Anatolian Shepherd Dog
A dog has the soul of a philosopher. – Plato
An ancient livestock guardian, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog has been found throughout the Anatolian Plateau of Turkey since ancient times. It is believed that dogs of this type existed 6,000 years ago in what is now Turkey. This is a very old breed, tracing its ancestors back to the powerful hunting dogs of Mesopotamia. Originally the Anatolian Shepherd Dog was a guardian of sheep.
In spite of his name, this dog does not so much herd his flock as he patrols around it. He has evolved over the years to withstand the extremes of climate found in Turkey from very hot to very cold. He is used to travelling far distances, remaining on guard in all weathers. He tolerates a sedentary and nomadic or partially nomadic lifestyle.
With acute hearing, exceptional eyesight, and the strength and stamina to run down wolves, horses, and even lions, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a superb guardian of his flock.
More recently, the Anatolian Shepherd dog has in been used in conservation in Africa. Dr. Laurie Marker and the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia gave the dogs to farmers to protect their animals from cheetahs.
Photos displayed courtesy of Lisa Wright, Landing Trail Farms, Alberta
A large, powerful dog, the Anatolian can stand up to 32 inches (81 cm) at the shoulder and weigh 145 pounds (65 kg). His weatherproof coat may be any length from short and smooth to long and rough. It comes in white and black, fawn, brindle, or tri-colour. Used to travelling great distances with his charges, the adult Anatolian Shepherd is hardy, brave, and can exist on very little food.
The Anatolian Shepherd is always alert and watchful. Anything out of the ordinary, no matter how trivial, is viewed with suspicion and investigated.
Bold, confident, and intelligent, the Anatolian Shepherd learns easily and has a good memory. He is used to assessing a situation and exercising independent judgment and action with little or no human direction. So commands may be easily mastered, but your Anatolian might use that judgment to choose not to obey!
Fiercely loyal and possessive of his family and territory, the Anatolian Shepherd does not make friends with strangers easily. It has been said that he prefers a formal introduction as he does not like to be touched by strangers. Early socialization is necessary to ensure he becomes an appropriate, well-mannered companion.
Bred to travel with their herd and also to go off seeking out potential predators before they strike the herd, these dogs will roam. He needs a fenced area with space to run. Firm, consistent training is key to dealing with his roaming and independence.
The Anatolian Shepherd is not aggressive and in fact exhibits a low prey drive. His guarding behaviour is one of control rather than attack which would always be a very last resort. An Anatolian will bark a warning and then step in the path of a stranger keeping him rooted to the spot. Anatolians can live indoors happily but also live outside equally well.