Turkmenistan observes new holiday honoring the Alabay dog

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — The Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan on Sunday celebrated its new state holiday honoring the native Alabay dog breed.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov established the holiday to be observed on the same day that Turkmenistan lauds its Akhla-Teke horse, a breed known for its speed and endurance.

Berdymukhamedov aims to make the Alabay as well-known as the horse. Last year he unveiled a 15-meter (50-foot) golden statue of the dog in the capital, Ashgabat.

Alabay, traditionally used for guarding livestock herds, are among the world’s largest dogs, weighing as much as 80 kilograms (175 pounds).

Sunday’s observance included a competition of 10 examples of the breed in which they were judged on appearance and agility.