Other names: Coban Köpegi
The Anatolian Shepherd is a highly intelligent, proud, independent and self-confident dog. They are ancestral guardians who show great interest in the protection of their family and territory. Without ever being unnecessarily aggressive but by showing a certain tenacity when it comes to protecting, these giant-sized dog are very wise, calm and gentle when they are with their family.
Key facts about the Anatolian Shepherd
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Origins and history
The Anatolian Shepherd is an old breed that most likely descends from the great hunting dogs of Mesopotamia. Over time, the breed has evolved to adapt to a series of particular circumstances: those that have most influenced their formation are the climate (very hot summers, very cold winters), the way of life of populations (sedentary, semi-nomadic or nomadic) and the type of work. The FCI officially recognized this Turkish breed in 1989.
Physical characteristics of the Anatolian Shepherd
Female : Between 28 and 31 in
Male : Between 29 and 32 in
Female : Between 99 and 132 lb
Male : Between 121 and 154 lb
All hair colours are permissible for this Turkish dog breed except for Merle.
Type of coat
Their coat is short or mid-length.
The coat is twofold: a dense topcoat and a thick undercoat. The coat varies in length and density depending on the climate, it is generally longer in winter.
Their eye colour ranges from golden to brown, depending on the colour of the coat.
The Anatolian Shepherd is a strong, large and robustly built dog with a powerful constitution. The head is broad and strong. The eyes are rather small in relation to the size of the skull, well detached and sunken into the orbits. The ears, of medium size, are triangular in shape and rounded at the ends; they fall against the cheeks and are raised when the dog is attentive. The tail is long and reaches the hock. It is set fairly high, carried low at rest and slightly curved; when the dog is attentive it is carried high, with the tip curved onto the back, especially amongst the males.
Good to know
Anatolian Shepherds are also used to protect protected species. In Namibia, cheetahs are a very serious threat to farmers and livestock breeders as they can kill dozens of sheep at once. Despite the fact that they are a protected species, shepherds are allowed to trap and kill these big cats to ensure the sustainability of their farms.
Nevertheless, in the 1990s, an American biologist proposed using Anatolian Shepherds to protect livestock and deter cheetahs from approaching. It worked very well as felines are particularly scared of big dogs. This way, sheep are protected, and cheetahs are spared.
Despite their independent and prideful temperament, Anatolian Shepherds appreciate demonstrations of affection and are very close to their social group.
Cordial with children and friendly to all members of their social group, this dog enjoys spending time with his or her adoptive family and, when they are puppies, the Anatolian Shepherd can be playful. However, their temperament weakens considerably with age.
Wise by nature, quiet strength characterises this powerful and tender mountain beast very well. With their family, they are gentle, reliable and even patient with children.
Like many sheepdogs, the Anatolian Shepherd is particularly intelligent and docile, and has good working skills, especially in sheep guarding, where this dog shows great initiative.
As much more of a guardian than a hunter, the Karabash, as it is otherwise called, does not have a highly developed hunting instinct. Their ancestral role as herdsmen leads this dog to respect other animals, unless they are a danger to their lives or their family of course.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This dog is highly distant from strangers, although friendly when familiar people cross their territory. In the absence of their masters, they let no one in and are distrustful of everyone.
Its official standard describes this Turkish guard dog as highly independent, proud and confident but docile and very intelligent.
Behaviour of the Anatolian Shepherd
Although very close to their social group and affectionate towards them, Anatolian Shepherd dogs are able to remain alone at home where they take their role as guardian very seriously.
Nevertheless, absences should not be prolonged and, above all, before and after each period of solitude, this Anatolian Sheepdog must benefit from physical and mental exercise.
Easy to train / obedience
The Kangal, as this dog may also be known, is considered to be an intelligent and docile dog, even if it is very independent. This temperament often does not coincide with a high level of obedience and yet, for a hound, this dog is particularly receptive.
For their education to be successful, it is necessary to begin training from a young age in order to prevent the Anatolian Shepherd puppy from developing bad habits.
Be careful never to seek any kind of power relationship with this giant dog as they could quickly begin to consider their master as an incoherent and disrespectful being and therefore stop any form of cooperation.
To overcome their occasionally stubborn side, it is necessary to be firm, consistent and self-confident to build a strong relationship. Concessions must be avoided while fostering an education that respects the principles of positive education.
It should be noted that obedience for this dog is a deliberate, unconditioned act. Therefore, commands must be fair and sensible in order to achieve results.
Barking is this dog's main deterrent technique. So, when they sense danger, they don't hesitate to raise their voice. Good training helps to avoid unnecessary barking.
Tendency to run away
It is advisable to fence off the environment of this Turkish guard dog, this is not to avoid running away but rather to help the dog understand the boundaries of the territory he/she must guard.
However, they can live freely in the countryside if the environment is sufficiently safe. They will then set their own limits and will be committed to ensuring that no one with malicious intent disrupts the tranquillity of their home.
If they are bored, insufficiently stimulated and lacking a duty, they can easily become destructive, especially if they stay locked in, for example, in a small apartment. Otherwise, they are calm, composed and reliable dogs, if all their needs are met and they are kept in a suitable environment.
Greedy / Gluttony
The Anatolian Shepherd is a modest eater because of his large size.
Also known as the Turkish guard dog, this mountain molosser is a highly skilled guard who was (and still is) mainly used for guarding sheep.
Indeed, even when adopted as companion dogs they are committed to protecting their family, but are never unnecessarily aggressive. Biting is indeed a means of last resort for this dog following all its other preventive measures in the event of danger.
When at home, they guard their property and all members of their social group (humans and animals alike) and when they are on the move with their master, they know that they are no longer at home but can be very vigilant if they feel their master is in danger.
For a first-time adoption, choosing a large, sometimes stubborn dog with a highly developed guard instinct can be tricky. It is preferable to choose a more flexible and less invasive breed.
Educational and social failures for such a large race can be dangerous. This dog needs experienced, reliable, consistent and self-confident owners in order to evolve well. If they sense any weakness, their protective instinct will only be further developed, and this can be challenging on a daily basis.
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Anatolian Shepherd in a flat
Living in an apartment is not suitable for this large dog who is eager for space and the outdoors.
A life in the countryside, in a fenced garden or in total freedom suit this dog more as it allows for them to express their full potential in their natural manner.
In addition, their protective instinct develops particularly at night and they may often bark at the slightest opportunity. This is not suitable for a serene urban life, be it for the owners, the dog, or for neighbours.
The Anatolian Shepherd enjoys living indoors but prefers to stay outdoors and guard the territory defined by the fence.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Like all large dogs, intense physical activity is not highly recommended in order to avoid any joint problems.
Nevertheless, they are work dogs that need to feel useful and be stimulated daily to reach their full potential.
Indeed, even if they live in the countryside in freedom or if they benefit from having a garden, it is advisable to walk them every day (at least two daily walks) to exercise them physically, socially and stimulate their senses.
Travelling / easy to transport
The very large size of this dog does not make it easy to move them around. It is necessary to have complete control over this powerful dog in order to take them everywhere.
Anatolian Shepherd and cats
If they grow up with cats, they will be able to get along with them and will consider them, as well as the other members of the group, as subjects to be protected.
However, one must be careful, living with cats in the home does not mean they will tolerate all cats, especially those who decide to walk on their territory.
Anatolian Shepherd and dogs
Early and high-quality socialisation is necessary for a Kangal to learn, develop and strengthen its dog codes. Otherwise, they could be either fearful or aggressive towards fellow dogs.
On the other hand, just like living with cats or other animals, growing up with another dog promotes good relationships.
Anatolian Shepherd and children
Patient with children but still vigilant, the Anatolian Shepherd is a very good protector but will not be their best playmate.
In addition, their patience may be limited, especially if the children do not respect this dog’s tranquillity. Rules must therefore be put in place to guarantee everyone's safety (do not disturb the dog when he/she is in his/her basket, do not pull his/her tail or get on his/her back, etc.).
Anatolian Shepherd and the elderly
This dog is very calm, composed and has a very balanced character. They can adapt to living with older people, but only if their master is energetic and available to meet their many needs for physical, social and mental stimulation.
The price of an Anatolian Shepherd varies according to their origin, age and gender. It is necessary to count on average £1310 for a dog registered with the KC.
Concerning the monthly budget necessary to provide for the primary needs of a dog of this size, it is necessary to account for approximately £60/month.
The maintenance of this dog is quite simple but requires time given its size. They need regular brushing to maintain the beauty and protective qualities of their coat.
Their drooping ears should be checked and cleaned regularly.
The Coban Köpegi experiences abundant hair loss during the two annual moulting periods, spring and autumn. Brushing should be daily in order to remove as much dead hair as possible. Outside these periods, this dog loses almost no hair.
Nutrition of the Anatolian Shepherd
The Anatolian Shepherd is not a complicated dog to feed, their harsh past and fine selection have made them robust and "off-road" dogs, so their diet is very frugal.
However, the owner of the Anatolian Shepherd puppy must be particularly vigilant during the first year of their life. Their rapid growth requires a high protein content diet. It is only after their growth is complete that a more moderate diet should be provided.
It is advisable to provide them with two meals a day, a light one in the morning and a larger one in the evening to avoid the ingestion of too much food at one time.
Premium quality kibble adapted to their age, weight and physical condition are sufficient, but depending on the time and the owner’s nutritional knowledge, this dog can also be fed with household food rations (meat, vegetables, cereals). Veterinary follow-up is recommended to promote a healthy and balanced diet.
Health of the Anatolian Shepherd
Their life expectancy is estimated at 11 years.
Strong / robust
This is a very robust dog. The Anatolian Shepherd is made to live in the open air and adapts to almost any situation. They rarely get sick.
Used to the very hot summers of its country of origin, this dog can withstand the heat well, but should not engage in intense physical activity during these periods. It is preferable to go out early in the morning and late in the evening so that they can fulfil their potential and release their energy without suffering from extreme weather conditions.
Equipped with a double coat providing them with good protection, the Anatolian Shepherd is also fortunate enough to have a coat that adapts to different climates.
Tendency to put on weight
This dog can easily self-regulate, a healthy and balanced diet combined with regular physical activity prevents them from becoming overweight.
This robust dog knows no specific form of disease. They are not particularly affected by conditions common amongst large dogs, other than hip dysplasia.