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Anatolian Shepherds are best suited for experienced pet parents who can provide this large pup with the exercise, training and leadership they need. Anatolians love the country life—they enjoy the outdoors! But they can do well in a home with a large fenced backyard. They get along well with other pets they've been raised around as well as older kids.
Anatolian Shepherd Traits
What makes the Anatolian Shepherd an Anatolian Shepherd? Let's find out how they stack up.
Anatolian Shepherd Temperament
Think of the Anatolian Shepherd dog as a furry security guard. They have the best characteristics and traits a farmer or rancher would look for in a livestock guardian dog. They’re intelligent, competent, independent and able to decide what’s best for their flock. They’re also large and intimidating, incredibly graceful, and their speed is definitely something to write home about—they can run about 30 mph!
Because their primary instinct is to protect and serve, these pups aren’t overly friendly with people or pets they don’t know. But they are very loyal and loving to their family (other pets included!) who they consider their flock. You’ll need to socialize your Anatolian Shepherd with other people and dogs while they’re young so they learn that it’s OK to have friends. And be sure to supervise all playtimes with children. With their large size, these pups may accidentally knock over smaller kids. Also, if you friends over, they may misinterpret the visiting child’s playful actions as aggressive and move to defend your child.
If you adopt an older Anatolian Shepherd, make sure they’ve already received training and have been well-socialized. If not, they might be better suited to living as the only pet in a household without children or on a farm where they can roam and have their own space.
Here’s the bottom line: Your pup will be loyal to a fault and their one desire will be for you to be safe.
How to Care for a Anatolian Shepherd
An Anatolian Shepherd dog might be mostly independent in the field, but as a pet, they need more attention and care. Your furry guard dog will need extensive training, regular grooming, proper veterinary care, stimulating activities and exercise. They also need adequate time with you and lots of bonding activities. That list of needs is almost as long as this breed is tall, but with the right pet parent, an Anatolian Shepherd will be a loyal, hard-working protector.
Anatolian Shepherd Health
The Anatolian Shepherd has a lifespan of 11 to 13 years and doesn’t have many health issues. While they’re mostly healthy dogs, there are a few health problems to watch out for to help your pup live the longest life possible.
- Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a loosening of the hip joints that can cause connective tissues to break down and arthritis to occur. While hip dysplasia is possible in most dog breeds, it’s less common in Anatolians. However, if your dog is showing any symptoms of hip pain, like decreased activity, lameness in the back legs or limping, a visit to your vet is in order. The symptoms can be treated with surgery and medications, as well as weight management.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism occurs when the dog’s thyroid isn’t producing enough of the hormone that regulates their metabolism. Symptoms include weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, infections and possible neurologic problems. A blood test is all that’s needed to diagnose this disease, and it’s treatable with hormone replacement therapy.
- Bloat: Bloat is the more common name for Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). This serious condition can quickly develop into a life-threatening emergency. While not common in Anatolians, they are at risk because of their larger size and broad rib cage. This illness must be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will perform emergency surgery to fix the issue. To prevent GDV, feed your dog smaller meals more frequently throughout the day using a slow feeder bowl and avoid strenuous exercise for an hour before and after eating.
- Ear Infections: Because Anatolian Shepherds have heavy, droopy ear flaps, they are at a higher risk of ear infections. Check your dog’s ears regularly for debris, dirt or any signs of odor. Clean regularly as recommended by your vet.
- Sensitivity to Anesthesia: Anatolians are sometimes sensitive to anesthesia. Discuss this possibility with your veterinarian before any procedures to make sure you’re both aware of what their process is.
Anatolian Shepherd History
The Anatolian Shepherd we know and love today comes from the Anatolian region of Turkey. Ancient artifacts show the breed’s origin may date back as early as 2000 B.C.—that makes the Anatolian a truly ancient dog breed.
Modern Anatolians descend from the Coban Kopegi (“shepherd’s dog”) developed by herders to care for their sheep and goats. Unlike the herding dogs who moved the flock from location to location, the Coban Kopegi were bred to protect the flocks from large predators. (Which explains why your dog will live to protect you!) Those ancient dogs were likely bred from Roman Mollosian war dogs and Tibetan Mastiffs. They were known for their hardiness, independence and loyalty, traits the Anatolians and other Turkish shepherds of today still possess—like the Turkish Kangal, also known as the Kangal Shepherd Dog).
Their reputation as a guard dog led to their inclusion in the “Sheepdog Project” that ended with the outbreak of World War II. The program, led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was meant as an experiment to see which breeds would perform best as guardian dogs in the United States. They gained popularity among United States breeders when Lieutenant Robert Ballard, who was stationed in Turkey, brought a breeding pair home with him. Their popularity grew as farmers and ranchers discovered their phenomenal abilities in protecting livestock by keeping wolves and other predators away. The American Kennel Club officially recognized Anatolian Shepherds as an established breed in 1996.
Thanks to their amazing qualities, the Anatolian Shepherd and Kangal Shepherd have been selected by the Cheetah Conservation Fund as guardian dogs for stock in Africa. The dogs are raised and given to farmers in an effort to scare cheetahs away rather than killing them.
Ready to look for your own Anatolian Shepherd puppy? You can find a list of reputable AKC breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. Anatolian Shepherd prices range from $800 to $1,500. But that price, you’re likely getting a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. Want to give a good home to an older dog or rescue an Anatolian? Contact the National Anatolian Shepherd Dog Rescue Network for more information.
Do Anatolian Shepherds shed?
Yes, Anatolian Shepherds shed. They’re seasonal shedders, which means they shed their thick undercoat twice a year, in the spring and fall. The shedding happens for several weeks, but as their proud pup parent, we’re sure you’re up to the task of brushing them every couple of days to manage the excess hair!
How big do Anatolian Shepherds get?
Anatolian Shepherds get big. Their height starts at 27 inches for females and 29 inches for males at the shoulder. They weigh between 80 and 150 pounds, so yes, they’re large dogs. (They descended from war dogs and mastiffs, after all!)
How long do Anatolian Shepherds live?
Anatolian Shepherds live for 11 to 13 years. Life expectancy is affected by many factors, including environment, food quality, veterinary care and genetics.
Are Anatolian Shepherds good family dogs?
When properly socialized, Anatolian Shepherds can be good family dogs. They’re dedicated to their family and are loyal, intelligent guardian dogs.
Are Anatolian Shepherds aggressive?
Anatolian Shepherds can be aggressive in certain situations. They were initially bred to protect livestock from predators. That desire to protect is still a strong character trait. But that also means they’ll protect their families and their homes.
Anatolian Shepherds are proud, loyal and intelligent dogs with an ancient heritage as guardian dogs. (They date back to the Bronze Age!) Those guardian instincts are still strong today. Anatolians make great pets, but their ideal home would be on a farm with lots of room to fulfill their guarding duties. Make sure your Anatolian Shepherd gets extensive training and socialization from the moment you bring your puppy home.