- Breed group — Working Group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 27-29 inches
- Weight — 80-150 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Short and smooth with a thick undercoat
- Coat color — Colors range from blue fawn to brindle to white. Ears are often black. with rounded tips, and mask markings are typically brown or black.
- Exercise needs — High
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — When necessary
- Life span — 11-13 years
- Temperament — Independent, intelligent, protective, and loyal
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — Turkey
Anatolian shepherd fun facts
- Anatolian shepherds descend from some of the oldest known domestic dogs. Experts believe this large size breed most likely descends from the ancient Tibetan mastiff, which has been documented in London’s British Museum as dating back to 2000 B.C.
- U.S. Navy Lieutenant Robert Ballard is credited with establishing the Anatolian shepherd in the United States. Ballard acquired a pair of Anatolians while stationed in Turkey and bred his first litter in 1970.
- They are sometimes called the Anatolian Karabash Dog. In Turkish, karabish means “black head,” a hat tip to Anatolian shepherds’ black masks and ears.
- The breed was once honored on a 1978 Turkish stamp. The stamp from artist Ticaret Matbaacilik was printed in Izmir, Turkey.
Anatolian shepherd temperament and characteristics
Anatolian shepherds are formidable dogs known to be intensely loyal, highly intelligent, and protective. This breed is typically not recommended for novice dog owners as they may be a handful to train due to their territorial instincts. They also love their space, so small apartment living isn’t ideal.
When properly socialized and trained, Anatolian shepherds are beloved, gentle giants. Because they are fiercely loyal, these dogs will be highly protective of their flock, including other pets and children. A proper introduction is necessary when introducing strangers and non-family members. And as with all dogs, it is not recommended to leave your Anatolian shepherd unsupervised with young children.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a rugged, muscular appearance. They have a thick double coat in various colors accepted by the AKC breed standard, such as beige, gray, sable, red, liver, white, and brindle. Yet, all color patterns are acceptable. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common color for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is (67%) brown.
Common Anatolian shepherd health problems
Anatolian shepherds are relatively healthy dogs and don’t tend to share the same degree of medical concerns of other shepherd breeds. However, below are some general health issues to keep an eye on.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are chronic conditions that occur when joints develop improperly in growing dogs. They are common in larger breeds.
- Sensitivity to anesthesia . Anatolian shepherds have a heightened sensitivity toward anesthesia. If your pup is going to be put under for surgery, be sure to read up on potential complications and work with your veterinarian.
- Bloat. Bloat occurs when gasses build up in the stomach, which can cause the stomach to twist. This condition can become fatal, so it’s important to know the signs.
- Eyelid entropion . Entropion is a hereditary eye disorder that occurs when the eyelid rolls in toward the eye, allowing the dog’s lashes to irritate the cornea, potentially causing pain or ulcers. Surgical correction is the only known treatment for entropion.
- Hypothyroidism . This dog breed is prone to hypothyroidism, which occurs when the body doesn’t make enough of the thyroid hormone, resulting in weight gain, aggression, dry skin, and more. Treatment typically involves medication to replace the hormone.
Cost of caring for an Anatolian shepherd
Medical costs related to caring for an Anatolian shepherd are relatively average, though you may spend your money on miscellaneous services such as professional grooming or training, depending on your individual dog’s needs and your ability to care for your pup at home.
Common Anatolian shepherd health issues such as eyelid entropion vary between $500-$1,500 to diagnose and treat. Testing for hypothyroidism typically runs between $50 and $150, with monthly expenses for medication in the $20 to $50 range.
History of the Anatolian shepherd
The Anatolian shepherd originates from Anatolia, or the Asian portion of Turkey, where it has a long held reputation as a flock guardian.
According to ancient artifacts, the breed’s history dates back to the Babylonian Empire (2,000 b.c.), but Anatolian shepherds didn’t actually make their way to America until around World War II. They regained popularity in the 1950s when U.S. ranchers began importing the breed. This breed is still a popular ranch dog today.
In 1996, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Anatolian shepherd as a breed, and categorized it among the Working Group a few short years later.
Caring for your Anatolian shepherd
Bringing a new puppy of any breed into your home and life can be overwhelming. You’ll need to schedule your first trip to the vet, plan out your dog’s vaccinations, and even puppy-proof your home. Beyond the basics of caring for any pet, your Anatolian shepherd may require more of you than some other breeds. Due to its highly protective nature, you’ll want to get right to training for socialization so that they can be safely exposed to new people, animals, and children. Puppy training classes are highly recommended for this breed.
Lastly, no one likes to think about losing their new dog, but unforeseen things happen and it’s important to be ready. Consider looking into FidoAlert, which provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared.
Anatolian shepherds thrive in larger spaces with lots of room to look out over outdoor terrain, but they don’t necessarily require the extensive exercise of other shepherd breeds. A moderate amount of daily enrichment, such as a long walk or enriching game of fetch can are some of the best ways to keep your Anatolian shepherd pup happy and healthy.
Anatolian shepherds are relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming, as long as pet owners are vigilant about at-home upkeep.
- Invest in a medium-toothed comb or slicker brush. Anatolian shepherds have a thick undercoat, so you’ll want to maintain weekly combing and brushing to avoid matting and overshedding.
- Don’t skimp on brushing your dog’s teeth. Weekly is good, daily is great, and twice a day is even better. This might seem like a big ask, but building a teeth-brushing routine early on can help prevent your pup from getting periodontal disease, the leading health problem in dogs.
- Grab yourself a pair of nail trimmers. Keep your dog’s nails from breaking or from overgrowth, both of which can cause bleeding and potentially lead to infection.
- Keep the ears clean. Knowing how to properly clean your dog’s ears can help fight infection and prevent unpleasant symptoms, such as itchiness and irritation. Whether you request routine cleaning from a groomer or learn to clean your pup’s ears at home, it’s a good idea to have some ear cleaning solution and cotton rounds on hand.
Diet and nutrition
The Anatolian shepherd does not have special nutritional requirements, nor does it tend to overeat. These dogs should receive high-quality dog food approved for their age by your veterinarian, and treat volume should be monitored to prevent obesity.
In general, a healthy Anatolian shepherd puppy should eat three times each day, gradually decreasing to twice a day as they age. The exact number of cups will depend on the caloric density of the meal, but a rough estimate for a breed of this size ranges from 4-6 cups per day.
Training your Anatolian shepherd
Though Anatolian shepherds are highly intelligent, they may require extra training, both at home and with a professional dog trainer. That’s why this breed may not be suitable for first-time dog owners.
Tips for training Anatolian shepherds:
- Socialize early. Puppy socialization is key to an obedient Anatolian shepherd as they tend to be naturally suspicious of strangers and other animals without proper introduction.
- Get your pup accustomed to being groomed. To maintain easy grooming habits, get your puppy comfortable with having its ears, toes, and teeth handled early on.
- Consistency is key. This breed can be a challenge to train, but keep firm and consistent and you’ll see results with time and patience.
- Do not train as guard dogs. It is not recommended that Anatolian shepherds receive protection or guard-dog training. This is likely because the breed is already highly protective on its own, and additional training in guarding will only make obedience training more challenging.
Breeds similar to the Anatolian shepherds
Not quite sure that an Anatolian shepherd is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Great Pyrenees. The large, thickly coated Great Pyrenees is beloved for being patient, calm and highly affectionate.
- Tibetan mastiff. The highly intelligent Tibetan mastiff is known to be incredibly devoted and a supreme guardian dog, much like the Anatolian shepherd.
- Kuvasz: The sweet, majestic Kuvasz of Hungary is another Working Group breed that might take a little more work in puppy training, but emerges as a loyal and affectionate dog.
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Frequently asked questions
Are Anatolian shepherds aggressive?
Anatolian shepherds are not known to be aggressive dogs, though just like other breeds, they may show signs of aggression when they feel threatened. The key to prevent aggressive behavior is to conduct early socialization and obedience training.
Do Anatolian shepherds bark a lot?
This breed tends to bark when they feel especially threatened. Because they are naturally suspicious of strangers, it’s not unusual for them to bark around visitors and in unfamiliar public spaces.
Is an Anatolian shepherd a giant breed?
Yes, the Anatolian shepherd dog can grow to be 150 pounds.
Which is bigger, a Kangal or an Anatolian shepherd?
Anatolian shepherds have distinct features, like a large head, a black mask, and a short coat. The Kangal, a separate breed with similar physical features, might have a few inches or pounds on the Anatolian shepherd.
Are Anatolian shepherds good house dogs?
A house with plenty of outdoor space is ideal for an Anatolian shepherd. They are not well suited for smaller apartment living.
Are Anatolian shepherds good with kids?
Because the Anatolian shepherd is fiercely loyal, the breed will be highly protective of their flock, including children in the family. However, it’s recommended that Anatolian shepherds be introduced to kids as puppies and as with any dog, they should not be left unsupervised with young children.