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Anatolian Shepherds: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Anatolian Shepherd temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Anatolian Shepherd dog breed

Anatolian Shepherd Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

The rugged Anatolian Shepherd is not inclined to play fetch or Frisbee, nor should you expect animated responsiveness.

Developed strictly for utilitarian purposes, as a guardian of livestock, the Anatolian Shepherd is typically serious and dignified, calm and quiet -- unless challenged.

Livestock guardians bond with flock animals and their own family with fierce possessiveness. They make their own decisions about who is a friend and who is a foe, what is a threat and what is not, and they react to every situation as they see fit.

Potential owners who cannot understand and control these powerful instincts should look for another breed. Anatolian Shepherds are not casual pets. They are dominant, self-reliant dogs who will try to manage everyone and everything unless you are an assertive leader who knows how to instill respect.

This breed requires a formal introduction to strangers before being touched by them, and he will remain vigilant every moment they are on his territory.

He is patient with his own children and with submissive family pets, but he should not be expected to welcome those outside the family.

Despite his bulk, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is remarkably agile and reactive. He needs a spacious yard with a six-foot-high fence.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is very large and rugged, yet agile and athletic
  • Will protect your horses, llamas, sheep, goats, and chickens
  • For his size, needs only moderate exercise
  • Is steady and dependable, rather than playful
  • Is serious with strangers, but not aggressive unless provoked

An Anatolian Shepherd may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • A very large dog who takes up a lot of space
  • Providing enough exercise to keep him satisfied
  • Massive destructiveness when bored
  • Suspiciousness toward strangers
  • Aggression toward animals who don't belong to his family
  • Providing six-foot fences and lots of supervision to prevent wandering
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Deep booming barks, especially at night when he hears a sound
  • Heavy shedding

An Anatolian Shepherd may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy


More traits and characteristics of the Anatolian Shepherd

If I was considering an Anatolian Shepherd Dog, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Anatolian Shepherds MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing. Bored Anatolians are famous for chewing through drywall, ripping the stuffing out of sofas, and turning your yard into a moonscape of giant craters.

    Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are most satisfied when guarding livestock. You can substitute pulling a cart or sled, or advanced obedience, or tracking, or a similar canine activity, but if you simply want a casual pet for your family, I do not recommend this breed. Anatolians were never intended to be simply household pets.

  2. Suspiciousness and over-protectiveness. Anatolian Shepherds need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they are likely to be suspicious of everyone.

  3. Animal aggression. Most Anatolian Shepherds will treat the pets in their own family as members of their flock. However, they have strong instincts to drive away animals who do not belong to their family. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.

    To keep your Anatolian Shepherd in, and to keep strangers and other animals out, fences should be high, with wire sunk into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging. Gates should have the highest quality locks.

  4. The strong temperament. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are not Golden Retrievers. They have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Many Anatolians are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Anatolian Shepherd to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Anatolian Shepherd Training Page discusses the program you need.

  5. Heavy shedding. Anatolian Shepherds shed a good deal. You'll find hair and fur all over your clothing, upholstery, carpeting, under your furniture, on your countertops -- even in your food.

  6. Noise. Unless you live on a farm or ranch away from close neighbors, Anatalian Shepherds should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. Their deep, booming barks will have your neighbors calling the cops to report the nuisance -- or perhaps letting your Anatolian out of his yard so he'll wander away.

  7. Legal liabilities. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any giant breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.



book cover To learn more about training Anatolian Shepherds to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Anatolian Shepherd the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.



book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Anatolian Shepherd. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.


If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Anatolian Shepherd might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.


book cover Once you have your Anatolian Shepherd home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.



Please consider adopting an ADULT Anatolian Shepherd...

When you're acquiring an Anatolian Shepherd PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Anatolian Shepherds who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter

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