Choosing an Anatolian Shepherd

The Anatolian shepherd is considered by many to be the best guard dog on the planet, especially in regard to livestock. With ancient origins in Turkey, this breed is intended to withstand the harsh climates and a nomadic life. For that reason, the Anatolian shepherd prefers the outdoor life.

History & Origin

The Anatolian shepherd is an ancient breed, with a history dating at least 6,000 years. The primary purpose of the breed was to accompany the nomadic Turkish shepherds and protect the flocks. The Anatolian shepherd was used as the primary defense against predators and was able to withstand the harsh climate of Turkey.

When this guardian breed was first introduced to Great Britain, he was known as the Anatolian Karabash. Eventually, the name was changed throughout the world to the Anatolian shepherd.

Despite a long history, the Anatolian shepherd was not introduced into the United States until the 1950s. The breed was eventually accepted into the American Kennel Club and is a member of the working breed group.


The Anatolian shepherd is a large dog with a large broad head. The muzzle is blocky and typically black. The moderate sized triangular ears are pendulous and set below the level of the head. The hair coat is dense and short, typically around 1 inch in length. The hair of the neck is longer and appears as a mane. The most common color is fawn but other colors, such as brown, red, liver and brindle are available.


The Anatolian shepherd is a massive dog, standing 27 to 29 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 100 to 150 pounds.


The breed is courageous, highly intelligent and devoted to the job of guarding and protecting. The breed is known for being rugged and powerful, and is unequaled in guarding abilities, especially in regard to livestock.

Home & Family Relations

The Anatolian shepherd is a fiercely loyal dog. Highly intelligent, the breed needs mental stimulation to prevent boredom. This shepherd is highly territorial and is not too friendly around strangers but is usually not aggressive. The Anatolian shepherd thrives in an outdoor environment and doesn't do too well in an apartment setting. If properly exercised, the shepherd can do well in a large house. The breed is happiest when he has something to guard and protect. Their reserved nature and large size makes the breed not a good choice for families with small children.


The Anatolian shepherd is an independent breed that doesn't need much training to be a guard dog. In other areas of training, the Anatolian shepherd is slow to respond to commands. Early socialization and obedience training is strongly recommended to reduce the potential for aggression.

Special Concerns

The Anatolian shepherd is rugged and needs lots of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent destructive behavior. Some Anatolian shepherds may dig. If improperly socialized, some dogs may become aggressive toward stranger or other dogs.

Health Concerns

The following are health concerns or diseases that can be seen in Anatolian shepherd dogs:

  • Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
  • Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
  • Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.
  • Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.

    Life Span

    The Anatolian shepherd lives approximately 12 to 13 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.

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