Anatolian Shepherd Dog

When you look into the eyes of an Anatolian, you're looking into their soul.

About

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Characteristics

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is regarded as a flock guardian of the mountain molosser-type belonging to the mastiff family. These dogs are large, rugged and powerful, possessing great agility and endurance. They are capable of reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour or greater. Their agility coupled with endurance helps them to run down predators with relative ease over great distances.
 
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a versatile breed, which can withstand harsh climates and a nomadic way of life. They are working dogs with a unique protective ability. As a fiercely loyal guard dog, the Anatolian is a serious dog devoted to its family. Protective instincts and devotion to their owner are legendary.
 
This is a dog of formidable presence and who is completely dedicated to his task. They are described as being bold and confident, and not easily over stimulated. Their expression is intelligent and the general impression is a bold yet calm protector. These dogs possess good bone and a large head with a broad muzzle. Their gait is smooth, powerful and fluid. They can be found in a variety of colors since all colors are acceptable. The most commonly seen colors are fawn, white, pinto and brindle, all with or without a black mask. They are a slow maturing breed not reaching full adulthood until the age of 4 years old.  

Temperament

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is described as being laid back and easy going. They are observant, courageous, proud and confident. They are highly protective, intelligent, alert and watchful. These dogs are loyal and affectionate without being overly demonstrative with family. Over handling would be discouraged by them. They are aloof and suspicious with strangers and highly territorial. They require a proper introduction to strangers.

Behavior

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog works equally but often separately from it's human partner. When used as a flock guardian, the Anatolian will create a boundary around his territory that he patrols at different times throughout the day and night. When not patrolling the perimeter, the Anatolian will find the highest viewing point and watch over his flock from that point or even lay with the flock trying to stay undetected by predators until needed. The Anatolian is most alert at night when most predators would strike.
 
The Anatolian uses its intimidating size and a deep warning bark to ward of predators. If the initial warning does not work, they will raise their hackles and their bark will get progressively worse giving the predator enough time to leave. The Anatolian will act when all else fails. If an Anatolian believes that one of his charges are being threatened, there are no lengths too great for him to go to rescue them.
 
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a flock guardian and the absence of a flock makes the Anatolian no less a guardian. He performs his job at all costs. The Anatolian's entire genetic structure demands that he puts to use the very reason for which the breed has been established. His well-being depends upon him being given the opportunity to use the mental and physical traits that he has inherited. If given no flock to guard, the Anatolian will protect you, your children, your property and every living thing that might be included in the territory in which he presides. An Anatolian will be on patrol at all times and will advise you vocally of the least suspicious sound or movement. With that being said, these dogs are known to bark a lot and often times at night when they are most alert.   
 
Anatolians are mellow and affectionate within their family circle. They seem almost comatose at times but at the slightest questionable sound or movement, even the arrival of a guest or intruder, these dogs are suddenly on their feet and leaping into action. The Anatolian's sense of hearing never sleeps. This breed's sense of hearing is so highly developed that many who really know the Anatolian are convinced this breed is able to hear things before they actually happen.
 
The behavior and temperament of the Anatolian are usually much different when he is away from his territory. They should be approachable and calm, if not aloof, when they are away from their territory. Proper introductions to strangers are required. I have people approach me when I take my Anatolians out and my dogs allow them to pet them and sometimes even hug them. They may be aloof at first until they know the person means no harm. Anatolians are naturally drawn to people in need and are sensitive to those who are physically or emotionally hurt. Some Anatolians have proven to be excellent Therapy Dogs and Assistance Dogs. Others have even gone on to earn their CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certificates.
 
On another note, Anatolians love to dig. They will dig moon craters in your yard or around your property. They would love the chance to help you garden. They just don't seem to care if it looks nice or not. A good idea is to give the Anatolian a designated digging spot so he can dig to his hearts content. If not, then expect to have craters all over your yard or property. Not all Anatolians will dig but the majority of them love to dig.

Ownership

Me with Raven (3yrs.) & Pasa (8mo.)
 
Careful consideration must be taken for those thinking of owning an Anatolian Shepherd Dog. They require an owner who has experience. Anatolians are not good dogs for novice or first time dog owners. They need an owner who is consistent, fair and firm, who is willing to spend time training and socializing the dog throughout it's lifetime. Extensive socialization is a must beginning at a young age if the Anatolian is to be a family guardian or companion. Socialization will not decrease their ability to guard due to their strong instincts. It also helps for the owner to have patience and a good sense of humor. They require an owner who is a strong leader. Without an owner willing to set rules, the Anatolian may become overbearing and domineering. Be as bold as the dog or it will walk all over you. 

These dogs also need a securely fenced in yard or property. An electric underground fence is not recommended as these dogs have been known to go right through them. These dogs require 5-6 ft. fencing and preferably locked gates. I prefer padlocks and chains on the gates to ensure they will not be able to open them and also to keep uninvited people out for their safety and for the dogs safety. Some owners even hot wire their fencing since Anatolians have been known to go under the fences and even over them. These dogs are capable of easily clearing a 6 ft. fence. If there is no fence then these dogs will make their own boundaries and trespassers will not be permitted. They will voluntarily expand their territory as far as they can see. Because of that, these dogs must be on a leash at all times when off of their property.

Anatolians & Children

Raven with my little brother when he was visiting

Anatolians can be wonderful with children. As with all dogs and children, they should be supervised. Due to the Anatolian's large size, they can easily knock over a small child and not necessarily mean to (as they can with adults too!). Children must know how to properly act around the dog. Anatolians tend to be quite patient when it comes to children. Although, it is not uncommon if a child is being too rough with the Anatolian, for the dog to give the child a warning by either growling, showing it's teeth or even smacking it's teeth together making a loud clicking sound. If the child persists, the Anatolian will get up and move away from the situation, as they do not wish to harm the child. The parents need to set boundaries with the child as to what is acceptable behavior around the dog and what is not, and the same goes for the dog. Anatolians do not view children as threats. They tend to be naturally protective of children. When they see their human children playing too roughly, they tend to protect them from their playmates. It has been said that Turkish women, while working in the fields, tie ropes around their children's waists and attach the ropes to the collar of the family Anatolian. The women can then work in peace knowing that their child is being watched over and is safe.

Anatolians & Other Pets

Raven (5mo.), Harley (4yrs.) & Angelia (10yrs.)
 
If intended to be around livestock, then it is advised that they be raised with the livestock from puppyhood so they can bond with them and learn how to act properly around them, unless you find an older dog that has already been exposed to livestock and does well with them. At home, an Anatolian can get along well with other pets. Most animals they are raised with, they will see as a part of their flock and be naturally protective of them.
 
Anatolians tend not to be good around dogs that are aggressive or dominant. The Anatolian will become the dominant one over the other dogs in your home. In my opinion, if you already have another dominant dog in your home then it's better to introduce a puppy instead of an older dog. That way the puppy can grow and adapt to the other dog, and bond well with it so there will be less of a chance of fighting for dominance. If your other dog is submissive, then you could also find an older dog in the breed rescue that would do well with the other dog in your home.
 
Same sex aggression can also occur. Most of the time two intact males will not get along. It can also be seen in females. If you have more than one Anatolian of the same sex, it is best to get them spayed or neutered to help lower the risk of same sex aggression. 

Activity Level & Exercise

Anatolians have a moderate activity level. In a house environment, they are pretty laid back and easy going. They need a chance to get out some of their energy daily, whether it's taking them for a walk or giving them a chance to run in a large fenced in yard or property. If not then he may choose to run around inside your house like a bull in a china shop. A tired dog is a good dog!

Training

Me with Kazara (2yrs.), Raven (3yrs.) & Tayyar (8mo.)
 
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are highly independent thinkers and problem solvers. Therefore, commonly used training techniques do not always work. You need to remember the breed's history as a flock guardian before you think of training an Anatolian. This dog was expected to make sound decisions based on the welfare of his flock with little to no orders from his human. They are a highly intelligent, focused, observant and naturally curious breed. They have very active minds and need an enthusiastic owner when it comes to training. They will bore quickly if you get too repetitive. You need to be determined and show them what it is that you want them to do. It takes patience to work with them. Positive and motivational methods have worked best when training this breed. Some owners have been successful by using the N.I.L.I.F. (Nothing In Life Is Free) and clicker training methods. Make it fun for them or a challenge that they would want to take on. Sometimes even making a game out of it works good. They are trainable but it is not as easy as a lot of people think. They are not as easily trainable as say your German Shepherd Dog or Golden Retriever. They can pick up on commands quickly and other times not so quickly. They tend to be slow to respond to commands. They will learn a command and know what you mean when you say it but if they feel that something else is more important, then they will ignore your command. Their job comes first. You need to follow through with your commands and make them do it. Some people say that Anatolians can be quiet stubborn at times but there are also some Anatolians that have done well in Obedience Rings and Agility Trials. It just takes a very dedicated owner and one who is willing to put forth the time and effort.
 
There are times when your Anatolian will need to be corrected. You must be firm with him. Do not compromise him in any way which means never using harsh methods. Holding his head in your hands, making eye-to-eye contact and using a firm "NO" may be necessary. Firmness will not shatter your Anatolian but using harsh methods are to be avoided. Anatolians will not forget and do not forgive if they have been hurt or abused. Avoidance of bad habits works the best. Once they pick up a bad habit it will be harder to break them of it, if you are even able to break it at all.
 
Some assume because the breed is naturally protective that it makes a good candidate for protection training such as Schutzhund or French Ring Sport. The opposite is true since this breed already has strong protective instincts. They take all threats seriously and will not back down if confronted. Centuries have been invested in cultivating the breed's protective characteristics. Do not think for a minute that you'll be able to change that heritage. They cannot and will not turn it on and off for your liking. They are completely dedicated to their task and not easily distracted by commands.

Life Span

The average life span of an Anatolian Shepherd Dog is 11-13 years. A working dogs life span may be considerably shortened.

Health

Anatolians are a fairly healthy breed. As with most large breeds of dog, CHD (Canine Hip Dysplasia) and elbow problems are a concern. Large, deep chested breeds like the Anatolian are also prone to Bloat. Some other conditions that are seen at times are Entropion, Cancer, Hypothyroidism, Allergies and Ear Infections.
 
PLEASE NOTE: Anatolians are sensitive to anesthesia. They do not require as much as some other breeds do. Make sure your veterinarian is fully aware of this. They should be treated like a sighthound when it comes to anesthesia.  

Grooming

Anatolians have a thick undercoat and an outer coat that ranges from 1-4 inches in length. They will have seasonal shedding, which is when they blow out their thick undercoat. Minimal grooming is needed except during seasonal shedding when a thorough brushing is required. It also helps to do a weekly brushing to remove dead hair, which helps to reduce normal shedding.

Famous Anatolians

Some Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have been featured on TV sitcoms and also in movies. Here's a list of some famous Anatolians.
 
Marlow on Simon & Simon
 
Bart in Kate & Leopold
 
Butch in Cats & Dogs
 
The Anatolians that were featured in Kate & Leopold and in Cats & Dogs was played by the same dog.