The Anatolian Shepherd Dog (ASD) is one of the most majestic and noble animals in the service of man; still being used in the rural districts of Turkey as the shepherds' indispensable companion and front line of defense of his livestock from predators. Without the aid of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, the Turkish shepherd would be less able to defend his property and flock from wild animals. Such dogs are found from the Turkish Anatolian plateau right on through to Afghanistan.
In Turkey today, the breed is known as Coban Kopegi (cho-bawn ko-pay) which translates to "Shepherd's Dog". He is a livestock guardian dog, living his life in constant association with his sheep or goats, and is accepted as a member of the flock (this is NOT a herding dog).
The extraordinary speed and agility of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog enable him to run down a predator with great efficiency. Turkish Shepherds equip their dogs with impressive iron-spiked collars as protection against attacking animals that grab for the throat.
A large part of Central Anatolia is a high plateau of wide plains and rolling hills. Summers are dry, while winters are marked with heavy snowfalls and temperatures plunging well below freezing. Here in this environment, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a functional tool of the Turkish Shepherd.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog of today has remained relatively unchanged from its ancestors because of the nature of its isolated existence. The Turks have for centuries been dependent upon the land for their livelihood, relying on domesticated animals as an integral part of their existence. For this reason, perhaps, the characteristics of the Anatolian have been so exactly preserved, characteristics well adapted to: Turkey's hot climate and terrain; the lifestyle of the shepherds that, until modern times, was nomadic; and the job of guarding the village flocks against fierce predators.
The first Anatolian Shepherd Dogs to enter the United States arrived prior to the 1950s. However, the first active breeding program in the United States was the result of the importation of a breeding pair of dogs by Lt. Robert C. Ballard, USN, who was stationed in Turkey from 1966 to 1968. Upon their return to the United States, the Ballards settled in El Cajon, California, where on August 16th, 1970, their imports Zorba and Peki produced the first recorded American-bred litter. The year 1970 also saw the founding of the National Breed Club, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a versatile breed. Here in the United States, the Anatolian guards everything from chickens, goats, and sheep to cattle. A few even guard miniature horses, ostriches, and llamas. Some dogs are shown in conformation, obedience, and working classes; a few are certified as therapy dogs. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are also used as companions and family protectors. Many Anatolian Shepherds live on small farms, suburban homes, or ranches where they fulfill a duty of family companion/guardian, livestock guardian and/or show dog. These Anatolians have the best of both worlds ... a family and a job!