Let's talk Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Bred as a protector of livestock, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is steadfast and affectionate, a working dog who is practically unmatched and with a loyalty that’s absolute. They possess a big spirit that matches their physical might, a powerful breed best for experienced dog owners. A firm hand is needed to keep the independent mind of this big dog in check. Their initial wariness of newcomers - both human and animal - comes only from caring for their flock. Expand their social circle and they’ll warm up soon enough.

Official name: Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Other names: Anatolian Karabash, Goban Kopegi

Origins: Turkey

Black and white side profile portrait of an Anatolian Shepherd
 Drooling tendencies

Medium

Warm weather? Very high
 Shedding level
Suited to apartment living? 
 Energy Level (high, low, medium)* Medium Kid-friendly? 

 Compatibility with other pets
Can stay alone?* Medium

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Inline Image 15
Illustration of an Anatolian Shepherd
Male
74 - 81 cm Height
48 - 60 kg Weight
Female
71 - 79 cm Height
40 - 50 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 8 months
 Adult age  8 months to 2 years
 Mature age  2 to 5 years
 Senior age  from 5 years

Two Anatolian Shepherd puppies with their noses touching

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Get to know the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

All you need to know about the breed

Friendly, and calm define the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, as do their characteristics of intensity and self-reliance. Bred for work in the treacherous hills and vast plains of ancient Anatolia, or modern-day Turkey, and charged with protecting flocks of livestock, this is a breed that’s most content when given a job and allowed to do it. They assume their post without training or needing to be told - and that’s no joke: The Anatolian Shepherd Dog breed instinctively needs little-to-no instruction on how to patrol and protect. A breed that’s been in existence for so long surely knows, by now, what to do.

Despite their serious side, they are affectionate with family and those closest to them. Known to be devoted to other family pets and good with children once they are trained, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is downright enjoyable to have in the house. They will however protect their “flock” with all they have, if needed, and be hard-pressed to allow strangers - and even those they have met before - into their realm unless their owner gives them the OK.

Thorough training then should start for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog in puppyhood as the breed will thrive with solid leadership. Given their protection history, they are swift on their feet. Their very hardy constitution means the breed is always up for outdoor work or just accompanying owners on a walk or short jog around the neighborhood. They are always ready to go!

Anatolian Shepherd sat looking into the distance with its tongue out

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2 facts about Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

1. En garde - not!

Without fail, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog should never receive formal guard dog training; their physical strength combined with their defensive instincts could prove dangerous. This dog’s learned behaviour, to defend at all costs if necessary, is bred over centuries and cannot be undone. However they will need the usual training to behave well in social circles.

2. You overachiever you...

As if looking after livestock and the family weren’t enough: Namibia’s Cheetah Conservation Fund, meant to prevent more killing of the big cats, instituted a program with the Namibian government to encourage ranchers to use the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs in the protection of their flocks. Ranchers, and sheep, sleep well at night when this trusty dog is at work keeping the Cheetahs at bay.

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History of the breed

The commanding Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a storied past starting four millennia B.C. in the vast, hilly Turkish terrain known as Anatolia, or Asia Minor. Their ancestors date back 6,000 years, mastiff types brought there by wandering tribes. Bred as protectors for their flocks, the dog developed into a nimble and fierce protector, often wearing iron collars with pointed spikes to protect them from predators.

They are a huge symbol of Turkish national pride, even making it onto a postage stamp!

Right before WWII, the Turkish government gave a pair of the dogs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for use in their classified “Sheepdog Project”, an experiment in how best to protect flocks. U.S. Naval officer Robert Ballard brought a pair back from Turkey and helped found the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America in 1970. They entered the AKC’s Working Group in 1998.

Black and white headshot of an Anatolian Shepherd

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

1. Ears

V-shaped ears drop at side, set no higher than top of head.

2. Head

Sizable head in proportion to body.

3. Body

Bold, powerful body, substantial limbs, strong torso.

4. Tail

Long, well-fleshed out tail, usually carried curved.

5. Coat

Plush double coat, thick undercoat, outer coat either short or longer and rough.

Anatolian Shepherd and a puppy sat side by side in the grass

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Anatolian Shepherd sat facing the camera

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Caring for your Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Let’s talk shedding. It’s a fact that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog loses hair copiously so grooming will need to be routine. A grooming comb and short-bristle brush are helpful for weekly brushing of that thick undercoat and an either short or long outer coat. Bathe only when necessary but do brush their teeth often. Despite their robust size, the exercise needs of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog aren’t over the top. They were raised as protectors not herders so walks in the morning and at night work, but always on leash. Remember their vigilant instinct is something that can kick in at any time. Training the Anatolian Shepherd Dog must be firm and repetitive, and start very early. This is a dog with a very independent mind, prone, at times, to do what they want and not what you want, coming from centuries of breeding the dog to make decisions on their own. Known to dig - in the yard, in your begonias, in the bin - the Anatolian Shepherd Dog can possess behaviour that’s not so becoming for this otherwise noble and sophisticated breed. Instilling good discipline will be key to making sure your dog follows house rules, and that the house stays intact.

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All about Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

While often confused, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog and the Kangal are two different breeds that carry different temperaments. Both were bred as livestock protectors but the Anatolian Shepherd Dog will protect family to the end whereas the Kangal is more welcoming to strangers. Although similar in appearance, the Kangal is somewhat taller and has a slightly longer lifespan. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is not always that dog-friendly while the Kangal usually is. While the Anatolian Shepherd Dog may be demanding when it comes to training, the Kangal is downright difficult.

This large breed will grow to anywhere from 110 to 150 pounds. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is suited only for owners who can manage his commanding size and protective instincts.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/