Anatolian Shepherd

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Anatolian Shepherd Dog
An Anatolian in France
Other namesKarabaş (Blackhead), Anatolian Karabash (Anadolulu Karabaş), Turkish Shepherd Dog, Kangal
Weight Male 50–65 kg (110–143 lb)
Female 40–55 kg (88–121 lb)
Height Male 74–81 cm (29–32 in)
Female 71–79 cm (28–31 in)
Coat short, rough
Colour fawn, brindle
Litter size 5-10 pups
Life span 13-15 years
Classification / standards
FCI Group 2, Section 2.2 Molossian: Mountain type #331 standard
AKC Working Group standard
ANKC Group 6 - (Utility) standard
CKC Group 3 (Working) standard
KC (UK) Pastoral standard
NZKC Working standard
UKC Guardian Dog standard
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog (Turkish: Anadolu çoban köpeği) is a breed of dog which originated in the Anatolia region of central Turkey. It is rugged, large and very strong, with good sight and hearing that allow it to protect livestock. With its high speed and agility it is able to run down a predator with great efficiency.[1][2] The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom classifies it as a shepherd dog and Fédération Cynologique Internationale classifies it as molossus/mountain dog #331 (group 2 part 2.2)


The Karabaş (Blackhead) is descended from ancient livestock guardian dog types that migrated with the transhumance, guarding flocks of sheep from wolves and cheetahs.[3] It is probable that dogs of this type existed 6,000 years ago in what is now Turkey.[4] Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are members of a very old breed, probably descended from powerful hunting dogs from Mesopotamia.[5] This mountain dog breed was developed over time to meet a specific set of circumstances. The most formative were climate (very hot, dry summers and very cold winters), lifestyle (sedentary, semi-nomadic and nomadic) and duties (guarding flocks moving great distances on the Central Anatolian Plateau).

Anatolian Shepherds are still used to guard livestock. This dog is guarding a goat herd in rural USA.

In the 1970s, breeders in the West became interested in these dogs and began developing the landrace natural breeds as modern breeds by documenting their descent from particular ancestors and writing breed standards. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog was imported from central Turkey into the United Kingdom by author and archaeologist Charmian Hussey.[6].

Australia registered the Anatolian Shepherd Dog breed in 1985 when it was imported as a guard dog for livestock, people and property. Australia’s expansive sheep and goat enterprises contributed to the breed’s acceptance as a livestock guardian dog beyond Turkey, and developed the sheep and goat guard dog of the Turkish Shepherd into an imposing guard dog of livestock and farm assets for Agriultural and Farming Industry.[7] The working conditions and requirements of the dogs in Australia and the assets of Australian farmers, are very different to the generally impoverished Shepherd in Turkey and his herd of goats and sheep. Australian farmland is fenced, and the dogs are required to protect valuable assets against four and two legged threats. “Anatolian Karabash Guard Dogs. Guarding sheep cattle, goats, deer, poultry, ocean vessels, persons and property etc Against: predators (dingoes, wild dogs, foxes, eagles), stock thieves, trespassers and raiding wild life (kangaroos etc)”[8]


Anatolian Shepherd


The general appearance of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a tall, rugged and powerful livestock guardian dog with a dense double coat, a broad strong head, well-developed muscular shoulders, and a long tail with a slight curl (reaching to the hock), that is carried high and curled over the dog's back when the dog is alert. The physique embodies balance and strength. Movement of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog should be supple and powerful. A low head carriage which shows the head, neck and topline being level when moving - creating the impression that the dog is stalking - is an important characteristic of the breed[9]. As with many breeds, there are several breed standards for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, and therefore there is some variance in the described size and weight. They weigh between 40 and 70 kg (90 and 150 pounds), with females on the smaller side and males on the larger side. The coat may be any colour, although most common are white cream, "sesame," and white with large coloured spots that do not cover more than 30% of the body. Known as piebald, these colours may or may not be accompanied by a black mask and/or ears. They have a thick double coat that is somewhat wiry, and needs to be brushed 1-2 times a week in warm weather due to excessive shedding. They have very thick hair on their neck to protect their throat. They look as if they are heavier than they actually are, due to the thick coat.


The Anatolian Shepherd dog was developed to be independent and forceful, responsible for guarding its master's flocks without human assistance or direction. These traits make it challenging as a pet; owners of dogs of this breed must socialize the dogs to turn them into appropriate companions. They are intelligent and can learn quickly but might choose not to obey.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is very loyal and can be fiercely possessive and protective of its family, stock and territory. The Anatolian is also a bold, confident dog that does not become overstimulated easily. They are generally curious but aloof with guests. They are not outgoing dogs that want to make friends with everyone and dislike strangers who are too forward. They are calm and observant of their surroundings and may not go looking for trouble, but he may not back down if challenged. An Anatolian that has been agitated may be too angry to be controlled and cannot be stopped on command[10].

According to Turkish shepherds, three Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are capable of overcoming a pack of wolves and injuring one or two of them. These dogs like to roam, as they were bred to travel with their herd and to leave the herd to go hunt for predators before the predators could attack the flock. Therefore, it is recommended to microchip and tag pets.

The Anatolian Shepherd is not recommended for life in small quarters. They do well with other animals, including cats if they are introduced while still a puppy and have their own space. They mature between 18–30 months. Due to their history, both puppies and adults seem to have little interest in fetching. Rather, they prefer to run and sometimes swim.

Presence of some Anatolian shepherd genes in Alaskan huskies positively correlates with husky work ethic.[11]


There is some discussion about whether the Anatolian Shepherd is a distinct breed, or a general name for different types of shepherd dogs in Anatolia that look alike (such as the Kangal, which is used as a synonym for the Anatolian Shepherd and has the same 'Blackhead' -karabas- nickname). This view accepts the name Anatolian Shepherd as a general name for breeds such as the Kangal dog, Akbash dog and the Aksaray Malaklisi dog. Recognition of the Kangal as a different breed than the Anatolian Shepherd was retracted in Australia.


Life span[edit]

There appears to be only one health survey of Anatolian Shepherds,[12] done in 2004 by the UK Kennel Club.[13] The median life span for the 23 deceased dogs (a small sample size) in the survey was 10.75 years. This is 3–4 years longer than other breeds of their size, which have median longevities of 6–8 years.[14] The leading causes of death of the dogs in the survey were cancer (22%), "combinations" (17%), cardiac (13%), and old age (13%).

Health issues[edit]

Based on a small sample of 24 still-living dogs, the most common health issues cited by owners were dermatologic, musculoskeletal, and lipomas.[13] Entropion and canine hip dysplasia are sometimes seen in the breed. Eyes and hips should be tested before breeding.[15]

Use in conservation[edit]

Anatolian Shepherd dogs are used by Dr. Laurie Marker and the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia in their ongoing efforts to prevent livestock-hunting cheetahs being killed by farmers.

These dogs are bred and then given to the farmers to use in protecting and guarding their livestock from cheetah attacks. The dogs are an effective, non-lethal discouragement that prevents the cheetahs from taking livestock. The incentive for farmers to preemptively shoot the cheetahs is thus removed, and the cheetahs then concentrate their hunting on wild game.[16]

Kangal Dog and Anatolian Shepherd[edit]

The UK Kennel Club has announced it is to recognise the Kangal Dog as a breed with effect from July 2013. It also stated that dogs currently registered as Anatolian Shepherd Dogs may be eligible (where appropriate) to be recorded as Turkish Kangal Dogs instead.[17][18]

As of 1 January 2012, the Australian National Kennel Council no longer recognises the ANKC Kangal as being a separate breed from the ANKC Anatolian Shepherd.[19]

June 2018: The Federation CynoIogique International Standards Commission determined the population of FCI registered Anatolian Shepherd Dogs and Kangals Shepherd Dogs in Turkey were the same breed and belonged to the same breed population. FCI Anatolian Shepherd Dog = Standard No. 331 = FCI Kangal Shepherd Dog. The breed name of Anatolian Shepherd Dog was changed to Kangal Shepherd Dog and the breed standard content was updated. Under the FCI the Kangal Shepherd Dog is not defined as a separate breed to the FCI Anatolian Shepherd Dog. The population of FCI Registered Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are renamed to Kangal Shepherd Dog, and an updated breed standard for that population of dogs put in place.[20] If it was possible for the Kangal Shepherd Dog breed to be genetically distinct and differentiated from the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, the Kangal Shepherd Dog would have undergone the FCI Provisional and Definitive breed recognition process and be issued its own FCI Standard Number[21].

Famous Anatolian Shepherd Dogs[edit]

Duke; animal ambassador at the San Diego Zoo.

In fiction

See also[edit]


  1. ^ American Kennel Club
  2. ^ ASD Club of America
  3. ^ Meet the dog that thinks there's nothing sweetah than a cheetah
  4. ^ Anatolian Shepherd Dog 25 Sep 2011.
  5. ^ Royal Canin
  6. ^ Interview with Charmian Hussey, MQ Magazine, Issue 15, October, 2005 retrieved 02 Oct. 2008.
  7. ^ "Anatolian Shepherd Breed Development". Takas Volkodav. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  8. ^ "StockGuard Anatolian". Australian Goat Farmer. 3 (1): 18. 1988.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "About the Anatolian Shepherd Dog". Dogs Victoria. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  11. ^ David Epstein (1 August 2013). The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 232. ISBN 978-1-101-62263-6.
  12. ^ Dog Longevity Web Site, Breed Data page. Compiled by K. M. Cassidy. Retrieved July 8, 2007.
  13. ^ a b Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee. 2004. Purebred Dog Health Survey. Retrieved July 5, 2007.
  14. ^ Dog Longevity Web Site, Weight and Longevity page. Compiled by K. M. Cassidy. Retrieved July 5, 2007.
  15. ^ Coile, Caroline, Ph. D., Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds, Barron's Educational Series, 2005. Page 110.
  16. ^ Cheetah Conservation
  17. ^ "Recognition of the Turkish Kangal dog". Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  18. ^ "KC to recognise the Turkish Kangal Dog". Dog World. Archived from the original on 2013-12-31. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  19. ^ "Anatolian Shepherd Dog / Kangal Dog". Australian National Kennel Council. Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved March 2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  20. ^ "Making Anatolian Shepherd Dogs into Kangal Shepherd Dogs: The Turkish Kennel Club Solution". Takas Volkodav. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  21. ^ "FCI Procedure for Internationa recognition of a new breed (provisional and definitive)". FCI. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  22. ^ BBC Friends for Life
  23. ^ Crufts 2013, Friends for Life
  24. ^ Dogs Today Magazine

Further reading[edit]

  • Hancock, David (August 31, 2014). Dogs of the Shepherds: A Review of the Pastoral Breeds. ISBN 9781847978097.
  • Kojima, Toyoharu (August 28, 2005). Legacy of the Dog: The Ultimate Illustrated Guide (Revised and Updated, 2nd ed.). Chronicle Books LLC. ISBN 9780811851138.

External links[edit]