About Day of the Alabai
Turkmenistan's leader has established a national holiday to honour the local dog breed.
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered the holiday praising the Alabai, the Central Asian shepherd dog, to be celebrated on the last Sunday of April when the ex-Soviet nation also marks the day of the local horse breed, the Akhal-Teke, which Turkmenistan considers part of its national heritage.
The Central Asian nation of six million prides itself in horses and dogs, honouring its centuries-old herding traditions.
The Turkmen leader has extolled the Alabai for years. He published a book and wrote a song about the breed and presented Russian President Vladimir Putin with a puppy in 2017. In 2019, Berdymukhamedov also handed an Alabai puppy to then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The Alabai are a Turkmen-bred variety of the Central Asian shepherd dog. Alabai dogs are widely used by many traditional herders in Turkmenistan. They are among the world's largest dogs, weighing up to 80kg (175lbs). The large, stocky breed is known as "wolf-crusher" for its prowess in guarding sheep and goats and is also used to guard homes.
In 2020, Berdymukhamedov inaugurated a 15-meter (nearly 50-feet) gilded statue honoring the dog in the Turkmen capital.
Berdymukhamedov's son, Serdar, who heads the international Alabai association, reported to the president that the holiday will feature a beauty contest and agility competitions.