Anatolian Shepherd Dog

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

Appearance and athletic ability

This is a large, powerful dog that has been selected for its ability to routinely deter wolves from the flocks that it lives among in its native land. The breed standard emphasizes the physical characteristics needed for success at this occupation. The coat can be any color or length. A muscular breed, with thick neck, broad head, and sturdy body, it is tall and well-balanced in proportions. 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 bitches on the smaller side and males on the larger side.

Anatolian shepherds have a range of sizes, but all are large. As is typical in dogs, the average male is bigger than the average female. The eight-month old Anatolian female on the right is still a puppy, whereas the Siberian Husky female (left) is a fully grown.

Temperament and Behavior

The Anatolian was developed to do a job that requires it to be both independent and forceful. Many Turkish sheepherders were (and are) nomadic, and the dogs were bred to travel with them, or to remain alone with flocks, solely responsible on their own for guarding the sheep. Although Anatolian dogs do mark out a territory and will protect that area from intruders that the dog perceives as threatening - this breed is also known to wander widely and to be difficult to contain.

All of these traits make the Anatolian Shepherd Dog more challenging as a pet; owners of these dogs must determinedly socialize them to turn them into appropriate companions. They are intelligent and can learn quickly but might choose not to obey; this is not a dog recommended for a beginning or shy owner. They become very protective of other animals in the household, and will treat them as their "flock".


The Anatolian is longer-lived than most very large breeds of dogs, with a life expectancy of 14 or 17 years. Since they are primarily working dogs, and their work is that of live-stock gaurdian, the present life expectancy statistics include those killed by predators while defending their flocks.

Like many very large breeds, they do not reach full maturity until around four years of age.


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, "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.

Famous Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

See also


  • Fogle, Bruce, DVM (2000). The New Encyclopedia of the Dog. Doring Kindersley (DK). ISBN 0-7894-6130-7.
  • The Complete Dog Book: Official Publication of The American Kennel Club. 20th Edition. Ballantine Books. New York.2000. ISBN 0-345-47626-3 pages 237-239

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