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What is an Anatolian Shepherd?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

The Anatolian shepherd is a giant breed of dog originally bred to protect and guide livestock. These dogs are considered extremely strong and fast, and they usually have strong chasing and herding instincts that must be overcome through rigorous socialization. While this breed has a reputation for intelligence and calm temperament, they are also considered stubbornly independent and extremely protective of the home and family. Owners are usually encouraged to exercise strong authority over these very large dogs, lest they become unmanageable.

Typically considered one of the giant dog breeds, the male Anatolian shepherd usually weighs in at about 110 to 150 pounds (49.9 to 68.04 kg), while the female generally weighs between 80 and 120 pounds (36.3 to 54.4 kg). These dogs typically reach a height of 27 to 29 inches (68.5 to 73.6 cm). They are usually stocky, sturdy and strong, with a short fur coat. The most common fur coat color for the Anatolian shepherd is fawn, and many dogs of this breed have a black face. They generally live for 10 to 13 years.

Veterinarian with a puppy
Veterinarian with a puppy

This is believed to be an ancient breed, dating all the way back to antiquity. These dogs are believed to have been first bred in Asia Minor, where they were used to guard flocks and homes, as well as for hunting. They have also been used historically in combat. They are believed capable of subduing any predator, including the wolf.

Because these dogs are so large and energetic, they typically require a lot of exercise and need much freedom of movement. For this reason, the Anatolian shepherd is not typically recommended for those who live in apartments. Ideally, these dogs require access to as much outdoor space as possible. Even when given large amounts of outdoor space, this breed still typically needs to be walked at length, daily. The Anatolian shepherd's protective and territorial nature means owners are generally encouraged to provide it with a fenced run, if only to ensure the safety of passers-by.

These dogs are considered very hardy, able to live outdoors even in cold weather, if given proper shelter. The breed typically sheds its fur coat twice a year, and may need to be groomed at these times, but grooming throughout the rest of the year is generally considered unnecessary. Medically, this breed is generally prone to hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and eyelid entropion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of the Anatolian Shepherd?

The Anatolian Shepherd, also known as the Kangal, hails from Turkey and is a breed with a storied past, dating back over 6,000 years. These dogs were bred by shepherds to protect livestock from predators like wolves and bears, a job they still perform today. Their lineage is so ancient that they're considered one of the oldest domestic canine breeds.

What are the distinctive physical characteristics of an Anatolian Shepherd?

An Anatolian Shepherd is a muscular and robust breed, known for its large stature, with males often weighing between 110 to 150 pounds. They possess a thick, short to medium-length coat that can vary in color but often includes shades of fawn, brindle, and white. Their keen, alert expression is complemented by a strong head and a sturdy body built for endurance.

How does the Anatolian Shepherd behave around children and other pets?

Anatolian Shepherds are known for their loyalty and protective nature, which can extend to children and family pets if they are raised together. However, due to their strong guarding instincts, they should be socialized early and trained properly to ensure they can distinguish between friend and potential threat, making them suitable for families with proper guidance.

What kind of temperament can be expected from an Anatolian Shepherd?

Anatolian Shepherds are intelligent, independent, and can be reserved with strangers, reflecting their breeding as guard dogs. They are calm and observant, often assessing their surroundings for potential threats. With their families, they are affectionate and protective. Early socialization and consistent training are crucial to manage their strong-willed nature.

How much exercise does an Anatolian Shepherd need?

An Anatolian Shepherd requires a significant amount of daily exercise due to its high energy levels and working breed background. A minimum of one to two hours of physical activity, such as walking, running, or playing in a secure area, is recommended to keep them healthy and prevent boredom-induced behaviors.

What are the grooming requirements for an Anatolian Shepherd?

Anatolian Shepherds have a double coat that sheds seasonally, requiring regular brushing, especially during shedding periods, to remove loose fur and maintain coat health. Bathing should be done occasionally, as their coat naturally repels dirt. Regular nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental care are also important for their overall well-being.

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    • Veterinarian with a puppy
      Veterinarian with a puppy