Anatolian Shepherds are large and powerful dogs with muscular torsos and strong heads. The breed's coat may be short or rough with slightly longer neck hair and a dense undercoat. These dogs come in all color markings, including brindle and fawn, and they stand 27 to 29 inches at the shoulder. Females weigh 80 to 120 pounds and males weigh 110 to 150 pounds.
Anatolian Shepherds are loyal, intelligent, and independent and make good companions with sufficient training and socialization.
These hardy, rugged dogs have an exceptional ability to protect livestock and are usually found working as guard dogs. Anatolian Shepherds are loyal, intelligent, and independent and make good companions with sufficient training and socialization.
Anatolian Shepherd dogs are being used by the Cheetah Conservation Fund as part of an effort to reduce the number of cheetahs shot and killed by farmers. By keeping the cheetahs from attacking livestock, the Anatolian Shepherds are saving them from the wrath of angry farmers.
As a breed, Anatolian Shepherd dogs are instinctively protective and loyal to their family. These dogs tend to be calm and reserved around strangers, but they may become aggressive if they feel their family or property is threatened. They are typically good around children but may overreact when witnessing rough play; as natural guardians, Anatolian Shepherds may step in to defend their human child during roughhousing.
This breed is courageous, highly adaptable, intelligent, and stubborn. Anatolian Shepherd dogs tend to be nocturnal by nature and enjoy the company of others; this is not a solitary breed. These dogs generally have a serious nature that may not appeal to all families.
With regular exercise and attention, Anatolian Shepherds make good companion animals. If neglected, however, they may become bored and increasingly destructive. These dogs do best when kept busy.
A number of health conditions are more likely to develop in Anatolian Shepherds than in some other dogs, including ankyloglossia, which is a condition that affects the tongue, carpal laxity syndrome, and congenital deafness. Orthopedic problems, such as elbow and hip dysplasia, are one of the biggest concerns in this breed. Eye problems and hypothyroidism are also seen in these dogs.
Additionally, these dogs are prone to bloat, gastric torsion, and gastric dilatation volvulus, potentially fatal conditions requiring immediate attention or surgery. Human caretakers must always be on alert for drooling, pale gums, pacing, restlessness, pain signs, attempts to vomit unsuccessfully, and other signs that may indicate the development of one of these problems. Anatolian Shepherds are known to be sensitive to anesthesia.
With routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, quality nutrition, and plenty of exercise, Anatolian Shepherds typically live 11 to 13 years.
Anatolian Shepherds are stubborn and independent, but they are trainable, too. Training must begin early in life before the breed's size and behavior become unmanageable, and early socialization can prevent these dogs from becoming fearful and suspicious. The breed will act to protect family and property and can become aggressive with strangers when feeling threatened. Beware of breeders who raise puppies in isolation; these do not make good companion animals.
While Anatolian Shepherd dogs aren't known for misbehaving, the breed can develop problems with chewing and barking, especially if not given attention and provided with plenty of exercise. Moreover, these dogs were bred to make independent decisions, and owner commands may or may not be followed, depending on the Anatolian Shepherd's mood.
Dog parks are rarely a good exercise option for this breed because Anatolian Shepherds tend to be aggressive toward other animals. These dogs need to run, however, and must have sufficient time outdoors. Backyard fences must be very high to keep these dogs inside. Anatolian Shepherds usually don't mind living outdoors, provided they receive lots of attention from family members. Chaining is never recommended.
Anatolian Shepherd dogs have some grooming concerns that may make them unsuitable for certain households. In fact, the breed tends toward moderate to excessive shedding, and this is one of the primary reasons these dogs end up abandoned to rescue groups.
To keep the coat and skin healthy, brush at least once weekly to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils necessary to keep the skin and coat moisturized, shiny, and healthy. During the twice-yearly shedding season, brushing must be done daily to keep shedding under control. Fortunately, bathing these dogs is rarely necessary and the breed does not typically smell.
Clean and check the ears often; this breed's drop ears are prone to infection and must be kept dry and clean at all times. Brush the teeth as often as possible to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Trim the nails a few times each month, or as needed.
Anatolian Shepherds originated as a guardian breed in a region of Turkey called Anatolia about 6,000 years ago. The breed was used as the frontline defense against predators because of its natural protectiveness and independence and its ability to tolerate harsh climate.
Breeders created and used shepherd in the same color and size as livestock so that they'd blend in with the animals they were protecting. This made the dogs especially effective at their job.
Anatolian Shepherd dogs were brought to America in the 1950s by archaeologist Rodney Young, although this was not the first time the breed made an appearance in the United States; some Anatolian Shepherds were presented to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by the Turkish government in the 1930s. The first recorded American bred litter was in 1970.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Anatolian Shepherd dog in 1996.