The Fascinating Anatolian Shepherd Dog

The Anatolian Shepherd dog breed is known because of its good looks and fierce loyalty. It is a breed that hails from Central Anatolia in Turkey. They are bulky dogs that were bred to guard livestock against predators and poachers. With this, they are known to have great speed even with their large size. Let us know more about the history of the Anatolian Shepherd dog breed and its characteristics.

History of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

The breed is named for his homeland of Anatolia in the central part of Turkey and up until now, it is still a point of pride. The working ancestors of the breed are thought to date back 6,000 years. They were probably from the mastiff-type dogs brought by wandering tribes from central into what is now known as Turkey, and their agility, long legs, and aloof character must have come from sighthound breeds from southern regions.

Because of the climate and terrain of the area, the local population developed a nomadic way of life. They were depended on flocks of sheep and goats, and they used their large dog to protect those flocks and the shepherds themselves. These dogs were known as “Coban Kopegi” which is Turkish for “shepherd dog”. These dogs stayed with the flocks day and night and they are swift enough to move quickly from one end of a widely scattered flock to the other. They were also large and strong enough to stand up to predators.

These dogs were severely culled and bred which resulted in a dog with a uniform type, stable temperament, and excellent working ability. They were usually not fed once they were past puppyhood, and they live by killing gophers and other small animals but they never injure their flock. They were usually fitted with iron collars with long spikes which protected their throats from assailants. In fact, until today, you will be able to see working dogs wearing these collars in Turkey.

It was in the 1970s when Anatolian Shepherds got their most enthusiastic introduction in the United States. But prior to that, the Turkish government had given Anatolian Shepherds to the US Department of Agriculture as a gift, and for experimental work as guardians of flocks.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America was formed in 1970, at the urging of Robert Ballard who is a US naval officer that is fascinated by the dogs while he was in Turkey. He decided to start breeding them once he got back in California. In 1996, the breed entered the American Kennel Club Miscellaneous Class in 1998, it moved to the Working Group.

Characteristics of an Anatolian Shepherd Dog


Average size: 2 feet and 3 inches to 2 feet and 5 inches tall

Average weight: 80 to 150 pounds

Hypoallergenic: No

The Anatolian Shepherd dog belongs to the working dogs breed, and they can live from 11 to 13 years. Males can grow up to 29 inches tall and can weigh from 110 to 150 pounds. Females, on the other hand, can grow up to 27 inches tall and can weigh from 80 to 120 pounds.

They usually have short coats with a thick undercoat. Some of them sometimes have to feather on the ears, legs, and tails. Their coats can come in a lot of colors such as white, brindle, pinto, and fawn with a black mask which is the most common one.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is known to be highly intelligent, dominant, and independent. And since they were originally bred to protect flocks of sheep and goats, they are very protective of their families and consider themselves always on duty. But even though they are protective, they are also calm, friendly, and affectionate with their immediate family at the same time. However, they are not friendly with strangers and are very reserved even with your closest friends and relatives.

Caring for an Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are hardy dogs and they can adapt to living outside, inside, or both. However, they do not do well with living in a kennel or at the end of a chain. Therefore, if you prefer to let them live outside, make sure that you keep them in a securely fenced yard. Your fence should be at least six feet tall for this big breed. It is for his and other dogs’ protection. It’s also great if you can let them be socialized right from puppyhood because they are naturally wary of new people, animals, and situations.

Anatolian Shepherds are also naturally clean, meaning, grooming them is not that difficult. You can just do minimal brushing on their short coats, but they can also shed several times in a year. Bathing them three to four times a year is ideal and all they need. It’s also important to brush their teeth two to three times each week to remove bacteria and prevent gum disease. You should also trim their nails once or twice a month to prevent painful tears and other injuries.

When it comes to feeding Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, the recommended daily amount is 4 to 6 cups of high-quality dry food every day, divided into two meals. This depends on your dog’s age, size, metabolism, build, and activity level.

So, if you’re looking for a reliable guard dog that will be able to protect you at home, then the Anatolian Shepherd Dog might be the perfect pet for you.