5 Things to Know About Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are fiercely loyal guardians. They can be companion pets but will require extra effort because of their strong, independent nature.

Anatolians originated in Turkey with a history dating back 6,000 years.  Photo: Anna Yakimova
AKC GroupAKC Group
80-150 lbs.
27-29 in.
Life ExpectancyLife Span
11-15 years

1. Key Characteristics of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

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.

Two coat types are possible:

  1. The short coat is 1 inch in length and usually a single coat.
  2. 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 Anatolian Shepherd Dogs is fawn with a black mask.

Male Anatolians can reach 150 pounds. Photo: Bonzami Emmanuelle

2. Where Anatolian Shepherd Dogs 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 (AKC) recognized the breed in 1996.

3. How Friendly Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs?

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.

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They tend to be dominant with other dogs, so socialize yours as a puppy with other dogs or properly introduce your other dogs under supervision.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


MEDIUM: 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 “doggy 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 is the case with any dog, clean your Anatolian Shepherd Dog’s teeth, check and clean the ears, and trim the nails regularly.

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.

More Stats About Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Friendliness ★★☆☆☆
Ease of Training ★★★★☆
Barking/Howling ★★☆☆☆
Shedding ★★☆☆☆
Tolerate Being Alone ★★★☆☆
Very Good With Kids ★★☆☆☆

So, this is pretty cool:

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5. How to Adopt an Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs do appear in shelters and rescues, so check with your local organizations or use Petful’s 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.