Akbash Dog the loyal guardian

 Orysia Dawydiak

Orysia Dawydiak

General appearance…
The all white Akbash Dog is a large and ancient guard dog breed from Turkey.  The body is muscular, long-legged and slightly longer than tall.  They are capable of running at great speed, have stamina, and a gazelle-like grace. In addition, Akbash Dogs have acute senses of sight and hearing.  Males and females can look strikingly different; males grow faster and larger and take longer to mature, whereas females are more refined in appearance.
Their coat colour is all over white; light biscuit on the ears or on the ridge line, or colouration in the undercoat is acceptable. The skin is usually pigmented in a piebald pattern. A large degree of pigmentation is considered desirable.
A double coat is formed by coarse guard hair and a fine undercoat. Thickness of the undercoat will vary with the climate and exposure of the dog to the weather. Coats are shed seasonally. There are two varieties of coat length; long and medium. Both are equally acceptable.

Breed profile 1Sweet temperament…
The Akbash Dog is devoted to his pet parents and any animals in his charge. These dogs possess intelligence and courage, making them natural guardians. Their independent nature allows them to respond swiftly and without guidance in an emergency. There is no difference in guarding ability between the male and female.
Due to their strong maternal instinct, Akbash Dogs begin to bond to other living creatures at a very early age. They have been known to form strong attachments to animals and people.  Once bonded, even without specialised training, the dogs will not hesitate to come to the rescue of their pet parents if they think they are in danger, even at the risk of their own lives.
On their own turf, territorial aggression against intruders is normal, especially when their pet parents are not present. They are often belligerent towards strange dogs on or off their home property.

Breed ProfileLiving with them…
Akbash Dogs can be a challenge to train as obedient companion dogs due to their highly independent nature.  They need a lot of space and a very tall, well-fenced enclosure if they are kept outdoors, and they must always be walked on leash when not safely penned.  They tend to be aggressive toward dogs and sometimes other animals they do not know.  They should not be left tied for any length of time.

Exercise needs…
They need a good deal of exercise and space, although they are not highly energetic, nervous dogs as a rule. Younger dogs need the most exercise, although puppies should not be taken on very long runs while their skeleton is still developing as they could develop orthopaedic problems.

Pup care…
Akbash pups require the same care as most other breeds. They need to be very well socialised to all the stimuli and items that they are expected to encounter in their environment on a regular basis. They should meet many people who will be gentle with them and never play rough games. Pups should be discouraged from biting people’s hands or feet or clothes even in play. Pups should be exposed to other dogs and animals if they are going to be meeting them later on as adults.

Grooming care…
They shed a lot and should be brushed as necessary, especially when they are shedding.  Baths should be given only when necessary so the natural oils are not stripped from the hair. Toenails should be clipped starting when they are small puppies, and not allowed to get long.

Games they love…
If they are given toys to play with as pups, they may continue to enjoy playing with them as adults. They tend to be serious working dogs and not as playful as some breeds, unless an effort is made to engage them.  Some can be taught agility exercises and may enjoy that type of activity.

Health…
There have been few serious problems documented, but as with other large breeds, they have suffered from osteosarcoma, occasionally cardiomyopathy, bloat and entropion. Hip dysplasia does occur but is screened for by reputable breeders.  Older dogs can become arthritic and suffer from spondylosis of the spine.

 

 

(Orysia Dawydiak has been breeding and using Akbash Dogs to guard her sheep and poultry since 1981.  She and her husband David Sims are authors of the award-winning book ‘Livestock Protection Dogs – Selection, Care and Training’ published by Alpine Publications. Orysia is also the registrar of Akbash Dogs International (www.akbashdogsinternational.com) and contributes to the club newsletter ‘Akbash Sentinel’).