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Anatolian Shepherd Dog

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The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large to giant sized purebred from Turkey that today does well in things like herding, guarding and hunting as it is classed as a working breed. It is a fast and agile dog despite its size and it has in the past sparked some debate over whether it was a breed in of itself or whether this was a name used for several types of shepherd dogs from that same region of Anatolia. You will find opinions and decisions by Kennel Clubs and such vary from one country to another. Bred to look like the animals it guarded it was more able to then pick off predators attacking the flock or herd. Needs experienced owners and does best still being used as a working do, though the right home could work keeping it has a companion with a lot of work.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog at A Glance
Name Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Other names Coban Kopegi, Karabash Dog, Kara Bas, Kangal Dog, Kham Kepiji Dogs and Scandinavian Nygaard Dog
Nicknames Anatolian
Origin Turkey
Average size Large to giant
Average weight 80 to 150 pounds
Average height 28 to 32 inches
Life span 10 to 13 years
Coat type Thick, short
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, grey, red, blue
Popularity Not very popular – ranked 92nd by the AKC
Intelligence Quite good – can learn quickly but can be stubborn
Tolerance to heat Good – can live in warm climates but struggles in anything too hot
Tolerance to cold Excellent – able to handle even extreme cold
Shedding Constant and heavy – will need to vacuum daily
Drooling Likely – can drool and slobber
Obesity Average – can gain weight if overeats and does not get enough exercise
Grooming/brushing Daily brushing needed
Barking Frequent – this will need training to control
Exercise needs Fairly active – needs active owners
Trainability Moderately easy for experienced owners but stubborn side means for inexperienced ones it is harder
Friendliness Moderate – not a super friendly dog
Good first dog Moderate – not good for new owners, needs experienced owners
Good family pet Good but needs plenty of socialization
Good with children Moderate – not good with children, needs socialization
Good with other dogs Moderate – needs a lot of socialization, issues with dominance
Good with other pets Moderate – instinct have them diving away other animals, socialization essential
Good with strangers Low – not approachable must have socialization and supervision
Good apartment dog Low – too large and needs access to a yard
Handles alone time well Good – can deal with some alone time but not extended periods
Health issues Good but there are some issues can be prone to like joint dysplasia, mange, hypothyroidism and eye problems
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic medical care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for dog treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1000 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations Several including the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Rescue League and the National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 1 Maimings: 1 Child Victims: 1 Deaths: 0

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog's Beginnings

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog comes from ancient lines of dogs that were also used as war and hunting dogs. They were kept to guard and herd livestock by farmers and shepherds. It was bred to be large and fierce as it would have to defend them from animals such as jackals, wolves, lions, bears, leopards, cheetahs and tigers. It has probably been around in some form for 6000 years, in the country now called Turkey from a region called Anatolia. They were also developed to be able to handle extreme weather from hot and dry in the summer to very cold in the winter.

Some dog experts believe the Anatolian Shepherd Dog was developed in part using the Akbash Dog and the Kangal Dog. It lived a nomadic life, lived outside day and night and were hard working and stable. In many cases owners did not feed them once they were adults to encourage them to hunt their own small prey for food like gophers. Iron spiked collars were fitted as a mean to protect their throats from the predators they had to defend the flock from.

New Lease on Life

It was until the 1970s that breeders outside of Turkey took interest in this breed. Archaeologist Charmain Hussey brought the first Anatolian into the UK. The US has received them as gifts from Turkey to work with flocks there but it had not really had nay interest show into. At the same time Hussey brought them to the UK, they were introduced to the US again and this time people had more favorable responses. Robert Ballard, a naval officer who had seen and enjoyed the breed in Turkey while on duty helped the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America form in 1970. He began to breed them too and it was recognized by the AKC in 1996. Today it is ranked 92nd most popular registered purebred by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Anatolian is a large to giant dog weighing 80 to 150 pounds and standing 28 to 32 inches tall. It is a very muscled dog, sturdy, thick necked and strong but it is still on the slender side. It has a deep chest, level back line and a long tail that is set high. When it is relaxed it holds its tail low with a curled end, when it is alert it holds it high. In places where it is still allowed that tail can be docked. Its coat can be short to medium long and is doubled. It is thick, wiry and rough. The hair around the neck and throat is thicker and longer and it has feathering on the legs, ears and tail. Common colors are brindle, pinto, fawn, white and black markings on the face like a mask.

Its head is broad and in proportion with the body and its muzzle is rectangular and often black. The lips are black too and it has triangular ears that hang down and are v shaped but round at the tip. In Turkey and some other places where it is still allowed the ears are cropped. Its eyes are almond shaped, medium sized and range from amber to dark brown in color. It can have a black or brown nose and eye rims can also be black or brown.

The Inner Anatolian Shepherd Dog



The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is an independent dog, built to be hard working and able to make its own decisions about many things. This makes it tricky to keep as a companion and it takes a certain kind of home and very experienced owners, it is not a dog for new owners. It is smart but can be stubborn about obeying commands and socialization is essential. It is alert and an excellent watchdog, it will bark to alert you of an intruder and it will also act to defend you. It is fearless and bold and will do what is needed to protect its home and family. However that can turn into over protectiveness.

This is a very loyal breed and it matures between the ages of 18 months and 30 months. If you do keep it as a pet you will need to keep it engaged, give it jobs to do like pulling carts or give it advanced training. It will not be content to do nothing all day. It is not a playful breed, it is serious and calm and quite dignified. It is affectionate with its family but without strong socialization and training it can decide for itself who is a friend and who is not, and how to react. It also will try to dominate and manage you and the rest of the house if its owner is not firmly in charge. It is important to introduce it to strangers before they try to touch them.

It barks occasionally and when it does it is deep and very loud so make sure you do not leave it alone in the yard or neighbors may make complaints. It also tends to bark more at night than during the day which certainly is something to consider. It is a sensitive dog and needs a certain level of attention and affection. It can handle some time left alone though.

Living with an Anatolian Shepherd Dog

What will training look like?

For experienced owners it is moderately easy to train but for anyone else it is difficult as it has its own mind, makes its own decisions and can be stubborn and expects to be in control. Be prepared for a gradual process in which you need to stay firm and in charge, consistent at all times. Anatolians want to be in charge and they will test your resolve a lot, even when you think you have them trained. A dog of this size could be very difficult to live with if they are not clear that you are the decision maker. Make it clear you mean what you have said but avoid being harsh as this is a sensitive dog. Motivate it with rewards, positive praise and encouragement being firm and confident but still loving.

Avoid attack training with this breed, it is already very protective and that can push it over the edge. For that reason too and its suspicion of strangers, early socialization is essential. Expose it to different people, animals, places and situations and teach it the correct responses. Help it to learn how to recognize the difference between just a stranger or a real threat and what it should.

How active is the Anatolian Shepherd Dog?


This dog is used to working outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is not a dog suited to living indoors, it needs land or at least a large yard to access and it needs at least two daily long walks. That yard should be fenced in well with a tall fence so it does not feel like its territory is being threatened by strangers passing by. It should also have the opportunity to 'work' if there is any, and to visit a dog park or other place that is safe for it to run off leash. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs do not play usual dog games like fetch but it does love to run and to swim.

Always remember that while it is a large dog it is agile and fast. When out walking keep it leashed, and make sure it knows you are the one in charge, leash training is a good idea. It is important that it has plenty of exercise and mental stimulation otherwise it can get bored, destructive and very difficult to control. And a dog of this size can do a lot of damage and cause a lot of issues.

Caring for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Grooming needs

There is not a huge deal of grooming and maintenance to be done with this breed but it is a heavy shedder and you will need to deal with hair everywhere, clothing, furnishings and so on. Daily vacuuming and daily brushing will help with that but not get rid of it completely. It does have blow outs twice a year too where big clumps fall out. It is a clean dog though so bathing will only be required when it gets itself really dirty. Being so large if room in the bathroom is a problem you could use a hose in the yard, or see if a local groomer has bathing stations you can use.

Brush its teeth at least two to three times a week and check its ears once a week for infection then wipe them clean, being careful not to insert anything into the ear. Its nails should be trimmed when they get too long, being careful not to cut too low down as that can lead to bleeding and pain.

Feeding Time

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs need to eat between 4 to 6 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. How much exactly depends on its size, health, metabolism, activity level and health.

How is the Anatolian Shepherd Dog with children and other animals?

This dog is good with children with socialization especially if it is raised with them too. It will not respect them as someone who can give them orders though. It should be supervised around other children though in case it becomes overly protective of its own charges during some rough play. With young children it needs supervision too as it can knock them over and there is the potential for accidental injuries. Make sure children are taught how to interact and touch with them safely and in a kind way.


When it comes to other animals it is friendly and accepting of other pets but will drive away other animals that are not a part of its 'flock'. If it is not socialized and trained well it is over protective and aggressive. This is also vital to it getting along better with other dogs, it does have dominance issues with them, especially when they are the same sex.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have a life span of 10 to 13 years and are quite a healthy breed in general, though there are some issues that some can be prone to. These issues include cancer, heart problems, hypothyroidism, eye problems, demodectic mange, hip and elbow dysplasia and a sensitivity to anesthesia. It is also true that its immunity develops later than other breeds so it may need extra vaccinations against things like the Parvo virus.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports in Canada and the US about dogs attacking people over the last three decades, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog has been identified in one incident. The child victim was maimed meaning they were left disfigured, permanently scarred or has loss of limb. There have been no deaths though and it ranks in the bottom 30% of dog breeds for risk of attack. However the fact is when it is not bred well, not socialized or trained this is an aggressive dog and there is a risk it could over react.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

An Anatolian Shepherd Dog puppy will cost somewhere around $800 to $1000 for a pet quality dog from a trustworthy breeder, and then $1500 to $3000 for a show quality puppy from a top breeder. From a shelter or rescue you may find a dog that needs re-homing for $50 to $400 and it will come with some medical needs taken care of, but it is more likely to be an adult rather than a puppy. If you choose to import a dog that will be even more costly. Avoid using backyard breeders that you find advertising in papers and on online dog sites, or pet stores that use puppy mills to get their dogs. These are not people you want to keep in the business of breeding and the health of the dog can be in question.

Once you have found a breeder you believe to be good and have a puppy you need to take it to a vet to have it checked out. They will examine it, do some blood tests, deworm it, bring it up to date with its shots, micro chip it and spay or neuter it for you. This will cost about $300. You should also pick up some things you will need at home like a collar and leash, crate, bowls and bedding. These will cost another $200.

Annual costs will be higher owning a larger dog. Food and treats will cost about $270 a year, possibly more. Just basic medical care like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and medical insurance is going to cost $485 a year. Then there are items it will need like toys, and miscellaneous costs that come up, along with its basic training and license to cover at about $245 a year. This gives a yearly starting figure for this breed at $1000.


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The Anatolian is absolutely not a dog for anybody. Preferably it needs to be working, and if kept solely as a companion it needs owners who are active, can dedicate time to it, are prepared for its dominance and have a lot of experience with this kind of dog. Training and socialization are not negotiable, they are absolutely essential to avoid having an animal too suspicious, aggressive, destructive and out of control. Also be prepared that having a large dog around the home means you will always know where it is, there will be accidents, chewing can cause havoc, and with this dog there will be lots of hair on you, furniture, counter tops and so on. With all this said, in the right home, with capable owners it is extremely loyal, protective, affectionate and dedicated.

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