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Anatolian Shepherd Dog: Breed Profile

Favorability Moderate
friendly mid Lo
child friendly mid Lo
pet friendly mid Lo
exercise needs Moderate
play Moderate
energy level Moderate
Trainability above average
intelligence above average
Tendency to bark mid Lo
shedding amount mid Lo

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History of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

The Anatolian Shepherd is an ancient dog breed that dates back six centuries. The breed originated in the Anatolian region of Turkey, also known as Asia Minor, and is believed to have developed from the lineage of sheepdogs (Coban Kopegi, or “sheepdogs”) bred specifically for the protection and herding of livestock. Other accounts trace the Anatolian shepherd to the hounds of Mesopotamia. In both cases, these types of sheepdogs are known to be bred for work, particularly on farms and ranches, to protect livestock from fast-paced predators such as wolves and cheetahs.

Interestingly, the Anatolian Sheepdog originally came to the United States as part of a top-secret World War II program overseen by the USDA. The goal of the project was to evaluate various breeds to deduce the best fit for sheep ranching work, and although the project did not end with much fanfare, the Anatolian Sheepdogs participating in the project were sold to buyers in the Virgin Islands.

The Anatolian Shepherd came back to the United States in the 1970s and entered the American Kennel Club in 1996, belonging to other categories. The breed was established in 1998 under the AKC working group. Today, in addition to being pets, the Anatolian Shepherd is still prominent in pastures and other agricultural settings. Their continued prominence among ranchers is due in large part to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, which prohibits ranchers from killing predators on their livestock. With its background and breed characteristics, the Anatolian Shepherd has always been an effective livestock guard, able to deter predatory attacks without inciting violence.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Care

Anatolian Shepherds are not particularly high-energy, but it is important that their caregivers do provide regular walks (one or two a day) and plenty of outdoor activity. This breed does not do well in small living spaces such as apartments and needs space to roam. They are usually not very interested in playing ball picking, but will happily walk with their caregiver and run around their yard. Note that it is very important that their yard is fenced (preferably six feet) and that they are advised not to interact with dogs or people they do not know.

Socialization is very important for Anatolian shepherds, especially when they are young. Dogs of this breed may become aggressive towards other animals and even people if they are not well socialized. This is in line with their innate characteristics, as Anatolian Shepherds were bred to be very protective of their property and belongings. Most Anatolian Shepherds are open to obedience training, but they can be a bit stubborn and may not receive more formal training, such as agility or nose work. Anatolian Shepherds should never be trained as guard dogs due to their uncontrollable tendency to aggression.

In terms of grooming, weekly brushing is usually sufficient for Anatolian Shepherds, although this frequency may have to be increased during the shedding season when the breed begins to shed fur from the thick undercoat. As with all dog breeds, trim your nails regularly and brush your teeth regularly.

common health problems

Anatolian Shepherds are large breeds, and as such, they face many of the health problems common to many other large and giant breeds. Among the most frequently found problems in Anatolian Shepherds, note:

· Hip dysplasia

· Elbow dysplasia

· Hypothyroidism

· Demodex

· Entropy

Any responsible breeder will inform you of existing conditions in your dog’s genetic lineage, although it’s always smart to ask either way. The health of many large dogs can be well managed, although you need to consider the additional costs and responsibilities they bring.

Illustration: The Spruce/Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is recommended for all dog breeds, including feeding a high-quality, high-protein diet. Anatolian Shepherds tend not to overeat, but should still be fed on a schedule. Anatolian Shepherds’ dietary needs will vary based on their activity level and age, with older and/or sedentary dogs requiring fewer daily treats and meal calories.

More dog breeds and further research

Always do your research before bringing any new animals into your life. It’s a good idea to talk to a breed’s current owner and breed organization, which requires extra training and attention for breeds like the Anatolian Shepherd.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other breed profiles.


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