who used the absolute minimum level of force when he had to defend in a couple of unfortunate occasions; Tzar had mega confidence as compared to my 8 months old female puppy, who still wees out of excitement greeting a visitor visiting us for the first time.

 Like yourselves I have a special interest in dogs; I like to learn more and more, so please feel free to share your thoughts openly.

 Thank you for your time.

 In memory of Tzar

http://molosserdogs.com/Tzar

H Alaa,

The reaction of the breeder is typical of the breeders of the three ovcharka types. Many in the USA have suffered the same kind of attacks and public slander by breeders in the USA.  I also went through that same treatment many years ago. A large part of the reason is that many breeders take their kennel too seriously and forget that they are dealing with an animal.  They glorify their breeding practices, their dogs, and their offsprings and as such, the only thing that could go wrong is their dogs having a bad or uninformed owner.  It is very typical and we call it "kennel blindness."

So, at 8 months old your Central Asian should have exhibited strong guarding temperament already.  At the very least it should not take kindly to being stared down.  A typical aboriginal Ovcharka will exhibit this attitude at 6 months or sooner.  They may mellow out as they get better at distinguishing friend from foe but the default should be to guard.

I don't know the breeder in question but a quick search of the web yielded no results for the CAO breeder in Australia. We have some old forum topics on here about the CAO temperament.  

And here is a topic covering the differenced between the CO and CAO regarding temperament.  

This topic is about temperament testing the CAO puppy.

Gary

Hi Tzar,

I was a bit confused reading your original post... Has this breeder only had one litter, or been breeding for 20 years? Also, did you meet the parent prior to purchasing, what were they like? Also, how was the pup between 8-16 weeks...Personality wise?

Hi; there are 2 breeders mentioned in my post; one is a hobby breeder whom I believe to have had only one litter in the past; and another breeder who has been breeding for over 20 years. There are 5 CAO breeders in Australia; they are all in the east. I purchased my puppy from the breeder who has been breeding for over 20 years; I am located in the west; so I didn't get to meet the parents of my puppy; the breeder sent me photos of the puppies; I had a phone chat with the breeder and selected one of the puppies; the puppy arrived via a pet-transport company when she was 9 weeks; Tzar was still alive then; I kept them separate for a couple of days; then I introduced them to each other but did not leave then together unsupervised until my puppy turned 16 weeks old; the puppy never let Tzar be; she used to pick on him all the time and play rough with him; Tzar was amazingly patient with her; Sadly, Tzar passed away 3 months later; the puppy is a happy pup, not reserved, not very alert and is intelligent.

You maybe surprised by her when she fully matures. Sometimes while growing they can go through fear periods. I have seen pups that I would of culled due to seeming to be weak turn into decent guard dogs, I hope that for you!! 

 

Thank-you Jessica; as I mentioned - "I believe that my puppy will become a good guard dog in time; my wife also wouldn’t let her go; however my puppy’s submissiveness might make her more dangerous, if she ever needs to defend as a result of her lesser level of confidence; unlike Tzar who used the absolute minimum level of force when he had to defend in a couple of unfortunate occasions; Tzar had mega confidence as compared to my 8 months old female puppy, who still wees out of excitement greeting a visitor visiting us for the first time." - My puppy, Tzarina, has started to show few and far between signs of interest in her surrounding from guarding perspective.

BTW, I used to have 3 Neapolitan Mastiffs; Baronessa aka Nessa, Bella and glorious Maginto:) Will upload some photos... 

 

I don't believe that you did anything wrong by putting your pup through this test. I believe that the breeder is not breeding with the breed standard in mind. That breeder is breeding towards their own ideas odds what they want for the breed.  This could be a change in temperament and size.  This may have everything to do with political correctness of the culture in your country.  

It is possibœle that the dog is slower to mature and will still make a great guardian. However, if it doesn't do not get a dog from anyone in the east. You should get an import. Do some research on the breeders before you select a pup .There are a number of people on here with years of experience in this breed. I suggest you learn what to look for from them. 

Unfortunately, importing a puppy from overseas is not a very simple process in Australia (http://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs).

Here's my fear. The breeders in your area because of the culture and fears may breed towards having dogs with less guarding instincts.  In order to have a dog with the correct temperament you may need to seek elsewhere to get it. 

This is what the breeder who introduced the breed in Australia told me about the previous stud she had and what she is now breeding: "With him i was constantly scared for peoples safety as he could do a lot of damage. With these dogs i am a bit more relaxed".

I think that a confident dog will not cause harm out of nothing, and will not be confrontational unless there is a need, because of the confidence the dog won't be scared and will have nothing to prove. Of course, these are only thought based on my limited experience; I am not an expert in K9 psyche :)

Large breed dogs can cause a lot of damage.  They can also prevent loss of livestock and personal property. 

A confidant dog can and will protect and or warn people who are crossing the line. Every dog especially dogs that has a guardian temperament will develop a radius.  This will determine in the dogs mind what us too close for their comfort.  If a stranger comes within that radius the dog will respond. We don't know what that radius is.  It's  generally more than our fence line. 

Dogs also communicate using body language.  Two dogs staring one another down is confrontational. Therefore, when a human stares down a dog the dog also should consider this behavior  (body language ) as threatening or confrontational.  The dog can choose to attack or warn with a growl or bark. In most cases a warning will suffice. If the dog's owner is doing the staring the dog should be submissive.  But I don't know why an owner would do the staring. 

This isn't just about confidence.  This is instinctive.  After a dog reaches a certain age these instinctive behaviors should be evident. 

Example : 

We were doing some personal protection training with a group of dogs. There were a variety if breeds and ages.  There was a 6 months old presa. The decoy began shaking a rattle stick . The pup had never seen that before and began to  show protective instincts . This was a good sign. There was a South American Boerboel that was 13 months old. When the rattle stick towards her she didn't show any protective instincts. She was uninterested. The owner of the dog stated that she would respond like that before it was done.  He said it was typical of thus breed that they don't start being interested in doing bite work until they are around 18 months. That is getting more common today for that breed.  That wasn't always the case.  

I dont think you did anything wrong. You want another respond but were disappointed. 

I owned gsd in the passed and one of them was very submissive. When poeple approched he pied and lay on his back. In the fallowing months that changed thank god. He didnt lay doen anymore but wasnt protective at all.

When he became 1.5 years old he became the most steady dog i ever owned. Only protective when things were wrong. Very dominant but not agressive, pure bodylanguage. Very pleasant dog. Ofcourse i know a cao is diffrent but you must be patient. My first co was protective from day one but not that stable i wanted. Oh he would kill you because when he didnt feel secure he made the choise to attack and never backed down. My second became to bark when he was a year old.

So give him time to mature, the character will change a lot

 

I am fairly confident that my puppy will become a good guard dog in time. Whether she will become very alert or not; will have to wait and see. The breeder is intentionally breeding milder CAOs. The breeder might have had bad experience with the dogs she bred in the past as they were true full on CAOs with hot temperament. Tzar's father was bred by this breeder. For us, Tzar had the perfect temperament. The breeder also decided to go for a smaller/leaner CAO variant. Maybe to get rid of the bloat issue; not sure. The breeder believes that CAOs should not be too big as they do a lot of walking in rough terrain in normal life. Cannot really claim that I am fond of this smaller/leaner variant. To me, this variant is too narrow chested, very fine boned, too leggy looking, the head is small and the neck does not give the impression of being powerful. However, CAOs mature slowly, so body wise it might improve over time. I think my puppy is not lucky. If I didn't lose Tzar, I wouldn't have been that critical of my puppy. Tzar was also an exceptional dog of different type so hopefully soon I will fully recover from my lose, and accept my puppy for what she is; at the end, she is a lovely, beautiful and intelligent pup.

When I first moved to the US from Europe, about a year after I got here somebody gave me a 9 weeks old puppy they found on the street. I learned later that the mother was a Chow Chow and the father a Pit.  This dog went through all the struggles and obstacles I encountered over the years and I can say that I would not have made it without him.  He was extremely healthy, and had nerves of steel.  He also had one mission in life, to protect me!!  He lived a great life and remained healthy until he died at 16 1/2 years of age.  I was REALLY hoping to get the same type of personality with my next dog, but when I got my other dog, it didn't turn out that way for sure.  My current dog is now 8 years old and I've learned to accept the fact that while she has a tremendous potential, I could never trust her to protect us from a real threat.  I still love her and she is having a great life of course.  P.S. I got her from a so called "breeder" in Illinois that guaranteed she would be THE protection dog.

"Always give your dog the best possible DOG life"

Castanha, 

Sorry to hear that you didn't get the pup with a temperament that you desired and expected. Not every breed nor every dog will be a guardian.  However, it is expected of certain breeds.  

What breed of dog is this dog? Have you ever done any type of bite work with the dog with a qualified trainer?

She is 50% American Bulldog, 25% Catahoula, 25% Black Mouth Cur.  I did only 2 sessions with her and she did good in defense. That said, due to her weak nerves, I did not want to pursue too much training with the fear that she will develop to much defense based on fear.  Right now, she displays aggression towards weird acting homeless or people that just act strange, but I am pretty sure she would not engage. 

Just to tell you how unpredictable she is.  Two weeks ago at my in-laws house in the Palm Springs desert, some weirdo rang the door bell at 4:00 AM in the morning asking if he could charge his cell phone in our house.  Hahaha, welcome to the desert.  At that moment, my dog was sleeping right by the door and she didn't even bark. :(   On the other hand, I spoke with the the people that own her brother, and he is a beast of a protection dog.  Not all dogs are born equal and even breeds that are meant to be protection breeds don't always produce puppies that will do the job.  In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the experienced breeder to be able to differentiate which are the pet quality puppies, which are the guard quality puppies and which are the protection quality puppies.

"Always give your dog the best possible DOG life"

I agree that every dog will not make a good protection dog even breeds that are supposed to be protection breeds. I differ  on the opinion that the breeder should know the difference in pet quality and guard dog quality.  

Pet quality is a dog that has too many faults or disqualifying faults. This is related to conformation and a dog that is too shy. A dog that is pet quality can also be a great protection dog. 

Any time you get a pup you are taking a gamble. There's no fool proof method to determine if a pup will be a champion of record,  Schutzhund,  IPO, French Ring or personal protection dog. We do know certain breeds are excellent in these types of work. Certain lines exvel, but can and will produce a dog that is not the best suited for the work. There's some puppy implanting that can be done to increase the probability that the dog will be a good worker with solid nerves. But as with every dog things can change as the dog grows and matures. There are environmental things that can affect the dog and cause the dog not to  perform the best. 

 

Considering your 8 year old dog without evaluating it personally it is possible that that dog will protect.  I'm basing this on your statement of its defense with a trainer.  With more training and confidence building it might be possible.  Some dogs take to it right away.  Others require more training.  

 

With more training and confidence building it might be possible.  Some dogs take to it right away.  Others require more training

 Your entire post is excellent ad I find this to be absolutely true.

Gary Sicard

Thanks . I based this on my personal experiences.  I've only been doing this most of my life.

 

It is critical that you find the right trainer the n order to bring the best out of your dog. 

I am working on Tzarina to build up her confidence, and she is showing very positive signs; she is 8 and half months now and started to show more interest in her surrounding, especially after I introduced her to the sheep and alpacas and let her spend time with them every week unsupervised:)

ahhhh - stimulate her natural instincts! What a wonderful idea. I hope that works and gives her the balance she needs.  

It is amazing how quickly a dog will take to what was embedded in their genes for hundreds of years.  A new awakening.

Gary Sicard

Good to hear the positive news!  

"Always give your dog the best possible DOG life"

Awesome!  Sounds like this is just what the pup needed. We all must keep in mind these are working dogs. They thrive best when doing a job. 

 

Looking forward to hearing about more success. 

Hi there

Our puppy is now a bit over 9 months old; no major change so far but it is still a bit too early to tell.

I was told that she would be fully matured by the age of 3 years old; possibly 4; what do you guys think? What would be the most suitable age to test her? Of course, the sooner the better for me, but I am prepared to wait to give her the best chance to prove her guarding ability.

Thanks

Are you planning to do any foundation work? Or just test her abilities?

Just to test her ability 

I would personally wait till 2/3 years of age. I prefer to make sure they are fully mature first. I typically start earlier, but I like to create foundation as I work them.

Thank you Jessica; I thought so; I didn't any training for Tzar; he proved himself as an intelligent superior guard by coincidence when he was about 18 months old or less; from what I saw from him, I didn't want him to feel that bite work is condoned; Tzar was a very serious dog but very kind; Tzarina on the other hand doesn't come across as very kind so I don't want her to feel the same either even though she doesn't exhibit any of Tzar's guarding ability or traits; my understanding is that the true nature of CAOs is very protective by nature; CAOs in Australia are very limited in numbers and were not manipulated until the breeder, who brought this breed to the country, decided to produce a milder strain, so that she would feel more relaxed when she receives visitors...

Guys/Gals; my puppy is now 10 and half months old; last night I left the gate open so that an old friend visiting would just drive in when he arrives;

I put the puppy in the car port, which is an enclosure under the house roof, fenced by swimming pool fence i.e. not brick walls and she can see what is happening outside; the car port is about 35m from the property gate;

When my friend arrived and drove in, there wasn't even a bark from the puppy to alert us; and again she was happy and excited to see a new face that she has never seen before;

I feel very disappointed; started to feel that I should not wait on her for another year to discover later that she hasn't got it in her and she is no good guard; perhaps I should seriously be considering re-homing her.

I am very surprised because this puppy shares the same grandfather and great grandfather as Tzar who was an exceptional dog! This is from her mother's side. However, the puppy is nothing whatsoever like Tzar in physique or guarding ability. Here father must have very strong genes indeed!

That is completely up to you, each dog is different and will mature differently. Not all are as defensive and the other, but at this time it would be much easier to place her into a nice home than waiting till she is even older...

This is a 10 month old pup. There is still time for the pup to display his/her guarding instincts. As stated dogs develop or mature differently. While it may be typical of certain breeds to begin displaying their guarding instincts by a certain age this is not going to be true for every dog. Some dogs mature more slowly. Some begain to display it early.

 

Just because a couple of dogs on the other side were great guardian does not automatically mean that all of its offspring will be great guardians. If that were true every dog from a "working" line would all be great schutzhund dogs. Every dog from a so-called "show" line will all be champion of record. Thesed dogs are often bred having working or show champions on both the Sire and Dam in the pedigree. But they both will produce more dogs that are not going to be great schitzhung (IPO) or Show champions. In fact many are going to produce some pet only quality pups.. The dog may still be a great dog. But it might not meet the criteria to be a champion of record or a good working dog.

 

I don't recall if I asked this previously. I kind of think that I have. Have you had the dog evaluated by a professional? This may give you a better ideal on whter or not this dog will meet your need for a guard dog.

All true and thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is a tricky one. From conformation prospective this puppy's type also seems to deviating a lot from the mainstream CAS; lighter in bone; smaller head; not as powerful neck and narrow chest. We love her; my wife and son resisting letting her go; she has a very nice personality; but we are not really after a pet companion.Following the subdivision of massive rural block (16 squared Kilometres) near us, which started about 8-10 years ago, and the building of 100s of small houses, there have been 3 break-ins in our supposedly quiet street in the past year; one of the break ins, the neighbour next to our neighbour found a man in her kitchen; the neighbour opposite to her they stole his ute and drove through two rural fences on his property before going out; the neighbour next to him they stole all his tools from the shed. So, perhaps we keep the pup as a deterrent until we find another suitable CAS, which is not easy to get by in Australia. Will see and will keep you posted...