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Anatolian Shepherd Dog

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Large, imposing and independent, Anatolian shepherd dogs are excellent guard dogs and rarely aggressive. But they need a huge amount of exercise and have a tendency to dominate. Owners must devote a significant amount of time to getting out and about with these dogs but will be rewarded with a loyal companion.

Which breed group is the Anatolian shepherd dog in?

Breed group:  Pastoral

Anatolian shepherd dog breed history

This large breed evolved in central Turkey where its ancestors are thought to date back 6,000 years. The forebears of the Anatolian were mastiff-type dogs which probably travelled to Turkey with nomadic Asian tribes. Over time, the dogs were bred to suit the demands of the region including the hot summers and cold winters. Anatolian shepherd dogs guarded livestock and were required to travel large distances on the Anatolian plateau. They needed to be large and also strong enough to stand up to predators. They had to capable of moving quickly to watch over flocks distributed over a large area.

This breed eventually became uniform and featured a stable temperament. The dogs were diligent when guarding livestock and incredibly hardy, often surviving by killing prey to eat. The Anatolian shepherd dog was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1996 and is now also recognised by the Kennel Club.

Anatolian shepherd dog breed characteristics

Large and imposing, these dogs are powerful animals boasting impressive endurance. They have distinctive darker face masks and large heads with a crease between their eyes. Their lips are slightly pendulous. Anatolians’ eyes are small and set wide apart while their ears are triangular and rounded at the tips. Their ears hang down close to their heads but are held slightly higher when the dogs are alert. Anatolians have muscular necks and shoulders, deeps chests and strong hindquarters. Tails are set high and carried low when the dogs are relaxed but high when the dogs are excited.

Anatolian coats are short and thick with a dense undercoat. Hair is slightly thicker around the neck and shoulders. Coats may be fawn, grey fawn, red fawn or tricolour with a darker mask. White without a mask is also acceptable.

Generally gentle dogs with people, Anatolian shepherds are extremely territorial and independent. They can be wary of people they don’t know but rarely show aggression.

  • Lifespan: 13-15 years
  • Height: up to 81cm
  • Weight: up to 65kg
  • Powerful
  • Large head
  • Distinctive mask
  • Small eyes
  • Slightly pendulous lips
  • Thick coats
  • Gentle with people
  • Wary of strangers
  • Good guard dog
  • Territorial
  • Impressive stamina
  • Independent

Health issues with Anatolian shepherd dogs

  • The breed is known to be incredibly hardy and boasts a long lifespan for a large dog. However, Anatolian shepherd dogs are prone to the following conditions:
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Congenital deafness
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Epilepsy
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Bloat/gastric torsion

What is the Anatolian shepherd dog bred for?

These robust dogs were bred to protect livestock throughout the year on the central Anatolian plateau.

What sort of owners does the Anatolian shepherd dog suit?

Anatolians are very large and extremely independent. They are excellent guard dogs, good with children and will get on with other pets. However, they are dominant by nature and are best trained by an experienced owner. Anatolians need a great deal of exercise together with a garden to roam in and this must be secured with high fencing. They are not suited to apartment living and would be happiest in a rural home with active owners. Anatolians don’t suffer from separation anxiety due to their independent natures, but owners must be around for most of the day to provide the exercise that the dogs need.


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