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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — The Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan says if you’re trying to smuggle its prized native dog breed out of the country, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

The government is now requiring that its celebrated Alabay dogs receive a passport before they can leave the country.

A law that took effect Tuesday requires that all puppies of the breed, which is also known as the Central Asian shepherd dog, be marked in the government’s pedigree book and register of pedigreed dogs. Passports will be issued including data on the dog’s sex, date of birth, color, as well as details about the owner. Special government export permission will be required.

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.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s son, Serdar, who was elected president this year, heads the international association of Alabays.