Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed Guide

Breed Group:
Working Dogs

Middle Age: 5 years

Geriatric Age: 10 years

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

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Anatolian Shepherd Dog Background Info and History

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is believed to have originated on the Anatolian plains in modern day Turkey. Ancestors of the breed are believed to have appeared as early as Babylonian times, approximately 2,000 years ago.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has been used for hundreds of years in modern-day Turkey as a guardian of livestock. The dog breed is believed to have first reached the United States in the 1950’s but was relatively rare until the 1970’s. This popularity continued to rise until the Anatolian Shepherd Dog was recognized by the AKC in 1996.

Temperament and Personality of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Calm and stoic, this large dog breed is a protector above all else. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs generally spend much of their time with the flock of sheep they are protecting. Their reserved nature highlights this traditional role, as they seek to avoid startling motions that might upset their wards.

Belying their role as protector, this breed is not aggressive. Rather, they are reserved until a challenge is presented, at which point they will meet aggression with determination.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Training Tips

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog should be trained and socialized from a young age. Due to their protective nature, this breed is suspicious of both human and animal strangers. Socializing from a young age is highly recommended in order to avoid any potential situations that may trigger their guardian response.

This breed is a working dog, so training should incorporate tasks that challenge your Anatolian. Training this breed can be difficult at times, as the Anatolian was bred to think and act independently, which sometimes results in ignored commands.

Exercise Needs of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

As a traditional working dog, Anatolians require regular long walks and a vigorous play session to keep them calm and happy.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Life Span

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a relatively long lifespan for a large breed. On average, healthy Anatolian’s will live between 11-13 years of age.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed Popularity

In their native Turkey, Anatolians are still the dog of choice for guarding livestock. This function has carried over into the United States, where they thrive on large plots of land. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is currently the 84th most popular AKC breed, an impressive ranking for a large dog that requires outdoor space and a job to do.

Feeding Requirements of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Anatolians should be fed a diet with a balance of high-quality proteins and fats. Avoid foods with grain fillers such as corn, soy, and wheat. Anatolian’s range in size from 80-150lbs, so feeding requirements will vary depending on weight.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Grooming

Anatolians need regular brushing, along with weekly checks of eyes and ears to ensure they are free from ear infections. Twice a year Anatolians will blow their coat, requiring increased attentiveness to coat grooming during those times.

Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs Good With Kids?

Anatolians are gentle giants and are generally great with children. Just be sure to supervise their play, as they could interpret children roughhousing as aggression towards “their” child.

Common Health Problems of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a common condition in large breeds and has been seen in some lines of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. This condition is caused by a loose fit in the hip assembly, between the femur and the pelvic girdle.

In young dogs, hip dysplasia presents as a laxity of the pelvic girdle, which can be tested for during routine physical examination by a veterinarian. As the dog ages, the loose fit in the pelvic girdle results in cartilage being worn down, causing painful canine arthritis and bone spurs.

Entropian Eyelids

Entropian eyelids are a common dog eye problem that affects some lines of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. With this condition, the eyelid unnaturally rolls inward. This causes the eyelashes or hair near the eye to rub abrasively against the cornea.

These abrasions can result in scarring and even tearing of the cornea. Entropian eyelids are an extremely painful condition, and medical attention should be sought immediately. Be sure to regularly check your Anatolian Shepherd Dog’s eyes during grooming to be sure this condition is not developing.

Ear Infections

All Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are prone towards developing canine ear infections. An ear infection occurs when the anatomical structure of the ear allows for the buildup of bacteria.

Signs of an ear infection include a bad smell emanating from the ear, a yellow or brown discharge, shaking of the head, scratching at the ears, or pain when the area is touched. Catching the infection early will yield the best chances for a swift and successful recovery.

Other Resources

National Breed Website: Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America
Rescue: Anatolian Shepherd Dog Rescue League