Information about the Anatolian Shepherd

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a breed of dog from Anatolia (central Turkey) and bred for guarding flocks of sheep from wolves, bears, and jackals.

The coat can be any color or length. The Anatolian is a muscular breed, with thick neck, broad head, and sturdy body. Its lips are tight to its muzzle and it has triangular drop ears. It stands 27 to 32 inches (69 to 81 cm) at the withers and weighs between 80 and 150 pounds (36 to 68 kg), with females on the smaller side and males on the larger side.

A female Anatolian Shepherd DogThe Anatolian was developed to be independent and forceful, responsible on its own for guarding its master’s flocks. These traits make it more challenging as a pet; owners of dogs of this breed must determinedly socialize the dogs to turn them into appropriate companions. They are intelligent and can learn quickly but might choose not to obey; this is not generally a dog for a beginning or shy owner. They become very protective of other animals in the household, and will treat them as their “flock.” They have also been known to kill bears to protect their charges.

The Anatolian is somewhat more long-lived than some large breeds of dogs, with a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years. Since they are primarily working dogs, the present life expectancy statistics include those killed by predators while defending their flocks. Anatolians must be anesthetized like sight hounds, being very lean they need less anesthesia than a Rottweiler of the same weight would need. They reach full maturity, like many large breeds, at around 4 years. Some are sensitive to beef, which processed dog food is full of, and thus tend to develop allergic reactions such as ear infections. This can be avoided by feeding them a diet of lamb and rice or chicken & rice supplemented with salmon. The Anatolian Shepherd does not usually suffer from hereditary illness, though entropion and canine hip dysplasia are sometimes seen in the breed. Anatolian Shepherd owners should have their dogs’ eyes and hips tested by a veterinarian before breeding.

The breed’s ancestors most likely migrated to the area now known as Turkey about 1000 AD with Turkic-speaking people, although it is probable that dogs similar to this existed at least 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Over the centuries, regional variations began to develop, although the dogs were collectively known as coban kopegi, i.e. “shepherd dog”. In the 1970s, western breeders became interested in the dogs and developed standards for the regional breeds; the Anatolian is one of those breeds, coming from central Turkey.