Breed type: Utility
Country of origin: Turkey
Popular names: Anatolian, Karabash, Turkish Mountain Dog
Height: 70-75 cm (males), 65-70 cm (females)
Weight: 50-65 kg (males), 40-55 kg (females)
Best suited as: Guardian dog
Lifespan: 12-14 years
The Anatolian Shepherd is a large mountain dog with a Turkish history that dates back thousands of years. The primary purpose of this breed is that of a livestock guardian, a job performed with tremendous bravery and unwavering devotion.
Though this breed may also be kept as a companion dog, its skills as a strong, dependable working dog should not be underestimated.
The Anatolian Shepherd was developed primarily for utilitarian purposes rather than appearance, so the physical standards for this breed are not as strict as many others. This large, muscular dog is accepted in all colours, though the most common include fawn, piebald, red, white, and liver.
Dogs of this breed often have a dark mask around their eyes and mouth. Pigmentation tends to be black as well, except for liver-coloured dogs, which have brown pigmentation. The eye colour of the Anatolian Shepherd generally ranges from golden yellow to dark brown.
The coat of the Anatolian Shepherd is medium to long in length and may be feathered around the chest, legs, and tail. The texture of the fur is coarse and thick, with a very slight wave in dogs with a longer coat.
The tail of this breed is long and bulky, often carried high and curled atop or alongside the dog’s back. The thickness of the tail, in addition to its feathered fur, is a source of warmth for the Anatolian Shepherd during cold nights spent outdoors.
The ears of the Anatolian Shepherd may be docked, especially in its native Turkey, in an effort to prevent injury to the ears when fighting off a predator. Left naturally, the ears of this dog are triangular in shape and lay flat in a soft fold on either side of the head. Another natural defense for this breed is the loose skin around its neck, which helps minimise the severity of injuries sustained to the neck. Some Anatolian Shepherds wear a spiked collar for added protection.
The difference between males and females of this breed is often apparent due to variations in size and body shape. Males tend to be larger, weighing 50-65 kg and standing tall at 70-75 cm. They are often broader and bulkier than their female counterparts, which tend to have a longer, leaner build. Female Anatolian Shepherds weigh an average of 40-55 kg and are 65-70 cm in height.
The Anatolian Shepherd is thought to be the result of the crossbreeding of European and Asian dogs several thousand years ago. Two Turkish breeds that heavily influenced the Anatolian Shepherd are the Akbash and the Kangal, both of which are also believed to be native to present-day Turkey. This breed gets its name from Anatolia, the region in which it is thought to have originated.
In terms of appearance, this breed was developed with the intent of producing a large, powerful dog capable of taking on large predators such as wolves, jackals, or even bears. In regards to personality, the Anatolian Shepherd was bred to be a loyal working dog, both to the shepherds it originally served and to the livestock it defends. It tends to form a fast and strong bond with the animals it is charged with protecting, which may include sheep, horses, or goats.
Over the course of the last century, the Anatolian Shepherd has been introduced to other areas of the world beyond its native Turkey. It has since become widely accepted in dog organisations such as the Australian National Kennel Council.
The Anatolian Shepherd is an intelligent, brave, and independent breed that requires little direction from its owner while serving the role of a working dog. This breed has a strong sense of duty and will quickly bond with and protect the livestock it has been assigned to guard. It tends to live outdoors, where it will routinely circle the property to ensure that predators do not threaten the well-being of livestock.
The Anatolian Shepherd tends to roam by nature, so it should have a large, secure area in which to do so. In addition to its tremendous eyesight, which enables it to see predators approaching the property, it also has phenomenal hearing and an acute sense of smell. It is always alert, even during periods of inactivity. This breed is not initially aggressive, preferring to chase away predators, but it will not back down from an attack if provoked.
This breed develops the same loyal nature towards its family, if kept as a pet. It is not recommended that an Anatolian Shepherd be charged with protecting both people and animals, for its bond is nearly always stronger with humans. Since the original purpose of this breed was to live outdoors and keep constant watch over livestock, a great deal of training is necessary in order for this dog to be a family pet. Suspicious and devoted by nature, the Anatolian Shepherd will instinctively view newcomers and new animals as a potential threat. Constant exposure to a wide variety of animals, people, and environments will help this protective breed differentiate between welcomed guests and unwanted visitors.
Care and Grooming
Little is required when it comes to grooming this breed, particularly if it lives outdoors. The coat of the Anatolian Shepherd stays fairly clean, due in part to its texture, which naturally repels dirt.
A thicker coat will keep this breed warm during harsh winters and the dog will shed much of its coat during the dry, warmer months of the year. Semi-weekly brushing is recommended for indoor dogs, particularly during hot weather. For Anatolian Shepherds that live outdoors, brushing and cleaning the coat on a seasonal basis will usually suffice.
Due in part to centuries of survival in harsh climates, the Anatolian Shepherd is a hardy, healthy breed. Genetic problems such as blindness or deafness can be largely prevented by selecting a dog from a reputable breeder.
Elbow or hip dysplasia is a potential health issue that is common in larger breeds such as the Anatolian Shepherd. Thyroid problems may also occur in this breed, as well as entropion, a condition in which the eyelid folds inward, causing discomfort and potentially damaging vision.
Factors such as living conditions and genetics greatly impact the lifespan of the Anatolian Shepherd, which lives an average of 12-14 years.
Sustainability as a Pet
The loyalty of the Anatolian Shepherd is unwavering and it will serve as a devoted companion if kept as a pet. Its success and happiness as a companion dog are dependent upon several factors, including obedience training.
This is a strong-willed and independent breed by nature, so training is necessary during puppyhood and often adulthood in order to establish and uphold rules and authority. Training and discipline should always be conducted in a firm, yet fair manner in order for the dog to respect and trust its owner. Without such, the Anatolian Shepherd will assume a dominant role in the household.
Ample space is also needed for this breed, therefore living in a flat or a home without a yard is not ideal for the Anatolian Shepherd. If kept as a pet, a secure outdoor area should be readily available, as this dog enjoys spending a great deal of time outside. With shelter and protection from the elements, this breed will be content living outside. If a safe outdoor space is not available, long and frequent walks will help this dog expend energy.
Due to its maternal and protective nature towards its family, the Anatolian Shepherd will generally be gentle towards children, though adult supervision is recommended if for no other reason than the massive size of the dog. This breed typically gets along well with other domestic animals if they are raised together and have been properly introduced.
The Anatolian Shepherd will make a wonderful pet for the right owner. Patience and persistence are necessary with this tenacious breed because it was initially bred to make independent decisions, but the reward for proper training and care will be an incredibly loyal companion.