Anatolian Shepherd, A Vetenarian’s Authoritative Guide for 2023

If you adore Anatolian Shepherds and want to learn basic knowledge about these dogs, our Anatolian Shepherd guide is for you.

Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherds are an ancient working guard dog breed that originated in Turkey. Anatolian Shepherds are large, strong canines bred to guard and protect livestock from predators and thieves. They are a popular choice for guard dogs and companion pets in modern times.

The trend of owning an Anatolian Shepherd has recently gained much popularity, particularly in the United States. However, many people don’t know much about them other than that they are large working dogs. So, to learn more about this magnificent dog breed, keep reading this article by a small animal veterinarian.

Anatolian Shepherd Origin

Anatolian Shepherds are thought to have originated around 6000 years ago during the Bronze era in central Turkey’s Anatolia region.

These dogs were bred to be enormous and robust to be used as working dogs to care for livestock and protect it from predators such as wolves, jackals, and other humans.

These dogs have remarkable strength, boldness, and agility because they are descended from Mastiffs. The large breed used to be an important member of nomadic herders, traveling large distances with them. They are still used as guard dogs by livestock herders in Turkey.

The Turkish name for the breed, Koban copek, which loosely translates to “Shepherd’s dog,” is where the name comes from. This breed, however, has never served as a herder but rather a protector.

Kangal Shepherd Dog, Kangal oban Köpei, and Turkish Kangal Dog are some common names for Anatolian Shepherd, while some are disputed.

Because of their fearlessness, some have been exported to Africa and used to protect livestock from cheetahs.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were introduced to the United States in the 1930s when the Turkish government gave one to the US Department of Agriculture.

Robert Ballard, a navy officer who developed a love for this large breed while stationed in Turkey, started a breeding program when he got home and founded the breed’s first dog club in 1970. The American Kennel Club recognized Anatolian Shepherds in 1996.

Anatolian Shepherd Lifespan

Anatolian Shepherds are strong dogs with an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years, but some may live longer if provided adequate care by their owners.

Because they are prone to various health issues, many dogs do not live over their normal life expectancy.

Providing a balanced diet, regularly exercising your dog, and taking it to the vet for annual health exams will help extend your Anatolian Shepherd’s lifespan.

Anatolian Shepherd Characteristics And Personality

The following are some of the highlights of the Anatolian Shepherd’s personality and breed characteristics.


Anatolian Shepherds are big dogs. Males can weigh between 110 and 150 pounds, while females can weigh between 80 and 120 pounds. A fully grown male Anatolian Shepherd height can stand about 29 inches tall, and a fully grown female Anatolian Shepherd can stand around 27 inches tall.


They are extremely loyal dogs who obey most of their owners’ commands. They fearlessly defend their owners against any threat, which is why they make excellent guard dogs.

The large breed is friendly and peaceful around their owners, but this may not be the case when near a stranger, especially if the dog has not been properly socialized with humans from an early age.


Strong Anatolian Shepherds have a Mastiff lineage. Hence they are built to be strong and tough. These canines have incredible stamina and can comfortably walk and run long distances. These dogs are also highly adaptive, surviving in hot and cold environments.

Highly protective

The fiercely protective temperament of this dog breed is one of its most prized features. This is why they are still used as watchdogs over livestock and horses to protect them from predators and thieves. The Anatolian Shepherd is an intelligent and loyal breed that can form strong bonds with its family. They are devoted to their owners and will go to great lengths to protect them.


The large breed prefers to live a life in which they are in charge rather than overly dependent on their owners. When kept with other animals, they will consider themselves the leader of the pack, which is why it is particularly protective of them against any threat. As such, they make great guard dogs. They typically have a calm personality and are quite intelligent and loyal companions.

Laid back

This large breed is not a particularly playful dog breed, preferring to lie down and rest rather than chase a ball. They also dislike playing fetch and chasing objects. These dogs are generally recommended to be kept indoors because they tend to escape if left outside, especially if their owners have not properly trained and socialized them.

Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherd Requirements

The following are some of the requirements of Anatolian Shepherds:


These large dogs require roughly an hour of daily exercise to stay healthy and fit. You can walk or run with them.

A healthy Anatolian Shepherd can run 5 to 6 miles with ease. They can also walk or hike up to 8 to 10 miles in one go. Make sure your dog is socialized and leash trained to make the trip more enjoyable for you and your dog.

You should also let them run and walk around off-leash, but only in an enclosed area where you can supervise them.


They have a double coat that is longer around the neck. These dogs require regular grooming throughout the summer because it is when they shed the most, and twice a week the rest of the year. Grooming regularly helps avoid matting and minimizes shedding.

You should also bathe your dog once a month because they are not very good self-groomers. This Turkish breed should have their nails trimmed once a month and their teeth brushed once a week.


Anatolian Shepherds are independent dogs who can be challenging to train, especially for inexperienced dog owners. However, if they are well-socialized from an early age, you can train them using some yummy dog treats.

In addition to using treats, positive reinforcement training methods can be effective with them. They are known for being sensitive dogs who respond well to praise, encouragement, and consistent training.

It is essential to start training and socialization early on, as they are a breed that tends to become more stubborn and difficult to train as they get older. Due to their guarding instincts, Anatolian Shepherds may need additional training to ensure they do not become overly protective or aggressive towards strangers.

Establishing yourself as the pack leader and maintaining a calm and assertive demeanor during training is also important. If you struggle to train your Anatolian Shepherd, seeking the help of a professional dog trainer with experience with this breed may be beneficial.

Dietary Needs

Adult Anatolian Shepherds consume 4 to 6 cups of high-quality dry dog kibble daily. However, it is recommended that they consume their daily diet in two sessions rather than in one serving. These large breeds do not tend to overeat, so they are not prone to obesity. After consulting a veterinarian, you can also feed them homemade dog food.

Anatolian Shepherd Price

The cost of an Anatolian Shepherd puppy is determined by several factors, including the dog’s physical characteristics, age, bloodline, demand, location, and breeder reputation. A purebred Anatolian Shepherd can cost anywhere between $1000 to $ 5000 in the United States.

Anatolian Shepherd Health Issues

Following are some of the health problems that are prevalent in Anatolian Shepherds.

Hip dysplasia

Because Anatolian Shepherds are large dogs, so they are prone to various orthopedic problems, including hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is particularly common in puppies during their growth stage.

An abnormal femur head or a shallow bone socket causes the condition. Initially, the joint surface deteriorates, causing the joint to loosen, and eventually, the femur bone is displaced from the hip joint.

Hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis, a painful condition for dogs. Lameness, reluctance to move, abnormal gait, and other signs may develop in Anatolian Shepherds.


As Anatolian Shepherds are descended from Mastiffs, they have loose skin on their faces, especially around their eyes, making them susceptible to an eye ailment known as entropion.

Entropion occurs when the dog’s upper eyelid folds inwards, causing the eyelashes and hair to rub against the cornea and other sensitive parts of the eye, resulting in constant irritation and discomfort.

Pawing at the affected eye, persistent blinking, redness in the eye, and mucoid or purulent discharge are all symptoms of entropion in Anatolian Shepherds. Fortunately, entropion can be effectively treated with minor surgery.

Autoimmune disorders

Many dog breeds, including Anatolian Shepherds, suffer from autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders are medical conditions in which the dog’s immune system turns against itself. It cannot distinguish between foreign objects and normal cells of the body and begins to attack normal cells of the body, causing various health issues.

Autoimmune thyroiditis is a prevalent autoimmune illness in Anatolian Shepherds. In autoimmune thyroiditis, the dog’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland’s cells, causing the gland to be unable to produce enough thyroid hormones, resulting in various health issues.


Cardiomyopathy is a common medical condition among Anatolian Shepherds. The dog’s heart cannot generate enough pressure to efficiently circulate blood throughout the circulatory system, resulting in numerous health issues.

In Anatolian Shepherds, a lack of oxygenated blood in the circulation causes the following symptoms: lethargy, weakness, weight loss, collapse, coughing, and an elevated respiratory rate.

Intestinal torsion

They are prone to intestinal torsion, a disorder in which the intestine twists and causes a complete or partial blockage of the digestive tract.

Intestinal torsion is most commonly caused by gas or bloating in the dog’s GIT tract. Intestinal torsion can be painful for the Turkish breed and is usually treated surgically.

Anesthesia Sensitivity

Although anesthesia sensitivity is not a disease, it is a health risk in certain dog breeds, including Anatolian Shepherds, for unknown reasons.

If dogs with anesthetic sensitivity are given general anesthesia, they may die from respiratory collapse.

Anatolian Shepherd Colors

According to the American Kennel Club, Anatolian Shepherds are available in eight colors and markings: Blue Fawn, Brindle, Fawn, Liver, Red Fawn, White, Biscuit & White, and Gray Fawn.

Blue Fawn is a rare color characterized by a blue-gray coat with a fawn undercoat. Brindle is a pattern that features a mix of dark and light stripes or swirls, often in shades of brown or black.

Fawn is a light tan color, while Liver is a darker brown shade. Red Fawn is a darker variation of the fawn color, while Gray Fawn is a darker variation of the gray color. White is a solid white coat, while Biscuit & White combines white with light tan or cream.

It’s important to note that while coat color and markings are important for breed standards and identification, they do not necessarily have an impact on the dog’s temperament or behavior.

Each individual dog is unique, and various factors, including genetics, socialization, and training, shape their personality and behavior.

Do Anatolian Shepherds Make Good Guard Dogs?

This large breed makes for ideal guard dogs due to their high alertness and strength. Anatolian Shepherds are among the dogs that will risk their lives to protect the life and property of their wonders.

They will viciously fight any stranger or animal who tries to intrude on the property, which is why it is best to keep them indoors when not on guard duty because they can get aggressive toward strangers.

Their excellent guarding abilities are still used to protect valuable livestock and horses in various parts of the world.

Anatolian Shepherd Puppies

Are Anatolian Shepherds Family Friendly

Anatolian Shepherds are large dogs, and while they make good family pets for people who can handle them and have expertise with large dog breeds, they can be difficult for certain owners.

Anatolian Shepherds are not recommended for households with small children since they are powerful dogs that can injure small kids who do not treat them appropriately. They can also be violent towards other dogs in the house and outsiders if they are not properly socialized from a young age.

Anatolian Shepherd Conclusion

In conclusion, if you are fascinated by these Turkish dogs, this guide has provided basic knowledge about these remarkable dogs. The Anatolian Shepherd is a large, strong, loyal breed bred to guard and protect livestock from predators and thieves.

The breed’s origins go back 6000 years, and have a Mastiff lineage, giving them remarkable strength, boldness, and agility. Anatolian Shepherds have an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years and require regular exercise, grooming, and health checkups to maintain their well-being.

These dogs are also highly protective, independent, and laid back, making them excellent guard dogs and companions. If you’re interested in owning one, it is crucial to consider whether their temperament and requirements fit you and provide them with the care they need to live a long and happy life.


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4. PetMD Editorial. (2022, August 11). Anatolian Shepherd Dog. PetMD.

5. Wikipedia contributors. (2023, February 8). Kangal Shepherd Dog. Wikipedia.

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