Photo by Jon Mountjoy

Anatolian Shepherd Dog - Breed Profile:

Origin: Turkey
Size: Extra large
Type of Owner:
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Little
Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
Combativeness: Tends to be dog-aggressive
Dominance: High
Noise: Average barker

Physical characteristics

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large powerful dog bred to protect livestock. The body is well-proportioned with a deep chest and well-sprung ribs. The shoulders are well-developed and muscular. The relatively long front legs have good boning; they are straight and set well-apart. The broad thighs are very strong. The large head is in good proportion to the body. The skull is wide and slightly rounded, with a slight stop. The rectangular muzzle should be a bit shorter than the skull. The black lips hang down slightly. The teeth should meet in a scissor or level bite. The pendent ears are V-shaped, with rounded tips. They should be long enough to reach the outside corner of the eyelid. In Turkey, the country of the dog's origin, the ears are often cropped very short. The nose is either solid black or brown. The medium size ears are dark brown to light amber in colour. The tail reaches to the hocks. When the dog is at rest, it hangs low with a slight upward curl. The gait is powerful yet fluid.
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs weigh 80 to 150 pounds. Their height is over 27 inches for females and over 29 inches for males.


Very independent, alert and possessive. Brave but not generally aggressive. Calm and dignified. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs need a firm experienced owner who naturally radiates leadership and who is hence able to deal with the dog's self-assured mind. Extensive early socialization, obedience training and consistent dominant leadership are essential for this breed. Anatolians have their own ideas and will not cater for the owner's every whim unless they totally recognize him as a leader. A well-balanced Anatolain is very loyal, affectionate, adaptable and responsive. Nonetheless, it can still be suspicious of strangers as this breed has very strong protective and territorial instincts. These instincts grow as the dog matures, and if the owner doesn't provide proper leadership, it can develop into a serious behaviour problem. Generally mellow with children, although proper training of both the dog and the children is necessary to avoid injury during a play. Dogs that are going to work as flock guards should not be family pets because they will rather prefer the family over the animals to guard. Anatolians tend to bark at night if they live indoors.

Coat and grooming

The double coat of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs is either short (one inch long) or rough (about four inches long). The hair on the neck is slightly longer. The undercoat is always thick and dense. Some feathering may occur on the ear fringes, legs, breeching, and tail. Thorough brushing is only necessary twice a year in shedding periods. Otherwise, the dog needs little grooming.
The coat colour is generally fawn with a black mask, though any colour is acceptable. Other frequently seen colours are pinto, white and brindle.


The most serious health concern in Anatolian Shepherd Dogs is hip dysplasia. Some lines are prone to eyelid entropion and to hypothyroidism. Ear infections are also common. Unlike many other giant breeds, Anatolians don't drool. The lifespan is moderately long - 12 to 15 years.

Other interesting facts

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs do not herd livestock but guard and protect it. They often patrol the perimeter of their territory from a high place. Because of their work, Anatolians have developed excellent senses of sight and hearing. If there is danger, the dog will attempt to drive it away and will only attack as a last resort. In Turkey, Anatolians wear spiked collars to protect their throats in battles with predators.