Anatolian Shepherd Dog

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: May 15, 2009

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a pure worker. Originally bred in Turkey for utilitarian purposes, it is today considered one of the preeminent guard dogs. This large, powerful dog also has a unique facility for protecting livestock.

Physical Characteristics

The rugged Anatolian Shepherd enjoys the traits of endurance and agility. Its large build allow it to perform difficult tasks, and its gait is smooth, fluid, and powerful.

The Anatolian Shepherd has a large head, good bone structure, and an intelligent expression. The dog's coat, which can be found in a variety of colors, is short or rough and a little longer around the mane and neck. Its undercoat, meanwhile, is thick.

Personality and Temperament

The ultimate watchdog, the Anatolian dog breed will begin to bark as soon as it becomes suspicious. It is devoted to its human family and serves as an excellent family protector. In spite of these qualities, however, the breed is recognized as an easy-going, laid back bunch -- never seeking out trouble. Though nice with kids, the Anatolian Shepherd may not be as playful as children expect.


The Anatolian Shepherd requires minimal coat care, comprising of just once a week brushing session to clear the dear hair. A brisk run or long walk is all it requires for a daily exercise regimen. It is also fond of socializing with its family, but can live outdoors in cool and temperate climates.


The Anatolian dog breed, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years, is prone to health conditions such as entropion and canine hip dysplasia (CHD). It also reacts adversely to barbiturate anesthesia. Hip and eye tests are advised for the dog.

History and Background

The origins of the Anatolian Shepherd are said to be rooted in Roman Mollosian war dogs and the Tibetan Mastiff, which arrived in Turkey over 4000 years ago. In Turkey, such dogs were used to defend livestock against predators like bears and wolves. They provided company to the nomadic shepherds and also became widespread throughout a vast region, thereby accounting for the breed’s variation in color, size, and coat type. The qualities that remained constant in all the breeds are hardiness, faithfulness, and independence.

Its name is derived from the breed's Turkish name Koban copek, which is roughly translated into "shepherd's dog." However, this breed has never functioned as a herder.

First entering the United States in the 1950s, the Anatolian Shepherd dog effectively guarded livestock from coyotes and various predators, but was not well known among dog fanciers.

From the late 1970s to the 1980s, the Anatolian Shepherd became appreciated and esteemed for its useful attributes. Pet lovers who sought a loyal and trustworthy guardian started acquiring the breed. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed as part of the Miscellaneous class in 1996 and later into the Working Group.

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