Anatolian Shepherd Dog
- Lifespan: 10-13 years
- Group: AKC Working
- Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards, farmers, rural/farm areas, guard duty
- Temperament: Easygoing, protective, loyal, devoted
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Basics
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a hard worker. Amazing guard dogs, you’ll find that this breed is very loyal to its owner. Easygoing and calm, the Anatolian loves kids and will happily spend hours playing with them. It’s been known under many names: Anatolian Karabash Dog, the Kangal Dog, the Turkish Guard Dog, the Turkish Sheepdog and the Karabash Dog. Even though the Anatolian is highly intelligent and obedient when trained, it is not a dog for everyone. Since this breed is powerful and has great endurance, it needs plenty of daily exercise.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog needs a large home with lots of space, and loves to be outside. A wonderful companion, this dog has many qualities that make it a great pet. Read on to learn more about this fascinating breed.
Easygoing and calm, the Anatolian loves kids and will happily spend hours playing with them.
Back in the day, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog was a combat dog, used to take down large game (which included lions and horses). In its homeland of Turkey, this breed was modified to livestock from predators. Thanks to its size, coat and color, the Anatolian could blend in with the flock it protected – predators wouldn’t even know the dog was there. With its strong and independent nature, these dogs could manage and protect livestock without constant attention from owners. Able to live in both hot and cold climates, the Anatolian does well in any environment.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog made its way to North American with Lt. Robert Ballard of the US Navy, who had a pair of working shepherd puppies while he was stationed in Turkey in 1967. Bringing them back to America, the pair produced their first litter in 1970, which provided the backbone of the breed in the U.S.
An ancient breed, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog originated in Turkey about 6,000 years ago. Dog experts recognize three types of original Turkish flock-guarding breeds: the Akbash in west Turkey, the Kangal in central Turkey, and Kars eastern Turkey. The American version of the Anatolian Shepherd is a result of mixing these flock-guarding dogs.
Food / Diet
Even though this is a big dog, the Anatolian Shepherd is a conservative eater. This breed doesn’t do well with commercial foods that are high in protein. In its native environment, the Anatolian Shepherd sticks to a mainly a vegetarian diet. But your dog will thrive quite well on a quality lamb/rice or chicken based diet. You may choose to go with a commercially produced holistic diet, or supplement a dry food diet with cooked chicken, cooked rice, yogurt and/or cottage cheese. As well, a Vitamin C supplement will offer additional health benefits to your Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog needs a large home with lots of space, and loves to be outside.
Not for the first-time owner, Anatolian Shepherds need a confident leader. This breed is stubborn and dominant, and once this dog knows who is in charge (that should be you), training should go smoothly. Trainers need a strong and consistent hand to establish leadership. If not, don’t be surprised if your Anatolian takes over your household.
When it comes to a dog’s instincts, you can’t train it out of them. This holds true for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog’s innate sense to protect its family, which includes people and other animals in the household. You can train your dog to limit these behaviors, but don’t expect these habits to desist. Instead, you can use these protective instincts to protect your household and everyone in the family. Anatolians will be wary of strangers, so ensure that visitors to your home are introduced to the dog properly.
This is one big dog! The Anatolian Shepherd Dog varies in weight, tipping the scales anywhere from 80 to 150 pounds. Females average in with a weight of 100 pounds, while males average a weight of 130.
A working breed at heart, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog takes its duties as a guard dog seriously. You are now its flock and your Anatolian will alert you to danger with a loud, deep bark. Even though this breed is independent and stubborn, you’ll also notice how devoted it is to its family. Of course, this dog would do well for farmers as well, but if you think you can take on this huge dog, it will make a wonderful addition to your family.
This guard dog is naturally suspicious of strangers – be sure that this trait doesn’t turn into an aggressive one. Start socialization early and introduce your Anatolian to new people and experiences as a puppy. An experienced handler with strong leadership skills will be able to keep aggression from developing. When bringing a new person into the home, instruct the visitor not to pet your Anatolian at first – your dog will determine on its own if this is a safe person. The Anatolian Shepherd loves kids, but may see other children as a threat, so this breed should not be left alone when children bring their friends over to play. This breed’s sense of protection also relates to animals that aren’t a part of its family. If a dog it doesn’t know makes its way onto your property, the Anatolian may attack.
A guard dog is always on duty, so the Anatolian Shepherd Dog will bark at sounds in the night. Even if these noises are in the distance, this dog will alert you to the threat with a loud bark.
You’ll need to mentally simulate your Anatolian Shepherd, otherwise, it may become destructive when bored. And with that powerful jaw, nothing is safe from a chewing – that includes furniture and drywall. You’ll need to give your Anatolian plenty of things to do while you’re out, or you may come home to a huge mess.
Common Health Problems
Generally, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a healthy breed. However, some health concerns include cancer, ear infections, entropion, hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years.
Look at the size of the dog – you can’t fit it into an apartment! Even though it doesn’t need as much exercise as other large breeds, owners will need to take their Anatolian Shepard for lots of walks and give it plenty of room to run around. This breed wants nothing to do with games of catch or fetch. It needs a challenge such as pulling a sled or cart, or tracking activities.
Because of its instinct to guard flocks, Anatolian Shepherd Dog works best on farms. If you have small children, this may not be the best breed for you, as the Anatolian may not get along with children it doesn’t know.
A working breed at heart, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog takes its duties as a guard dog seriously.
The American Kennel Association says this about the breed: “Large, rugged and powerful, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a working guard dog, possessing a superior ability to protect livestock. While not a “glamour” breed, the Anatolian’s loyalty, independence and hardiness is cherished by breeders and owners.” The AKC first recognized this breed in 1996.
Outfitted with touchably soft fur, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a one-inch long coat, along with a thick undercoat. You may see some dogs feathering on the ears, legs, and tail. Expect to see the coat come in a range of colors, including pinto, white, and brindle, and fawn with a black mask.
When it comes to grooming, you’ll be pleased to know that Anatolian Shepherd Dog is low maintenance. Expect this dog’s short coat to shed throughout the year. You can keep on top of it by employing regular brushing habits. And since this breed doesn’t have a dog odor, you’ll only have to give your Anatolian Shepherd Dog a bath a few times a year.
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are wary of strangers, so as a puppy, you should introduce it to new people and situations as early as possible.
Photo credit: Gary Bernard Kent