The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is a name used to describe quite a few different breeds, actually. It should be noted that using the word "Alabai" to describe the C.A.O. is incorrect, since the breed known as Alabai is only found in Turkmenistan and is quite different than its other Asian cousins. Although it's popular to use the word "ovtcharka" these days, we need to keep in mind that it is a Russian word, whereas most of these breeds are indigenous to non-Russian regions of the former USSR. Thanks to the introduction of the Caucasian Ovcharka, Moscow Watchdog and German Shepherd Dog to the countries of Central Asia by the Soviet Army, the local populations of indigenous Asiatic Mastiffs were influenced by their blood to varying degrees in different areas, in some cases affecting the actual phenotype of local dogs, while simply giving birth to uncharacteristic coat colors in others. However, even before the Russian occupation, Central Asian Shepherd Dogs had existed in many different types of varying sizes, coats, colors and temperaments, depending on their primary use and region of origin.
To this day, it can be said that the Russian dogs differ from dogs found in Turkmenistan, both of these types being very different from those of Afghanistan and Pakistan, which in turn aren't the same as the dogs of Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and so on. But, until these countries develop strict standards for their dogs and get recognized as separate breeds, the name Central Asian Shepherd Dog is being used for all of them. Some consider even the Sage Koochee and the Sarmatian Mastiff to be nothing more than types of the Central Asian Ovcharka, but this notion is understandably disputed by the fanciers of those breeds. Only the aforementioned Alabai of Turkmenistan and the very rare Tobet of Kazakhstan are somewhat standardized and on their way to possible separate recognition, while most of these other countries aren't showing any interest in doing that, due to their general disregard for the Western ways. Their dogs are bred for work, not for show and that's the way it has been done for thousands of years.