Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

The imposing Anatolian Shepherd Dog originated in ancient Turkey where it helped nomadic tribes protect and wrangle their flocks. They are keen of hearing and sight, and quick to bark if they sense intruders. Anatolian Shepherds are a lot of dog to handle and appropriate only for experienced owners with the time and energy for consistent, assertive training. Fiercely loyal and protective, they are wonderful, amiable companions to the family they consider their pack. However, their friendliness rarely extends beyond their immediate families. They can be aggressive with two- and four-legged strangers, especially if they sense a threat.

Other Names

Anatolian Shepherds are also known as Karabas, Anatolian Blackhead, or Kangal.

Physical Description


Anatolian Shepherds have either Short or Rough double coats that are not tight to their bodies. The breed's Short coat is about one inch long, while the Rough coat is approximately 4 inches long. The undercoats are thick and seasonal shedding is quite heavy. Their coats grow longer around their neck and mane, and there is feathering on their legs and tail. The coat can be any color and have any markings. The breed often has a dark mask on the face.


Average Height: 27-29 inches


Male: 100-150 pounds

Female: 80-120 pounds

Breed Standard & History

The Anatolian Shepherd is a big, muscular dog who appears built for work. They are athletic and agile, with a keen expression in their dark eyes. Anatolian Shepherds have a large head that is proportionate to the body and a muscular neck covered by a thick, protective ruff of fur. They have long, lean legs and a long tail that curls upward at the end. The Anatolian Shepherd is a calm, observant breed that is naturally territorial and protective. They are often standoffish with people they don't know.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs originated in the Anatolia region of central Turkey, possibly 6,000 years ago. The breed is thought to have descended from Mastiff-type dogs and sighthounds, giving Anatolian Shepherds the mix of strength, bravery, and agility they are best known for. Critical members of their nomadic tribes, Anatolian Shepherds watched and protected their flocks and people around the clock. Once they grew past puppyhood, this tough dog was also expected to provide its own meals by hunting small game.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were introduced to the US as a gift from the Turkish government to the Department of Agriculture in the 1930s. The breed's first dog club was formed in 1970 by Robert Ballard, a naval officer who became a fan of Anatolian Shepherds while stationed in Turkey and began a breeding program when he returned home. Anatolian Shepherds were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1996.

AKC Breed Category

Working Group


General Temperament

Anatolian Shepherds are independent, take-charge dogs who require owners as strong-willed as they are. If given the opportunity, Anatolian Shepherds will establish themselves as leader of the pack and become difficult to manage. When well trained and socialized, they are calm and loving companions who are vigilant protectors of their people.

Family Life

Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs Good with Kids? Anatolian Shepherd Dogs make good companions for older children who can maintain control of this large breed and have learned how to treat pets respectfully. Because the breed is so big and formidable, they are not suited to households with small children.

(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)

Are Anatolian Shepherds Good with Other Pets? Anatolian Shepherds are best as only pets because they can become aggressive towards dogs and other animals. Socialization and training can minimize this tendency, but cannot be counted on to completely control the breed's aggression.


Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are highly protective of their people, themselves, and their territory.

Are Anatolian Shepherds Good Guard Dogs? Anatolian Shepherds are exceptional watchdogs and guard dogs. Their intimidating size and loud bark will put off most intruders, and they'll become aggressive to protect their families if it comes to that.

Energy Levels

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are a laid-back breed that enjoys relaxing on their dog bed as much as they enjoy going for walks and chasing tennis balls in the yard.

Specific Concerns

  • This large, strong, and independent dog requires an experienced dog owner who can set firm, consistent boundaries.
  • The Anatolian Shepherd may be aggressive towards people and dogs they don't know, especially without adequate socialization when they are young.
  • They are strong-willed and sometimes think they know best.
  • They're prone to digging under fences.
  • They're prone to barking as a preemptive warning to possible intruders.
  • They need a high, secure fence to prevent escape, and to protect people and dogs in the neighborhood.
  • They are heavy shedders.
  • They are sensitive to anesthetics.



Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are a hearty breed, but should live indoors with their families because of the risk of escape when kept outdoors. They are not well suited to apartment living because of their large size and exercise needs. Anatolian Shepherds shed heavily and will leave fur around the house.


Anatolian Shepherds should spend time outdoors each day getting exercise with their favorite people, but they shouldn't live outside. They benefit from a large yard where they can exercise, but should be supervised at all times, and the yard should be completely secure. This breed can mistake people and dogs walking in the neighborhood for trespassers, and go on the offensive to protect their territory.


A healthy Anatolian Shepherd requires about an hour of physical activity each day to remain fit.


Anatolian Shepherds are built for intermittent exercise. A long walk followed by a long rest on the couch is their speed.

Activity distance rating


Generally, this breed requires about four to six cups of good quality dry dog food each day, over the course of two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Anatolian Shepherd's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Anatolian Shepherd.

Alone Time

Anatolian Shepherds are fairly independent and don't mind spending time on their own. They should never be left alone outside, however, because of the risk of escape and the danger this poses to themselves and passersby. The breed can be left alone for half a day or more as long as they are well exercised before and after.

Health and Grooming

Life Expectancy

11-13 years


The Anatolian Shepherd's double coat should be brushed about twice a week most of the year, and nearly every day during seasonal shedding. Unless they roll around in mud, a bath about once a month will keep them clean and fresh smelling. Wash your Shepherd's ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush their teeth several times a week, and trim their nails every month or so to prevent cracking.

Common Health Issues

Though generally healthy, Anatolian Shepherds may be prone to some breed-specific health conditions and sensitivities, including:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Demodectic mange, a skin condition caused by mites
  • Entropian, a condition where the lower eyelid rolls inward
  • Sensitivity to anesthesia

You can minimize serious health concerns in an Anatolian Shepherd by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.



Anatolian Shepherds are smart, but they like to do things their own way, which can make training a challenge. This breed will ace basic commands, but they require firm, consistent, and committed training. Without an owner who takes a leadership role, Anatolian Shepherds can become difficult to manage.

Advanced Training

Advanced obedience training, dog sports, and agility training are wise choices for this dog. Not only will continued training keep your Anatolian Shepherd fit, it will help maintain your position as leader of the pack in your dog's eyes.

Sporting Dog Training

Anatolian Shepherds are bred for watching of their flock and don't excel in the field.

Breed FAQ

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.

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No. Anatolian Shepherds shed heavily and, as a result, leave pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet-related allergies. Frequent brushing and vacuuming can help minimize pet dander.

Anatolian Shepherds can be aggressive towards dogs and people they don't know, especially when they have not been adequately socialized from a young age. This is a large and powerful breed, so they require an owner who can manage them on leash and keep them safely contained on their property.

Most Anatolian Shepherds enjoy swimming and are strong swimmers. They shouldn't be allowed to swim off leash in public places, however, because they may become territorial if someone else tries to share the watering hole. Swimming for this breed should be relegated to safely enclosed backyard pools.