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Anatolian Shepherd Dog
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a breed of dog that originated in Turkey, formerly Anatolia in ancient Greek; meaning (East). The dog is rugged, large, and very strong, with good sight and hearing that allow it to protect livestock. With its high speed and agility, it is able to run down a predator with great efficiency. Historically, it has been treated as a separate breed from the Kangal Shepherd Dog by many canine registries, but is now generally treated as part of the same breed population.
The general appearance of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a tall, rugged, and powerful livestock guardian dog with a dense double coat, a broad, strong head, well-developed muscular shoulders, and a long tail with a slight curl (reaching to the hock) that is carried high and curled over the dog’s back when the dog is alert.
The physique embodies balance and strength. Movement of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog should be supple and powerful. A low head carriage, which shows the head, neck, and topline being level when moving – creating the impression that the dog is stalking – is an important characteristic of the breed.
As with many breeds, several breed standards exist for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, so some variance is seen in the described size and weight. They weigh between 40 and 70 kg (90 and 150 lb), with females smaller and males larger. The coat may be any colour, although most common are white cream, “sesame”, and white with large coloured spots that do not cover more than 30% of the body. Known as piebald, these colours may or may not be accompanied by a black mask and/or ears.
They have a thick, double coat that is somewhat wiry, and needs to be brushed one or two times a week in warm weather due to excessive shedding. They have very thick hair on their necks to protect their throats. They look as if they are heavier than they actually are, due to the thick coat.
The Anatolian Shepherd was developed to be independent and forceful, responsible for guarding its master’s flocks without human assistance or direction. These traits make it challenging as a pet; owners of dogs of this breed must socialize the dogs to turn them into appropriate companions. They are intelligent and can learn quickly, but might choose not to obey.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is very loyal and can be fiercely possessive and protective of its family, stock, and territory. The Anatolian is also a bold, confident dog that does not become overstimulated easily. It is generally curious but aloof with guests, not an outgoing dog that wants to make friends with everyone and dislikes strangers who are too forward. It is calm and observant of its surroundings and may not go looking for trouble, but may not back down if challenged. An Anatolian that has been agitated may be too angry to be controlled and cannot be stopped on command.
According to Turkish shepherds, three Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are capable of overcoming a pack of wolves and injuring one or two of them. These dogs like to roam, as they were bred to travel with their herd and to leave the herd to go hunt for predators before the predators could attack the flock. Therefore, microchipping and tagging pets are recommended.
Anatolian Shepherds are not recommended for life in small quarters. They do well with other animals, including cats if they are introduced while still a puppy and have their own space. They mature between 18 and 30 months. Due to their history, both puppies and adults seem to have little interest in fetching. Rather, they prefer to run and sometimes swim.
Presence of some Anatolian shepherd genes in Alaskan huskies positively correlates with husky work ethic.
Apparently, only one health survey of Anatolian Shepherds was done in 2004 by the UK Kennel Club. The median lifespan for the 23 deceased dogs (a small sample size) in the survey was 10.75 years. This is 3–4 years longer than other breeds of their size, which have median longevities of 6–8 years. The leading causes of death of the dogs in the survey were cancer (22%), “combinations” (17%), cardiac (13%), and old age (13%).
Based on a small sample of 24 still-living dogs, the most common health issues cited by owners were dermatological and musculoskeletal defects, and lipomas. Entropion and canine hip dysplasia are sometimes seen in the breed. Eyes and hips should be tested before breeding.
The Karabaş (Karabash, ‘Blackhead’) is descended from ancient livestock guardian dog types that migrated with the transhumance, guarding flocks of sheep from wolves and cheetahs. Dogs of this type probably existed 6,000 years ago in what is now Turkey.
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are members of a very old breed, probably descended from powerful hunting dogs from Mesopotamia. This breed was developed over time to meet a specific set of circumstances. The most formative were climate (very hot, dry summers and very cold winters), lifestyle (sedentary, seminomadic, and nomadic) and duties (guarding flocks moving great distances on the Central Anatolian Plateau).
In the 1970s, breeders in the West became interested in these dogs and began developing the landrace natural breeds as modern breeds by documenting their descent from particular ancestors and writing breed standards. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog was imported from central Turkey into the United Kingdom by author and archaeologist Charmian Hussey.
Australia registered the Anatolian Shepherd Dog breed in 1985, when it was imported as a guard dog for livestock, people, and property. Australia’s expansive sheep and goat enterprises contributed to the breed’s acceptance as a livestock guardian dog beyond Turkey, and developed the sheep and goat guard dog of the Turkish Shepherd into an imposing guard dog of livestock and farm assets for Agriultural and Farming Industry.
The working conditions and requirements of the dogs in Australia and the assets of Australian farmers are very different from the generally impoverished shepherd in Turkey and his herd of goats and sheep. Australian farmland is fenced, and the dogs are required to protect valuable assets against four- and two-legged threats.
Some discussion exists about whether the Anatolian Shepherd is a distinct breed, or a general name for different types of shepherd dogs in Anatolia that look alike (such as the Kangal, which is used as a synonym for the Anatolian Shepherd and has the same ‘Blackhead’ – Karabas – nickname). This view accepts the name Anatolian Shepherd as a general name for breeds such as the Kangal dog, Akbash dog, and Aksaray Malaklisi dog. Recognition of the Kangal as a different breed from the Anatolian Shepherd was retracted in Australia.
Coban Kopegi, Karabash Dog, Kara Bas, Kangal Dog, Kham Kepiji Dogs, Scandinavian Nygaard Dogs
Guardian Dog (UKC)
Male: 28-30 inches (71-76 cm)
Female: 26-28 inches (66-71 cm)
Male: 100-150 pounds (45-68 kg)
Female: 90-130 pounds (41-59 kg)
Biscuit & White
Average $700 – $1000 USD
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