Akbash Dogs are categorized under the UKC (United Kennel Club) category of guardian dogs. Their name derives from the Turkish word Akba?, which literally translates to “white head”. The Akbash is a Turkish breed most commonly used as a flock guardian, but they were also used for hunting.
Akbash Dogs have a general height range of 28 to 32 inches (71 – 81 centimeters), and an average weight range of 90 to 130 pounds (41 – 59 kilograms), with females averaging around 90 pounds and males around 120 pounds. They have an average lifespan of 10 – 12 years.
With a history of around 3,000 years, it is said that shepherds in Western Turkey developed the Akbash for the specific purpose of guarding livestock. Akbash Dogs are relatives to other white guardian breeds such as the Komondor, the Kuvasz, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, and the Tatra Mountain Sheepdog. The Akbash possesses a mix of Sighthound and Mastiff characteristics, and that separates this breed from its fellow white guardian breeds.
Akbash Dogs are large in size, and are strong and muscular. Due to their Sighthound ancestry, however, Akbash Dogs are much leaner compared to other breeds of the same category. They possess long legs and have a longer length compared to their height. The Akbash has a broad and long skull, and its wedge-shaped head will be bigger in males than females. They have v-shaped ears that are slightly rounded and are set high atop the head.
Their strong necks arch at the crest, and they boast a relatively lean chest. The Akbash has a long tapered tail, and it is set low, typically curving into a hook-like shape. There are two types of coats for the Akbash – a long and a medium coat. Akbash Dogs with long coats will have a double coat made up of coarse top coat hairs and a thicker, denser undercoat. Akbash Dogs with medium coats will have short to medium length hairs that lie flat against the body. Both types should come in a white color; areas of shading are acceptable as long as the dog is generally white in color.
Akbash Dogs are courageous and they possess strong protective instincts, which make them an ideal breed for guarding homestead – as such, they are also very protective of their owner and family. The Akbash is independent, which makes it a quick responder when it’s working on keeping livestock safe. This trait will, however, make the Akbash seem strong-willed and stubborn back at home. This breed requires an owner who understands canine behavior and will pay close attention to the dog during training. Due to this, the Akbash is not recommended for individuals who are soft-hearted and passive. If an owner is intending on bringing up his/her Akbash as a companion dog, the dog should receive extensive socialization and training as Akbash Dogs are very protective and territorial. Because of its guarding nature, the Akbash may become highly aggressive to strangers (both humans and other animals). Yet, because of its strong guardianship instincts, the Akbash is usually gentle towards infants.
It is important to note that although Akbash Dogs are not high-energy dogs, they are athletic and do require daily exercise as well as a large space to run around in general as they are accustomed to patrolling large areas. They are not recommended for apartment life.
General Care & Health
The coats of Akbash Dogs should be brushed regularly (weekly or more regularly than that) in order to detangle any knots present in their coats. Akbash Dogs living in warmer climates may shed their undercoats year-round, whereas those living in cooler climates will shed around twice a year. Shedding can be reduced with regular brushing sessions. Their ears should be checked weekly and cleaned with a cotton ball and a cleanser obtained through a vet. Cotton swabs should not be stuck into the ear as it may lead to damage in the ear canal. Teeth should be brushed two to three times a week at the very least, and nails should be trimmed once or twice a month. Check for signs of infection whenever the Akbash is groomed, keeping an eye out for redness and inflammation of the skin, eyes, nose and mouth.
The recommended daily amount of food an Akbash should be getting is 2½ to 3 cups of dry food, divided into two meals throughout the day. Despite the presence of a guideline, the amounts can be altered if the dog is highly active or otherwise. Akbash Dogs are able to stay healthy and fit with a minimal amount of food.
The Akbash Dog is prone to the following diseases:
• Hip Dysplasia: dogs with hip dysplasia have thigh bones that do not fit comfortably into their hip joints. Some affected dogs may show pain and/or lameness in the affected hind legs, but some will show no symptoms at all. Over time, hip dysplasia can develop into arthritis.
• Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD): dogs that suffer from OCD have damaged or abnormal cartilage growth in their joints. The cartilage, instead of being attached to the bone, will separate or crack. The most commonly affected areas are the shoulder, elbow, knee or hock. Affected dogs may suffer from lameness although the degree of visibility will depend on the dog.
The Akbash is a strong, fast, and large breed, befitting to its role as a guard dog. With lots of training and socializing, the Akbash can be a great companion dog as well. Although possessing many fine qualities, the Akbash may be hard to live with if you are a first time dog owner or if you lack alpha qualities that the dog needs. With the family, the Akbash is loyal, gentle, affectionate, but will turn aggressive in light of intruders.