Meet the Breed: The Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian_Coban_Kopegi_fawn_black_maskThe Anatolian Shepherd Dog is an imposing dog traditionally used for guarding flocks, though are not herding dogs. This ancient breed originates from Anatolia which, in modern times, is Turkey. Read on to see how this dog is a surprising partner in big cat conservation, and to determine if this breed might be for you.


  • Height: 28”-30” (Male), 26”-28” (Female)
  • Weight: 100-150 pounds (Male), 90-130 pounds (Female)
  • Historical function: Flock guardian
  • Modern function: Companion, working, and guarding.
  • AKC classification: Flock guard

Physical Characteristics:

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large, rugged, sturdy breed of high strength and resilience. Their heavy coat protects them in a variety of weather conditions in the temperate, mountainous regions of Turkey where they live outdoors all year. The coat is traditionally fawn with a dark muzzle, but other coat colors are acceptable including brindle, white, black, red, wolf sable, and pinto. The tail is held high and curls over the back when they are alert.

History of Breed:

The Anatolian Shepherd is native to Asia Minor. It protects flocks and serves as a shepherd’s companion. On the high Anatolian Plateau, summers are hot and very dry and winters are cold. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is able to live outside all year round. For centuries the ancestors of the Anatolian Shepherd were used as combat dogs in war and for hunting. These shepherd guards of Turkey are called Çoban Köpegi in their native land.


The Anatolian Shepherd is a alert and protective and very possessive of its family and home. It must be properly introduced to all strangers. Though Anatolian Shepherds are easy to train and highly intelligent they are not for beginners and require a firm handler. Anatolian shepherds only reach full maturity at around 4 years of age. It is capable of great speed and endurance. It is fearless.

  • Best suited for: Experienced trainers as this breed was bred for adaptability and problem solving without human interference. This can make the dog difficult to be a companion dog. Excellent for guarding livestock. Not for small living areas.
  • Preferred living conditions: Anatolian Shepherds are not recommended for apartment life. They are relatively inactive indoors and will do best with at least a large yard. This breed is very suspicious of strangers, and it is therefore necessary to provide a secure, fenced yard. If used for guarding flocks, it needs to be raised with the livestock and left outside to prevent confusion over what group (human versus animal) they are to protect.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: This breed requires very little grooming. The coat needs thorough brushing during the heavy shedding seasons (twice yearly.) The rest of the year, little grooming is required.
  • Exercise needs: This breed needs a lot of exercise. They do best when they can run free in their own fenced-in yard, but still need to go on long daily walks. Does best with a job to do; a flock to protect, either human flock or otherwise.
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years, which is unexpectedly long for a dog of this size.
  • Health Concerns: Hypothyroidism, eye issues, hip dysplasia (though at a lower rate than for most large dog breeds.) Sensitive to anesthesia and have primitive immune systems, so extra vaccinations may be required.

Breed Club Links: Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed Club of America.

Do you have any stories about an Anatolian Shepherd Dog?

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