The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a flock guardian dog breed that hails from Turkey. Like many other livestock guardian dog breeds, the Anatolian Shepherd dog has been bred for thousands of years in its native country of Turkey. As a livestock protection dog, the Anatolian Shepherd in the past would have had to protect its wards against formidable foes such as lions, wolves, and bears. Thus by necessity the Anatolian Shepherd dog had to be large in size and fleet of foot in order to be able to patrol a large flock of sheep covering a sizable area especially when the alarm was sounded.
The precise origins of the Anatolian Shepherd dog are not properly known but it is believed that this large dog breed is descended from a cross mix of Roman Molossian war dogs, mastiffs, and the indigent flock guardians that were native to Turkey. Since as far back as 7000 B.C. man has owned domestic animals thus flock guardians are some of the oldest of all dog breeds.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Temperament
Like most flock guardian dog breeds the Anatolian Shepherd is a large and independent-minded dog. In other words, the Anatolian Shepherd is not the type of dog that will eagerly participate in frivolous pursuits such as playing fetch and indulging the whims of its human companions. If you try to engage the Anatolian Shepherd in such activities the dog is more likely than not to give you a look that says “you’re plain crazy” before relocating itself elsewhere.
Over the span of many thousands of years this dog has been selectively bred to accomplish one task and that is to protect livestock from all manner of predators be they large or small. For sure, the setting in which the Anatolian Shepherd Dog finds itself in the modern world may have changed and the flock it watches over today may be two-legged as opposed to four but the hardwiring innate to the dog remains the same!
The Anatolian Shepherd takes its duty as a protector and guardian very seriously no matter the nature of the ward it is entrusted to look after. In fact, it is not unusual for nursing female Anatolian Shepherd Dogs to suckle the lambs that they are entrusted to protect; that is the measure of how passionately these dogs bond. So it should come as little surprise that these dogs get along well with children although the child may find it lacking as a playmate since it is just not in the Anatolian’s nature to indulge in frivolous pursuits. This innate good nature of the Anatolian Shepherd is probably a result of Turkish Shepherds dispassionately dispatching of any dog that showed untoward aggression towards either livestock or people.
However, as with all dogs any interaction with children, especially small children, should be carefully monitored. Also, be aware that though the Anatolian Shepherd dog may be very compliant and trustworthy around kids within the family the same may not apply for friends because as far as the dog is concerned they are not part of its flock. Keeping this distinction in mind is very important especially since the dog may not be able to differentiate between rough kid play and a real treat!
The Anatolian Shepherd is not recommended for the first-time dog owner or for apartment life.
Form And Function Of The Anatolian Shepherd Dog
The Anatolian Shepherd falls within the category of the working group of dogs and as such is a dog of exceptional endurance and ability required of tough and rugged work. If the Anatolian Shepherd Dog were a vehicle it would be a serious off-roader SUV designed to tackle the toughest of terrain (think back to the old square-shaped Landrovers or today’s or yesterday’s Landcruiser) and not some pretentious wannabe SUV that is all athletic looks but no muscle! In other words, any potential owner of the Anatolian Shepherd should make no mistake and understand this dog comes from hardcore working stock and is not just a delightful oversized pet like the Great Dane.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is an independent thinker that was often expected to use their own powers of insight and initiative to guide and keep the flock of sheep safe. In fact, it was not uncommon for the Anatolian Shepherd dogs to be left alone days on end tending to the livestock without any contact from the shepherd who’d return to the comfort of the village and only check in on the animals from time to time. During such sabbaticals, the dogs would often take turns to watch the flock while others hunted for game. Such was this dog breeds loyalty that even when extremely hungry the dogs never attacked their wards.
Considering that wolves and stray dogs constituted a good portion of the predators that the Anatolian Shepherd had to keep at bay unsurprisingly the Anatolian Shepherd is not dog friendly. Thus it is extremely important that this large dog be timely and optimally socialized with other dogs and animals if “terminal accidents” are not to happen in the urban setting. Accidents could result in a hefty fine for the dog’s owner and possibly result in the shepherd dog being put down.
The Anatolian Shepherd is most certainly a large dog breed but not in the sense of barrel-chested massive. The body form of the Anatolian Shepherd is athletic in type befitting a dog that has to be fast and versatile on its feet. In Turkey, to this very day, the best flock guardian dogs are expected to be excellent wrestlers and quite often competitive matches are held each year. In fact, it is said that a capable dog can leap in the air at a full run and turn round and land on top of its target. In essence, the body structure of the Anatolian Shepherd promotes power and grace in one perfectly designed package.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed Controversy
In Turkey, the Anatolian Shepherd finds itself in the unique but somewhat unenviable position of being a Turkish dog breed that happens not to be recognized in its very own country. In fact, if you were to quiz the average Turkish person about their national dog the Anatolian Shepherd they probably respond with a “huh” and a blank stare! To this very day what began as an innocuous skirmish over a name has now escalated into a full-scale war of words characterized by salvos of accusations ricocheting across the west to east and vice-versa.
In all likelihood, this ongoing exchange arose from the misinterpretation of the meaning of the phrase Coban Kopegi by western fanciers of the dog breed. Coban Kopegi is a Turkish word that in English translates as “shepherd’s dog.” Western admirers of the Turkish livestock guardians probably corrupted this term to mean “shepherd dog,” hence the name Anatolian Shepherd dog. However the misinterpretation of the phrase Coban Kopegi probably in and of itself wasn’t enough to have escalated this verbal onslaught to the point it eventually attained, what truly got the Turkish people’s ire was what to all intents and purposes looked like another country(s) usurping a good potion its canine heritage. However when is all said and done all sides love the Anatolian Shepherd dog so perhaps the best approach is to celebrate the dog, bury the hatchet, and agree to disagree!
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Characteristics
Male: 29 inches and upwards
Female: 27 inches and upwards
Male: 110 – 150 lbs
Female: 80 – 120 lbs
COLOR: All colors are allowed although nowadays the fawn with a black mask is most common.
HEALTH & LIFESPAN
Major Health Issues: CHD
Minor Health Issues: Entropion
Recommended Tests: Hip & Eye
Lifespan: 10 – 13 years
Other Health Issues: The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is extremely sensitive to barbiturate anesthesia and you should pass this information on to your vet if ever your dog requires surgery.