ORIGIN: Native to the rural districts of Turkey.
UTILIZATION: Flock guardian, Family companion/guardian.
HEIGHT: Males: 29+" - Females: 27+"
WEIGHT: Males: 100+ lbs - Females: 80+ lbs
GROOMING: Little (mostly seasonal)
EXCERCISE: Moderate (spurts, early in morning or at night when cool)
HEALTH: Very hardy breed (currently fairly low instances of hip dysplasia, OCD and heart problems as commonly seen in most large breeds of dogs).
LIFE SPAN: 12+ years
GENERAL: After several centuries of breeding for specific traits, we now have a breed of large guardians that bond to livestock, patrol and protect their territory like soldiers, and still manage to be loving companions and eye-catching showdogs. Some have even excelled in obedience competition, and as therapy and service dogs. The Anatolian is as comfortable in the North American mountain ranges, bedded down with the flocks it protects from cougar and bear, as it is lying on the rug at your feet. The key to successful ownership is understanding the needs and the abilities of this remarkable breed. They are intelligent dogs, devoted to their owners, gentle and protective of their charges, and fearless when a threat arises.
The name given to this breed .. Anatolian Shepherd Dog ... is a misnomer in that they do not herd the flocks, but protect them ... hence the designation "Livestock Guardian". However, this is not the only thing they are good at. Sometimes, while working in the fields, Turkish women will fasten one end of a rope around their young children's waists and the other end to an Anatolian's collar. They can then go about their chores, assured of the safety of their children.
Anatolians are capable of functioning in 100-degree-plus or 0-degree-minus weather. They survive when water is scarce in summer, when snow drifts are higher than their heads in winter, and when scavenging is their meal ticket the year round. Anatolians also carry out their tasks with alacrity. In Turkey, protecting their masters' flocks against wolves, jackals and lions is their goal. Anatolians are not pampered, nor can their owners generally afford to give them veterinary care beyond that which is necessary to keep them healthy enough for guard duty. In addition, the Anatolian exists without benefit of a breed name, much less records or pedigrees, in its native land. There it is known by the generic designation “Çoban Köpegi”, which means "shepherd's dog." It is important to note that these dogs are "guardians" and DO NOT HERD. The basic difference here is that herding breeds have a high prey drive and usually cannot be left unsupervised with livestock, as they have been known to kill animals that take fright and run from them. The LGD, on the other hand, is expected to bond with their charges and have a very low prey drive so that they protect, not harm their charges. Many owners of Guardian breeds feel that these dogs give them a "safe" feeling they never experienced with any other dog ... even those who previously owned the traditional "guard" dogs such as German Shepherd, Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers.
TEMPERAMENT: A large breed of Livestock Guardian dog, the Anatolian is a fiercely loyal guardian that demonstrates a possessive attitude towards family, property and livestock. He is suspicious of strangers, reserved when in public, and may expect a "formal introduction" before tolerating any familiarities. The Anatolian will generally get along with any animals it grows up with or has decided to "adopt" as its flock. They are especially good with well behaved children; however, it is never recommended to leave very young children alone with a large dog, no matter how nice or gentle the dog is. The Anatolian is NOT a dog for everyone, but for those select few who learn to live with this very demanding breed, it can be a most rewarding experience!!
HISTORY: The Anatolian is an ancient Turkish Livestock Guardian that is considered one of the large breeds of Molloser-type dogs. Humans are believed to have first lived in what was originally called Mesopotamia, now Turkey, and surrounding areas. Records show that fossils suggesting large Mastiff-type dogs appeared at the same time as fossils of grazing "flock" animals. This puts forth the theory that the Livestock Guardian breeds were probably among the first domestic dogs. The Anatolian is believed to have been developed by shepherds crossing these large Molloser-type dogs with the Turkish sighthounds to get a guardian with the speed to run down whatever was threatening their flocks of sheep or goats and have the strength to deal with the predator, be it wolf, bear, or lion, in the most effective manner. There is also a theory that the Asian Wolf might be part of the Anatolian makeup.
Much has happened since the late 1930's, when the Turkish government sent the first Anatolian Shepherd Dogs to the United States government to be used in the first 'sheepdog' studies. Now Anatolians are working all over the world, from Africa to the United States, to successfully protect livestock from predation. It is hoped that some of the information on this site will help give a working understanding, perspective and perhaps historical insight into the land-race breed that is known internationally as the “Anatolian Shepherd Dog”.
The name "Anatolian Shepherd Dog" has been a subject of much controversy. There are those who believe there are three completely separate breeds of Turkish Livestock Guardians (Akbash, Kangal & Kars Dogs), while others choose to believe there is only one breed with regional and color varieties.
The names “Anatolian Shepherd Dog”, “Çoban Köpegi”, "Gammel", “Chien de berger d'Anatolie”, “Anatolischer Hirtenhund” and “Perro de pastor de Anatolia” are all derivative of a known fact - these dogs are the shepherd's dog evolved from the historical region of Anatolia. All names reflect understanding and respect for this dog as one which comes from a long standing working heritage that predates our time - truly the working dog of shepherds.