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Anatolian Shepherd… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed

While it is true that every dog breed will have its own “unique” style and nature, one common trend you’ll find is that “most” dog breeds created to help shepherds control their flock tend to be quite bright. And this is precisely what you’re going to find when looking at the Anatolian Shepherd minus the super “hyperactivity” you’ll commonly find in many other “working dogs,” which is why we here at IndulgeYourPet feel that these guys can often be a good choice for someone thinking about getting a great family pet!

The only problem is…

The Anatolian Shepherd isn’t always the “best” fit for everyone. So… in this article, we’re going to try and point out some of the pros and cons of owning an Anatolian Shepherd so that, if you ever get a chance to get a hold of one, you won’t be disappointed that you chose to make one your own six months later! So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Anatolian Shepherd Fast Facts

Country of Origin:  Turkey

Original Purpose:  Guarding the flock

Height:  27 to 29 inches tall

Weight:  80 to 150 pounds, depending on sex

Lifespan:  10 to 13 years

Dog Group Classification:  Working dog

If you’re looking for a working dog with experience as a livestock guardian, the Anatolian Shepherd might be for you! Okay, we realize this is probably too specific for the average American household dog owner. Still, it is fair to say that a guardian dog is often a great family dog – after all, he’ll protect you as best as he can.

Origin of Anatolian Shepherd

The Anatolian Shepherd dog is an ancient breed used for various historical purposes. Dating back 4,000 years, their earliest ancestors were most likely “Roman War” dogs that the Roman soldiers used throughout the Roman Empire.

These early dogs most likely interbred with “native” animals already in Turkey, creating a formidable beast capable of surviving in the harsh environment that early Turkish shepherds had to live in while also providing protection from wolves and bears that these early shepherds had to deal with.

After all…

The Anatolian Shepherd is a very LARGE animal. This is why they quickly became a “favorite” breed among the nomadic shepherds of the time, allowing the species to spread throughout the Anatolian plateau, which includes modern-day turkey, where the species is also commonly referred to as the Coban Kopegi or “Shepherd dog.” Ironically, despite the species being in existence for over 4,000 years, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the species was first brought to the United States, where it took another 40 years or so for it to be “officially” recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1996.

Physical Characteristics

Anatolian shepherds are pretty big dogs that can weigh 150 pounds! Of course, the females are smaller, but even they can get up to 120 pounds! (similar to the Akbash, another working dog native to Turkey). Anatolian Shepherds have a relatively short coat with a thick undercoat – this is pretty standard for all the breeds designed to do outdoor jobs, like being livestock guardians.

And while…

Anatolians come in various coat colors, such as white, pint, or brindle; the most common color is brindle. And most, if not all, Anatolian Shepherds will share their “black mask” face. It should be noted that although the Anatolian Shepherd may look quite similar to the Turkish Kangal, they are two separate dog breeds. At least they are considered two different dog breeds by the United Kingdom Kennel Club.

Unfortunately, the American Kennel Club hasn’t “recognized” the Kangal yet. Still, given that the AKC “tends” to be a bit slower than other organizations, we here at IndulgeYourPet feel it’s a matter of time.

Personality and Temperament

As a protector, the slightest sign of danger or threat can set an Anatolian Shepherd dog off – even if it’s just perceived risk and not actual danger. They’re skeptical of a stranger but only out of loyalty to their family. As livestock dogs, they learned to tend to their flock and consider all others the enemy. The good news is that because of their size, most folks with an “ounce” of common sense won’t feel the need to “test” your Anatolian’s commitment to the family.

Also, they are easy to train…

Because at its core, the Anatolian Shepherd is a working dog bred to be VERY smart and be able to FOLLOW directions. This is a good thing because it’s one thing to have an “unruly” Pug jumping on your house guests and small children, it’s a totally different situation when your Anatolian Shepherd isn’t adequately trained! Remember, this is a GIANT of a dog.

Early obedience training and socialization are critical…

While it’s generally going to be “impossible” to keep your Anatolian Shepherd from having a healthy wariness of strangers, proper training and socialization early in your Anatolian’s life can ensure that your Anatolian Shepherd puppy will grow up to be quite accepting of other pets, small children and strangers (once adequately introduced). And isn’t this precisely what any family would want of a BIG dog- one that will love and protect the family while accepting of anyone the family chooses to have over? We think so, which is why we love the Anatolian dog breed.

But remember…

The Anatolian Shepherd is a huge dog and is going to want to be able to stretch his legs out just about every day. So, if you live in a small apartment without a yard or orcannoto, take your Shepherd for daily walks or trips to the local dog park; this probably isn’t the right dog for you.


If you “tend” to own dogs that aren’t always the “best” trained, you probably don’t want to get a dog this big. Because, like we said before, if you don’t take the time to prepare a smaller dog, all you have is a “poorly” trained nuisance. But when you fail to train your Anatolian Shepherd, what you have is a GIANT wrecking ball of an animal that can not only do a lot of damage, he can actually hurt someone pretty bad, even if he or she is just “playing” and not actually “attacking”!

Potential Health Concerns

The species is relatively healthy, considering just how old the Anatolian Shepherd dog breed is. Sure, Anatolian Shepherds will potentially suffer from a few health issues; however, these “issues” tend to be familiar to all large dog breeds and are not specific “risks” to Anatolian Shepherds.

Health Risks such as:

  • Hip dysplasia is one of the easiest to eliminate with a good breeder. You would probably be able to tell the likelihood of this in puppies, but still ask for some family medical history of your new puppy if you have a dog with hip dysplasia; surgery to correct this will cost thousands of dollars.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: This will also impact your dog’s ability to walk and live easily. Corrective surgery could help, but it will cost $1000-$6000.
  • Hypothyroidism: This disorder is easy to fix but will cost some money and probably a lifetime of medication, either to make the thyroid gland usually react or as a replacement hormone should the entire thyroid be removed.

And while we here at IndulgeYourPet feel pretty confident saying that the Anatolian Shepherd breed is a pretty healthy one, we also always recommend that folks take a quick look and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy on their anima,l so if any medical issues do arise, you won’t be on the “hook” for the total cost of treatment.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But how will you learn until you know precisely how much a policy will cost you? This is why we write our  Best Pet Insurance Companies article so that you can quickly understand the pros and cons of owning a policy and how much it might cost.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • gordon m k July 6, 2020, 2:45 pm

    I think I have an ASD. She has all the standards and does seem to guard the house. She is very well-trained. I have had many dogs, but I don’t consider myself a dog trainer. VERY sweet. Barks a lot, but not really a nuisance. Jumps up on visitors, but in a friendly way. 95# Around two feet at the shoulder. Female. Dark brown/black when born, now a Khaki color. Sound right to you? How could I confirm my thoughts? Was a rescue, found in nearby woods in NE Ga.

    • indulgeyourpet July 6, 2020, 5:02 pm


      One thing that you might want to try is see if there aren’t any local Anatolian Shepherd “Facebook” clubs in your area that might get together every now and then or might be able to take a look at some photos you may have in order to help you know for sure. This would probably be the easiest way if such a group exists near you.

      Thanks and good luck!


  • Kathy M May 20, 2022, 8:35 am

    I have owned Anatolian Shepherd Dogs for decades. Always owning a male. They are huge and intimidating to all strangers. These dogs are serious about their job of guarding family, pets, property and livestock. These are the smartest breed there is hands down! I will always have an Anatolian Shepherd in my family! I love this breed. Gentle Giants with their family. Not so much with strangers. A trait I love about this wonderful breed!

  • Dawn February 21, 2023, 1:41 pm

    Pretty sure I am fostering a ASD pup. Would this be a good dog for trail riding? I will have the option to adopt. I like my dogs going along with my horse.

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