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Kazakhstan Mountain Dog

This rare Molosser from Kazakhstan is viewed by many as just another variant of the Central Asian Ovcharka breed, even though it is much older than the popular Russian creation. Being one of the mountain varieties of the old Persian Mastiff and thus related to shepherd dogs of Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kirghizstan, the mighty Tobet had been a celebrated working dog in its native land since ancient times, where it was valued as a loyal companion of the nomadic merchants, a committed livestock protector, capable hunting dog, prized wolf killer and a ferocious property guardian. While the modern definition of a "breed" may be inappropriate to use as a description of the early Qazak Tobet, seing how dogs were bred strictly for their working qualities and not based on their "regional purity" or recorded heritage, the indigenous population which served as the foundation for the breed was also influenced by the blood of dogs from Mongolia in the 13th century, establishing a recognizable type of the Kazakh Wolfdog that had remained unchanged for hundreds of years. With the occupation of the country by the Russian Empire in the 1700's and later by becoming a Republic in the Soviet Union in the 1930's, Kazakhstan experienced an influx of non-indigenous people and foreign customs, changing the ethnic and cultural identity of the primarily livestock-based indigenous population, as well as having a noticeable effect on many Kazakh dogs, whose purity was compromised through crossings with Caucasian Ovcharkas and German Shepherds brought into the area by the Soviets to guard their military bases and government buildings. A great number of local dogs was also taken to breeding centers in Russia during the development of the aforementioned central Asian Ovcharka breed, while the Kazakh Mastiff experienced a decline in numbers throughout the second half of the 20th century, with only a handful of pure bloodlines surviving.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan's declaration of independence in 1991, the interest in Kazakh national identity and cultural heritage began to grow, including the reintroduction of cattle-breeding and farming as a way of life, as well as promoting indigenous breeds of horses, sheep, birds and, of course, dogs, resulting in the recent efforts to find and preserve the great Tobet breed. Unfortunately, not many authentic examples have been recovered, the collected stock of Tobets reportedly numbering only around 40 pure dogs, with the rest of them showing influence of local hunting hounds and unrelated breeds left over from Soviet times. By isolating only the purest Kazakhstan Mountain Dogs for further breeding, the breeders managed to nearly double the number of real Tobet examples by the 21st century, but due to the heavy inbreeding aimed at preserving the breed purity, the quality of the population reportedly suffered, forcing the breed fanciers to employ outcrosses in their revival programme in order to improve the breeding stock. Mainly based on historical ties with Mongolian dogs and other Molossers from regions where Kazakhs still led their traditional way of life, the breeders working on the re-establishment of the Kazakhstan Shepherd Dog decided to introduce carefully selected blood of Mongolian Sheepdogs, Kyrgizian Shepherds, Turkmen Alabais and Altai Sheepdogs, as well as by relying on some appropriate non-western Central Asian Shepherd influence and using a number of working dogs from Karakalpakia and southern parts of the country, but these outcrosses weren't designed to create a new version of the breed, since their part in the revival is limited to simply expanding the gene pool of certain strains, with the majority of registered Tobets still retaining a great percentage of the breed's pure blood and verifiable ancestry. Today, the breed is slowly growing in numbers and although the results of the reconstruction have been satisfactory and the Kazakh Mastiff is recognized in its native country, most Russian and European authorities still dismiss it as nothing more than a regional variety of the Central Asian Shepherd Dog. It remains to be seen what the future holds for the Tobet, because although the programme was initially based on the principle of employing strictly non-Russian dogs, there are reports that the blood of at least one modern show-bred CAO has recently made its way into some Tobet lines, which isn't really helping the breed's credibility, to say the least.

This is a heavily boned Molosser, appearing somewhat sluggish in its movement when relaxed, but the Tobet is capable of great speeds and surprising agility in times of need. As a property guardian, it is valued for its strong territorial instincts and aggressive attitude towards strangers, but it also makes a fine companion, due to its loyalty to its owner and love of its human family, particularly its master's children. However, the Kazakh Tobet shows little tolerance for anyone else and is quite dog-aggressive, needing proper training, broad socialization and responsible handling from an early age. In recent years, the breed has been exhibited in local Dog Shows, but it remains primarily a working dog, an excellent livestock protector, as well as an increasingly popular fighting dog in its country and neighbouring regions. The Kazakhstan Wolfdog is a large and massive breed, with a large head, strong neck, wide chest, broad back and long legs. The muzzle is powerful, with well-developed jaw muscles and reasonably pendulous lips. The nose may be black or partially pink, but never brown or red. The ears can be cropped and the tail is usually docked, but unaltered examples are also common.

The coat is dense, flat and hard, coming in a variety of colourings, such as mostly black with white markings, black-n-tan, reddish brown, wolf-grey, brindle and mostly white with patches of darker shades. Ideal and traditional height is said to be around 32 inches, but smaller dogs can be encountered as well.

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