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Anatolian Shepherd Temperament: A protected home is where your loyal Anatolian is

The Anatolian Shepherd is often considered one of the most adept expert dog breeds. This large, Mastiff-sighthound-type dog was bred to herd and guard livestock and is known for his loyal and protective temperament.

Before adding an Anatolian Shepherd to the family, you should understand their nature as a potential future owner. The following post introduces you to the Anatolian Shepherd dog breed and discusses everything from temperament to health concerns. You will know if this dog is the right choice for your lifestyle.

Anatolian Shepherd Temperament
Not all Anatolian Shepherds have a black mask

History of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

This extraordinary breed originated from Turkey, quite broadly from the Anatolian province. Traces of DNA was found even in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The British Kennel Club accepts the following standard breed colours: Cream, white, and fawn are some of them. The noticeable black mask is not required to recognise the Anatolian breed.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large, livestock-guarding breed. They are one of the oldest breeds of dogs and have been used for centuries to protect herds of sheep and goats from predators like marauding wolves. They are a powerful breed with a muscular build known for their protective nature. They are not an overly friendly breed and can be wary of strangers, but they make loyal and devoted companions to their hooman.

The nomadic life made Anatolians hardy and agile as they had to live outdoors and travel great distances in hot summers and sub-zero winters. This led to a very nimble and fast breed. In addition, the Anatolians had sighthound influence which contributed to their agility.

Being bred to survive in rural areas and vast surroundings, they're perfectly adapted to withstand the harshest weather conditions. Certain molosser breeds with strong guarding instincts have been chosen to perfect this dog over centuries and make the Anatolians what they are today.

Anatolian Shepherd registration in the UK 2023

No Anatolian Shepherds were registered with the UK Kennel Club in the first two quarters of 2022. In the full year 2022, 39 Anatolian Shepherds were registered. Anatolian Shepherds are a rare sight in the UK! But there are many Anatolian Shepherd mixes out there!

Q1 2021

Q2 2021

Q3 2021

Q4 2021

2021 total

Q1 2021

Q2 2022

Q3 2022

Q4 2022

2022 Total











Source: updated March 2023

What's the difference between an Anatolian Shepherd and a Turkish Kangal Dog?

This can be a touchy subject for some and a very confusing one, as both breeds come from the same lineage. Some countries, like the AKC, don't distinguish between the two. Within Turkey, however, they're two different dogs. The Kangal comes from the Kangal province, whilst the Anatolian Shepherd can be from Anatolia's vast region.

The Kangal is, on average, a bit larger and heavier. The main difference is seen in their coat colours and appearance.

An Anatolian can look like a Kangal; a Kangal can't look like an Anatolian Shepherd. Various coat colours are acceptable in an Anatolian Shepherd and can be masked black or not masked. The breed standard of the Kangal is always a black mask. From a temperament point of view, they're very similar. If this still sounds a bit blurry, that's because it is.

Can an Anatolian Shepherd kill a wolf?

Yes, an Anatolian Shepherd can kill a younger or smaller wolf. These dogs have been bred for defence. They're powerful and immense. Often left alone with sheep for several days, farmers have done a few things to make the job easier for the Anatolians. In their native Turkey, there are wearing unique collars with spikes. Wolfs usually attack the neck to kill. The collar protects them from potentially lethal bites.

Furthermore, the ears are often cropped. We don't support the cropping method whatsoever, but there are countries where it is not illegal. Finally, floppy ears can be bitten off easily by predators leading to infections that can be deadly.

So to answer the question, Anatolians can kill wolves and have one of the most potent bite forces. They have been bred to give their life to their herd and will do so without hesitation. The outcome might be slightly different if they meet a wolf in its prime who has the experience. However, wolves tend to avoid trouble when hunting. So it might not often come to a match between the two species.

Now that we have a good idea of the breeding history and purpose, let's look at your life with an Anatolian Shepherd.

What is the temperament of the Anatolian Shepherd?

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is loyal, brave, and has a devoted temperament to its family. They are protective of their loved ones and make excellent guard dogs. Confidence and agility pair with calmness and gentleness.

You can never forget when owning an Anatolian that they're a speciality breed. They have a solid defensive guarding behaviour ingrained in them. Calm and collected when trotting with the livestock but watchful and animated as soon as they spot a threat.

These dogs were the answer to a specific problem of the shepherds in the vast herding regions and were perfected over centuries. Once they spot danger, their tail will go up high, and they bark or growl and stand ready. If the foe is witless enough not to take the warning posture seriously, they will run and can attack.

Anatolian Shepherd Temperament
An alerted Anatolian Shepherd flourishing in their work is a sight to behold.

The Anatolian is big and athletic without being cumbersome. Due to being left alone with livestock for several days, these dogs have an affinity for making decisions and sustaining themselves. Anatolians are no obedience dogs. If they feel you can't take decisive action, these dogs will probably take them for you.

Teaching them tricks and playing fetch might also be a waste of time. Other dogs love pleasing their hooman friend, but Anatolians are wired differently. They exist to protect, not to please.

Training is challenging and requires consistency, firmness, and leader pack qualities. It's a difficult dog to handle for a novice dog owner. Many owners joke that you'll be the first if you get an Anatolian to recall consistently and successfully.

Anatolians are not suitable for apartment living or living in urban areas. They should have a territory or area to patrol and watch. A big garden and rural living are best suited for this breed and are highly recommended for an accomplished and happy dog.

Early socialisation with other dogs and different people will lay the groundwork for how your dog will respond to strangers and new encounters. Anatolians are friendly and like a fuss but will probably always keep their guard up and their eyes peeled on their family.

This is one of the breeds where socialisation from a young age is crucial for success. However, an Anatolian on the loose can result in a dangerous situation due to their strength and size. They don't get on well with smaller animals.

Anatolians shouldn't be walked off-leash, especially if there is an area where you walk them regularly. After a while, they might claim the local dog park as "their" area to patrol and can become aggressive towards other dogs if they feel disrespected.

Selective hearing and stubbornness are pretty common temperament traits in Anatolians. To avoid confrontation, it's better to always walk with a leashed Anatolian Shepherd.

Are Anatolian Shepherds aggressive?

Anatolians are good with people. If you're a good pack leader, they will trust your judgement and not be unkind towards people entering your home. They might remain aloof and watchful but will show their people-orientated side. Your dog will be calm, respectful and polite. But you will never be able to take the watchdog fully out of this breed.

Once they have bonded with their flock or family, their first instinct is to keep them safe. Anatolians only become aggressive if the foe has misread the dog. They never attack without warning. There will be a warning posture first, and then they will follow with an attack. It's a very organised process.


Having unreserved love from your Anatolian Shepherd will be the greatest gift. They're affectionate and very loyal dogs who won't do things halfheartedly. This dog breed is for you if you have life stock to protect.

Some articles quote that Anatolian Shepherds are not suitable for families with young children. This comes down to socialisation and also the character of your dog. They're individuals, after all. However, there are stories that some Anatolians take special care of younger livestock. They will excel as companion dogs and watchdogs with the proper training. But these dogs are certainly not for the faint-hearted dog lover.

Anatolian Shepherd Temperament
Anatolian Shepherds are not known for being a good dog for a novice dog owner

Anatolian Shepherd Dog temperament in a nutshell

  • They need a big house and garden to flourish and feel accomplished if kept as companion dogs.

  • Requires a firm pack leader who makes decisions

  • Early socialisation is an absolute must to avoid a dominant, potentially unfriendly Anatolian

  • Will protect his pack, family or livestock with their life.

  • Affectionate, devoted and calm with their family

Potential health issues in the Anatolian Shepherd breed

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a generally healthy breed. Their lifespan can range from 12 to 15 years. Its believed that their nomadic breeding added a lot of different gene pools, making it a healthier pure breed dog. The longish life span is a result of it.

As a new owner, you should also be prepared to pay medical expenses that come with the breed. The sheer size of this dog will make medical treatment expensive. Therefore, you should always opt for comprehensive insurance.

Hereditary diseases are genetically predisposed. For this reason, it's essential always to choose a reputable breeder who has screened their dog's DNA and knows from which family they come. In addition, good pre-work and research can help minimise any of the below upsetting conditions.

Hip dysplasia: Skeletal disorder that can lead to arthritis

Entropion: Inwards folding eyelid that can cause infections

Lipoma: fatty lumps or tumour growth that can impede movement, causing discomfort

Certain cancers