Anatolian Shepherd Breed Info: The Ultimate Livestock Guardian?

As the prized working dog of Turkey, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog was not readily shared with the world until the 1950s.

Their popularity soared in the 1970s due to the Endangered Species Act in the United States, and they have been a revered working companion ever since.

This is not the dog for new owners.

They are amazing dogs when placed in the right home, but it can be hard to manage these hard-headed, independent, free thinkers.

Are you interested in learning more about the rough and tumble Anatolian Shepherd?

Read on…

An Anatolian Shepherd

What is an Anatolian Shepherd? (Overview)

The Anatolian Shepherd was originally bred as a livestock guardian dog in Turkey.

There they often roamed the range without a shepherd and only their flock – these dogs had to learn how to adapt, think and fend for themselves.

Even today they are known to catch gophers, moles and squirrels while out with their flock to feed themselves.

This is a working dog and they need a job to do or else they can become very destructive.

If you are looking for a stay-at-home companion the Anatolian Shepherd is not the dog for you.

However if you are looking for a hard-working dog with minimal care needed, then this dog might just be the one for you. Just remember that they are independent and strong-willed, but are very loving and loyal to their family.

  • Overview: Working.
  • Purpose: Livestock Guardian.
  • Weight: 80-150 pounds.
  • Size: 27-29 inches.
  • Temperament: Independent, confident and aloof.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • An amazing family guard dog.
  • Low grooming requirements.
  • Does not eat a lot despite their size.
  • Adaptable to most climates.
  • Very agile and athletic.

Cons:

  • Can be aggressive with strangers.
  • Needs to be in the country.
  • Love to dig things up.
  • They are escape artists so need tall fences.

Anatolian Shepherd Appearance

Anatolian Shepherd

This dog is nothing short of impressive to look at.

They give off the aura of being powerful with a large, big-boned and rugged frame. Despite their large size, the Anatolian Shepherd is very athletic and agile.

To look at this dog is lean and muscular, with a slightly arched, powerful neck. The neck should have more skin and fur than the rest of the body (this is to protect the dog’s neck from predator attacks).

The tail is carried over the back with a curl, and the loin should have a very distinct tuck. They should never look heavy or fat – instead they should always look lean or muscular.

Size

These dogs can stand from 27-29 inches tall, although some can fall outside of this range.

Their weight varies between male and female, with males typically weighing between 110-150 pounds and females weighing from 80-120 pounds.

Colors

They can come in a few different colors including pinto, white and brindle.

  • The most common color is fawn with a black mask.
  • Pinto is typically a light brown and white mix.
  • White markings on the paws, chest and tail are acceptable on the brindle pattern.

Aside from these handful of patterns, the Anatolian Shepherd does not come in anything else.

Their coat is short (only about an inch long) with a thick undercoat.

Luckily grooming for their coat is very easy. Brushing only needs to be done during their intense shedding periods and they are surprisingly a very clean dog. This means that they hardly ever have the doggy odor common to so many other breeds.

7 Fun Facts About Anatolian Shepherds

  1. The breed is thought to originate from ancient Mesopotamia dogs.
  2. Anatolian Shepherds have appeared in several films including Cats & Dogs.
  3. These dogs can survive completely on their own.
  4. Namibia uses Anatolians to protect their flocks and this has led to a reduction in the number of cheetahs being killed.
  5. Turkey kept these dogs a secret until the 1950s.
  6. They were bred to be used as livestock guardian dogs and are still used for this purpose today.
  7. Artifacts have been found from 2000 B.C. depicting the Anatolian Shepherd.

Anatolian Shepherd Personality and Temperament

Anatolian Shepherd Puppy

These dogs were originally bred in Turkey to be livestock guardian dogs.

Their popularity in the United States soared in the 1970s when the Endangered Species Act made it illegal for many farmers and ranchers to use lethal means to protect their livestock from predators.

They are bred to be tough, stubborn, independent and exceptionally smart dogs with good critical thinking skills. Often the Anatolian Shepherd will ignore your commands and make its own decision about a situation.

Due to their livestock guardian background they are extremely protective of their pack (whether this is cows, sheep or even their family).

Socialization with a lot of different people growing up can help to reduce of their aggression, but Anatolians will always have to be watched with strangers.

If these dogs are socialized with other animals from a young age they will be protective of them for the rest of their life. Their livestock guardian instincts are very strong and they will often become mothering towards other animals.

These dogs have a loud deep bark – you need to know these dogs are very noisy (especially at night when they are most alert). They are not good apartment dwellers and will probably keep your neighbors up all night. Plus they need plenty of room to roam and patrol.

Anatolian Shepherds are not super playful dogs and are usually on alert and patrolling.

These dogs live to work.

If they do play, it is often best to allow them to play with other livestock guardian breeds. Livestock guardian dogs tend to play a bit differently than other breeds, and their large size also makes it easy for them to accidentally harm other breeds.

Is The Anatolian Shepherd A Good Family Dog?

Although they are good with well-behaved children, care and supervision still needs to be taken when they are around children.

However thanks to their protective nature Anatolian Shepherds can become very protective over children in the family.

Caring for a Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherds

Compared to most other large breeds the Anatolian Shepherd is a relatively easy to care for.

They do not require a lot of grooming or other maintenance.

Although they can suffer from a few different genetic diseases, these are easy enough to limit the risk of by purchasing from a reputable breeder.

The biggest issue is being able to meet their huge exercise requirements. These dogs are not couch potatoes and need plenty of room to roam.

Exercise Requirements

Unlike other dogs the Anatolian Shepherd does not like to play games of fetch or tug. Instead they much prefer to roam and run around. Teaching them how to pull a cart (or a sled) is a great way to exercise and challenge them.

They should not be let off leash until they are in an enclosed area, and the enclosed area has at least a six foot fence. These dogs are agile and can easily scale anything smaller.

For their own safety make sure that they are properly contained.

Remember when these dogs were originally bred, they often had to roam the range alone and that instinct is still strong with them today.

  • Number of Walks Per Day: 3+.
  • Total Exercise Needed Per Day: 2 hours+.

Grooming and Shedding

Anatolian Shepherd With Collie

Their coat is short (around an inch in length), but has a thick undercoat. They are naturally a very clean dog so they do not need lots of grooming.

However twice a year they will blow their coat and shed more than normal. Expect to have to brush them a few times a week during this time to remove any dead hair.

Feeding and Diet

A low protein diet is typically best for this dog, although your breeder and vet can help you decide exactly what is best for your pooch.

Anatolian Shepherds do best when fed two to three times a day.

Never leave food out for your dog to eat when they want to. These dogs are prone to food aggression, so food should be removed within half an hour of offering.

Calories Per Day: Cups of Kibble Per Day:
2000 ~4

Known Health Problems

In general the Anatolian Shepherd is a very healthy breed with minimal health issues.

However they are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia (just like most large breed dogs).

They can also suffer from hypothyroidism, cancer, entropion and epilepsy. Make sure that if you buy your dog from a breeder, that they genetically test for these diseases to reduce the chance of your dog getting sick.

How Long Does A Anatolian Shepherd Live?

Despite their large size, these dogs actually have a long lifespan. They can live anywhere from 13-15 years.

How Much Does A Anatolian Shepherd Cost?

The price of these dogs can vary a lot depending on where you get them from.

A working dog from show lines with papers can cost a minimum of $1,400 and upwards of $5,000. However you can also purchase an unregistered Anatolian Shepherd for around $700.

How To Train An Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Working

This breed was bred to work by itself in the ranges of Turkey, meaning that it was used to having to think for itself.

The result was a dog that is confident, agile and independent.

Anatolian Shepherds will often assess a situation and do what they think is best, instead of waiting for the commands or wishes of their keeper.

Just like any other dog, positive reinforcement is the way to go.

Allowing them to think through commands instead of guiding them is a great for them to get mental stimulation.

Mental stimulation is important for this breed.

If they are guarding your flock or other animals, then that provides plenty of stimulation for them. However if they are just a companion then make sure you provide something else for them to do. This can be agility, advanced obedience or some other dog sport, but these dogs need a job.

Quick Breed Summary Table

Breed Characteristics
Size: 27-29 inches.
Weight: 80-150lb.
Lifespan: 13-15 years.
Coat: Short with a thick undercoat.
Color: Fawn with black mask. Can also be white, brindle or pinto.
Do They Shed: Minimal shedding.
Temperament: Confident, independent and free thinkers.
Intelligence: High (although stubborn with training).
Socialization: Needs strong socialization.
Destructive Behavior: Not destructive as long as they have a job to do.
People Skills: May display some aggression to strangers.
Good with Children: Very good with kids, but should always be supervised.
Activity Levels: High energy, need a lot of exercise.

Summary

The Anatolian Shepherd is a sturdy breed of dog built for working on the range in Turkey and keeping their livestock safe.

Because of this they are independent critical thinkers – they will think first, look to you second.

They require a lot of daily physical and mental stimulation.

This is not a breed for first time dog owners or someone living in the city. Anatolian Shepherds need room to roam and run around, otherwise they can get destructive.

If you have the right home for them and can handle their independent nature, then this might be the dog for you.

Let us know in the comments section below…

Thomas Woods Face Portrait
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.

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