Turkmenistan, an isolated desert country of 6 million people, prides itself on its horses and dogs, honoring centuries-old herding traditions. Alabay, traditionally used for guarding livestock herds, are among the world’s largest dogs, weighing as much as 80 kilograms (175 pounds).
In 2020, then-President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov established a holiday honoring the dogs, and last year unveiled a 15-meter (50-foot)-tall golden statue of them in the nation’s capital, Ashgabat. The Turkmen leader extolled the Alabay for years. He published a book and wrote a song about the breed and presented Russian President Vladimir Putin with an Alabay puppy in 2017.