This is a calm and rugged dog that you don’t see very commonly in the United States. This is because this breed comes from Turkey, where he is mostly bred to guard livestock. If you look at this breed, as several other livestock guardians, he mixes well in with the flock so to go unnoticed from predators. This is a serious worker who takes his role seriously.
This is quite a large breed weighing in at about 120 to 150 pounds at maturity and standing between 27 and 29 inches. They have long, slender legs and a muscular appearance. His coat is short, mostly fawn in color and has a black facial mask. The hair over the neck is long to assume a protective role for their throat. The coat is short (anywhere between 1 and 4 inches), but with a double layer to protect this breed from thick brush from its native harsh landscape and help regulate its temperature in both hot and cold extremes. Coat colors include pinto, white, and brindle; however, fawn with a black mask is common. The tail is long, touching the hocks. When relaxed, it’s carried low with the end curled up. When alert, his tail is carried high forming a “wheel.”
A native of Turkey, to be more precise Anatolia, this breed was selectively bred as livestock guardian to protect sheep from predators as big as wolves, bears, lions, tigers, and cheetah . From an early age, this dog is raised among livestock so he becomes a part of the flock. This is an independent breed that works and makes decisions on his own. This is believed to be an ancient breed, his working ancestors are thought to date back 6,000 years when nomadic tribes from Central Asia imported mastiff-like dogs to Turkey which then bred with sight hounds gifting this breed with high speed and agility. The first specimens protected flocks of sheep of nomadic tribes. These populations were very stringent in selectively breeding only the best workers which led to culling and breeding only the best. It was common practice to stop feeding these dogs after puppyhood, allowing them to fend for themselves on a diet of gophers and other small animals. You would often see these dogs were collars with spikes, so that predators couldn’t go to the throat to kill them. This breed became known on US soil only in the 1970’s. Prior to that, the Turkish government provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture a few specimens as a gift to try out as livestock guardians. This breed was introduced to the United States in the 1950’s. This breed was recognized by AKC in 1996 and categorized initially in the Miscellaneous Class and then later into the Working Group.
As a livestock guardian, specifically bred for strictly for utilitarian purposes, expect this breed to be independent.As this dog matures, around the age of 18 months, he becomes protective whether it’s a flock of sheep, your kids or your property. He is very alert and concerned about his territory and is blessed with superior sight and hearing. This is not something that you will have to train, it occurs naturally. As with his large size and intimidating looks, he sure acts as a great deterrent. With his family he can be affectionate, but he’s overall dignified and serious. . This breed is a workaholic, he always thinks to be on duty. If you leave him out in the yard , he’ll be attentive to his surrounding and will bark, especially in the evening up to the wee early hours, when his night shift officially starts.
The best household
This is not one of the easiest breeds to own, it requires an owner who understands him and knows what to expect from this breed. If you’re looking for a dog that will follow you around the home and anxiously wait for your orders or play fetch or Frisbee all day, this is not the breed for you.
With children, this breed does best with older children. Because he is such a big fellow even as a puppy, he can easily injure a child unintentionally. Also, you must consider that he may see your children as a flock to protect and he may not like other children coming over and roughhousing with them. Never leave a dog with a child alone.
The ideal home should have a sturdy, fence to keep this dog contained from running after people or animals that he feels are invading his turf. Also, consider that the nomadic past of this breed makes him predisposed to roaming; in their past they often left their herds to go hunt for predators, before those predators had an opportunity to attack. Plan on having a fence at least 6-feet tall and have your dog microchipped or wear tags. Also, make sure your Anatolian can’t dig his way out of the fence, some of these dogs would win titles for digging competitions if such competitions would exist. Also, consider this breed tends to bark especially at night when predators come out and become threatening. His booming barks can be quite disruptive if you have neighbors. This breed is not recommended for small living quarters.
If you own a farm, this breed will be thrilled to protect your horses, llamas, sheep, goats, and chickens. If not, you’ll need to find ways to keep him exercised and mentally stimulated. Fail to do this enough, and your home or yard will turn into a devil’s workshop.
With other dogs, consider that this breed may not get along well. To up the chances of this breed to accept other pets, plan on raising them together from an early age so they become part of the flock.
As with other breeds, socialization from an early age is a must. This breed is naturally suspicious of strangers, and when guests come into your home he may be reserved. He’ll need a formal introduction to them before allowing your guests to touch or interact with him. Despite that, he’ll remain vigilant during the stay. Failure to properly socialize this breed may result in an uncontrollable dogs that may even become aggressive. This is a very intelligent breed that is predisposed to training, but you need to makes it worthy, because this independent breed may think he has better things to do.
Where to find one
If you’re looking for an Anatolian as a companion, look for a reputable breeder who breeds them as pets and even temperaments. If you are planning to get an Anatolian to put him to work with your livestock, look for a breeder that specializes in breeding working lines.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Rescue League
National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America
This breed has a short coat that’s about an inch long and a thick undercoat.It was meant to protect them from the very hot, dry summers and very cold winters of his native country. An Anatolian will blow its coat profusely in the spring, so expect to increase brushing during that time. For the rest of the year, minimal brushing will do. This breed is good at keeping clean.
This breed tends to be sensitive to anesthesia. Keep this in mind when your dog needs a surgical procedure.While generally healthy, the Anatolian can be prone to the following disorders: Hip Dysplasia Elbow Dysplasia: Demodectic Mange, bloat: Hypothyroidism: Entropion: The average life span is 10.75 years but some have been know to live for up to 15 years.