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Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

The Anatolian Shepherd is a powerfully built mastiff type with a short, dense coat and a broad heavy head. The coat is designed to protect against extreme weather conditions, and comes in any colour, with or without a distinctive black mask.

  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Giant dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Quiet dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Might not like other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Best suited to countryside
  • Can be left occasionally with training

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 – 13 years
Weight: 50 – 64kg for males, and 41 – 59kg for females
Height: 74 – 81cm for males, and 71 – 79cm for females
Colours: Comes in a variety of colours, and may or may not have a distinctive black mask
Size: Large
Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral


Family-friendly: 3/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 3/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 2/5
Anatolian Shepherd standing in the field


With family members and other people well known to them, the Anatolian Shepherd is loyal and friendly, however this breed retains their working nature, suspicious of strangers and very fast to react to any perceived threat. As a flock guardian breed, the Anatolian is an independent thinker, relied upon to make decisions by themselves rather than at the cue of a shepherd, in the pet home this can mean they are not easy to live with and require a great degree of careful management.

Anatolian Shepherd standing with open mouth

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Turkey

The Anatolian Shepherd is an ancient breed descended from mastiff types and flock guardian breeds of the Middle East. Giant in size and athletic, this powerful dog was bred to protect flocks of sheep and goats from predatory bears and wolves and of course, human thieves.

They are the original livestock guardian dogs of Turkey, and are still seen working with the nomads who move to find food and other resources, a process called ‘transhumance’ which is responsible for the spread of both human and canine genetics across some parts of the world. 

The first pair of Anatolian Shepherds arrived in the UK in 1965 and despite further dogs being brought to the UK since, the breed remains rare in this country. 

Health and Common Concerns

The Anatolian Shepherd is generally a very hardy breed, but as with many breeds they can occasionally suffer from hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. Check with the Kennel Club and breed clubs for further health information.

Exercise Needs

Up to two hours a day, split into two walks, will keep the Anatolian happy, but further time should be dedicated to interactive training and puzzle solving games that involve working with their owner. Some off lead running will be beneficial but given this breeds size, fitness should be built up slowly until they reach maturity. Given their suspicion of strangers - human and canine - use a safe secure, isolated ideally private, place for off lead exercise!

Space Requirements

This is a giant breed and will require sizeable housing and a large, extremely securely fenced garden. If the garden borders other properties or public rights of way, double fencing is advisable along with delivery boxes situated on the outsides of the property. Better suited to remote rural living with access to secure areas for exercise and training.

Nutrition and Feeding

Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. The Anatolian Shepherd dog breed is prone to bloating and stomach problems; try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk.

Grooming Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

The coat offered protection to the Turkish flock guards in the coldest of winters and hottest of summers. Short and dense with a thick undercoat, it needs a brush through once or twice a week and will shed heavily during the moulting seasons.

Training Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

Not a breed that will enjoy training for its own sake, the Anatolian must be socialised very thoroughly when young, to livestock, children, other humans and other household pets but even then will retain their guarding instincts and stranger suspicion. A solid recall should be taught and refreshed regularly, as should walking on a harness and lead, and all training must be done using positive reinforcement – this is not a dog to attempt to bully or intimidate, such methods will backfire dangerously!

Best Family Dog Breeds

Due to their size, protective instincts and the time needed for training and exercise, this is a dog suited to adult only homes. Because this breeds nature is to distrust strangers, homes with many visitors or visiting children are likely to find the Anatolian Shepherd highly unsuitable.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

The Anatolian Shepherd dog has never been known by that name in its native Turkey. There they are the Kangal, Karabash (black face) and Akbash (white face), depending on colour and which area of Turkey they are from. Each area of Turkey has its own favourite and the arguments regarding which is best can get heated!

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