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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

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.


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 (

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.