The Anatolian Shepherd Dog originated from the region of Turkey. Here he is still allowed to dwell among the people. There are no fences to keep the dogs from mingling with sheep, children, and of course, the entire population. He is a good-natured dog that can be easily trained to protect his flock against any danger including bears.
He is a large breed dog, which was originally developed as a livestock guardian. He is similar in looks to the Kuvasz and the Great Pyrenees even though he is built more slender and is more agile.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is above all else, a guardian of his flock, he needs plenty of human interaction to adapt to living as a pet instead of as a protector of his charges. However, he will of course protect his family, since in his mind they are in his charge. He is a very loyal breed that can be possessive at times. He can be very loving toward his own family, but strangers should not come into the yard or home until they have been properly introduced to the Anatolian Shepherd. He will not allow strangers into the home or even on the property if the family is not at home. If they are at home, he will still be standing close at hand to protect his family from this intruder. Frequent contact is a must for him to trust anyone outside the immediate family. He is affectionate toward his human family, including children, but may accidentally knock them down because of his size.
He has tremendous endurance, does not mind the temperature outdoors, and prefers to be outside through all seasons as long as he has a place to get out of the elements and plenty of water.
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The Anatolian Shepherd male stands at 28 to 30 inches from his withers, with the female’s height being between 26 to 28 inches. The weight of the males averages between 100 and 150 pounds while the females weight around 90 to 130 pounds.
They are muscular built with a wide head, thick neck, and a sturdy body. The double coat is normally short which is often fawn colored with black mask, however, many colors are acceptable such as brindle, pinto, and white. The length of the coat can vary as well from medium to medium long, with the coat being a bit longer around their collar and tail.
The Anatolian Shepherd dog has a large head; however, it is in proportion with his body. He has a rectangular muzzle a bit shorter than his head; it is blunt and is normally black. The head is broad and a bit rounded with a small stop. His lips are bordered with black and do hang just a bit but the top lips should not hang lower than bottom jaw. Their teeth meet in a scissor bit. The ears are on the small size, which are usually black and round at the tips. In Turkey, the ears are usually cropped short. Their small eyes are in the color range from gold to brown. In the case of liver colored coats, the eyes will be bordered with brown along with a brown nose. All other colors should have black rimmed eyes with a black nose.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog was developed to guard over livestock, therefore he can be quite independent and powerful. This breed is not recommended for the first time dog owner, as he will need extra guidance in order to fit into the family, however, once he accepts the family, he becomes very loyal.
They tend to be very protective over not only their belongings, but also the entire household including family members. They protect their family and the property against all intruders. Anyone the dog does not consider to be part of the immediately family will be considered an intruder until he learns otherwise.
They are naturally calm, intelligent, alert, courageous, and highly territorial. He can be trained quite easily as long as the trainer does so with leadership abilities and not aggression. He can be very independent at times, however, once he has been trained successfully he will be a friend for life.
The Anatolian is not the type of dog to be indoors as they love being outdoors and patrolling their perimeter of their territory. They will walk the entire outer area about every hour and then find a location where they can view the area and watch for danger. Indoors they become inactive and of course very unhappy which can lead to behavior problems.
Of course, along with enjoying the outdoors they do require quite a bit of exercise. These does not mean that you have to be constantly involved as they can run around the yard and receive enough exercise, however, the yard must be large enough for the activity.
Grooming is not a big problem, as they only require a good brushing twice a year during the shedding season. The rest of the time, you can brush them when needed. They do shed quite heavily but this is also seasonal.
Dewclaws are found on front and back feet and can be removed.
They are big diggers. Be prepared for this. If you wish to have a nice yard without holes, then the Anatolian Shepherd dog is not for you.
The Anatolian lineage can be traced to the area we now know as Turkey back to around 1000 AD. There were other dogs that similar to these in Mesopotamia over 6,000 years ago. At that time, dogs were known as coban kopegi, which translates to mean shepherd dog.
In the beginning as far as anyone can tell the ancestors of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog (Anadolu Coban Kopegi) were often used for hunting big game such as horses and lions and as war dogs. After this time, they evolved into guards watching over various livestock. They were wonderful as protectors of property and of course to watch over sheep in all kinds of weather.
The Anatolian Shepherd is believed to be related to the Kangal Dog however, many experts declare all Turkish shepherds’ including the Kangal Dog is one breed. The Turkish Kangal Dog is on the other hand considered a separate breed.
Western breeders started being interested in the breed in the 1970’s. The American Kennel Club recognizes the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, which is the 143rd recognized breed. It is in placed in the Working Group with the American Kennel Club.
Since 1970, around 4,700 Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have been registered in the US. This breed is registered through the American Kennel Club or the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America, Inc.
Today, you will see more and more Anatolian Shepherd Dogs as family pets where they love the attention and being members of the family.
You might have seen a few famous Anatolian Shepherd dogs in the movies. The most famous include Bart in “Kate and Leopold”, Butch in “Cats & Dogs”, and Marlow in “Simon and Simon”.
If you are interested in learning more about the lineage and ancestry of these war dogs, you can visit the Assyrian Rooms of the British Museum in London.