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Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Other Names: Karabas, Anatolian Karabash, Turkish Shepherd Dog, Kangal

Country Of Origin: Turkey

Dog Group: Working dog

Size: Large

Recommended For: Couples, single owners, families with older children

Maintenance Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Temperament: Independent, loyal, protective, curious

FAQ:

Good For First-Time Owner: No

Good With Children: No

Good With Other Animals: Yes

Good With Strangers: No

Good For Apartments: No

Exercise Requirements: Daily walking

Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes

Can Live In Cold Weather: Yes

Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes

Grooming: Moderate

Trainability: Moderate

Breed Overview:

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog was bred as a livestock guard dog, and was used primarily by rural farmers in Turkey.

This means the breed is very protective, and can be aggressive if they feel threatened. This also means they can be quite challenging as pets because they are independent, and can be very stubborn.

However, the breed is also very friendly and loyal towards their owners. They should be socialized with other dogs from a young age to improve chances of integration, and the same is true for training.

Color: Brindle, fawn, white, piebald

Height: Males – 29-32 inches, females – 28-31 inches

Weight: Males – 110-143lbs, females – 88-121lbs

Personality and Temperament:

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a very intelligent breed, and are known for their independence and loyalty.

These come from their purpose as livestock guard dogs, and were known to be vicious towards threats to their herd. They were mainly used without the assistance of their owners, and this has contributed to their independent nature.

However, this can become an issue when it comes to keeping them as a pet, as they can be very stubborn.

This obviously means that the breed isn’t suitable for first-time owners. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog requires a confident and strong-willed owner, and so should only be kept by those with experience in dealing with dogs.

Also, their large size makes them very strong, and this is usually something first-time owners aren’t really equipped to deal with.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is not a good choice as a family pet. While their protective nature is something that you can deal with, it might present a complication with younger children, particularly if they don’t yet know how to behave around dogs.

However, the Anatolian Karabash can be kept with older children, providing everyone is educated on the best care.

The breed can be very wary around strangers, particularly if they feel someone is trespassing on their property.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a very deep bark that can be quite loud, and they use it quite freely, particularly at night. Bear this in mind if you have neighbors, as it’s part of the breed’s instinct, and so there’s little you can really do about it.

Similarly, the breed’s size means it isn’t suitable for apartment living. They were bred to roam for miles at a time following their flock, and so don’t enjoy being cramped in a small apartment.

The best setting for them is a house with plenty of land, which should be fenced in. They’re not necessarily escape artists, but they’ll just carry on walking under the assumption that they’ll travel home later. For that reason, it’s always worth microchipping the breed.

The Karabash can be fine around other animals, particularly if it’s something they can herd.

However, they should be socialized around other dogs from an early age, because their instinct is to be an only dog. The earlier you mix them with other dogs, the better they’ll be.

They can be kept with other dogs, but expect a bit of tension for the first few weeks until some kind of hierarchy is established.

Due to their use in Turkish mountains, the Kangal Dog is suitable for both hot and cold climates. Their coat is quite thick and shaggy, so should be thinned or clipped if you live in a warm climate.

However, their native land would vary between hot and cold, particularly if they were spending the night outside, and so they’re suitable for life in most conditions.

Again, due to their purpose, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is fine to be left alone for long periods of time. They can come across as quite aloof around humans, so don’t feel offended if you think the dog is ignoring you after you’ve been at work all day.

Unlike some other breeds, they actually prefer to be alone, rather than left with other dogs, although this won’t make a lot of difference if you do have other pets.

When it comes to exercise, the Kangal Dog needs plenty of it. Their nature is to basically roam for days on end, so you should expect to give them long daily walks, or more than one if you can tolerate it.

They don’t enjoy playtime as much as some other breeds, but will be happy with a game of fetch every now and then.

Grooming:

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have a thick, double-layered coat that requires weekly brushing to keep it healthy. You should switch between a long comb, a short bristle brush, and a slicker brush in order to get all the loose hair out of both layers of their coat.

The breed sheds their undercoat twice a year with seasonal changes, so expect plenty of hair around the house during these times.

You should try to brush them every few days during periods of shedding to minimize the amount left around the house, and doing this outside with a damp brush is the best way to minimize mess.

Their thick coat is quite prone to picking up smells and debris, but you shouldn’t bath them any more than is absolutely necessary.

If you bath them too frequently, you’ll remove the oils from their coat, which will then look dull and lifeless. A good brush should remove most debris, and will help them smell a bit fresher too.

Trimming their nails is a must, and should be done every few weeks. Similarly, aim to brush their teeth at least twice a week, although the breed is less susceptible to dental issues than other breeds.

A chew toy that promotes dental health should also be provided, simply to make your job easier.

Common Diseases and Conditions:

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a generally healthy breed, and hasn’t been subjected to the same levels of selective breeding as some more popular dogs.

As a result, they don’t experience as many cases of common canine health conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia.

However, the breed is known to suffer from a range of dermatological and muscular issues. Some of these are quite easy to spot, but some are more difficult.

Many dermatological conditions will present with symptoms of skin irritation, so if you notice any of these, then get to a vet straight away.

Many of the conditions can be controlled with diet, and some skin problems will be the result of food intolerances.

Most responsible breeders will test for hereditary conditions during puppyhood, so keep an eye out for this if you’re thinking of getting an Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

History:

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a descendant of an ancient line of livestock guardians that were used by the nomadic tribes of central Eurasia.

They’re believed to be descended from Mesopotamian hunting dogs, although there is no direct evidence for this fact.

The breed was created to match a very specific set of conditions, arguably some of the most specific for any working breed.

They needed to be able to tolerate mountain conditions, which were very hot during summer days, and incredibly cold during winter nights. They also needed to be independent, so they could be left alone guarding a flock, and capable of dealing with the nomadic lifestyle.

The result is a breed that isn’t really a pet, but is a very accomplished worker.

The breed wasn’t noticed in the West until the 1970s, when it was brought to the UK by author Charmain Hussey. Since then, breeders have tried to trace its lineage as far back as possible in order to establish it as a legitimate breed.

It was recognized by Australia in 1985 as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, when it was imported to help with livestock control.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Facts & Figures

Did You Know?

  • The Kangal is used in conservation efforts in Namibia to protect livestock from cheetahs. This is actually to protect the cheetahs, which are killed by farmers to protect their livestock. The dogs don’t kill the cheetahs, but simply scare them off.
  • A three-legged Kangal, Haatchi, won the “Friends For Life” category in Crufts for his relationship with a young boy suffering from a degenerative bone condition. Haatchi was also awarded a medal at the British Animal Honours awards in 2013.
  • An Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Kurt, holds the title of second tallest dog in the world, and is only 4 inches shorter than the tallest.
  • Another Kangal, Madison, guarded his burned-out home for a month after the Californian Camp Fire of 2018. He was kept alive by aid workers, but refused to leave his post.
  • In June 2018, Turkish Kennel Club and FCI Breed Standard approved a change of the breed name from Anatolian Shepherd Dog to Kangal,