Anatolian Shepherd: The Guardian Dog
Magnificent ancient working dog who presents an impression of functional utility without exaggerated features!
Tall and handsome…Uma (Owned by Maria Marrero)
Anatolian Shepherd, originated from the region of Turkey, is a large working dog used primarily as a livestock guardian. Large, rugged and impressive, they possess great endurance and agility. These dogs are tall and powerful, yet not massive in build. They have a large, broad head with a slight centerline furrow. The eyes are medium sized, almond shaped and are seen in shades of brown or amber colours. The tail is long and carried low with a gentle curve or is impressively curled over the back when the dog is at attention. When walking, the topline becomes quite level, giving a smooth impression of a powerful, stalking lion.
Anatolians have a dense double coat that is thicker and slightly longer about the neck. Most Anatolians have a short or medium long coat that is easy to care for. Hard textured enough to shed dirt, it does not tend to matt or tangle. Short and rough coats as well as a wide variety of coat colours can be found among pups of the same litter.
Males are 29-32 inch tall and weigh 50-65 kg. Females are 27-31 inch and weigh 40-55 kg, though many may be larger boned or slightly racier in appearance and do not fit within these averages.
All colours of the Anatolian Guradian are acceptable and some colour variations have been given special names. The classic and most frequently occurring colouration is fawn with black ears and black mask, sometimes called karabash (meaning ‘blackhead’). Kangal, another name for that colour variation of the Anatolian, has been used to describe some black masked dogs who can be found in the Sivas region of Turkey. The solid white or cream dogs are sometimes called Akbash. Other colours frequently seen are pinto, brindle, grey, even black.
They are long-legged with a definite tuck up at the loins. This conformation permits them to be fleet and extremely agile, capable of overtaking and bringing down a predator with awesome efficiency. Clocked by visitors driving alongside fenced property containing a herd guard, Anatolians have been observed running at speeds over 35 miles per hour. They can leap into the air, turn and come down in front of, or on, the shoulders of the animal behind them, which ever they choose.
Loyal and possessive…
Anatolian Shepherd is first and foremost a guardian dog. He is a hard-working breed whose function is to guard his flock. Thus, an Anatolian is a loyal guard and can be fiercely possessive and protective of his family, stock and territory. They are steady and bold, without aggression. They have a naturally independent and very intelligent personality. Young males in particular can be pushy during adolescence while they are figuring out their rank and status in the household. Anatolians will be aloof when off their property and may be leery of strangers both off and on their property. They do need to be socialised from a very early age and that training and socialisation need to be maintained throughout the dog’s lifetime.
Living with them…
Independence is a primary characteristic of the livestock guardian breeds. They have varying degrees of territoriality, but most will expand their territories if they are not fenced in. They are generally wonderful and tolerant with children, but may be aggressive, unless well socialised. Anatolians are fairly dominant dogs, generally best suited for people who have not let other dogs take over their families. Obedience training is a requirement for responsible ownership of this breed. Anatolians are highly intelligent and very quick to learn new ideas, but are not particularly keen on repetitive exercises. This breed has a strong inclination towards independent thinking and may seem stubborn. Responsible owners have been successful with these dogs in directed work such as obedience trials; however, they must keep the training motivational and interesting to get the best out of these dogs.
Anatolians can be very good house dogs, but they are very large, shed with enthusiasm, and may knock things over with their large tails. If you are a finicky house cleaner, this breed would be a challenge for you.
Anatolian Shepherd seems to adore children and think of them as their own ‘kids’. A child does, of course, need to learn how to behave respectfully when around any animal and should be supervised when with any type of dog. It is imperative not to let the child play as a ‘littermate’ would play (inviting nipping and roughhousing), due to the large size of the breed.
He will need lots of exercise, as any large breed does, so, even though he seems lazy, exercise him with long walks, as well as with running and playing in a fenced, supervised area. A fenced yard is mandatory,
to prevent an Anatolian from expanding his territory, and to keep the dog away from traffic.
Pup care…Kiowa and Brittany (Owned by Linda Raeber)
As a puppy, an Anatolian should be fed a premium puppy food for the first year. A young pup needs to be fed small amounts of food at least two to three times a day. An adult should be fed once or twice a day. A measured serving is better than free feeding (the all-you-can-eat method) as this can lead to an overweight Anatolian Shepherd. No growth supplements should be fed to puppies, as this can cause nutritional imbalances and skeletal or joint problems.
Anatolian Shepherd will shed small amounts all the time and ‘blow out their coats’ twice a year. Also, females tend to blow out their coats after a heat cycle. They need to be brushed out when they are ‘blowing coat’ and that will minimise your mess somewhat. Also, bathing in warm water seems to make some difference in shedding and may lessen the amount of work as it will encourage the fur to loosen and you can brush off more of it at once.
As this is a breed close to his working origins and most breeders prefer to outcross different lines to make the best use of the available gene pool, the breed seems to have few serious health problems. Anatolians can be sensitive to anaesthesia, and this may be of concern if some veterinary procedures are performed. Like most large breeds, hip dysplasia is a concern. Generally, a healthy, well-bred Anatolian will live into his teens in a safe, optimal environment.
On a concluding note…
This is not the breed for everyone, and should not become ‘the breed of the month’, as has happened to some breeds. This breed is, first and foremost, a guarding dog, with strong independence and dominance drives, and he requires a responsible approach to successful management. If you are looking for a dog who will obey at the drop of a command, then this is not the dog for you.
(Source: Anatolian Shepherd Dogs International, Inc., A Florida Non-Profit 501C4 Corporation under The Provisional Parent Club of the United Kennel Club).