Dogs of the Nomads

It’s been estimated that by the time a Livestock Guardian dog is five years old, it only has to save five lambs a year to recover its cost. A worthy investment, indeed.

LGS breeds are self-thinkers, and as such, they are able to evaluate a situation to know if a threat is upon their flock. Without direction from their owner, they can size up how best to respond to potential danger, but even before it gets to that point, their presence alone can be a deterrence. Some LGDs are deep-throated barkers, some are patrollers, and some roam. Most need thorough socialization.

One of the lesser known of the LGD breeds is the Sage Koochi (also seen as Koochee or Kuchi), a breed that some authorities think may be the oldest variety of Afghan dog from which others developed. Sometimes called the Afghan Shepherd dog, Afghan Tiger Dog, or Central Asian Shepherd Dog, the Koochi was known for traveling on the Silk Road with caravans of the nomadic Afghan Kochi people from whom it got its name. Courageous and fierce, these are extremely hardy dogs noted for unmatched stamina. They kept up with traveling caravans on very little food and water, and still fought off thieves and predators with an eye for attacking stock.

As is common in adaptation, there are several types of this breed, a large-boned, heavier coated dog suited to live in the higher elevation of the Pamir mountains,  a lighter, and medium coated dog found on the steppe, and a shorter version suited for the desert. Some have categorized the dogs into thick-coated, heavily built lion-types, or short-haired, athletic looking tiger-types.

It was likely that as the dogs traveled from one area to another, some cross breedings with local dogs probably occurred, and Koochis can have a varied appearance. Indeed, Koochis are said to have a genetic resemblance with the Central Asian Ovcharka, and there are those who considered it to be nothing more than a variant of the aforementioned breed. Most sources, however, hold fast that the Sage Koocheehas been its own breed for a very long time, and has remained the same because of the isolation of Afghanistan exacerbated by war.

The Sage Koochee is not recognized by any kennel club in the western hemisphere, but the breed is beloved in its native land. Even so, the world is changing. Lifestyles are adapting, caravans have been replaced by vehicles, and the breed is at risk, either from the ravages of war, or from having lost its job.

Image of Koochee with cropped ears typical for working dogs in its native land, shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *