Anatolian Shepherds

Turkish Dog is Superb Guardian

The Anatolian shepherd is inherently a flock dog, a highly skilled protector of sheep or other livestock. A sturdy dog bred to endure long periods of time outdoors, the Anatolian has a reserved constitution—and an eagle eye for wild predators.

While the breed is still used as a working dog, it has also been welcomed into the homes of families around the world as a faithful companion.

Anatolian Shepherd

Roughly 1,000 years ago, a group of nomadic herders migrated from Central Asia to Turkey with more than 70 million sheep. It is presumed by some researchers that the herders brought with them the dog that is now the modern day Turkish Anatolian, also known as the Turkish mountain dog.

Because of their exceptional hearing and vision, these large, rugged dogs were put to work guarding the livestock from cheetahs, wolves, bears and jackals.

There is some speculation that dog, possibly the offspring of the Tibetan mastiff and the Roman mollosian war dog, had been living in the Anatolian region of Turkey more than 6,000 years ago, before the herders arrived. If so, any dogs traveling with the herders would’ve crossbred with the existing dogs in the Anatolian region, accounting for the vast variation of Anatolian dogs today.

Often referred to as “yoruk,” Anatolian shepherd dogs are given different names based on their appearance, which makes it difficult to categorize the breed as a whole. These dogs are classified as Kars, Kangals, Karadeniz, Akbashes, Boz and Aksaray Malakli, to name a few. Each “type” of Anatolian shepherd also has a different personality.

Some researchers believe the Turkish Anatolian shepherd is closely related to the Turkish Kangal dog, although, in recent years, the isolated Kangal region created an opportunity for the Kangal dog to be bred exclusively, thereby differentiating it from any of the other regional breeds. Turkey now claims the Kangal dog as its national dog and has severe exporting restrictions.

The Anatolian shepherd was brought to the United States during the 1950s, where it was used to guard livestock from wild predators. By the 1980s, the breed made its way inside the homes of pet lovers, where the dog became appreciated for its companionship as well. In 1995, the American Kennel Association recognized the breed and the Anatolian shepherd began appearing in the “working group” at dog shows.

Anatolian Shepherd

The Anatolian shepherd is innately a working dog, reflected deeply in its personality. The breed is friendly but reserved, often acting shyly—or suspiciously—around strangers. Not exuberantly affectionate, the Anatolian shepherd loves its family but takes its role as protector very seriously.

This working dog mentality also means the Anatolian shepherd responds well to training. Due to its guardian instincts, it is wise to routinely train your Anatolian so that the dog respects its place in the home—and understands that it does not hold the alpha position within the family. Allowing this breed to “rule the roost” could lead to behavioral issues such as aggression toward guests and excessive barking.

The Anatolian shepherd is a proud dog, a perfectionist, especially eager to please while working whether it be during a routine training exercise or while guarding the home or livestock. However, the Anatolian isn’t all work and no play; this breed enjoys a moderate amount of playtime, sometimes with children, depending on its mood. The breed also gets along well with other dogs and household pets (such as cats) if raised with them from a young age. With the right balance of training, socialization and play time, the Anatolian shepherd can be a good family pet.

Anatolian Shepherd

The Anatolian shepherd is a large, muscular dog, weighing between 80 to 150 pounds, depending on gender. The breed is often described as “rugged,” perhaps due in part to its size and its fur coat, which is short, thick and sometimes slightly wiry to the touch.

The breed’s coat may be many colors, most commonly “sesame,” a dark cream color, with colored spots covering a limited area of the dog’s body, often a black mask on its face and ears.

While these medical conditions are known to occur in the breed, your Anatolian shepherd dog will not necessarily develop any of those listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.

Anatolian Shepherd
  • Canine hip dysplasia is a hereditary malformation of the hip joint that is more commonly associated with large breed dogs. It can cause discomfort and lameness and result in arthritis. X-rays of the hips when dogs are young (under 2 years) can help identify if this problem is present will allow owners to identify a proper exercise, diet and treatment regimen if their dog is affected.
  • Entropian is the inward curling of the eyelid or ectropion, the rolling out of the eyelid. The lower lid is most commonly involved but the upper lid or both upper and lower eyelids can be affected. The condition should be corrected surgically to prevent damage to the cornea of the eye.

As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.