The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a beautiful and muscular cream-colored dog with black accents around the face. It is a Turkish Shepherd originally bred to assist goat and sheep herders in protecting their livestock. Its descendants’ bloodlines trace back to some of the oldest known canines going back six thousand years to the Bronze Age.
It is a large dog that stands tall and can weigh up to one hundred and fifty pounds. It is fully capable of protecting its homeland even in the harshest of circumstances. They make great family pets due to their calm and loving nature and are currently ranked #90 out of 196 on AKC’s Popularity List.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Quick Stats:
- Breed Popularity: Semi-popular
- Life Expectancy: 11-13 Years
- Group: Working Group
- Height: Male – up to 29″ Female – up to 27″
- Weight: Male 110-150lbs Female 80-120lbs
- Temperament: Loyal, Restrained, Self-Reliant
History of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog:
The name of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog comes from the word “Anatolia” also called Asia Minor; a peninsula comprised of the Asian part of modern Turkey. Their heritage traces back to early civilization when goat and sheep herders refined a dog to guard their livestock called the “Coban Kopegi” or “shepherd’s dog.” This dog was the prototype of what would eventually become the “Anatolian Shepherd.”
Over the years the breed developed the ability to endure the rigid temperatures of the high plateau in central Anatolia. The region consists of hot harsh summers and chilling sub-zero winters. These factors honed their ability to adapt and survive the most extreme conditions. This led to the dog’s reputation as one of the leaders of flock guarding dogs.
The dog’s roots trace back to biblical times with the earliest books of the bible referring to shepherds with dogs that were most likely a variant of the breed. Their ancestors trace back to ancient artifacts from the days of the Babylonian Empire.
Depictions of large dogs similar to the breed are found in Assyrian bas-relief carvings that are currently being displayed in the British Museum. The carvings date back to 2000 B.C.
Top Secret “Sheepdog Project”
The history of the breed coming to American began right after World War II. It started with a project called the top secret “Sheepdog Project.” The Department of Agriculture transported two breeding dogs from Turkey to the United States to participate. The goal of the project was to determine which dog breeds would make the best guard dogs for sheep pastures in America. Due to the outbreak of war, the project dissolved and the Anatolian Shepherds along with their offspring circulated across the U.S.
Following the war in the 1950’s, Ranchers in America started to import the breed, but they didn’t have a strong presence until the 1970’s.
Lieutenant Robert Ballard
Lt. Robert C. Ballard is credited with the establishment of the breed. The U.S. Navy officer attained two Anatolians while stationed in Turkey. He subsequently brought them home to the United States and bred the first litter in 1970. These first pups would become the foundation stock for all future Anatolians bred in America.
The Endangered Species Act
With several new breeders and the introduction of the Endangered Species Act, this new breed would soon become a staple for many ranchers. The new law would require that ranchers maintain the population of wild wolves without using lethal force. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog was the perfect candidate for the job because of their ability to intimidate predators without getting into a scrap.
The breed is still very active today on ranches across America. They are still protecting a myriad of animals including goats, llamas, ostriches and sheep.
Interesting Facts About The Anatolian Shepherd Dog:
- The breed is more sensitive to anesthesia than the majority of other dog breeds.
- They have contributed to Namibia’s cheetah conservation program since 1994 and they continue to help protect the endangered species thanks to a program that emboldens ranchers to use the Shepherds for protection.
- They have multiple names including Anatolian Karabash (Kangal) and Goban Kopegi.
- The breed has been in multiple movies including “Cats and Dogs,” “Friends With Benefits, “Kate and Leopold,” and the Turkish film “Sivas” in 2014.
- They are very self-sufficient dogs and can take care of the flock with their natural instincts.
- The breed is calm and friendly despite their affinity to firmly protect their flock.
- They are currently being used at Yellowstone National Park with the hopes of protecting park visitors from any predators that might be a threat.
- Agile with great maneuverability.
- Excellent stamina.
- Large dogs which can reach up to 150lbs.
- Powerful dogs with a lot of muscle and a strong head.
- Rough and rugged.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed Standards:
They have a big skull that is still symmetrical with their body. They have medium almond shaped eyes that range in color from light amber to dark brown. Blue eyes or two contrasting eye colors make it ineligible as a pure breed. The rims around the eye are tight and black or brown in color. They should not have any incomplete pigment. Ears should drop to the side, be six inches long, V-shaped and level with the plane of the head. Ears that stand straight up make it ineligible.
They have a symmetrical body that is never obese or soft. The chest is elbow deep and round with a unique tuck up at the thigh. Their neck is slightly curved, muscular, powerful and conservative in length bearing more fur and skin than anywhere else on the body. Their dewlap shouldn’t be drooping or exaggerated.
The back is brawny, powerful and on a level plane. It features drop behind withers and a slight curve over the loin which slopes marginally downward at the posterior. Tail should be lengthy, high set and come to the dog’s ankle. It is curled and low when the dog is in a carefree state. It will take the shape of a wheel when the dog is highly attentive. When the dog is trotting, a low curl and a wheel are acceptable although the wheel is preferred. Their tail may not uncurl completely.
Shoulders should have a lot of muscle and be well built with broad long sloping blades. Elbows should not be pointing in or out. Front legs should be somewhat long, straight and strong along with tough pasterns. Feet are solid and strong with oval toes that have nice arches. Their feet should have durable nails and thick tough pads. Dewclaws can be withdrawn.
Coat can be an inch short up to four inches long with slightly longer and thicker hair on their neck and mane. They have a thick undercoat. They may have fringes on the breaching, ear, legs, and tail.
They should be strong featuring wide thighs and lots of muscles. The angulation of the ankles and knees are symmetrical to the forequarters. The legs are equally spaced when seen from behind. Feet are solid and strong with oval toes that have nice arches. Double dewclaws are possible but may be withdrawn.
Caring For An Anatolian Shepherd Dog:
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog isn’t a highly energetic dog and therefore only needs a moderate amount of exercise. It will be very happy having a nice size yard to run around in. Make sure the yard has a fence tall enough to keep them from escaping. One or two walks daily should provide sufficient exercise. Make sure to keep them on a leash to prevent any mishaps.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a nice thick undercoat to shield them from the elements when outdoors. Though you will find some that have a long outer coat, the majority of them have a short coat. Because of this, a nice quick brush one time a week should do the trick.
They will shed their undercoat two times a year. During this time, you will need to give them a good complete brushing removing any dead hair. You can use a brush with short bristles and even a comb if you need to. We recommend that you brush them every few days.
Similar to all dog breeds, you need to get their nails trimmed on a regular basis to keep them healthy and strong.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is generally a healthy and able-bodied breed. Conditions such as bloat and hip dysplasia are not common issues that plague this breed. That being said, you should know the signs and symptoms of both to nip them in the bud if they do arise.
They are however sensitive to anesthesia. Make sure to alert your vet of this sensitivity before they perform any type of surgical procedures.
Responsible breeders should check for this condition characterized by inverted eyelids.
- Ear Infection
Get their ears checked on a regular basis for any signs of an infection.
- Hip Evaluation
Although hip dysplasia isn’t common, it is better to be safe and get a yearly evaluation.
- Elbow Evaluation
A yearly checkup should help your dog avoid elbow dysplasia.
Feed your Anatolian Shepherd Dog a good high quality commercial dog food or preferably a homemade dog food to keep your dog healthy and thriving. Like all dogs, you want to make sure it is the age-appropriate food based on your dog being a puppy, adult or senior. The breed is not prone to overeating.
Treats are great for teaching your dog basic commands and training them to perform certain tasks but don’t overdo it. Too many treats can cause obesity. Let your veterinarian know if your dog has any diet or weight issues. Keep a constant supply of clean, fresh water available for your dog.
To find out which human foods are safe for your dog to eat check out our article “What Can German Shepherds Eat?”.
Anatolians aren’t the easiest dogs to train due to their cautiousness and instinct to protect people. Socialize them when they are a young puppy and definitely get obedience training.
Breeders originally developed the Anatolian Shepherd Dog to be self-sufficient and to guard the flock from any strangers. Because of this, the breed can be slightly stubborn and hard to teach commands. Never give them any type of guard dog or protection training.
Are Anatolian Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
Yes, they are loving dogs that would make a great addition to any family looking for a loyal trustworthy dog with a strong personality. That being said, they will adapt and conform better with families that have older children.
Generally, the only aggression they will show is towards strangers or anyone threatening to harm their pack. They will protect your family and any animals you have.
How Much Do Anatolian Shepherd Dogs Cost?
Adopting an Anatolian Shepherd Dog usually cost around $300 for the fees that cover the basic expenses such as vaccines etc. You can adopt one here.
Purchasing an Anatolian Shepherd Dog from a breeder will obviously be much more expensive. They can run anywhere from $1000 to $5000 depending on the breeder.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog In Closing:
This breed is very smart and a highly devoted animal that can adapt and respond to difficult situations. It will protect your family or flock relentlessly. They are fierce leaders while at the same time loving companions.
We hope you enjoyed this article on these amazing dogs! Stay tuned for more weekly articles on everything Shepherds!
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Have you ever owned an Anatolian Shepherd Dog? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story!