Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is categorized under the AKC (American Kennel Club) category of Working Dogs. Originating in Turkey, the Anatolian is known to be a working guard dog, with great skill in protecting livestock. Developed in order to be able to withstand the harsh weather and terrain of nomads, Anatolians are well known for their hardiness and power.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have an average height of 26 – 30 inches (66 – 76 centimeters) and an average weight of 90 – 150 pounds (41 – 68 kilograms), depending on gender. They have an average lifespan of 10 – 13 years.


With roots in Turkey, it is speculated that the Anatolian has a history of around 6000 years. The Anatolian is determined to be a close relative of the Kangal Dog. Originally developed to be a hunting dog as well as a fighting dog – especially in war –, Anatolians were eventually used in order to help nomads and protect livestock. Able to withstand harsh weathers, the Anatolian can easily adapt to both hot and cold temperatures.

Physical Appearance

The Anatolian is a large breed, boasting big bones and an equally big chest. Their heads are proportionate to the rest of their body, and they sport a rectangular muzzle. Their ears are triangular and pendant (hanging) with a rounded tip, and they sit no higher than the plane of their head. With tails that are set high up on their backs, Anatolians also sport a soft curl to their tails when relaxed and a higher ‘wheel’ when alert. Anatolians have a double coat, and their short coats are usually fawn in color, although they do come in other colors such as white and brindle. They have longer hairs around the neck and the tail, although the general length of the coat will depend on lineage and seasons.


As a result of their history, Anatolians are extremely hardworking dogs. They take pride in completing their work and as such, are ideal dogs for individuals with an occupation that involves fieldwork, e.g. farmers. Interested individuals should note that the Anatolian is not suitable for being a family dog, as Anatolians need owners that hold leadership over them. Anatolians may get along with children in the family, but may end up suspicious of children outside of the family, and this may result in unwanted consequences.

Training should be done as soon as possible, as dogs that are old may not be able to have their behavior corrected. Anatolians are independent, and without a strong owner, they may end up disobeying commands. As they were brought up to be livestock protectors, Anatolians will develop strong protectiveness over their family and will most likely be aggressive towards strangers. In order to prevent this, Anatolians should have early socialization experiences and good leadership by the owner.

General Care & Health

The coats of Anatolians do not require regular brushing as their coats are short and naturally clean. On the other hand, Anatolians do shed a few times a year, and regular brushing during shedding periods will help remove dead hair. They do not need to be bathed regularly; bathe them only when odor gets too strong or when they get too dirty for a brush down to be effective. Their teeth should be brushed two to three times a week minimum, and their nails should be trimmed regularly, preferably once or twice a month. Clean their outer ears with a cotton swab and a solution obtained from the breeder/vet. During grooming, one should be on the lookout for signs of infection in areas such as ears, nose, mouth, and eyes.

The recommended daily amount of food an Anatolian should be getting is 4 to 6 cups of dry food, divided into two or three meals throughout the day. Despite the presence of a guideline, the amounts can be altered if the dog is highly active or otherwise.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are prone to the following diseases:
• Hypothyroidism – a disorder of the thyroid gland, dogs with hypothyroidism may be prone to developing epilepsy, alopecia, obesity, lethargy, and other conditions brought on by the low activity of the thyroid gland.
• Entropion – a dog suffering from entropion will experience inward rolling of the eyelids. This affects the lower lid and will cause irritation as well as impaired vision.
• Hip Dysplasia – dogs with this disease will have thigh bones that do not fit into the hip joint. As such, they will show lameness and pain in the affected limb, and it will mostly likely develop into arthritis as the dog ages.

It is important to note that Anatolians are sensitive to anesthesia and that their immunity systems take longer to develop compared to other breeds. Consult with their breeders over additional vaccinations.


Anatolians are not a breed meant for anyone and everyone. Without good training, Anatolians can become very unmanageable and aggressive towards strangers due to their strong sense of independence. They are, however, very hardworking and will be great working dogs if well trained. Extremely protective of their livestock – and as a result, protective of their family – Anatolians make great guard dogs.

Image Credit

Photo by Jon MountjoyCC BY 2.0

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