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Honest FAQ for Anatolian Shepherd Dogs (2022)

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Anatolian Shepherd

Though some lines are more tranquil than others, this breed belongs only in rural homes where the dog is allowed to do his job: guarding your livestock.

What kind of temperament and personality does the Anatolian Shepherd have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding Anatolian Shepherd temperament and behavior are:

rugged, serious, self-assured, independent, dominant, territorial, possessive, fierce when challenged

I give you my honest opinions about Anatolian Shepherd temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, Anatolian Shepherd Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

What were Anatolian Shepherds used for?

Anatolia is another name for the Asia Minor peninsula of Turkey. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has survived for thousands of years in weather extremes from mountain snow to desert heat, fiercely protecting his owner's flocks from wolves and bears.

What traits would help Anatolians accomplish their work? That's right... extreme independence, toughness, strong instincts to form a deep bond with his livestock charges, territorial instincts to confront and drive off (or kill) whoever or whatever approaches his precious flock.

How big are Anatolian Shepherds? Height and weight?

About 28-32 inches at the shoulder, and 100-150 pounds, which puts them in the GIANT category.

What colors do Anatolian Shepherds come in?

Fawn, white, pinto (white with colored patches), brindle, and others. Color really isn't important in a working dog.

Do Anatolian Shepherds come in different "types"?

Yes. Anatolian Shepherds are now registerable with the American Kennel Club, and whenever that happens, the breed gets "changed" by dog show enthusiasts.

Dog shows are all about appearance and primping; the breed's original temperament, behavior, and working skills typically get diminished or completely lost. In many working breeds, there are dog show lines  and working/performance lines.  So it is with the Anatolian Shepherd.

How much exercise do Anatolian Shepherds need?

Anatolian Shepherds are on the calm side and have a low-ish metabolism that doesn't need as much exercise as you might think. In fact, when they're living with their flock, they patrol around and get all the exercise they need. This is not a breed you would want to exercise by jogging or playing frisbee or visiting the dog park.

Do Anatolian Shepherds need a fenced yard?

In their native lands, livestock guardians will stay with their charges without any fences. But in our country, farmers and ranchers typically fence their livestock, in essence fencing in the Anatalian as well. This works out best for all concerned, because Anatolian Shepherds otherwise might lose focus on their flock and start wandering through the countryside.

Are Anatolian Shepherds easy to train?

No. Anatolian Shepherds live among their flock night and day – the flock (not the owner) is their family. These dogs are extremely dominant (they instinctively try to take charge) and independent. It's difficult to motivate them to do things (heel, sit, lie down, give a paw) that have nothing to do with protecting livestock.

Of course you DO need them to be amenable to handling so that you and the vet can care for them. Some Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are more accepting than others, but you must persist so that the dog comes to respect you and allows you to handle and take care of him.

Are Anatolian Shepherds easy to housebreak?

Not usually an issue, as they're not usually house dogs.

Are Anatolian Shepherds friendly with people?

No. They recognize and accept their own family, of course. But strangers are not appreciated. If a stranger approached, the Anatolian Shepherd will stalk forward to confont him. If the person kept coming, the Anatolian will seek to drive him off with threatening body language and deep booming barks. If that fails, an Anatolian can escalate to an attack.

However, you can't "sic" an Anatolian on someone. These dogs don't take direction like that, nor are they psychopaths trying to kill anyone and everyone! They simply make their own decisions about who or what might be a threat to their flock, then act accordingly.

Are Anatolian Shepherds good with children?

Anatolian Shepherds are usually very tolerant with the children in their own family, accepting them as part of their flock. Just make sure your kids treat dogs with respect. This is a pretty powerful dog!

Are Anatolian Shepherds good with other dogs?

Most Anatolian Shepherds are okay with other dogs in their own family if those dogs have submissive personalities and pose no threat to the livestock guardian's charges.

Strange dogs? Forget it.

Are Anatolian Shepherds good with cats?

Again, they're usually fine with cats in their own family... if they've been raised with those cats. But sometimes an Anatolian pup or adolescent seems fine with cats, but becomes decidedly less so after the dog matures.

How much do Anatolian Shepherds shed?

Anatolian Shepherds are heavy shedders.

Are Anatolian Shepherds hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

Haha! No.

How much grooming do Anatolian Shepherds need?

Just occasional brushing to sweep dirt, dander, and loose hair off the dog's skin.

What behavior problems do Anatolian Shepherds tend to have?

These dogs only tend to have behavior issues when they're not allowed to guard livestock. Then you might see excessive barking, digging holes, destructive chewing, or suspiciousness/aggression toward strangers or strange dogs.

What health problems might Anatolian Shepherds have?

Loose hip or elbow joints can cause pain and lameness, and Anatolian Shepherds are vulnerable to an emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat. On the plus side, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs typically live a few years longer than most breeds in this size range.

What breeds are similar to the Anatolian Shepherd Dog?

Alternative livestock guardians include:

  • Akbash
  • Kangal (Karabash)
  • Maremma Sheepdog
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Kuvasz
  • Komondor
  • Tibetan Mastiff

In addition, some breeders will cross these breeds; for example, an Anatolian Shepherd with a Great Pyrenees. If both parents are proven guardians, the puppies from these crosses can make fine guardians themselves.

Where can I buy an Anatolian Shepherd puppy?

Show breeder, performance/working breeder? Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older Anatolian Shepherd?

I am a strong advocate of adopting dogs from Rescue groups. But with this powerful and potentially aggressive breed, I personally wouldn't do that. Now, if someone I knew well had an adult available and could show me how well the dog worked with livestock and accepted handling, etc., that would be okay. But adopting an unknown Anatolian Shepherd from a shelter or rescue group and sticking him outside with my sheep or goats? Nope.

So... rescue group or humane society/shelter? Read my article.

I just got a new Anatolian Shepherd. Which pages should I read first?

  • Anatolian Shepherd Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Anatolian Shepherd puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training Anatolian Shepherds, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Anatolian Shepherd puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Anatolian Shepherds have pros and cons, and female Anatolian Shepherds have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable Anatolian Shepherd puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No responsible Anatolian Shepherd breeder would ever place one of their Anatolian Shepherd puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best Anatolian Shepherd puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for Anatolian Shepherds?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my Anatolian Shepherd to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your Anatolian Shepherd until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Anatolian Shepherd, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about Anatolian Shepherd Dogs that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my books:

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.