If you love hearing the latest news from Turkmenistan as much as I do, you will no doubt have seen that the President, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, announced earlier this year that they would celebrate a national holiday to honour this unique breed of dog, the Alabai (also often written Alabay). The national holiday will be celebrated annually on the 25 th of April. On the esteemed day, awards were given to the best dogs, and performances were held.
What actually is an Alabai? Well, firstly the Alabai is not uniquely from Turkmenistan. The dog is native to most of Central Asia, and also much of Russia as well. The Alabai was bred by nomadic tribes to be much larger and stronger than most dogs, but also very placid and friendly around people. The Alabai can grow up to 100kg and averages 1 metre in height. They instinctively protect livestock, which being in Central Asia, is mainly sheep and goats. Their ears are cropped, and tails docked (removed), meaning there is nothing for a wolf to grab on to in a fight.
Although the dog is not exclusively from Turkmenistan, nowhere else is the Alabai more venerated. This new national celebration of the breed is only the latest honour the dog has received, which also includes books, songs and even having served as the mascot for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. An Alabai dog was even famously presented by the President of Turkmenistan to the Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017.