Anatolian shepherd dogs are fiercely loyal guardians.

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Working
  • Height: Males: 29 inches; females: 27 inches
  • Weight: Males: 110–150 pounds; females: 80–120 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 11–15 years (depending on the dog’s working life)

Anatolian shepherd dogs are large, rugged and powerful working dogs. They have a superior ability to defend livestock and strong protection instincts.

The V-shaped ears are triangular and hang down; they’re usually cropped short in Turkey, the breed’s native country, but several European countries have outlawed ear cropping and tail docking. The eyes are medium, almond-shaped and set apart, coming in colors of dark brown to light amber. The tail is set high and may be curled; some tails have curls that never fully straighten, no matter the dog’s mood.

There are 2 coat types possible for this breed: The short coat is 1 inch in length and usually a single coat. The rough double coat is around 4 inches in length. Both coat types come in all colors, patterns and markings, including fawn and brindle. The classic color for this breed is fawn with a black mask.

2. Where They Came From

Anatolians originated in Turkey with a history dating back 6,000 years. Bred to endure harsh climates and terrains, these large flock guards were the first line of protection for shepherds’ livestock.

The first active breeding pair of Anatolians was brought to the United States in the late 1960s. The pair, named Zorba and Peki, produced the first recorded litter bred in America in 1970. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America was formed in 1970, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1996.

Male Anatolians can reach 150 pounds. By: Bonzami Emmanuelle (Top: Anna Yakimova)

3. How Friendly Are They?

Anatolians are loyal, independent, calm and highly intelligent dogs.

They are fiercely and instinctively protective, reserved and cautious around strangers unless properly introduced or excessively socialized. Thorough socialization is required to prevent severe guarding behavior.

They are good with children but should always be supervised when with them; rough play can be misinterpreted as a danger to a child who is a family member, and the dog’s strong protection instinct can take over.

Anatolians should be trained but are sensitive to harsh reprimanding. Anatolians working solely to protect flocks outdoors don’t need as much socialization, but they should be comfortable being approached by humans for veterinary care and health maintenance. They have superior sight and hearing, and can achieve high speeds and long distances because of their endurance levels.

They tend to be dominant with other dogs, so socialize them as a puppy with other dogs or properly introduce your other dog(s) under supervision.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

MEDIUM: Anatolians need a long daily walk to expel energy and maintain good health. A super-fast breed, these dogs should always be kept in a high-fenced area or on a lead when outdoors. Temperature and terrain extremes are nothing to them, but provide yours with heat or shade and water as necessary.

Anatolians are not recommended for apartment life because of their inactivity indoors.

Grooming Needs

MEDIUM: Anatolians usually have a slight “doggie odor” about them. They shed more heavily than usual twice a year — at those times, extra brushing is needed. During the rest of the year, a brushing once or twice a week is sufficient.

As with other dogs, with Anatolians, the teeth should be cleaned, the ears checked and cleaned regularly and the nails should be trimmed to an acceptable length for indoors or outdoors if the dog is working.

Health Problems

MEDIUM: There are a few health concerns in Anatolians to be aware of, and some are less common than others:

There is a reportedly high susceptibility to parvo in Anatolian puppies.

So, this is pretty cool:

5. Where to Adopt One?

Anatolian shepherd dogs do appear in shelters and rescues, so check with your local organizations or use our adoptable dog search tool to find one.

If you go through a breeder, get to know them and inspect the facility for warning signs that it’s a puppy mill.

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