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Anatolian Shepherd

General Description:

The Anatolian Shepherd is a flock guardian who has a superior sense of sight and hearing. They are not herding dogs. They are very loyal, alert and capable of great speed and endurance. They are intelligent, alert and can be well trained, but is not a dog for beginners. For centuries, Turkish shepherds bred dogs to aid them in guarding their far-flung livestock. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has the same background and function as other Turkish flock guards; some believe the dogs to be different styles of the same breed. At one time, these dogs were also used in battle and to help hunt big game.

Independent with strong protective instincts, the Anatolian Shepherd is a natural guardian that starting will bond strongly with the livestock it is protecting. The dog's independent nature allows it to respond swiftly and without guidance in an emergency. There is no difference in guarding ability between the male and female.

Early socialization is required, particularly with those the dog will meet frequently: veterinarian, family members and neighbors. These large dogs are strong-bodied and strong-willed. Training is a must to maintain dominance, yet harsh methods will be met with dig-in-the-nails obstinacy. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs cannot be pushed into anything, but when they have respect for a person, they’ll cooperate. The breed is not suited for competitive obedience, yet is most content when he has a job, particularly if it includes livestock. Domestic and farm animals are accepted as their “flock” and part of their duties. If another strays onto the property, however, it will be regarded as an intruder. If owners have no hogs, cattle, sheep, or horses to guard, the dog needs to be given chores. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs can compete in weight-pulling competitions, but are willing to haul loads around your property – saving the owner’s back and making the dog work for his supper.


One of the “Giant” breeds, the Anatolian Shepherd stands 27-29 inches tall and weighs between 80-150 pounds


The Breed comes in many colors including solid fawn, fawn with black ears and black mask, solid white or cream, as well as pinto, brindle, grey, even black.

Energy Level:

Medium activity level is typical, but the breed will show great strength and energy when their stock are threatened by coyotes or wolves. Although they can be quiet indoors, they require long daily walks. Anatolians have been observed running at speeds over 35 miles per hour.

The Anatolian Shepherd is a bold, confident dog that does not become over-stimulated easily. They are calm and observant of their surroundings. The Anatolian may not go looking for trouble, but he may not back down if challenged.

Both puppies and adults seem to have little interest in fetching, but often prefer to run and sometimes swim.

Life expectancy:

10 – 11 years


Anatolians can be good with children if raised with them, but are recommended for families with children over twelve years of age – when the child can participate in training exercises with the dog, under supervision of an adult. Because of their strong maternal instincts, they are usually good with infants.

Some Anatolians seem to adore children, however, children need to learn how to behave respectfully when around any animal. It is important to avoid roughhousing and encouraging nipping due to the large size of the breed. With young children, it is important they be supervised by an adult when interacting with a pet. Older children with an active social life need to realize that, although their friends may like dogs, it may not be appropriate for the dog to interact with every visitor.

Other animals:

For the most part, Anatolians do well with other dogs that are raised with them. The Anatolian tends to not invite play with strange dogs, even other Anatolians, although well-socialized dogs may be more outgoing. Generally, dogs of the opposite sex are the most readily accepted by an Anatolian. It usually takes them a while to warm up to new dogs in the household, but once that is accomplished, they become part of the dog's flock and will be protected. The Anatolian is a slow maturing breed and the newly acquired puppy is not an instant livestock defender.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has typically been used to guard sheep, and once bonded, these dogs will not hesitate to risk their own lives to protect their flock.

They often do well with other family pets, including cats if they are introduced while still a puppy and have their own space.


Ideal property and farm-stock guarding dog.


The Anatolian Shepherd has a double coat. The hard outer coat is clean, neutral-smelling and non-matting but does require brushing to help the shedding process. They are heavy shedders. The basic care is all that’s needed: brushing, nail trimming, and cleaning ears and teeth. A seasonal heavy shed occurs, in some areas twice a year. Because the breed rarely exhibits pain, dogs must be checked regularly for physical injuries or illnesses.


Elbow and hip dysplasia can occur in this large breed, so it’s wise to ask about certification of parents. Occasional eye problems and hypothyroidism appear in Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.

Best with:

Requires experienced and confident dog owners who understand how to be kind but firm leaders. The Anatolian Shepherd needs a firm, but calm, confident, consistent owner. They are ideal for people needing a protective guard dog to watch over farm stock animals. They are relatively inactive indoors but need plenty of exercise and a job to do. They will wander if not confined, so need at least a 5' tall strong solid fence. They can live successfully in an urban setting as family companions, with enough exercise and constant socialization. However, they are more adapted to life in semi-rural or rural settings where they can have a job to do.

Not for:

Anatolian Shepherds are not recommended for inexperienced first-time dog owners. They are not recommended for apartment life, regardless of the amount of on-leash exercise provided. They are not for people unable to appreciate an intelligent breed of dog that can be challenging to live with. The breed is not appropriate for small children unless raised and socialized with them.


The coats are short and non-matting, with very little doggy odor. They are highly intelligent and can be depended on to protect family and property as well as farm-stock. They have few health problems. This breed is quiet and clean in the house. They are a medium activity level dog, yet an extremely athletic dog requiring long daily walks and lot of space to run around off lead.


Heavy shedders. May be overprotective of property and children in the family when rough-housing with friends. Not the best for small children. Need lots of exercise. Can be stubborn. May bark, especially at night. May dig or be destructive chewer. Will roam if not fenced adequately. Not good for apartment dwellers. Not interested in fetching toys.

Further Information:

AKC Anatolian Shepherd
Anatolian Shepherd Dog International
Breed Details

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