You may not have heard of the Anatolian Shepherd, but it is actually one of the oldest breeds of all time. Despite not being a very popular dog, these pups actually make great pets and excellent family dogs. They are also often used as working dogs on farms, guiding and herding livestock.
These pups were first seen thousands of years ago, so it is surprising they are not more heard of. If you’re interested in learning more about this unique dog or are thinking about adding one to your family, keep reading to find out about their history, their characteristics and their care needs.
History Of The Anatolian Shepherd
Anatolian Shepherd dogs are excellent companions and working dogs, who excel especially when working as livestock guardians. They are particularly good at defending livestock from wolves, coyotes and other potential predators and farmers rely on them heavily. Since 1994, they have been used by farmers in Africa as a deterrent for big cats such as Cheetahs.
This protective nature can sometimes cause a few issues when introducing the Anatolian Shepherd as a pet to a family. However, with the right socialization, it can be done with no problem.
The Anatolian Shepherd breed has been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1999. They are currently ranked as the 90th most popular breed.
The Anatolian Shepherd originates from the Anatolia region of Turkey and is a Mastiff dog type. It is thought that they were first seen around 6000 years ago. This dog was first seen outside of Eastern Europe in the 1970s when one was imported to the United Kingdom by Charmain Hussey. They were also imported into United States around the same time.
The popularity of this purebred breed only grew in 1973 as a result of the Endangered Species Act. This act made it illegal to kill livestock predators, so farmers started using Anatolian Shepherds as deterrents to these predators on their ranches.
Interestingly, up until recently the Kangal dog was thought to be a different breed to the Anatolian Shepherd. However, these pups were genetically tested in the early 21st century and it was found that they are actually the same breed! That being said, the Kangal dog is known as a different breed — the Kangal Shepherd — under breed club classifications.
Characteristics Of The Anatolian Shepherd
The Anatolian Shepherd is a rare dog breed, so finding a reputable breeder may be a little difficult. Puppies will normally cost you around $800 to $1,500. Remember, this breed of dog is a very large breed, and at three months old these pups can already weigh up to 60 lbs, and up to 150 lbs at 12 months old! This is something to keep in mind when searching for this doggie. They normally reach maturity between 18 and 30 months old.
This giant dog breed is indeed large! As an adult, these canines can stand between 28 and 32 inches tall and weigh between 90 and 150 lbs, with the males normally bigger than females.
These pups have a distinctive appearance too. Aside from being large, they are also muscular and have rectangular faces and muzzles. Their ears are flat and triangular and they have a medium length neck and barrel like bodies.
The Anatolian Shepherd can have brown or black eyes. Blue or bicolor eyes is considered a deviation from the breed standard.
The Anatolian Shepherd has a soft double coat, which makes them look very cuddly and fluffy. It can be both smooth and rough, as well as shorter and longer in some places. It should be between 1 and 4 inches in length and shorter on the smooth parts and longer on the rough parts. Sometimes, these pups have a lion’s mane of their neck too.
Anatolian Shepherds can be seen in a variety of different colors, although there are more common colors. These are white, cream, sesame and piebald (piebald is when the coats are white but have any colored spots that take up no more than 30% of the coat).
The Anatolian Shepherd is not the most affectionate dog. Due to their hunting nature and having learnt to fend for themselves, they can be quite independent dogs which is why they do so well as working dogs.
That being said, the Anatolian Shepherd is a very loyal dog that fiercely protects it’s family. Once they have formed a bond with you, they will believe you are their herd and that they need to protect you, which makes them an excellent guard dog and watch dog.
These pups can be quite intimidating and have a very loud bark. This is something to consider if you have neighbors! They also do not do well with meeting new humans and this is where you are likely to see their protective side shine through. While this can, of course, be helped with socialization, you must be aware that your Anatolian Shepherd is never going to be a dog for many cuddles or affection, and will much rather be a guard dog who feels they have a duty to protect you.
These dogs are intelligent pups, but training can be a little difficult. They are also not ones for playing games, and prefer to spend their free time napping or watching over their herd!
Anatolian Shepherds have a life expectancy of eight to twelve years, on average.
Known Health Issues
Fortunately, the Anatolian Shepherd is known for being a very healthy dog. Of course, as will all dogs, they are prone to some health problems, but these are limited.
The most common health conditions that are seen in Anatolian Shepherds are the same problems that are seen in many large dog breeds. This is elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia. This is when the elbows and hips weaken and become arthritic and it can be the cause of quick growing.
Other health problems that are sometimes seen in the Anatolian Shepherd are cancer and heart issues. You should always ask your breeder for health clearances from both of the parent breeds.
Regular vet checkups and keeping an eye on your dog will ensure you can catch any of these issues before they become untreatable.
Now we have covered what the temperament and characteristics of the Anatolian Shepherd are, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these doggies is really like. This includes their food and diet, their exercise needs and their grooming needs.
Food And Diet
Anatolian Shepherds will eat almost anything. As a large breed, they have a big appetite and should be fed around 1,200 calories a day, which comes to about three cups of food a day. You can double check the back of the dog food packet against their size to ensure you are feeding them the right amount.
Their food should be split into two meals a day — one in the morning and one in the evening. Their food should have a high meat content too, because they are so active, so make sure meat is one of the first three ingredients on the packet.
You can feed your Anatolian Shepherd treats, just try to keep them healthy. Fruits and vegetables are a great reward for this dog!
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We recommend the Life Protection Formula for large breeds from Blue Buffalo for your Anatolian Shepherd. This food is formulated with protein-rich chicken as the first ingredient, ensuring your pup gets all the nutrients they need to keep their muscles healthy and strong.
Designed specially for large dog breeds, this food contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help support joint health and overall mobility of bigger dogs. There are also antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support immune system health, life stage requirements and a healthy oxidative balance. Even better, there are no artificial flavors or preservatives in this recipe, only good, wholesome ingredients that’ll keep your Anatolian Shepherd healthy.
While the Anatolian Shepherd doesn’t need as much exercise as you might think for their size, they still need around 60 minutes every day due to their energy level. This can be split into two daily walks.
Because of their hunting and working nature, they may prefer to hike rather than be playful on their walks. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t want to chase after a ball or play fetch with you. They will be just as happy walking by your side!
Keeping your Anatolian Shepherd on a leash while you are out walking is often advised. This is because they can be known for walking off occasionally. The same goes for letting them loose in the back yard — make sure it is securely fenced otherwise they may well get free!
We have mentioned above that the Anatolian Shepherd is not the most affectionate dog and therefore it might not be suited to some households. However, they are very protective dogs, which is perfect if you are looking for a guard dog or a watch dog to watch over your home and family.
These pups do get on well with children because they will see them as their herd, just like they do adults, and try to protect them. However, they are not a very playful dog and will not want to engage in playtime with your children, so this is not the pet for a playful household. Anatolian Shepherds do not get on with other pets and can be very wary of other people and strangers, too. For this reason, it is advised that you walk them at less busy times, so they do not feel overwhelmed.
The Anatolian does not have great trainability because they are stubborn, so are not a good dog to have a first pet. However, with patience they can be taught well — just don’t expect them to learn tricks! Socialization can also help with their relationship with other people and pets, so all hope is not lost. They do tend bark too, which can be great if you are in need of a guard dog, but this can also be helped with training.
Anatolian Shepherds need a lot of space to run around in, especially because of their herding nature. This means that they will not thrive in a small apartment or in a space without a backyard. They do require a fair bit of exercise too, so you must be able to dedicate your time to them.
While the Anatolian is a very intelligent dog, they can be very strong willed and stubborn. Because they are so independent, when they are given a choice of whether or not to do something, they will normally pick not to do it!
This can make training a little difficult and is one of the reasons Anatolian Shepherds are not always recommended for those who have never owned a dog before. You will need to start training from a young age and be firm and confident with your commands.
Never use violence and practice positive reinforcement training with them. Remember, they will not want to learn any tricks, so don’t bother trying to teach them!
The Anatolian Shepherd needs to be socialized, especially if they are going to come into contact with other people often or other dogs. We mentioned above that these dogs do not get on well with other dogs and shouldn’t be kept with them. However, socialization from a young age can help them interact with dogs they meet outside.
Anatolian Shepherds are very protective of their family and owners, meaning they can be wary of strangers. This is something else that socialization can help with from a young age.
The Anatolian Shepherd does, unfortunately, shed all year round. This means they are not a good dog for those who suffer with allergies. You should try to brush them once a week if possible.
Twice a year your Anatolian will fully shed to grow their new coat. During these seasons they will need daily brushing. They will also need their nails clipped and their teeth brushed regularly, which can be done by a groomer.
Anatolian Shepherd FAQ’s
How much does an Anatolian Shepherd cost?
An Anatolian Shepherd puppy normally costs between $800 and $1,500. However, these dogs are a very uncommon breed, so finding a reputable breeder may be difficult and you will need to be careful. You can always check your local shelter because there are lots of dogs there that need a home!
Are Anatolian Shepherds good with children?
Anatolian Shepherds can be good with children. This is especially true of children that they live with, because they will see them as their herd and try to protect them. That being said, don’t expect your Anatolian Shepherd to be affectionate with your children or want to play with them. They are independent dogs and will have no interest in playtime or fetch.
It is important to always supervise your Anatolian Shepherd when they are meeting strangers for the first time, especially children. This is due to their protective nature, especially if they haven’t been socialized properly.
While the Anatolian Shepherd might not be the most affectionate dog, this does not mean they don’t make a good family pet. Perfect as a guard dog or a watch dog, these pups are fiercely protective of their owners and know where their loyalty stands. Although they can be wary of strangers and other dogs, with the right socialization they can make great members of the household and their intelligence and independence means you do not have to worry about being with them all the time. You never know, an Anatolian Shepherd might be for you!