The Anatolian Shepherd Dog belongs to the FCI group 2 of the Molosser and has its origin in Turkey. There they call him “Coban Kopegi”, which is the Turkish term for shepherd dog.
Another isolated name is Anatolian Karabash Dog, where the word “Karabash” means “black-headed”. The weight of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is from 41 to 64 kg, the height is from 71 to 81 cm at the shoulder.
He has a short to medium-length coat with a pronounced undercoat. All coat colors are allowed, but the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is usually fawn with a black mask. Sometimes he is also brindle, tricolor or white, and black.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has an impressive size and the young dogs grow up accordingly very quickly. Records show that puppies weighed 7kg at seven weeks of age and by 12 weeks they were already 20kg.
Mastiff’s heritage is evident in the blunt muzzle and low set ears. Appearance and movement are reminiscent of a lion, especially when its ears have been “docked” into upright stumps, which unfortunately still sometimes happens in Turkey.
Another feature of the breed is that when excited, it carries its tail curled over its back. Since the Western Europeans were the first to name and catalog the large Turkish livestock guardian dogs, there are no written pedigrees or special names of any kind over the many centuries of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog’s history of origin.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Origin
There is also disagreement as to whether Turkey’s many different ancient livestock guardian dogs should be broken down into individual dog breeds or whether they should be grouped together. In particular, breeders from England and America came to Turkey and bought livestock guardian dogs from different areas there, took them home, and continued to breed them there.
Other Anatolian Shepherd Dog breeders have selected their breeding stock and then attempted to create individual breeds from it in various narrowly defined areas of Turkey where the dogs shared a number of common traits. This broad foundation was the foundation of a breed known as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
The breed is a direct descendant of ancient livestock guardian dogs and Middle Eastern mastiffs. It was originally used to hunt large game, including lions and horses, and as a war dog. In the meantime, however, the Anatolian shepherd dog protects the sheep flocks of Turkish farmers from predators such as wolves and thieves to a large extent independently.
They are used very frequently, especially in the border areas of their homeland. There, their strength and speed have earned them an almost legendary reputation. For example, they are quite capable of dealing with a dangerous predator like the wolf.
Because wolves are their natural enemies, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is also very suspicious of other prick-eared dogs. In general, this breed is dominant over all other dogs, and the males dominate the females. The first dogs of this breed came to the United States towards the end of the 1960s by a certain Robert C. Ballard.
He wrote about his adventurous attempts to acquire young dogs of this breed in Turkey: “Finally we were invited to the country to get to know the male father. He was handsome, about 60 kg in weight, made a fierce impression, all in all, a very beautiful dog. Most impressive of all was the dog chain by which he was demonstrated, heavy enough to pull a tractor, and the demeanor of the handler, who stood as if expecting at any moment to be dragged away or knocked over by the male dog.”
According to legend, it is an old Turkish custom that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog receives its first collar as soon as it has tracked down and killed its first wolf. In fact, however, these collars serve to protect the dog against wolf bites on the sensitive neck.
Once when a traveler was in Turkey, he observed that other dogs never dared to tease Anatolian Shepherd Dogs with collars. So he bought one of these collars for his own Anatolian and noticed that his animal’s reputation among other dogs immediately increased. He concluded that dogs react just like humans and believe that a collared Anatolian Shepherd Dog has always won through a deadly battle with a wolf.
Nature & Temperament
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is very loyal to its master. However, he is very suspicious of strangers but does not let them irritate him either. Even at an early age, he shows a pronounced protective instinct.
If you want to keep this large and powerful animal as a controllable family dog, systematic and consistent training for subordination and socialization with other animals is urgently required. He is very gentle and playful towards the children of the family and is a patient protector, but their breeders always point out that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is neither a children’s toy dog nor a “gentle giant” like Saint Bernard.
It is certainly advisable for all new owners of such a dog that a formal introduction is made to neighbors, friends, and the veterinarian. In addition, it is recommended that suppliers, postmen, etc. put up a clearly visible sign, which points out that they are not allowed to enter the area protected by the Anatolians. In his family, however, he is intelligent and friendly, in addition, he learns the necessary rules of obedience quite quickly. He is an insensitive dog that is easy to keep and thinks for himself. In hot weather, for example, it likes to dig holes into the cooler soil.
In any case, this breed is very robust, since in its homeland it has to work all its life in difficult terrain and in extreme climatic conditions, ranging from the deepest frost to very hot days, without tiring. In addition, as a loyal and determined watchdog of his family and their belongings and pets, he is quite possessive.
It is not uncommon for the Anatolian shepherd dog to choose an elevated observation spot in order to be able to better survey its domain. If in doubt, a heap of rubbish is enough for him. If such a dog has no family or property to protect, it will also guard the rubbish heap if necessary due to its strong territorial instinct.
Unwanted intruders are warned of further approach by barking and growling, and if the stranger retreats, the Anatolian will not attack either. However, if he feels provoked, he will not avoid a fight. Once a pack of hounds made the big mistake of chasing a raccoon straight through a flock of sheep. Seeing his charges in danger, the Anatolian killed in turn any dog that stepped on his territory.
This breed also seems to have a very good sense of smell. An owner once observed his Anatolian Shepherd Dog tirelessly working on a whole stack of paper with his paws. When he came across a piece of paper that his owner had been holding earlier, he laid his head on it. In the United States, the breed is actively promoted by supporters. Many Anatolian Shepherd Dogs participate in the livestock guardian promotion program.