The mighty Sarkangik is seen as a sub-type of the Central Asian Ovcharka in the West, although this powerful working dog from Uzbekistan is much older than the modern Russian breed. Located at a key intersection of one of the most important trade routes in history, Uzbekistan has been a destination for many travelers, explorers, merchants and invaders ever since the 4th century B.C., when Alexander the Great opened the famous route from Europe to Asia, later to be named the "Silk Road" by Marco Polo. Herdsmen of Uzbekistan have relied on indigenous large dogs to protect their livestock from predators for over 3000 years, rarely interfering with natural selection and breeding. Initially descended from the Alabai, the Uzbekistan Shepherd Dog was also influenced by other breeds, namely old Persian mastiffs in the 9th century, Mongolian herders in the 13th century and Russian ovcharkas in the 19th century, as well as by dogs from Tajikistan and Iran over the course of the past 100 years. Since these dogs are bred for work, resilience and personality, occasional outcrosses weren't seen as jeopardizing the breed's purity, but simply expanding the gene pool and ensuring the acquisition and preservation of the best working qualities possible. Alongside the Turkmen Alabai, the Uzbek Sarkangik is one of the most valued types and favoured bloodlines in the C.A.O. community, because these dogs posess reliable temperaments and are closer to the original Asiatic Mastiff in terms of physical appearance than the Russian military-bred Ovcharkas.
On top of its guarding duties, the Torkuz Mastiff is also a regular contestant in the famous dog-fighting tournaments of Asia, in which the dogs' strength, courage and spirit is tested before allowing them to breed and pass on their genes. Sadly, in modern times certain European and Asian fighting breeds have become popular in Uzbekistan and reportedly bred into some native bloodlines, leaving only a limited number of pure dogs in existence. Some C.A.O. breeders regularly purchase "aboriginal" dogs from Uzbekistan to enrich their strains, only to find out later that they've imported specimens of sub-standard quality, as well as unpure examples. This is a common practice in many eastern countries, where the pure and prized dogs are kept hidden from foreigners, while the charming native merchants sell them specimens of questionable ancestry and quality as the real deal.
This is a large and rugged Molosser, well-adjusted to the harsh climates of the region. There are two main types of the Uzbekistan Shepherd Dog, separated by physical build and duties they perform. The heavier variety is known as Torkuz, which is a colossal mastiff, with a large, broad head and muzzle, primarily employed as a guard dog and fighter. The leaner shepherd type is called Sarkangik and is not quite as tall as its heavier counterpart, but is equally strong and powerful, employed to drive and protect the herds, rarely used for fighting. Crosses between these variants are very common, as are various outcrosses with the Turkmen, Tajik and Russian dogs. Regardless of type, the Uzbekistan Shepherd Dog is an impressive working Moloss, valued for its calm disposition and gentle nature around familiar people, making it a good choice for a family companion for experienced owners.
Although naturally territorial and aloof with strangers, this large mastiff is not at all vicious or overly aggressive, making a reliable and obedient, yet serious and intimidating watchdog. However, the breed is naturally confrontational around other dogs, so early socialization and responsible handling is of utmost importance. Well-boned, deep-chested and athletic, the Uzbekistan Volkodav is generally a healthy and resilient breed, enjoying a moderate ammount of excercise. The ears and tail can be seen either cropped or in their natural state in Uzbekistan, but the majority of Sarkandjik dogs shown under the Central Asian Shepherd name in the West are altered to fit the Standard.
The coat is fairly short, but very thick and densely undercoated, usually a bit longer during the winter months. Many colourings exist, but most dogs are either white-based with patches of darker shades or mostly black, brown, grey or fawn with white markings. Average height is around 32 inches, although smaller shepherds, as well as taller mastiffs can be found.