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.
You should understand their nature as a potential future owner before adding an Anatolian Shepherd to the family. The following post introduces you to the Anatolian Shepherd dog breed and discusses everything from temperament to health concerns. You will have a good idea if this dog is the right choice for your lifestyle.
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 a required feature 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 and are 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 the Anatolian 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 Anatolian what they are today.
No Anatolian Shepherds have been registered with the UK Kennel Club in the first 2 quarters of 2022.
Source: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/3931/quarterly-breed-stats-pastoral.pdf October 2021
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.
Whilst 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 they 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. Now, 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 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, yes, Anatolian can kill wolves and have one of the most potent bite forces. They have been bred to give their life to their herd, and they will do so without hesitation.
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 it like to live with an 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 is 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 serious, they will run and can attack.
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 actions, 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 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, due to their strength and size, an Anatolian on the loose can result in a dangerous situation. 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 the unreserved love from your Anatolian Shepherd will be the greatest gift. They're affectionate and very loyal dogs who won't do things halfheartedly. If you have life stock to protect, this is the dog breed for you. 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 watch dogs with the proper training. But these dogs are certainly not for the faint-hearted dog lover.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog temperament in a nutshell
If kept as a companion dog, they need a big house and garden to flourish and feel accomplished.
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 diseases 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 from. 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 eye lid that can cause infections
Lipoma: fatty lumps or tumour growth that can impede movement, causing discomfort
Many of these conditions can be treated if caught early, but it's essential to work with a reliable veterinarian familiar with this breed to ensure your dog receives proper care.
Most diseases are inherited in a recessive manner. It means that the puppy must inherit the gene from both parents to become affected. If the mutation is only present in one parent, the puppy becomes a carrier. Hence, it is vital to choose a reputable breeder who has done genetic testing on their litters.
The more aware you are of these diseases, the higher the chances you can prolong your dog's life if problems arise. Same as with your child, be mindful of all required vaccinations, risks and even risks outside your home. This blog post, for example, outlines all toxic spring plants that can be harmful to your dog.
Many dog owners underestimate the danger in some pet toys and accessories that can worsen health issues when they innocently buy cheap products from the Far East. Avoid synthetic rubber play things like chew bones or tug o' war ropes from polyester; polyester collars could cause skin irritation and are not breathable like natural materials. Swap out those harmful materials with eco-friendly pet products from hemp here at Hooman's Friend. Breathable, eco-friendly and sustainable!
Anatolian Shepherd Fun facts
We love nature here at Hooman’s Friend. Therefore the following fun fact impressed us!
Anatolian Shepherds and Kangals have helped in several conservation projects worldwide.
Many farmers are using poison or shooting predatory animals. This puts biological diversity in jeopardy and can lead to unsustainable practices. Anatolian Shepherds scare predators away and keep them in check instead of killing them. This way, the ecosystem can remain in balance.
In 1994 over 500 Anatolians and Kangal dogs were gifted to the Cheetah conservation project in Namibia. As a result, instead of farmers killing cheetahs, they use Kangals and Anatolian Shepherds to protect and herd their precious livestock. Correspondingly, a study estimated that livestock losses were reduced by 91%. However, the main benefits are encouraging co-existence, safeguarding the life of viable predators, and preventing a destabilised ecosystem.
"To follow soon"
To learn more about other dog breeds, check related articles or sign up for our newsletter here. This will also trigger a code for 15% off your first order of our eco-friendly pet products. We are working hard to add all dog breeds as soon as possible to have a whole extensive library!
The Anatolians is a dog breed with a unique temperament unlike any other. They are protective of their family and property and require a lot of independence and space. If you are a future owner of an Anatolian, it is crucial to understand their temperament and personality to make sure they are happy and healthy.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Summary Info box
70cm - 79cm
Tendency to drool
Tendency to bark
Tendency to dig