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Anatolian Shepherd - Breed Profile

Developed strictly for utilitarian purposes as a guardian of livestock, the Anatolian Shepherd is typically serious and dignified, calm and quiet - unless challenged.


The Karabaş (Blackhead) is descended from ancient livestock guardian dog types who used to accompany the seasonal migration of livestock to their summer pastures, guarding flocks of sheep from wolves, bears, lions, tigers, leopards, jackals, and even cheetahs. It is probable that dogs of this type existed 6,000 years ago in what is now Turkey

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are members of a very old breed, probably descended from powerful hunting dogs from Mesopotamia. The breed was developed over time to meet a specific set of circumstances. The most formative were climate (very hot, dry summers and very cold winters), lifestyle (sedentary, semi-nomadic and nomadic) and duties (guarding flocks moving great distances on the Central Anatolian Plateau).

Anatolian Shepherds are generally used to guard livestock around the world as well as in successful conservation programs like the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia.

In the 1970s, breeders in the West became interested in these dogs and began developing the landrace natural breeds as modern breeds by documenting their descent from particular ancestors and writing breed standards. 

Many Turkish breeders believe that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a cross of the Kangal dog and the Akbash dog.

There is some discussion about whether the Anatolian Shepherd is a distinct breed, or a general name for different types of shepherd dogs in Anatolia that look alike (such as the Kangal, which has the same nickname of Karabaş or "Blackhead". This view accepts the name Anatolian Shepherd as a general name for breeds such as the Kangal dog, Akbash dog and the Aksaray Malaklisi dog.


The Anatolian Shepherd is a tall and muscular livestock guarding dog and he is capable of great speed. He has a sturdy body with a
broad head and thick neck.

His foreface should be slightly shorter than the skull. The ears are medium-sized, triangular in shape, rounded at tip, pendant with front edge close to cheek and higher when alert. The lips are tight to the muzzle.

The coat may be any colour, although the most common are white cream, "sesame," and white with large coloured spots that do not cover more than 30% of the body. Known as piebald, these colours may or may not be accompanied by a black mask and/or ears.

They have a dense double coat that is somewhat wiry, and needs to be brushed 1-2 times a week in warm weather due to excessive shedding. They have very thick hair on their neck to protect their throat. They are a naturally thin animal with a large rib cage and small stomach. They look as if they are heavier than they actually are, due to the thick coat.

  • Height: Males 74-81 cm at the shoulders ; Females 71-79 cm at the shoulders 
  • Weight: Mature dogs 50-65 kg ; Mature females 40-55 kg 

For the Anatolian Shepherd Breed Standard, please visit Dogs Australia


The rugged Anatolian Shepherd is an active breed originally developed as a guard dog for sheep. He's very hard working and capable of enduring extremes of both heat and cold. 

This dog breed is naturally independent, very intelligent and tractable. Proud and confident, steady and dependable without aggression. The Anatolian Shepherd is very loyal and affectionate with his owners but wary of strangers when on duty.

He is not inclined to play fetch or Frisbee nor should you expect animated responsiveness.

Despite his bulk, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is remarkably agile and reactive. He needs a spacious yard with a six-foot-high fence.

Livestock guardians bond with flock animals and their own family with fierce possessiveness. They make their own decisions about who is a friend and who is a foe, what is a threat and what is not, and they react to every situation as they see fit.

The safest generalisation is to say they are not a 'dog park dog' once mature. 

There are of course exceptions to this, but the breeds function and purpose is not a social one. They tend to be fine with dogs they have been raised with, but will generally be the top dog.

Anatolian Shepherds are highly intelligent, perceptive, and intuitive and can be easily trained but they will remain aloof and could decide to ignore some of your menial requests! Do not expect a perfect recall off lead either!

The Anatolian Shepherd is patient with children in the family and submissive family pets, but he should not be expected to welcome those outside the family. 
This breed requires a formal introduction to strangers before being touched by them, and he will remain vigilant every moment they are on his territory.


The most common health issues cited by owners were dermatologic, musculo-skeletal, and Lipomas

Entropion and canine Hip Dysplasia are sometimes seen in the breed. Eyes and hips should be tested before breeding. 

The average lifespan of an Anatolian Shepherd is 10 years. 


Anatolian Shepherds are a double coated breed and will shed some hair all year round. Twice a year they will shed heavily, and a good brushing will help remove old coat. However, they will not matt, and could be left without grooming.

Housepet Potential

In general, an Anatolian Shepherd in a domestic environment needs a strong, committed and ideally experienced dog owner. 

Anatolian Shepherds are not casual pets. Potential owners who cannot understand and control these powerful instincts should look for another breed.  They are self-reliant, strong-willed dogs who will try to manage everyone and everything unless you are an assertive leader who knows how to instil respect. 

An Anatolian Shepherd is a very large dog who takes up a lot of space and can be prone to destructiveness when bored

Be prepared for deep booming barks especially at night if he hears a sound. He will also be naturally suspicious towards strangers.

They don't necessarily eat a lot relative to their size as they are not a high energy dog

They can be known to be fussy, and are not overeaters. It is essential to their long term health that they are never overweight.

For more information on the Anatolian Shepherd breed, please contact

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of NSW Inc 

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