Anatolian Shepherd Dog

by Michelle Jones

This is a dog of ancient lineage who most likely originated in Turkey to defend flocks against predators like wolves and bears. For at least 4,000 years, this fearless dog has been a staunch protector of homes and families…Although his name implied that he’s herding dog, the Anatolian was never used as such. In Turkish, his name is koban copek, meaning “shepherd’s dog.” He traveled with Turkish nomad tribes who kept flocks of camels, sheep and goats. An ever-watchful guardian, the Anatolian is large, strong, hardy and loyal - more than a match for large predators and bandits.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog as we know him today wasn’t known in America until the 1950’s, where he continued his tasks of protecting flocks and homes. Cattle and sheep ranchers imported the Anatolian from the Middle East to protect their herds against coyotes and wolves. His fame quickly spread, and he was recognized by the AKC in 1996. Although he’s often seen at Westminster and other prestigious dog shows, his owners are insistent that his working instincts remain intact. He’s not known for his good-looks, appearing somewhat like an unattractive Labrador, but he stands majestic, proud, and very formidable!

In temperament, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a very serious, all-business dog, taking his job firmly to heart. With his family, he is easygoing as long as he is socialized as a puppy. He’s good with children, but can be aggressive with other dogs and strangers due to his dominance and protective instincts. A home intruder facing a snarling Anatolian will quickly disappear! He likes lots of exercise and is definitely not an apartment dog. In cities, he needs a large yard and a brisk daily walk. But use caution in dog parks; an unleashed Anatolian will likely start trouble with other dogs. He also needs time with his family; once he’s chased the strange person and dog away, you’ll likely find him curled up on the bed waiting for a tummy rub! Work first, fun and affection later!

The Anatolian is an intelligent dog and takes well to obedience training — if he wants to. He’s also an independent thinker; necessary for herd protection thousands of years before firearms were created. He tolerates cold fairly well, but dislikes heat and needs to sleep indoors. He’s a tough dog, built to do a tough job. He has remarkable endurance and agility, but is too large and heavy for agility contests. His only primary health problem is hip dysplasia.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is “hard-wired” to do what he does, and he does it very well. He sees children like lambs to be protected, but isn’t a good playmate. But with strangers and large predators, he is lightning-like power on four feet!