FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about the Anatolian Shepherd.
The Anatolian Shepherd originated from the region of Turkey, and is a large working dog used primarily as a livestock guardian. This ancient breed was bred to be a hardy survivor in the harsh climate and terrain of Turkey, and has a half-long or a shorter coat that is dense, double, and ideal for most climates. The breed is believed to have been developed from a mollasser and sight hound background, and this heritage is evident in the massive head and chest, and sleek hindquarters (a blend of power and agility). The two other breeds that also come from Turkey include the Akbash (which resembles a white Anatolian), and the Kangal (which resembles a black masked fawn Anatolian). Some believe that these are three separate breeds, while others feel that they merely represent the area from which the dog has originated.
Males usually range between 29" and 34"at the shoulder with a weight range between 110 and 160 pounds. Bitches must be at least 27.5", but can reach the height of 32 inches, and have a weight range between 88 and 120 pounds.
All colors are acceptable. The most commonly seen are the fawns with black masks, with fawn ranging from nearly white or pale champagne, to golden, red, wolf-sable, or badger. Other colors you may see are pintos (with or without a black mask), white, black, blue w/black mask, fawn or cream with a liver mask and nose, brindled, and even brindled pintos. The least commonly seen colors are the brindles, liver or blue fawns, and the blacks.
Prices vary depending on the breeder. If the breeder is conscientious, and has put a lot of time and effort into the breeding, checking the health and genetic background of the potential parents (i.e.OFA or equivalent certification that hips and elbows are free of dysplasia in both parents, and blood testing for autoimmune problems such as hypothyroidism and VWD, plus checking for brucellosis, a sexually transmitted disease of dogs), screening for any obvious structural faults that might hinder the dog's performance in the field, and checking that both dogs meet all of the requirements of the breed standard, the puppies will cost more than those whose parents are less carefully selected. A reputable breeder will give a health/hip guarantee, and require that, if for any reason the buyer is not satisfied or is no longer able to keep the dog, the breeder will take the dog back and/or give a refund of some sort. Average prices range from as low as $800.00 to $1000.00 for pet quality and from $1000.00 to $1500.00 or more for a potentially breeding quality puppy. Imported dogs can cost more. Older dogs may be higher priced, or may available at a lower price, depending on the quality of the dog, and whether or not it has earned any championship points, has had obedience training, or is trained as a livestock guardian.
The Anatolian Shepherd is first and foremost a guardian dog. It is a hard-working breed whose function is to guard its flock; that flock may be defined as anything from a person or family, to livestock such as horses, llamas, ostriches, sheep, chickens, or goats. The Anatolian is a loyal guard, and can be fiercely possessive and protective of his family, stock, and territory. Anatolians should be steady and bold, without aggression. As the dog matures, he will determine on his own whether aggression is warranted, using a graduated display of increasingly assertive behaviors to control a given situation. He can cause frustration at times with his naturally independent, very intelligent personality. Young males in particular can be pushy during adolescence while they are figuring out their rank and status in the household. Anatolians will be aloof when off their property and may be leery of strangers both off and on their property. They prefer a formal introduction to strangers. Anatolian Shepherds can be show dogs, but really do not care for all the hoopla of the ring. They do need to be socialized from a very early age, and that training and socialization needs to be maintained throughout the dog's lifetime.
The Anatolian is a slow maturing breed and the newly acquired puppy is not an instant livestock defender. A puppy needs to learn the rules, and develop enough size and confidence to protect himself before he or she can be a reliable guardian. Some pups will show guardian behavior at 3 to 6 months, but they will command more respect from trespassers and predators once they are at least 8 months old. Confidence increases with maturity. The mature stock guardian of 3 years or more is a valuable asset to the farm and is sometimes considered priceless. The occasional pup within any litter of successful guardians may not be able to perform the work of its heritage, due to a behavioral idiosyncrasy, incorrect training or another reason, such as unsoundness. Pups from import, working, companion and show litters are equally likely to be excellent working dogs at maturity. A major reason for failure for the dog to guard livestock is usually due to the dog being turned into a pet and being given more liberty than structure during his formative training. Attending an obedience class while young is still highly recommended, and will not affect the pup's guarding ability, other than making him easier to handle. Adults that have never seen livestock have gone on to become successful guardians, and pups that have been carefully raised with stock have failed. Occasionally, a dog that did not work out in a companion home will find his niche among the flocks of a farming home.This makes a case for the adoption of a dog from the Anatolian Rescue where a livestock manager needs a grown dog that can begin to work immediately, where predators are a serious problem. Sometimes there is just not enough time to raise a puppy for this purpose.
Yes, the Anatolian seems to adore children, and think of them as their own "kids". A child does, of course, need to learn how to behave respectfully when around any animal, and should be supervised when with any type of dog. It is imperative not to let the child play as a "littermate" would play (inviting nipping and roughhousing), due to the large size of the breed. Any human should have a higher role in the dog's eyes than the role of being just 'another dog'. So, one should not play games like tug-of-war, or chase. For the most part, it is training the children, rather than the dog, on proper behavior. It is good for the whole family to participate in working on the obedience training of the dog, so that all can enjoy the rewards of a well-behaved animal. With young children, it is important they be supervised by an adult when interacting with a pet. Older children with an active social life need to realize that, although their friends may like dogs, it may not be appropriate for the dog to interact with every visitor.
For the most part, they do well with other dogs that are raised with them. The Anatolian Shepherd, as a flock guardian, instinctively protects its flock against all predators - which category includes other dogs. Do not assume that an Anatolian will be happy to socialize with other dogs. Some do, but many well-socialized Anatolians still need to maintain a certain range of distance between themselves and other dogs. They will accept being in the company of other dogs if they are trained to do so, but they will need to maintain this "distance" and may "spark" at other dogs that violate this area. Training and socializing the dog from puppyhood, in a variety of situations, and with a variety of other breeds of dogs, is recommended. The Anatolian tends to not invite play with strange dogs, even other Anatolians, although well-socialized dogs may be more outgoing. Generally, dogs of the opposite sex are the most readily accepted by an Anatolian; Anatolians also prefer to be the pack leader', and may push the issue until it is resolved. It usually takes them a while to warm up to new dogs in the household, but once that is accomplished, they become part of the dog's flock and will be protected.
They can be very good house dogs, but they are very large, shed with enthusiasm, and may knock things over with their large tails. If you are a finicky house cleaner, this breed would be a challenge for you. Any dog can be trained to live in the house, but puppies and young dogs need a lot of exercise. A large dog door, allowing access to both indoors and out, can accommodate both exercise and an Anatolian's appreciation of indoor comforts! All puppies and young adults chew. The use of appropriate chew items (Nylabones, giant size Kong toys, and Booda rope bones) as well as crate training for when your puppy is not directly supervised, can be of great benefit to you and your dog. Talk with your breeder, trainer, or experienced dog owners on the value of using a crate. Anatolians will do very well with consistent training, and that training will be remembered for the rest of the dog's life. Just as in other breeds of dogs, it takes time and love, with lots of praise for good behavior, to get the results you desire. As the dog matures, he will seem to lie about more and more; this is not loafing, but quiet guarding. The dog will move into action if need be, and can do so at a very alarming rate. He will need lots of exercise, as any large breed does, so, even though he seems lazy, exercise him with long walks, as well as with running and playing in a fenced, supervised area. A fenced yard is mandatory, to prevent an Anatolian from expanding his territory, and to keep the dog away from traffic. A dog of this size found running loose in the community, or even in play periods with other dogs in a park, may be considered a threat by some, regardless of stable temperament.
Anatolian Shepherds will shed small amounts all the time, and "blow out their coats" twice a year. Also, females tend to blow out their coats after a heat cycle. When "blowing the coat", large tufts of hair will start to fall out, usually in the spring or summer, and in fall or early winter, depending on the weather. They need to be brushed out when they are "blowing coat", and that will minimize your mess somewhat. A good vacuum can come in handy in getting unwanted hair off of rugs and couches. Also, bathing in warm water seems to make some difference in shedding, and may lessen the amount of work as it will encourage the fur to loosen and you can brush off more of it at once.
They do love to dig, and also shed, so if you want to judge them on those characteristics, yes, they can be messy. However, their double coat seems to repel dirt to a certain degree, and they have less "doggy odor" than most other breeds. Also, an Anatolian should have tight flews with a correspondingly "dry" mouth, so drooling is seldom a problem. If you want a really neat dog, though, the Anatolian is not for you.
Surprisingly, no. Anatolians tend to be "easy keepers", and an adult Anatolian will eat between 40 to 60 pounds of premium quality dog chow a month. As a puppy, an Anatolian should be fed a premium puppy food for the first year. Some breeders will use puppy food for the first 18 months, and then switch to a good adult food. You want to keep the dog fairly lean, so that developing joints and bones are not over-stressed, yet you need to remember that a puppy may gain 80 to 100 pounds between 8 weeks and one year of age, and so should feed accordingly. A young pup needs to be fed small amounts of food at least two to three times a day. An adult should be fed once or twice a day. A measured serving is better than free feeding ( the all-you-can-eat method) as this can lead to an overweight Anatolian Shepherd. No growth supplements should be fed to puppies, as this can cause nutritional imbalances and skeletal or joint problems. Some breeders feel that the giant breed puppy should be put on adult food as soon as possible, but the more recent studies show that a good premium puppy food will have the necessary nutrients needed for a puppy, whereas adult chows can cause vitamin/mineral imbalances when fed to rapidly growing puppies.
The males are usually larger and may be more aggressive. Females, being of a smaller stature, may be more ideally suited as a house companion. Males tend to be more outgoing, and more forgiving of mistakes in training. Females tend to be less dominant and work well with children - however, many females may actually be more protective of their households than males. Nevertheless, generalities do not always apply, and it is best to ask the breeder for their advice. Hopefully he or she can show you both females and males that are adults. What it all comes down to, is that the answer is up to each individual and their preferences.
For some people an older dog that has had some training, is housebroken, and is through with chewing is just what they would like to have in starting out with an Anatolian. Whereas others just have to have that little bundle of fur to nurture and watch grow. Some people feel as though they do not truly bond with a dog, unless it starts out with them as a puppy. Others may like knowing from the start the personality and size of their new dog. Your decision should be based on how much time and effort you want to spend working with your new family member.
Any large breed of dogs has a higher chance of developing dysplastic hips or elbows, but a good breeder will have had OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certification done for both the sire and dam before considering breeding. The X-rays and certification cannot be done until a dog is twenty four months old, so obviously a dog under this age is not yet eligible for certification (nor should it be bred). When you are selecting a new puppy, always check with the breeder to see if they are indeed OFA certifying their dogs prior to breeding, and see if they give a two year hip/elbow guarantee with each puppy contract. Some bloodlines do have a very low incidence of this problem, but this should not be an excuse for the breeder to not OFA their dogs. Just because the dog is very athletic and comes from healthy lines is no guarantee that the hip film will not demonstrate severe degenerative disease, and that the dog itself is not a genetic "black sheep" and could very well pass on what "none of its relatives have". This testing is not a guarantee that your puppy will never come down with any type of dysplasia, but does give you a better chance of having a healthy puppy. Breeders who do OFA certification (as well as other types of genetic testing), tend to be more cautious in selecting individuals for breeding, and they strive to improve upon their dogs' health, structure, and temperament.
Anatolians can adapt to just about any type of weather, from the high temperatures of summer to the lows of winter. They can stay outdoors during most climatic conditions, with a good dog house for protection from the elements, and plenty of water in all seasons. It is a good idea to have extra shade for the dog to lie in during the hotter days of summer. During those hot summer days, Anatolians will frequently dig cavernous holes, rather than use a doghouse. They are also fond of making shallow holes in damp ground, and like to nap in these saucer-shaped depressions. They are not water dogs, and most do not like to swim during the summer to cool off, although they are strong swimmers.
In Turkey, the ears are docked to keep wolves from getting a hold on the dog and ripping and tearing the ears. In Turkey, one may also find Anatolian Shepherds wearing a collar of iron prongs or spikes. This is to protect the dog from getting their throats ripped when being attacked by a predator. American bred dogs do not have their ears cropped, although they may have dewclaws removed.
This breed appeals to many who are partial to big, calm dogs. As with any puppy, there are bursts of unbounded energy, but as the dog matures, they seem to slow down'; adults, during certain times of the day, seem almost comatose! They are still very alert, but are most likely to be found laying about on a mound of dirt or a rock in a deep sleep. If the weather is hot, then they seem to become more lethargic. If something were to cross the Anatolian's boundary lines, the dog would be up and moving with a burst of speed that can top out around 35 miles per hour. They will sound an alarm, and go to investigate any disturbance in their territory. As most predators are nocturnal, the dogs do compensate by seeming more alert in the evening and early morning hours, and will engage in play with each other, as they do mock battle and chase each other around the property.
As this is a breed close to its working origins, and most breeders prefer to out cross different lines to make the best use of the available gene pool, the breed seems to have few serious health problems. Anatolians can be sensitive to anesthesia, and this may be of concern if some veterinary procedures are performed. However, modern anesthetics tend to cause fewer reactions if they are used judiciously and "to effect", rather than prescribed simply by weight of the dog. [Weigh the dog. Some dogs look like they weigh a lot more than they actually do.] Like most large breeds, hip dysplasia is a concern (buy from OFA certified parents to reduce risk). There have also been cases of hypothyroidism, entropion, bloat, and cancers in the breed, but the incidence of inherited problems seems to be much lower than most breeds. Generally, a healthy, well-bred Anatolian will live into its teens in a safe, optimal environment. However, livestock guardians and dogs in many rural settings have a higher mortality rate than their companion peers, because of the nature of their jobs and environment. Dogs that guard livestock are often exposed to hazards, accidents and dangers that prevent them from working to a ripe old age.
This is not the breed for everyone, and should not become 'the breed of the month', as has happened to some breeds. This breed is, first and foremost, a guarding dog, with strong independence and dominance drives, and it requires a responsible approach to successful management. Time and effort is required to keep Anatolians socialized and well-behaved. They are very strong and can be very stubborn at times. If you are looking for a dog that will obey at the drop of a command, then this is not the dog for you. The owner should not allow commands to be given unless an effort is made to follow through should the dog elect the typical reaction of "selective deafness". Otherwise, the dog will walk all over you. This is a breed that has a lot of confidence and needs to be trained with a firm and loving hand. The Anatolian can become aggressive without proper training. One should never hit this dog in anger, as they may respond to aggressive behavior on your part with aggression of their own, or become so upset that they may refuse to work with you. It is usually recommended that this breed not be trained for protection sports or as an attack dog, for several reasons. First, the breed already has natural guardian instincts, and is very discriminating in determining real' vs. fake' threats. Second, Anatolians are rather low on prey drive (being livestock guardians) and are not good material for competitive protection work, as they lose interest rather easily and are not motivated to the same degree as are herding breeds such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Belgian Malinois, and Australian Shepherds.
Some of the reasons that people give up on their Anatolians (in no particular order):
Yes, as soon as your new puppy has its shots and is old enough to start puppy classes, it is time to start obedience. Even before the first class, it is important to start instilling the basics, such as teaching the sit, down, and come commands. Compared to some other breeds, the Anatolian may seem slower in responding to commands, but with coaxing and praise, they can speed up. You will not see many Anatolian Shepherds obedience trials, as it takes more time and motivation on the part of the owner to train them to a competition level of obedience, but with lots of love and patience they will respond and can do quite well. The rewards of having a dog that will follow directions in the ring or at home are many, and could save your dog's life some day. One never knows when a good solid recall, down, or stay could come in handy! Many Anatolians have passed the Canine Good Citizen test, and are a tribute to their community.
Each dog is compared with its breed standard. Any dog or puppy that does not match all of the descriptions in their breed standard is not show quality and probably should not be used for breeding either. Some faults are not very visible, whereas others are very obvious. A prominent example would be an undershot or overshot jaw; if it is minor, this would be something that would disqualify the dog as a show or breeding prospect, but the dog would make a great pet, guardian dog, or other type of working dog. In a show quality dog, the dog meets all of the breed standards and represents these standards without disqualifications. This does not mean that the temperament is sound, that the dog will turn out to be breeding quality (some genetic problems are not superficially obvious) or that the dog would be a good pet or working dog. This simply means that the dog conforms physically to the breed standard. When selecting a puppy, the breeder assesses each puppy and sorts them into pet, working, show, and breeding prospects. Obviously, several of these categories may overlap in any given puppy. At a young age it is very difficult to pre-judge if a pup will grow up with no faults. Some faults may not show up until the puppy is older, as even two or three years down the road, the puppy may develop something that will disqualify it as a show or breeding quality dog. If you purchase a dog as pet quality, and he develops a fault not covered in the contract, then you have what you paid for - a nice dog for a pet or guardian. However, if you paid the higher price for a show quality dog and something changes to take him or her out of the running for competition, because your dog no longer fits the standard, then you are entitled to either a replacement pup after yours is neutered, or a partial refund, so that you only paid for pet quality. Generally, breeders will offer to take the dog back to place in a pet home, but that is hard when you have become attached to that dog. If your breeder has done all the research and is very careful in choosing the right stud and bitch combination, your chances of getting the right puppy for you are very good, but even in the most careful breedings, pups can grow up to be pets that looked great at 8 weeks, and vice versa. If the contract specifies refund or replacement for pups that do not turn out to be as represented (as well as anyone can tell at a very young age), then you had a responsible breeder. Sometimes no matter how careful one is, things that were not seen as a potential problem develop into one later. Pet quality dogs are generally sold with a spay/neuter clause in the sales contract.
There is a great deal of responsibility involved in breeding a dog. Hopefully, it is not just something that happens', but is preceded by a great deal of research and veterinary testing. First, is your dog really breeding quality? Is your dog a good physical representative of the breed, according to the standard? Are you familiar with your breed club's code of ethics, and willing to comply with those guidelines? Does your dog/bitch have any health problems that can be inherited by their puppies? How is your dog's temperament - is it one that will work out in any type of home that it may go to? Are you willing to lose money? Breeding dogs, if you are a responsible breeder, usually costs a lot of money, and most people lose more than they earn. (Why are they in it? The satisfaction of raising sound, healthy puppies of a breed they love.) Are you ready to possibly lose your bitch due to complications during whelping? What if you have a puppy with a serious health defect? Do you have homes lined up for all of the puppies? If not, are you willing to keep them until they do get to go to good homes? Are you willing to be strong enough to turn away someone who is not right for your puppies even if they offer you more money? Just as a puppy buyer needs to screen their breeder, you need to screen the buyer and ask for references. All puppies that you sell are part of your responsibility for life, so if there is some problem with the new owners, you have to have a channel open to them at all times to answer any questions. Will you take back a pup that is not working out in its new home? As you can see, it is no little task to be a responsible breeder. A lot of time and effort goes into a good breeding. The reasons for doing so are hopefully to bring forth a better dog than either of the parents, and to share with others your own reasons for becoming involved with the breed.
One way is to visit local dog shows that represent the breed that you are interested in. Other ways include looking in dog magazines such as Dog Fancy, Dog World, or the annual Dogs USA, and then call or write to the breeders listed. Look for breed club listings, and ask for a copy of the newsletter or any other breed information. ASDI,Inc., has a list of breeders who are signatory to this club's code of ethics, and who may have puppies available, or know someone who does. They would be happy to share any information with you in choosing your new dog. It is important to ask questions, get health certificates in writing, and obtain a copy of the sales agreement or guarantees (if any).
Start by asking the breeder questions and asking other people who know them or have bought pups from them about their impressions of that breeder and their dogs. Check to see if they are a member in good standing of an Anatolian Shepherd club. Many backyard or casual breeders will not be members and will not have access to breed information. They will tend to be minimally involved in the breed - and they will produce the largest number of problem dogs. Ask for references, standards that they breed by, and ask to see their nursery. (Do not be surprised if they ask if you have visited any other kennels recently, and ask you to step in a disinfectant solution before you go near their puppies.) Look at the condition of their dogs. How is the health of the bitch and her pups? If you do not live close to the breeder, ask for references and pictures of his or her kennel (or better yet a video), of the mother with puppies. You can never ask too many questions, and if the breeder will not give you any of the information that you ask for, then look somewhere else for your puppy. Never be in a hurry to buy the first fuzzy face that you see! Also, do not be fooled by the lower priced puppies out there. Do they offer all of the things that you want in a breeder, such a contract with a health/hip guarantee, all the advice for as long as you have the puppy (and even longer if need be), and references from other puppy buyers? A reputable breeder will always be there when needed, and should be happy to help you in any way with all the information that you may want about the breed. They should be a fountain of knowledge about your dog, the dog's habits, good and bad points, and how that particular dog would fit into your family.
No, dog showing is not for everyone. Some show just to socialize their dogs and themselves. One can make lots of dog friends at show, and learn about the different breeds around you at the same time. Also, showing will help both you and your dog in building a pattern of obedience and communication together. It takes work to get a dog ready for the show ring, and in preparing for competition, there is quality time that you can share with both your dog and family. Just because you have a dog that works in the fields during the week, there is no reason that your dog could not show during the weekends. There are also a lot of booths with venders displaying doggie items, and it is enjoyable for the dog fanciers and their families to look around and pick out a special leash, nutritional supplement, or T-shirt with your dog's breed on it.
The Anatolian Shepherd has two officially recognized breed clubs in the United States. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs International, Inc. or ASDI, Inc. was founded in 1991, and the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America was founded in 1970. The ASDI separated from ASDCA in 1991 because a growing number of Anatolian fanciers, including breeders, dog show enthusiasts, working dog and companion dog owners, felt that a choice should be made available in the direction that our breed is taking. ASDI, Inc. is affiliated with the United Kennel Club, as their emphasis on the "total dog" (breeding to produce a dog possessing the intelligence and capability to do the work for which they were originally established and bred), parallels the emphasis on soundness, working ability, and intelligence which are the tenets upon which ASDI is founded. ASDI has generally felt that over-popularization of the breed and recognition of our breed by the AKC would not be in the best interests of the breed. AKC recognized the Anatolian Shepherd and the breed entered the AKC registry on October 31, 1995, with a Working Group prefix and joined the Miscellaneous Class on June 1, 1996. The parent club for AKC is ASDCA, and an American bred dog would have to registered with them in order to receive AKC registration. The Anatolian is recognized in many countries throughout the world, through national all-breed clubs recognized by the FCI. The Kennel Club (England) and the Canadian Kennel Club also recognize the Anatolian. In the United States, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is recognized not only by the UKC and the AKC, but also by the States Kennel Club and numerous rare breed clubs. Anatolians are exhibited in the Guardian Dogs group at UKC sponsored shows.
A breed club should be a support system for your breed. The breed clubs offer a storehouse of knowledge, and will be there to help when your breeder does not know the answer to your questions. The breed club is also a forum for others who share the same interest that you do about your dog. ASDI remains firm in its commitment to providing a separate registry for the breed, as well as continuing research into breed health issues, working stock guardian behaviors, and providing members with opportunities to learn more about our breed. Genetic soundness, working ability, and breed temperament are the qualities that ASDI is working to maintain and protect. Our breed newsletter, the Choban Chatter, contains articles relevant to the breed, updates on activities and special projects, breeders' listings, club and registry information, listings of health screening results, new titles earned by dogs, and personal accounts and photos from our members.
One would expect that the club will give honest and unbiased information. It should keep accurate records of breeding and other points of interest. A club should not be biased on who enters the club, but keep an open door. A club is only as good as those who run it, and should be run in a fair and equitable fashion by the members and the elected board representatives together, not by a select few members who feel that no other voices should be heard. The club should work for the benefit of the dogs, and for the education of the owners on how our dogs are doing in working, training, health issues, or simply being a good pet. The club is also there to help members interact, and learn from each other's experience.
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