What is an Anatolian Shepherd

A purebred Anatolian Shepherd Dog?

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a pure-bred Anatolian Shepherd Dog, because in the FCI standard, four different types of Shepherd Dog are summarized under the designation “Anatolian Shepherd Dog” (Turkish “Çoban Köpeği”): the Akba, the Kangal, the Karaba and the Kars dog . In their country of origin, Turkey, the Kars dog, the Akba and the Kangal are considered to be independent breeds.

The four strokes

The unification in the international standard of the FCI is controversial among breeders. Many of them are therefore more oriented towards the specifications from the country of origin in their breeding and concentrate only on one of the four lofts. Despite many similarities in terms of their nature and appearance, the four types of dogs differ in their genetics. In the opinion of many breeders, there can only be really pure-bred offspring if the different lofts are not mixed with one another.

  1. Akba: The Akba (Turkish Akbaş) is run as an independent breed in Turkey. His name means "white head" and suggests that, unlike the karaba ("black head"), he does not wear a black mask. Its fur can be both long-haired and stick-haired. He is also considered to be a bit lighter and higher than the other types. Presumably he is related to the Hungarian shepherd dog, Kuvasz.
  2. Kangal: In Turkey, the Kangal breed is considered a kind of national dog, the export of which from Turkey is reserved exclusively for Turkish citizens and whose image has even been immortalized on two Turkish postage stamps. The Kangal has its origin in the breeding facility of the Kangal family of the same name, who have been breeding them for centuries and who are highly regarded in Turkey to this day. Outwardly, the Kangal is very similar to the Karaba.
  3. Karaba: The name Karaba (Karabash) means something like "black head" and thus describes the ideal type of this dog, whose coat color on the head is completely black in the best case. The Turkish army also used the Karaba as a fighting dog.
  4. Kars dog: Outside of his home country Turkey, the Kars dog breed, which is considered an independent breed there, is practically unknown. The Kars dog, also known as "Kafkas" (= Kaukase), is the youngest breed of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog and was first described at the end of the 20th century.


Despite the described genetic differences with regard to coat color or coat condition, all four lofts have quite similar properties, which can be summarized in the description. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are said to be very persistent, courageous and vigilant. Despite their imposing size and stately build, they can run amazingly fast over long distances and react with great agility.

As herd guard dogs, they have a strong protective instinct and a high level of vigilance, which increases in the dark.

Peaceful giant with macho demeanor

Naturally, they display a very territorial demeanor, although they are by no means aggressive. On the contrary: The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is considered to be an extremely peaceful and calm dog, who bravely defends itself in danger, but does not have to growl or snarl to show it off. The proud and naturally suspicious Anatole therefore prefers to keep the distance with strangers. However, encounters with conspecifics can be more problematic - especially if the dog was not sufficiently socialized and educated as a puppy. His “macho attitudes”, which reveal themselves in an exaggerated dominance behavior, must therefore be stopped at an early stage through comprehensive socialization and consistent upbringing.


Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs difficult to train?

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is undoubtedly not a dog that “just walks along”, which does not mean that it cannot be trained. After all, the proud pedigree dog also has a sensitive side that longs for closeness and support. If you manage to gain the trust of your dog and present yourself as a sovereign and reliable "guide", you will find that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, despite its obstinacy, can be a very obedient and affectionate dog that is very loyal to its family.

Read more about dog training!

Not a breed for beginners

However, the self-confident Anatole is by no means submissive and so there will certainly be situations from time to time in which he will put his owner to the test. After all, as a shepherd dog, he has always been used to being independent and developing his own initiative. The keeping of this large and sometimes very stubborn animal should therefore always be left to a "dog professional". Because the intelligent working dog quickly detects weaknesses or mistakes in upbringing and knows how to use them for himself.


Its impressive size and strength alone show that the Anatolian pedigree dog is not a dog for beginners or weak people. His mighty, powerful body is well muscled, but never fat. He is surprisingly agile, fast and persistent, which is particularly noticeable when used as a guard dog. The impressive stature is underlined by his large and relatively broad skull with a thick fur collar.

One of the largest dog breeds in the world

According to the standard, its height at the withers is a maximum of 86 cm for males and at least 71 cm for females. Whereby some representatives of the breed are even bigger and measure around 90 cm. There is no doubt that it is one of the largest dog breeds in the world. Depending on the body size, the weight of this imposing four-legged friend is 44 to 64 kg. 90 cm tall males can even weigh up to 80 kg.

Adaptable Schwarzkopf

The shiny and close-fitting outer hair is reinforced by a thick undercoat and is short or half-length. The hair length adapts itself optimally to the prevailing climatic conditions and so it tends to be longer in cold winter than in hot summer. It is generally longer and thicker on the neck and shoulder and thus forms the typical fur collar. According to the standard, there are no restrictions in terms of color and so the Anatolian Shepherd Dog can appear in almost all possible colors and combinations. The best known are probably the fawn-colored representatives of the breed with the black mask and black ears ("Schwarzkopf").


The pedigree dog owes its thick and adaptable coat to its history as a guard dog. Regardless of the weather, the Anatolian herd guard dog lived outdoors and monitored the herd entrusted to him day and night. In their home country Turkey, the sturdy giants overcome unbelievable expanses on the Anatolian plateau - on which, depending on the season, it can be extremely dry and hot, but also very cold and windy.

A descendant of the hunting dogs of Mesopotamia?

The exact origin of the large guard dogs, however, is controversial. According to a theory based on images of various sculptures, they are descended from the large, mastiff-like hunting dogs of Mesopotamia. A first reliable description of a dog, which is called "Schwarzkopf" and whose appearance comes very close to today's Anatolian Shepherd Dog, can be found in a travelogue from 1592.

Criticism of the western breed standard

From the middle of the 20th century, when there was no official cynological association and no stud books in Turkey, dogs from Turkey were increasingly imported to Western Europe, especially to England, and finally also to the USA, where they had their own kennels built up. On April 10, 1980, the FCI published a first standard in which it summarized various Turkish-born sheepdogs under the name "Anatolian Shepherd Dog". Especially in Turkey, but also by Western breeders, this breed standard that has arisen “far away from home” is viewed critically.

Breeding and buying an Anatolian Shepherd Dog

In order to get genetically genetically "pure-bred" dogs, many breeders - as already mentioned - often devote themselves to only one of the four strokes of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. If you are interested in a puppy, you should first familiarize yourself thoroughly with the different types and their differences. Apart from the important question of whether you trust yourself to keep this breed, you should also find out about the keeping requirements in the relevant country. The Kangal, for example, is on the list of dangerous dog breeds in some European countries and may only be kept under certain conditions.

Find a reputable breeder

You should be especially careful with advertisements on the Internet or in newspapers that advertise cute puppies at "cheap prices". These are often illegally imported dogs from Eastern Europe that were born under very questionable conditions and that have not undergone health tests, or have been properly kept and socialized. In order to get a healthy and stable puppy, you should definitely look for a trustworthy and reputable breeder who is breeding legally, who willingly gives you insight into his home and kennel and who values ​​the hands in which he gives his puppies . Since the export of the kangal by non-Turks is prohibited, this blow is often carried out abroad by Turkish immigrants. Be aware that the price for a puppy of this large dog breed can easily be between 800 and 1,000 euros.

health and nutrition

If you have bought a dog from a trustworthy breed, you hardly need to fear diseases that are typical of the breed. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are among the toughest breeds in the world. However, as with almost all large dogs, he also has cases of hip dysplasia (HD) from time to time. In addition to a good “genetic heritage”, prudent husbandry and nutrition, especially during the growth phase, offer the best protection against joint diseases. Young dogs, for example, should be spared from excessive physical strain, for example by frequently walking upstairs or accompanying a bicycle for a long time. You should also pay attention to a low-protein diet for the young dog from around the 6th week of life so that the animals do not grow too quickly in height.

What does the Anatolian Shepherd Dog eat?

Apart from health nutrition recommendations that serve to avoid joint diseases and obesity, the robust shepherd dog does not have any special requirements for its food. Whether meat and fish or just bread and water - as it was served by the shepherds in his home country Turkey - the Anatolian Shepherd Dog eats what comes in its bowl. In order to feed it optimally, however, one should keep an eye on the dog's age, weight and activity level. A specialty of the breed is that it gets along very well even with small portions and needs comparatively little meat. Nevertheless, you should treat your dog to a piece of fresh meat every now and then, through which he takes in the necessary amount of animal protein.

What you should consider when feeding dogs

Given the large number of possible feeding methods, it is certainly an advantage if you think about which method is the most suitable for you. Opinions about what is best for the dog and whether it is better fed with dry or wet food, with self-cooked or raw food (stick word "BARFen") vary widely and certainly all have their pros and cons. Find out about the advantages and disadvantages and, after consulting your veterinarian, decide which food is most suitable for your dog and your living conditions. When you have found a food that your dog likes and likes, that makes him look healthy and that you can integrate well into your everyday life, you should definitely stick with it. Dogs don't need constant variety in their food bowl. On the contrary: Too frequent diet changes can put a heavy strain on the organism and digestion of your dog.

Attitude and care

As with all dogs, the right care and species-appropriate attitude also play a decisive role in the health of the four-legged friend with this breed. Compared to other dogs, however, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog requires a lot of care, exercise and training. The dog's thick fur has to be brushed regularly - which, given the size of this huge animal, certainly takes a little time. Grooming is particularly intensive during the coat change, when dead hair has to be removed with the brush.

What requirements should keepers meet?

However, owners have to "sacrifice" more time than care for the exercise and occupation of their Shepherd Dog. Especially if he cannot work as a guard dog, owners should give their persevering and intelligent dog adequate substitute activity and enough exercise. Several hours a day in the fresh air - both in the large, fenced garden as well as on varied and long walks - are an absolute must for the well-being of the robust and tall nature boy. It goes without saying that this dog is not a family dog ​​for a small city apartment. Lots of space, extremely good physical condition and extensive knowledge of socialization and dog training are the basic requirements for keeping this imposing giant.