Guardian and Protector: The Loyal Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed

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anatolian shepherd dog in field

The Anatolian Shepherd dog is a giant breed, developed to be a flock protector. Originating from Anatolia in Turkey, their ancestry goes as far back as the Bronze Age, 6000 years ago!

Anatolians are intensely loyal, intelligent, protective and territorial. Not for the faint-hearted, Anatolian Shepherds are best raised by strong, experienced dog owners who understand the breed well.

A Brief History of Anatolian Shepherds

Anatolian Shepherds originate from the Asia Minor quadrant of Turkey. The Coban Köpegi (“shepherd’s dog”), a predecessor of this breed, was also a livestock guardian. Other names associated with this breed include the Kangal Dog, Karabash Dog, Turkish Guard Dog, Turkish Sheepdog and the Anadolu Kopek.

These calm giants guarded everything from livestock to property.

The original Anatolians were bred in very rough terrain with incredibly harsh conditions. Hot, arid summers and snowy, cold winters make this dog breed wonderfully adaptable and hardy.

The Appearance of These Not Always So Gentle Giants

Anatolians were bred to blend in with the flock that they were protecting. They are usually cream or fawn-colored with a black mask. The breed standard does, however, accept several different colors and combinations including brindle and pinto.

This impressive dog breed is tall with long, strong legs and a well-proportioned, muscular body. It has a strong head with V-shaped ears and amber to dark brown colored, almond-shaped eyes.

The muzzle is often black; giving the Anatolian it’s characteristic masked look. The Anatolian has a long tail that curls up and over the back when it is alert.

Anatolian Shepherds have a double-coat. The thick undercoat is to protect the dog from the harsh elements and extreme conditions while guarding its flock. The outer coat is usually short (1 inch), but can be longer, up to 3 inches.

Average Size and Weight

The Anatolian Karabash dog is a giant amongst dogs.

The average adult male Anatolian weighs 110 – 150 pounds (50 – 68 kg) and is 29 inches (72.5 cm) high at the shoulder.

The average female has a weight of 80 – 120 pounds (37 – 55 kg) and a height of 27 inches (67.5 cm).

A Fully Grown Anatolian is a Whole Lot of Dog!

You may need a bigger car if you decide to bring an Anatolian home! They might be cute and cuddly as pups, but these doggos grow into very large beasts. You will also need to ensure that your home and yard are suitable for a dog of this size.

It is imperative that an Anatolian is given limitations as far as the extent of territory is concerned. Be sure that your fences are high enough (about 6 feet) and strong enough to prevent an Anatolian from making a getaway.

anatolian shepherd puppies playing in park

Unless you wish to see the proverb of a bull in a China shop come to life, your home cannot be cramped and cluttered.

Make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into when deciding to make an Anatolian a part of your life.

Temperament and Personality of These Fiercely Loyal Dogs

Anatolian Shepherds will defend their flock (livestock, children and other family pets) to the death. They are devoted to their families but are territorial and suspicious of newcomers.

Traditionally, Anatolian Shepherds guarded their flock by night. They have a tendency to be more nocturnal and can acquire a reputation for disruptive barking at night. They have a very loud bark that can cover a good distance!

Protect First! Ask Questions Later!

These bold dogs are wary and vigilant. They are extremely alert and respond quickly to threats. This might come in the form of a visitor or a neighbor’s cat that has jumped over the wall.

Be attentive when guests and non-family members are around. New visitors should not be permitted to pet an Anatolian without a proper introduction.

Although they will protect children in their own family very well, they might mistake the roughhousing of friends and other children as threatening and react accordingly.

Not for First Time Puppy Parents! They Need a Strong Alpha!

You need to be firm, confident and consistent when training an Anatolian. They are very intelligent and can be quick learners. However, they are independent and have a stubborn streak.

Sometimes, it can take them a while to do your bidding if it doesn’t please them at that moment. Start positive feedback training with your Anatolian pup from the very first day.

Once this dog reaches full size, you need to be confident that you can control it in any situation with an appropriate and well-timed command.

A Working Anatolian is a Happy Anatolian!

The Karabash Dog is a working dog!

An Anatolian should have frequent opportunities to spend their energy and do stimulating things. Guarding and protecting their flock is what they do best and what fulfills them the most.

These dogs usually guard livestock such as goats and sheep, but they protect animals too! The Anatolian Livestock Guarding Programmes in some African countries are doing wonders to protect endangered wildlife such as the Cheetah!

A bored dog is a destructive dog. A bored Anatolian will chew and/or dig to relieve boredom. You can just imagine what next level destruction a dog of this size can cause in only a very short space of time!

Anatolian Shepherds are best suited to farm life where they can have a big area to patrol and protect, or a herd or flock to guard.

These Dogs Need Space!

Definitely not a pup for apartment living! This dog needs space and plenty of it! Space to roam and stretch its long legs.

These dogs are territorial and therefore need a reasonable amount of space to consider as their own territory to patrol and protect. They like to be outdoors where they can keep a good look out over their terrain.

What is Their Expected Lifespan?

Anatolian Shepherds are a very hardy and healthy breed. They have few congenital diseases and ailments. If you look after your Anatolian well, you can expect it to live for 11 – 13 years, a longer life expectancy than most large breed dogs.

A well-balanced, healthy diet and regular, age-appropriate exercise will go a long way to ensuring that you have many happy years with your giant pupper.

What About Anatolian Shepherd Mixes?

The size of the breed does limit breeding with other types of dogs to some extent. The Anatolian is also not a dog that socializes extensively with other dogs unless raised with them from puppy stages.

Some Anatolian Shepherd mixes include the German Anatolian Shepherd (German Shepherd cross), Plush Danois (Great Dane cross) and the Anatolian Pyrenees (Great Pyrenees cross).

anatolian shepherd mix with great pyrenees in forest

Anatolian Pyrenees Mix

The Anatolian Shepherd Great Pyrenees Mix

The Great Pyrenees is also a livestock guardian. It is also a giant breed. This breed originates from the Pyrenees Mountains in Asia. The Anatolian Pyrenees is a very large dog.

This mix breed is usually cream colored with a few black or brown markings. Personality and characteristics are a combination of the two breeds. These dogs tend to be a bit mellower than the Anatolian Shepherds, but it does differ from one litter to the next.

3 Potential Health Problems of Anatolians

Anatolian Shepherds are generally very robust and resilient dogs. They are not prone to illness and injury. A few maladies that they might succumb to include:

1. Hip or elbow dysplasia. These are inherited conditions affecting the joints of the dog, leading to the development of arthritis or lameness.

2. Entropion. This is an inward rolling of the eyelid. It usually affects the lower lids of both eyes and can lead to visual impairment.

3. Hypothyroidism. The result of an underactive or lazy thyroid gland. Symptoms can include obesity, lethargy, alopecia (hair loss), epilepsy and hyperpigmentation. Fortunately, most of these are quite treatable with a combination of medication and appropriate diet.

Anatolian Shepherd Puppies for Sale!

Finding a good breeder is the first step to take on this journey toward having an Anatolian in your life. A good breeder will help you select the perfect pup for your needs.

The right breeder will welcome any questions that you might have about this breed. They will be eager to educate you on all the unique qualities and quirks that are Anatolian Shepherd dogs.

A great place to start your search for a good breeder is the American Kennel Club site or the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club.

How Much Do These Doggos Cost?

This is a specialist dog breed, bred for a very specific purpose. Breeders should take great care to maintain the unique and essential qualities of this breed.

The cost of an Anatolian puppy can range anywhere between $ 800 and $ 1500. The price of the pup depends on the conscientiousness of the breeder as well as the type of puppy.

An Anatolian pup destined to be a family pet might be more affordable than one bred specifically to be a guardian.

A dedicated and careful breeder will do due diligence in selecting dogs with the most appropriate characteristics and best health records for breeding. This, along with all the costs of having the necessary tests and screening done will increase the price of the puppy at the end of the day.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Anatolian Shepherd Rescues! 

A new puppy is a great deal of work. Sometimes, it is a better idea to get a fully-grown dog that is already trained and ready for a working life.

An Anatolian Shepherd dog is a little more dog than most people can handle. There are therefore a number of dogs that need to be re-homed to people or families more understanding of the breed’s unique qualities and requirements.

Contact your nearest Anatolian rescue group to find out whether there is a suitable companion for you. To find Anatolian rescue organizations in your area, contact the national or local breed club.

4 Common Questions

1. Are Anatolians Good Family Dogs?

2. Do They Shed A Great Deal?

3. Do Anatolians Make for Good Guard Dogs?

4. Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs Easy to Obedience Train?

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