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The Anatolian Shepherd is also known as the Turkish Mountain Dog or 'Karabas' in Turkey, which means 'Blackhead' referring to the black mask it wears on its face and ears. This breed is very popular in America.
This breed was meant to be a guardian of flocks of sheep and other stock, living side by side with its human masters, keeping a watchful eye and worthy ear out for wolves, bears and jackals in the high mountains of Turkey where summers are hot and dry and winters are cold and hard. This dog was selected for its hardiness, courage and watchful nature. It is claimed that the Turkish farmers would place a collar studded with spikes around its neck to help defend its neck from wolves should they fight while the dog was undertaking its guarding duties. Indeed, many dogs today in Turkey still wear this type of collar.
Thought to be over 6000 years old and originating from Asia, the Anatolian Shepherd as a breed has its roots in 11th century Turkey, making its mark on the Anatolian Peninsular around that time. The exact origins of this dog are subject to much debate and are not clear, but over the years, many regional variations occurred, all thought to have descended for what is known as the Kangal Dog, named for the region in Turkey it hails from.
Whatever the true history, the Anatolian Shepherd dog became popular in the West in the 1970's, particularly in the US, whereas an embargo on the export of true Kangal Dogs from Turkey is in place and tightly controlled. The US recognised the Anatolian Breed in 1995, and it remains a more popular breed there than in the UK.
Average height to withers: Makes are between 28-30 inches and females stand between 26-28 inches.
Average weight: 45-68 kg for males and females between 41-58 kg.
Large and rugged are two words usually associated with this breed of dog and given its heritage, you can see exactly why! This breed is muscular but not bulky, with good proportions from a thick neck and broad head. The head displays dropped, triangular shaped ears, with dark through to light amber, intelligent and almond shaped eyes.
The colour of this dog is usually a light corn called 'sesame' and sometimes with white patches which can cover up to 30% of its body. Darker colours are sometimes also found as are brindles. The face and ears are usually accompanied by a black facial mask which also covers the ears. The coat is very thick and double which acts as a good insulator in the hard winter months at its native home - this coat actually gives the illusion of the dog being bigger than it is!
The characteristic tail of this breed is usually carried quite high over its back, and is termed 'wheel' carriage, curling over its back. At rest, this is less pronounced.
Independent and calm, the Anatolian Shepherd is also a very intelligent dog with a guardianship background. While it was not bred to be a herder, it has shown some success in this discipline. This is a dog whose unflappable nature makes it a good choice for a strong and confident human leader as it can challenge its place in the pack, although rarely with any form of aggression. Given the job for which it was bred, it can become possessive and very protective of its family who it may see as its charges, and may be suspicious of strangers. That said, with people it knows, it is extremely loving and affectionate and surprisingly tolerant of the sometimes untoward behaviour of children. Given its large size though, they do have a habit of knocking children over, not through any malicious intent, but more through being slightly clumsy, especially when they are young. If they are to be part of a family, it goes without saying that they should have early introductions to children and any other animals they are to live with to maximise the success of a peaceful household.
As a guarding breed, they can have a tendency to bark more than other breeds, and will alert the family to any one approaching the house, but will welcome people once it sees its owners are relaxed around them.
As a high energy breed, this dog is not one to lead an inactive life and if its owners cannot provide the mental and physical stimulation it needs, negative behaviours will follow though sheer boredom and frustration. This dog needs space, room to run and the chance to challenge itself daily to ensure a well rounded dog is produced.
Given good health, this breed of dog can live until around 15 years of age and are considered to be a healthy and hardy breed. They are not as prone to hip dysplasia as some other larger breeds of dog but they are rather slow to grow and physically mature and therefore some require extra vaccinations against some infectious diseases as youngsters. Seek your vets advice.
This breed is a shedder and a half! It's thick, double coat tends to shed in copious amounts and it will benefit from a good daily brushing to prevent a build up of dead hair. In addition, the Anatolian Shepherd required at least 2 good walks per day and will not be content with just being let out in a yard or garden. It is best suited to an active family who will be able to provide the stimulation it needs.