The Akbash
Guard Dog from Anatolia

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 Akbash

This large, white dog is fiercely protective of the sheep placed in its charge.

Here is the Akbash at a Glance
Name Akbash
Other Names None
Nicknames None
Origin Turkey
Average size Large
Average weight 90 to 140 pounds
Average height 28 to 34 inches at the shoulder
Life span 10 to 11 years
Coat type Medium long double coat
Hypoallergenic No
Color White
Popularity Not well known
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat High
Tolerance to cold High
Shedding Minimal
Drooling Not a drooler
Obesity Not obesity prone
Grooming/brushing Minimal
Barking Barks to warn
Exercise needs Average
Trainability Difficult to train
Friendliness Low
Good first dog No
Good family pet Not really
Good with children No
Good with other dogs No
Good with other pets No
Good with strangers No
Good apartment dog No
Handles alone time well Yes
Health issues Minimal
Medical expenses $260 annual average
Food expenses $235 annual average
Miscellaneous expenses $65 annual average
Average annual expense $600
Cost to purchase $675
Biting Statistics Unknown
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The Akbash Dog’s Beginnings

Not a lot is known about the roots of the Akbash, but it is generally believed that this dog is related to canines originating several thousand years ago in the area of the Mediterranean known as the Fertile Crescent—an area that curves from the Persian Gulf down and around through what are now the states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

This area is considered the birthplace of civilization, where around ten thousand years ago people started understanding how to domesticate crops, as well as how to domesticate and breed livestock. And even then, of course, if you had livestock, to needed dogs to herd and guard them.

New Lease on Life

Over time, the people of the Fertile Crescent spread north into Anatolia, in what is modern day Turkey. They brought their livestock with them and, of course, their dogs. Those canines developed over the centuries into modern breeds, and one of those is the Akbash.

The Dog You See Today

The Akbash is a large dog, weighing up to one hundred and forty pounds. It is tall, standing from twenty-eight to thirty-four inches at the shoulder.

The Akbash is strong, with a large head, a muscular neck, and strong legs. The eyes are v-shaped, set high on the head, and drop flat to the skull. The coat is always white, medium length, and the skin is loose around the neck, which gives it an edge when it is in a fight with predators.

The Inner Akbash

Temperament

The Akbash is a working dog and is not particularly satisfactory as a pet or companion. It is brave, loyal and intelligent, and extremely protective. It was bred to be a guard dog, protecting livestock from predators such as wolves, coyotes, mountain lions and bears. It is fearless, and will never back away from a fight if it feels it has to protect its charges from predators. They are naturally wary and suspicious of people they don’t know. It has a high need for dominance when it comes to other dogs. Living in an urban space, surrounded by strange people and dogs, is a recipe for trouble. Bringing an Akbash home also means being able and willing to make a permanent commitment to the relationship. An Akbash will bond strongly with its owner, but not so much with anyone else. It is not a dog you can give away down the road if things don’t work out.

Living with an Akbash

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What will training entail?

These dogs take well to training, but they also have a strong dominance need, and can be difficult to socialize. They bond closely with the livestock under their protection, but not so much with people. An Akbash is also not the world’s best family pet. It needs early and constant socialization, and is difficult and willful in this respect. Socialization takes time, and is not always completely successful. This is a dog that does not really care much about pleasing people.

Anyone who decides to bring an Akbash into the home needs to be prepared for a fulltime job when it comes to socializing and training this dog. An Akbash owner should be experienced in dealing with large, potentially aggressive dogs. This is a guard dog, start to finish, and not a playmate. The owner needs to be able to establish firmly and clearly that he or she is the alpha in the household, and will then need to re-establish that dominance on a regular basis.

How active are they?

For starters, an Akbash is definitely not an apartment dweller. Although it is not highly active and does not spend a lot of time running around, it still needs a lot of space, and will become nervous and unhappy if it is penned in. Akbash are not extremely active, and do not require a lot of exercise. They move fast when they need to, but also are perfectly happy being idle when they don’t have anything pressing to do. These dogs, after all, were meant to stay close to sheep or other livestock, lying quietly and keeping an eye on things. They are not herder dogs.

Caring for the Akbash

Grooming requirements

It has moderate grooming needs with it short to medium rough coat which does shed an average or above average amount. Brush it at least two to three times a week to keep up with the loose hair. Avoid bathing too regularly as that can damage the natural oils in a dog's skin, but bathe it when needed. Ears should be given a check once a week in case of ear infection and can be wiped clean at the same time. Dental health is important for dogs too so a brush two to three times a week is important to remove tartar and bacteria. As a working dog the Akbash is likely to wear its nails short outside but should they get too long clipping by a professional or experienced dog owner will be needed.

Feeding an Akbash

The Akbash should be fed about 4 to 5 cups of a high quality dry dog food daily. This should be divided out in at least two portions for two meal times. The quality of the food is important to ensure it is having its nutritional needs met and usually high quality means more filling. While it is a puppy, your Akbash should be getting a dog food formulated especially for large dogs. Food designed for the big guys has, among other things, fewer calories per serving, which helps insure that your pup will not grow too fast, which allows the bone structure to develop properly.

How they get on with children and other animals

It is also not particularly good with children; even when it is being playful, it plays rough. It is also innately protective, and sometimes aggressive, around its food. This seems to be an innate characteristic, not one that training or socialization will change to any degree.

Akbash are suspicious of strangers, and sometimes may take an immediate dislike to someone for no perceptible reason. They are aggressive and have a strong need to dominate other dogs.

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What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Durability and toughness come with an Akbash. Any dog can be injured or catch a bug of some kind, but these dogs seem generally immune to medical problems. There are no apparent inbred vulnerabilities, and so your new pup will probably be essentially trouble free, medically, through its expected life of ten to eleven years.

Biting Statistics

Currently there are no reports of any Akbash attacks in the USA but as stated this is not a friendly dog and it is territorial.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

There are not a lot of Akbash dogs around, but if you find one it will probably cost around $675 to purchase. You might decide to check out animal shelters and rescue organizations, but once again, because the breed is not that well known or popular, you probably won’t have much luck. Also, as the Akbash tends to bond pretty exclusively with one person, a rescue dog may not be able to bond with you.

Assuming you do locate an Akbash, the next step will be to have it spayed, if it is female, or neutered if it is male. This will probably cost you in the neighborhood of $220. At the same time, you will want to have your Akbash get its initial round of puppy shots along with other routine medical procedures such as de-worming. Here you are looking at another $75 or so. Then, of course, you will need to get your pup a collar and a leash, for about $45 or $50 for a dog this size, as well as a pet license, which will probably be about $15 or $20.

Even though Akbash dogs are tough and not prone to medical problems, things happen, and veterinary fees are going up just like everything else. As a result, a great many people these days invest in pet insurance. How much that will cost is depends on how broad you want the coverage to be; but you can figure on spending at least $200 to $250 a year.

Obedience training comes next. Actually, if you are like most who purchase an Akbash, you are getting it as a guard dog, and that means specialized training. Even if you are not, this is not your ordinary dog, and you will want to find a professional trainer who is skilled and experienced at dealing with large guard dog types. Initially, basic obedience training will get you started, for $125 to $150 or so. After that it will be at least desirable, if not necessary, to provide additional training for this dog.

Generally, you should expect to spend about $235 a year for dog food. That of course does not include treats, which you will want to have for training rewards as well as just for everyday nice. How much you spend on treats is up to you. Some people spend as much or more on those tidbits as they do on regular dog food; but figure around $75 a year at least.

Overall, you can expect that the care and feeding of your Akbash will run you in the neighborhood of $475 a year.

Names

Looking for a Akbash Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

  • Male Akbash Good Names
  • Female Akbash Good Names
  • The Akbash is a guard dog native to the Anatolian Plateau of Turkey, but with roots that go back to the ancient Fertile Crescent. It is large, weighing up to one hundred and forty pounds, and tall, standing twenty-eight to thirty-four inches at the shoulder. It is pure white, with a curly tail, a massive head, and a strong, muscular neck. The skin around its neck is loose, which helps it protect itself when it is in a fight with predators such as wolves, mountain lions and bears.

    The Akbash is known for its loyalty, courage and intelligence. It bonds closely to its primary person, but not so much to other people. It is difficult to socialize and does not do well with other dogs. It is also not a great dog with kids.

    The Akbash is really meant to be a guard dog, and will function very well in that role. It is not, however, the best in the world as a family pet.

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