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  • Temperament: Loyal, Independent, Reserved
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 84 of 192
  • Height: 29 inches (male), 27 inches (female)
  • Weight: 110-150 pounds (male), 80-120 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog standing in a rocky, wooded landscape
Anatolian Shepherd Dog standing sideways, head turned forward
Anatolian Shepherd Dog standing in grassy, fenced-in pen with sheep

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Large, rugged, powerful and impressive, possessing great endurance and agility. Developed through a set of very demanding circumstances for a purely utilitarian purpose; he is a working guard dog without equal, with a unique ability to protect livestock. General impression – Appears bold, but calm, unless challenged. He possesses size, good bone, a well-muscled torso with a strong head. Reserve out of its territory is acceptable. Fluid movement and even temperament is desirable.

HEAD

Expression should be intelligent. Eyes are medium size, set apart, almond shaped and dark brown to light amber in color. Blue eyes or eyes of two different colors are a disqualification. Eye rims will be black or brown and without sag or looseness of haw. Incomplete pigment is a serious fault. Ears should be set on no higher than the plane of the head. V-shaped, rounded apex, measuring about four inches at the base to six inches in length. The tip should be just long enough to reach the outside corner of the eyelid. Ears dropped to sides. Erect ears are a disqualification. Skull is large but in proportion to the body. There is a slight centerline furrow, fore and aft, from apparent stop to moderate occiput. Broader in dogs than in bitches.

BODY

Neck slightly arched, powerful, and muscular, moderate in length with more skin and fur than elsewhere on the body, forming a protective ruff. The dewlap should not be pendulous and excessive. Topline will appear level when gaiting. Back will be powerful, muscular, and level, with drop behind withers and gradual arch over loin, sloping slightly downward at the croup. Body well proportioned, functional, without exaggeration. Never fat or soft. Chest is deep (to the elbow) and well-sprung with a distinct tuck up at the loin. Tail should be long and reaching to the hocks. Set on rather high. When relaxed, it is carried low with the end curled upwards. When alert, the tail is carried high, making a “wheel.” Both low and wheel carriage are acceptable, when gaiting. “Wheel” carriage preferred. The tail will not necessarily uncurl totally.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders should be muscular and well developed, blades long, broad and sloping. Elbows should be neither in nor out. Forelegs should be relatively long, well-boned and set straight with strong pasterns. The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape. They should have stout nails with pads thick and tough. Dewclaws may be removed.

COAT

Short (one inch minimum, not tight) to Rough (approximately 4 inches in length) with neck hair slightly longer. Somewhat longer and thicker at the neck and mane. A thick undercoat is common to all. Feathering may occur on the ear fringes, legs, breeching, and tail.

HINDQUARTERS

Strong, with broad thighs and heavily muscled. Angulation at the stifle and hock are in proportion to the forequarters. As seen from behind, the legs are parallel. The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape. Double dewclaws may exist. Dewclaws may be removed.

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anatolian shepherd dog illustration

About the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog stands between 27 and 29 inches at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 150 pounds. Profusely muscled but nimble afoot, Anatolians are more than a match for the predators and harsh terrain of their homeland. Anatolians descend from some of the oldest known domestic-canine bloodlines. This lends the breed a sense of timelessness, a no-frills, untouched quality that takes us back 6,000 years to the Bronze Age.

Anatolians are smart, devoted, responsive, and adaptable. They will protect their flock—livestock, children, smaller dogs, even the family cat—with intensity. Anatolian owners must be strong leaders, willing and able to handle a dog as dominating and demanding as he is calm and loving.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Find a Puppy: Anatolian Shepherd Dog

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Care

NUTRITION

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). The Anatolian does not tend to overeat. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

 

GROOMING

Bred to work outdoors, the Anatolian has a thick undercoat that protects him from the elements. Some Anatolians have a long outer coat, but on most it is quite short, and a quick brushing once a week will keep it looking good. Keep in mind, though, that the Anatolian sheds his undercoat twice a year. During shedding season, he will need to given a thorough brushing-out to remove the dead hair, with a short-bristle brush and possibly a comb as well, every few days. As with all breeds, the Anatolian’s nails should be trimmed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Because he only needs a moderate amount of exercise, an Anatolian will be happy with time in a yard—be sure it has a tall, strong fence and a locked gate—and a long walk once or twice a day. Remember, though, that an Anatolian must be kept on leash whenever he is taken out of the home. As one breeder says, “Don’t assume that your dogs will be reliable off leash. False security on your part can become a disaster.”

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Because the breed tends to be wary toward others and instinctively protective, an Anatolian puppy must be socialized. Obedience training is a must with the breed. The Anatolian was bred to work independently, make decisions on his own, and protect his flock from outsiders, and training the breed to respond to commands can be a challenge. Under no circumstances should an Anatolian receive protection or guard-dog training.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

The Anatolian is overall a healthy and hardy breed. Hip dysplasia is not common in Anatolians, nor is bloat, a life-threatening twisting and inversion of the stomach. Owners should know the symptoms of bloat, however, so as to act quickly should it occur. The breed can be sensitive to anesthesia, and owners should ensure that their vet is aware of this before any procedures. Good breeders will screen for entropion, in which the eyelids invert, which can be surgically corrected. An Anatolian’s ears should be checked regularly for any signs of infection, and the dog’s teeth should be brushed frequently.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Anatolian Shepherd Dog

History

Anatolia, or Asia Minor, is the peninsula that constitutes the Asian portion of Turkey. It was at this crossroads of early civilization that sheep and goat herders developed a livestock guardian known as the Coban Kopegi (“shepherd’s dog”), forerunner of today’s Anatolian Shepherd.

The central region of Anatolia is a high plateau of endless plains and rolling hills. Summers are dry and brutally hot, and the winters are snowy, with sub-zero temperatures. In this harsh, unforgiving crucible the Anatolian Shepherd forged his longstanding reputation as the flock guardian supreme.

Ancient artifacts going back to the days of the Babylonian Empire document the breed’s ancestors. Assyrian bas-relief carvings housed in the British Museum, dating to 2000 b.c., depict large dogs of recognizable Anatolian Shepherd type. The earliest books of the Bible refer to shepherds whose dogs were most likely some local variation of the Anatolian.

The breed’s history in America begins in the years immediately preceding World War II, when the Department of Agriculture imported a breeding pair from Turkey to participate in the top-secret “Sheepdog Project.” The program’s objective was to determine which breeds would be best suited for work on American sheep pastures. With the outbreak of war, the project was disbanded and the Anatolians and their offspring were dispersed.

American ranchers began importing Anatolians in the postwar 1950s, but the breed really took hold in this country in the 1970s. The credit for firmly establishing the breed in America goes to Lieutenant Robert Ballard, U.S. Navy, who acquired a pair of Anatolians while stationed in Turkey. He brought them home to America and bred his first littler in 1970, providing foundation stock for U.S. breeders.

This new breeding activity coincided with the passage of the Endangered Species Act. The new law required that ranchers control the population of predatory wolves without killing them. Anatolian Shepherds, who would rather intimidate predators than fight them, were perfectly suited for the job. Many Anatolian Shepherds are still working ranch dogs today, protecting everything from sheep and goats to ostriches and llamas.

Did You Know?

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are sensitive to anesthesia.
Though protective, the Anatolian Shepherd is calm, friendly, and affectionate with his immediate family.
Anatolian Shepherds are also known as Goban Kopegi or Anatolian Karabash Dogs.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Large, rugged, powerful and impressive, possessing great endurance and agility. Developed through a set of very demanding circumstances for a purely utilitarian purpose; he is a working guard dog without equal, with a unique ability to protect livestock. General impression – Appears bold, but calm, unless challenged. He possesses size, good bone, a well-muscled torso with a strong head. Reserve out of its territory is acceptable. Fluid movement and even temperament is desirable.

HEAD

Expression should be intelligent. Eyes are medium size, set apart, almond shaped and dark brown to light amber in color. Blue eyes or eyes of two different colors are a disqualification. Eye rims will be black or brown and without sag or looseness of haw. Incomplete pigment is a serious fault. Ears should be set on no higher than the plane of the head. V-shaped, rounded apex, measuring about four inches at the base to six inches in length. The tip should be just long enough to reach the outside corner of the eyelid. Ears dropped to sides. Erect ears are a disqualification. Skull is large but in proportion to the body. There is a slight centerline furrow, fore and aft, from apparent stop to moderate occiput. Broader in dogs than in bitches.

BODY

Neck slightly arched, powerful, and muscular, moderate in length with more skin and fur than elsewhere on the body, forming a protective ruff. The dewlap should not be pendulous and excessive. Topline will appear level when gaiting. Back will be powerful, muscular, and level, with drop behind withers and gradual arch over loin, sloping slightly downward at the croup. Body well proportioned, functional, without exaggeration. Never fat or soft. Chest is deep (to the elbow) and well-sprung with a distinct tuck up at the loin. Tail should be long and reaching to the hocks. Set on rather high. When relaxed, it is carried low with the end curled upwards. When alert, the tail is carried high, making a “wheel.” Both low and wheel carriage are acceptable, when gaiting. “Wheel” carriage preferred. The tail will not necessarily uncurl totally.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders should be muscular and well developed, blades long, broad and sloping. Elbows should be neither in nor out. Forelegs should be relatively long, well-boned and set straight with strong pasterns. The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape. They should have stout nails with pads thick and tough. Dewclaws may be removed.

COAT

Short (one inch minimum, not tight) to Rough (approximately 4 inches in length) with neck hair slightly longer. Somewhat longer and thicker at the neck and mane. A thick undercoat is common to all. Feathering may occur on the ear fringes, legs, breeching, and tail.

HINDQUARTERS

Strong, with broad thighs and heavily muscled. Angulation at the stifle and hock are in proportion to the forequarters. As seen from behind, the legs are parallel. The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape. Double dewclaws may exist. Dewclaws may be removed.

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anatolian shepherd dog illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BISCUIT & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 376
BLUE FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 036
BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 057
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082
GRAY FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 377
LIVER Check Mark For Standard Color 123
RED FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 150
WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
BROWN MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 076
DUTCH MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 077
PINTO Check Mark For Standard Mark 018
PINTO, BLACK MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 079
SILVER MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 078

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