Turkmenistan's president has bestowed his favourite dog breed with the highest honour - a giant golden statue.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov unveiled the 19ft (6m) statue of the Alabay dog in the capital Ashgabat on Tuesday, foreign media reports said.

The Alabay is a home-bred Turkmen variety of the Central Asian shepherd dog and is listed under the country's national heritage.

It isn't the first time the breed has been honoured by the president - last year he devoted a book to the Alabay.

A state television report that aired on the evening of November 10 showed Berdymukhamedov gazing happily at a gold-leaf canine – the centerpiece of a residential area designed for civil servants in Ashgabat.  

Turkmenistan’s state news agency wrote that the six-meter statue captures the “dignity and self-assuredness” of the bulky-skulled shepherd breed.

In a song and dance-filled ceremony opening the residential area, an elder handed an Alabai puppy to a young boy, symbolizing the dog’s constancy through generations of Turkmen.  

The new monument that was commissioned several years ago puts the Alabai in exalted company at the forefront of state propaganda.  

Previously the only animal to be celebrated in local sculpture was the Akhal-Teke horse.

But the dog’s increasing prominence during Berdymukhamedov’s second presidential term has not come at the expense of the Akhal-Teke.

In his book on Alabai published last year, Berdymukhamedov explained that the ancestors of modern-day Turkmen had seen “in the Akhal-Teke their dreams and in the Alabai their happiness.” The culture ministry is currently preparing UNESCO intangible heritage bids involving the two animals.