Guide to Dog Breeds (See Full List)

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

(AKC Working Group)

Anatolian Shepherd

Height: 29-plus in. (male); 27-plus in. (female).

Size: Very large.

Weight: 110 to 150 lbs. (male); 80 to 120 lbs. (female).

Availability: Very difficult to find.


The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large, majestic and powerful, but not massive, livestock guardian. He is capable of great speed, endurance, and agility. The head is large, but in good proportion with the rest of the body. The skull is wide and slightly rounded, with a slight stop. The rectangular muzzle should be a bit shorter than the skull, with a blunt profile. The lips are edged in black, and hang down slightly, but the upper lip should not hang down lower than the bottom jaw’s lower edge. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The V-shaped ears are pendant, rather small, and have rounded tips. In Turkey, the ears are often cropped very short. The small, deep-set eyes range from gold to brown in color. Nose and eye rims must be either black or brown. The thick, muscular neck has a slight dewlap. The topline is mainly level, though slightly rounded at the loin. The back is short relative to leg length. The chest reaches to the elbows. The front legs are straight and set well apart. The tail is set high and reaches to the hock. When the dog is alert, the tail is carried curled over the back; otherwise, it hangs low with a slight upward curl. The double coat is generally fawn with a black mask, though any color is acceptable. Other frequently seen colors include pinto, white, and brindle. Coat length may vary greatly depending on the season and the dog’s lineage. There are two basic coat types, short (1 in. minimum) and rough (about 3 in.). There may be some feathering on the ears, legs, and tail. All coats have a thick undercoat.


The noble Anatolian Shepherd Dog comes from rural Turkey, where he protects flocks and serves as a shepherd’s companion. On the high Anatolian Plateau, where summers are hot and very dry, and winters cold, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs live outside all year round. The first Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were imported to the United States in the 1950s, though the first successful breeding program did not get underway until 1970. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is recognized by the FCI, CKC, UKC and SKC, and, since 1995, by the AKC. Anatolians can be registered with the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America or Anatolian Shepherd Dog International, in addition to multi-breed registries such as the AKC.


Anatolian Shepherd Dogs mature quite slowly, reaching full adulthood at approximately 4 years of age. Hip dysplasia is not a serious problem in the Anatolian Shepherd, though responsible breeders should still x-ray all breeding stock as a precaution. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are sensitive to anesthesia. Young Anatolians should be given extra vaccinations against parvovirus, as their immunity often takes longer to develop than with many other breeds. Some lines are prone to eyelid entropion or to hypothyroidism. Ear infections are fairly common.

Some Anatolians tend to bark at night. Some like to dig. Anatolian Shepherds tend to be pretty mellow with children; however, since they are quite large, they can accidentally knock children over during play. Proper training of both dog and child is the key to success. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog does not drool, unlike many other giant breeds.

The coat needs thorough brushing out during the twice-a-year shedding periods, but little attention during the rest of the year. The Anatolian does not eat much for his size. Adult Anatolians do not seem to thrive on high-protein diets, so should be fed a diet of moderate or lower protein; some breeders advocate a lamb and rice based diet.

Though well-raised and protected Anatolians can live 14 to 16 years or more, working livestock guardians have a high mortality rate. Livestock guard dogs live their entire lives with their flock. Even so, they should be properly socialized with people (out in the fields) and accustomed to grooming procedures when they are puppies to make veterinary care possible later in life. Dogs who are destined to become flock guardians should not be made into family pets, or they will prefer the family’s company to that of the sheep! Anatolian Shepherd Dogs guard, but do not herd, livestock. They often patrol the outer perimeter of their territory, then find a high place from which to watch over their charges. Anatolians possess excellent senses of sight and hearing to help them in this work. They check their "protective zone" around the flock every few hours to be sure nothing ominous is brewing. If danger approaches, the Anatolian will first bark a warning, then accelerate and raise the volume of the barking if the danger persists, signaling the sheep to crowd in behind him for protection. The dog will attempt to drive the danger away and will only attack as a last resort. In Turkey, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs wear spiked collars to protect their throats in battles with predators.


Watchdog and guarding.


Very loyal, alert, and possessive. Calm, steadfast, and brave, but not aggressive. Independent, proud, and self-assured. Affectionate with his own family, but suspicious of strangers, especially after reaching adulthood. Strangers should be formally introduced before the mature dog is asked to accept any familiarities. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog will not allow anyone onto the family property if the owner is not home, unless he has had frequent contact with the person, but he is fairly friendly with those people the family accepts. He enjoys well-behaved children, especially if raised with them from puppyhood, but should always be supervised and properly introduced. May be protective of the family children. Extensive early socialization, obedience training, and consistent dominant leadership are essential for this breed. Because of his independent temperament, the Anatolian Shepherd responds best to motivational training methods. This dog has his own ideas and will not cater to the owner’s every whim. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has strong protective instincts and will guard and protect without any additional "protection" training. Protective instincts grow as the dog matures, often coming suddenly to the fore at around 1 1/2 years of age.


Children: Good only when raised with children from puppyhood.
Friendliness: Fairly friendly with strangers.
Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train.
Independence: Very independent.
Dominance: Very high.
Other Pets: Good with other pets if raised with them from puppyhood.
Combativeness: Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive.
Noise: Average bark.
Indoors: Relatively inactive indoors.
Owner: Not recommended for novice owners.

Grooming and Physical Needs:

Grooming: A little grooming needed.
Trimming & Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed.
Coat: Medium coat.
Shedding: Seasonally heavy shedder.
Exercise: Moderate exercise needed.
Jogging: A fair jogging companion.
Apartments: Not recommended for apartments.
Outdoor Space: Best with a large yard.
Climate: Does well in most climates.
Longevity: Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years).