Turkmenistan President Builds Giant Dog Statue

By Jack Conner
Giant golden dog statue standing in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. (Image: Washington Post)

The alabai-also known as the Central Asian Shepherd-is a bold, curious, and majestic breed of dog native to areas like Central Asia and Russia. One such country in this area is Turkmenistan, and recently, the president of the country, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, decided to honor the breed with a massive golden statue in the middle of the capital.  Berdymukhamedov unveiled the 19-foot-tall statue in the center of Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat, where it stands in the middle of a crowded traffic square. The enormous statue is a monument to the alabai, which is Berdymukhamedov’s favorite breed.  


Berdymukhamedov decided that a simple unveiling of the statue was not enough for this beautiful breed, and planned out an extravagant ceremony dedicated to the alabai. The Turkmen president launched a full-on parade for the dog, including a live band, a dance group, and even a boy carrying a live alabai with him. The statue is also equipped with television screens across its base, each one showing an alabai running gleefully through grass.  


This astounding ceremony is just the latest show of Berdymukhamedov’s love for the alabai.  Berdymukhamedov wrote a book about the alabai, Türkmen alabaýy, which describes the history of the breed as well as its importance in Turkmenistan’s culture. He has also dedicated poems to the breed, and chose it as the main symbol for the Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games held in Ashgabat in 2017. In 2019, Berdymukhamedov gave an alabai puppy to Russian President Vladmir Putin as a belated birthday gift, signifying the friendship between the two autocratic rulers.


The stoic, high-standing monument to the alabai is not the first enormous statue built by Berdymukhamedov. To represent his love for another animal, the horse, he constructed a statue of himself riding a horse that ended up being over 70 feet tall. Berdymukhamedov considers himself a talented equestrian, and has participated in numerous races within Turkmenistan.  Ever since coming to office, he has claimed to be an animal lover, and the alabai statue is just the latest show of his affectionate feelings towards fluffy creatures.


Berdymukhamedov has ruled over Turkmenistan for the last 14 years, and in these years, has solidified himself as one of the biggest animal-lovers in world affairs. His statue in honor of his favorite breed, the alabai, continues to show how dedicated he is to representing his country’s heritage and love for animals.