About the Breed
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a natural livestock guardian breed that comes from Turkey. He was developed to be a hardy, rustic style breed capable of handling all weather conditions and terrain. He is confident and assertive and must be capable of working without handler interruption. He does not herd the animals or move them; his job is entirely that of protector.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog still works actively today in the capacity of livestock guardian. He will guard anything he is raised with and associates as his flock, whether sheep or even cheetahs. Yes, cheetahs.
The breed is being extensively used in Africa to help protect the cheetah population. Many frustrated farmers who lose livestock to cheetahs end up killing the cheetahs that come nearby. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are being used to protect those flocks and keep the cheetahs at bay, which means more cheetahs living in the wild. What other breed can list this skill on their resume?
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large breed of dogs standing about 27 ½ -34 inches tall, with males being taller than females. Males can weigh a lot; the average is from about 110-160 pounds with females weighing less at about the upper 80s-120 pounds.
The breed has an all-purpose, all-weather type of double coat that allows him to exist in even harsh climates. The coat comes in a wide variety of colors with anything possible. The fawn coloration with a darker black mask on the face is likely the most common.
The breed has natural ears that fall and a long tail. In Turkey, some members of the breed have cropped ears. This serves a functional purpose. These working dogs still encounter hazards on the job, such as wolves, and the cropping of ears helps prevents the wolves from grabbing them. Many of these dogs also wear strong spiked collars to avoid bites from wolves to the neck.
The breed gives off an air of stoic calmness and is a rather laidback seeming dog. As an adult dog, he can often be seen quietly lying in the home or yard. This isn’t simply laziness. Instead, it is the dog that is watching and protecting his charges. He can be moved into action if he views a threat.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is an intelligent dog with an air of independence about him, making some owners frustrated. He is gentle, loving, and loyal to his family. He can be an excellent companion for kind children and will often take care of that child, much the way he does other members of his flock.
The breed requires an owner that is consistent in their leadership as Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, especially during adolescence, will push everyone’s buttons to determine rank. All training should be respectful, not harsh.
The breed is generally aloof with strangers, but he can be more distrustful when someone new is on his property. They require an owner to oversee greetings. The same is true of new dogs. While he can do quite well with dogs or other animals he is raised with (because he will view them as part of his flock to watch over), he may not always do well with new dogs brought in later on. Care needs to be taken with introductions, and opposite-sex pairings normally work best.
The Anatolian Shepherd dogs can have an independent streak in them and are often stubborn. He may have a selective hearing with obedience commands and doesn’t always comply with the first request. The dog must receive early training that is fair and respectful, but that is firm. If the owner is a pushover, the dog will take charge.
He has natural guardian instincts about him, so socializing him early and continuing into adulthood is very important. He needs to have a lot of experiences so he can make good judgment calls later in life.
He is also territorial by nature, which can pose an issue in a home with many guests. He will require early training to tolerate frequent guests.
Shedding & Grooming
The breed is a pretty heavy shedding dog, and you will find him shedding year-round. Additionally, he will shed heavier twice a year related to the seasons. Weekly brushing is required to keep it under control and often more than once a week during heavy shedding times.
They tend not to have a heavy dog odor and are fairly clean, so baths don’t need to be overly frequent unless he is dirty from outside play. Otherwise, one needs to do regular nail trims, toothbrushing, and routine ear inspections/cleaning. Ears that fall have a higher chance of infection in warm or humid conditions, so regularly inspecting debris, redness, or odor is a good idea.
Health & Life Expectancy
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a relatively long lifespan for a dog its size compared to various similarly sized breeds. He can be expected to live between 10-12 years of age on average. Some can even live longer. Likewise, according to Anatolian Shepherd Dogs International, Inc, he has few serious health issues. Those that are identified include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
- Sensitivity to anesthesia