Weight: Up to 200 pounds
Height: 34 inches
Coat: Short, plush and dense; abundant undercoat
Color: Dark sables; very little white
Probably closely related to both the Kangal dog of Turkey and the Tibetan Mastiff, this ancient breed was utilized by primitive tribes to settle land and tribal disputes. When villagers argued over grazing areas, goat herd ownership, or other grievances, a dog from each tribe was placed in the pit to fight out the dispute. Owners of the winning dog were declared victors with no further argument. This primitive prelude to a third-party decision of a jury or judge eliminated warring and unnecessary loss of life.
The canines were bred, raised, and trained by "dog specialists" not affiliated with any tribe. When disputes were percolating, tribal leaders, who were asute experts in such matters, went to the "dog man" and dickered for the best dog. The chosen title contender stayed with his breeder until the day of the contest, when he fought in a pit at the dog compound or was delivered to neutral ground. Only the men came to see the fights. The dogs' tails were painted or dyed so that the opponents could be easily identified during the fight. Dogs often fought to the death; if not, the loser was necessarily destroyed.
These dog were extremely large and fractious, with their tails held high and loosely curled over their backs. Loose skin hanging on the head and throat protected them during the vicious fighting. Nobody but the owner ever handled them, or even cared to, due to their fierce reputation. Although they were even-tempered with their "promoter."
These dogs have been moved into the highest mountains and hidden from the Russian army recruitment. Because of expense in upkeep, their numbers were always limited, with breeder retaining just a few title contenders. Their current status is endangered by the Russian occupation of the country, which has overturned old tribal customs.
All the information here was acquired/adapted from "The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World" - written by Bonnie Wilcox, DVM and Chris Walkowicz.