Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Anatolian Shepherd
Average Cost to keep/care for a Anatolian Shepherd
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is native to Turkey where they were bred to guard livestock. They are often called Turkish Mountain Dogs resemble mastiff-types with the difference being they have a distinctive black mask and black ears. The breed is thought to be among the more ancient with an ancestry that dates as far back as 6000 years.
These dogs have found a big fan base in the United States, but are less popular here in the UK with very few puppies being registered with The Kennel Club over the last few years. Anyone wanting to share a home with an Anatolian Shepherd would have to go on a waiting list because finding a pedigree dog can be challenging.
Bred to live alongside man and guard flocks of sheep and other stock, the Anatolian Shepherd was highly prized in Turkey for being able to ward off wolves, bears and other predators in harsh, challenging and mountainous regions of the country. There are stories of Turkish farmers placing a collar studded with spikes around a dog's neck to help them fend off predators and today many of these striking dogs still wear this type of collar in their native Turkey.
Thought to be over 6000 years old and originating from Asia, the Anatolian Shepherd as a breed boasts having its roots in 11th century Turkey, first appearing on the Anatolian Peninsular around that time. The exact origins of the breed are subject to much debate, but over the years many regional variations were developed, all thought to have descended from what is known as the Kangal Dog, so named for the region in Turkey where they first appeared.
Whatever their true history, the Anatolian Shepherd dog became popular in the West in the 1970's and in particular in the US where they still boast a big fan base. The breed was first recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1995, and then afterwards here in the UK although Anatolian Shepherds are still rarely seen over here. They are however, recognised as being Turkey's national dog.
Height at the withers: Males 74 – 81cm, Females 71 – 79 cm
Average weight: Males 50 – 65 kg, Females 40 – 55 kg
The Anatolian Shepherd is an impressive and imposing mastiff-type dog. They are powerfully built and tall with unusual and distinctive darker face masks that ensures they stand out in the crowd. Their heads are large and broad with dogs having a slight crease between their eyes and a slight stop. Males have broader heads than their female counterparts. Their lips are slightly pendulous and both lips and nose are black in colour.
Their eyes can be golden right through to brown in colour and quite small in relation to the size of a dog's head. They are set wide apart and quite deep with nice black rims. Ears are moderately big and triangular being rounded at the very tip. Dogs carry their ears flat to their heads and they hang down although when a dog is excited or alert, they hold their ears slightly higher. They have a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.
Their neck is powerful and well-muscled with dogs holding it slightly arched and their shoulders are muscular, nicely sloping. Front legs are straight, well boned and set well apart. The Anatolian has a deep chest and well sprung ribs with a nice level topline and slightly arched loins. Bellies are neatly tucked up adding to their athletic, powerful appearance.
Hindquarters are strong, but lighter than a dog's forequarters with back legs being well muscled. Their feet are strong with well arched toes and short nails. Tails are long and set high which dogs carry low with a very slight wave in it when relaxed, but they carry them high with the tip curled up when they are excited or alert which is especially true of male dogs.
When it comes to their coat, the Anatolian Shepherd boasts a short, thick coat with a dense undercoat that lies flat to the body. The hair is slightly thicker and longer around a dog's neck, on their shoulders and tail but without any feathering on legs or ears. All colours are permissible and dogs can have a black mask and ears or not.
The Anatolian Shepherd is slow to mature with males only really coming of age when they are around 4 years old whereas their female counterparts mature a little earlier when they are around three years of age. They are not the best choice for first time owners because these dogs need to be handled and trained by someone who is family with the breed or this type of large and impressive dog. Despite their large size, in the right hands the Anatolian Shepherd is known to be a gentle and calm dog. They are hardy and boast long life spans, but they can be quite territorial simply because it's in their nature to guard and protect.
They are also highly intelligent and independent which means they need to be well socialised when young to curb their natural guarding instinct. If a dog is allowed to display this type of behaviour, it can lead to problems later on in a dog's life. They can be quite vocal at times, especially if they hear any unfamiliar sounds and they tend to be wary of people they don't know although rarely an Anatolian Shepherd show any aggression towards strangers. With this said, they form strong bonds with their owners and families.
Because they are so strong willed, they can be quite hard to train, especially if their education does not start early enough in their lives. It takes a great deal of patience, consistency and an understanding of the breed to train an Anatolian Shepherd and even then, there is no guarantee of these dogs being 100% obedient. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of socialising puppies from a young age so as mature dogs they are more tolerant of things and this includes being around other dogs.
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are known to be gentle when they are around children, however, their size alone can be a bit of a problem. Care has to be taken when they are near very small children and toddlers because they might just knock them over albeit by accident which could result in frightening or even injuring a child. In short, they are not the best choice for people with very young families.
They can be aggressive towards other dogs, which is especially true of males even if they have been well socialised from a young age. Any contact with other small animals and pets which includes cats should be avoided because an Anatolian Shepherd's instinct might get the better of them with disastrous results.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of an Anatolian Shepherd is between 13 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The breed is known to be hardy and therefore they do not seem to suffer from the many hereditary and congenital disorders that plague a lot of other pedigree dogs. With this said, they are known to suffer from hip dysplasia which dogs can be DNA tested for and if the results come back positive, they should not be used in a breeding programme.
As with any other breed, Anatolian Shepherds need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Anatolian Shepherds boast thick, short coats which means it’s easy to keep them looking tidy. With this said, a weekly brush helps get rid of any loose and dead hair. Like other dogs, they tend to shed more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn which is when more frequent brushing would be necessary to keep on top of things and their coats looking good.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be notoriously hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often much easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Anatolian Shepherds are energetic dogs and they need to be given lots of daily exercise as well as a ton of mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well rounded characters. Ideally these large dogs need to be a minimum of 2 hours a day with a shorter walk first thing in the morning and then a more interesting and longer walk in the afternoon. They also really benefit from being able to run around a back garden as often as they can so they can really let off steam without being on a lead. However, the fencing has to be very secure to keep an Anatolian Shepherd in. As such, they would not do well living in an apartment, but would thrive in a home that boasts a large and secure back garden.
If you get an Anatolian Shepherd puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
There are not that many of these dogs being bred here in the UK which means they can be extremely hard to find. With this said, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Anatolian Shepherd in northern England would be £19.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an Anatolian Shepherd and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an Anatolian Shepherd would be between £80 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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