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Anatolian Shepherd Dog: The Ultimate Guide for Owners in the US

August 21, 2023

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog, also known as the Turkish Kangal, is a large, powerful breed known for its loyalty, intelligence, and protective instincts. Originally bred as a Livestock Guardian Dog in the Anatolian region of Turkey, these dogs have become popular in the US as both working and family pets.

If you're considering bringing an Anatolian Shepherd Dog into your home, it's important to understand their unique characteristics and needs. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about this amazing breed, from their history and temperament to their care and maintenance requirements.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog with sheep in the background

Key Takeaways:

  • The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large, powerful breed with protective instincts.
  • Originally from Turkey, these dogs have become popular in the US as both working and family pets.
  • This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the breed, including their history, temperament, care requirements, and more.

The History of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog, also known as the Turkish Kangal, is an ancient breed that has been protecting livestock in Turkey for over 6,000 years. This breed is believed to have originated in the Anatolian region of Turkey, with the earliest written records dating back to 2000 BC.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were bred for their strong protective instincts and ability to keep their flock safe from predators, such as wolves, bears, and jackals. They were highly valued for their loyalty and hard-working nature, and were often viewed as members of the family rather than mere animals.

It wasn't until the mid-1900s that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog was introduced to the United States. These dogs were transported to the US by servicemen who had served in Turkey, and they quickly gained popularity as livestock guardian dogs.

The History of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

"The Anatolian Shepherd Dog possesses a quiet, yet confident disposition, combined with a loyal and protective nature, which has made them an essential part of the Turkish culture for thousands of years."

Today, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the Working Group, and remains a highly regarded livestock guardian dog. They are also valued as family pets, thanks to their affectionate and protective nature.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are often compared to the Great Pyrenees and the Kuvasz, two other working dog breeds. While all three breeds share some similarities, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a distinctive appearance and temperament that set them apart.

Physical CharacteristicsBehavioral Characteristics
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are large and powerful, with a muscular build and a broad, wedge-shaped head. They typically weigh between 80 and 150 pounds, and stand 26 to 31 inches tall at the shoulder.The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a highly intelligent and independent breed, with a strong protective instinct. They are generally calm and composed, but can be territorial and assertive when it comes to protecting their family or flock.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a unique breed with a rich history and a strong working heritage. Whether used as a livestock guardian or as a family pet, these dogs are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed Characteristics

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large breed of dog that typically weighs between 80 and 150 pounds at maturity. They have a short, smooth coat that comes in a variety of colors, including white, fawn, brindle, and pinto. Their distinctive appearance, with a broad head and thick, muscular build, is matched by their strong, independent personality and protective instincts.

As a working breed, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog has developed a number of traits that make them well-suited to their role as livestock guardians. They are loyal, intelligent, and highly protective of their charges, exhibiting a strong territorial instinct and a deep sense of responsibility for their flock. They are also independent thinkers, capable of making decisions on their own in the absence of guidance.

Despite their size and strength, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are notable for their calm and even-tempered disposition. They are typically patient and gentle with children, and can be socialized to get along well with other pets. They are devoted to their family and thrive in a home environment where they are given the room and attention they need.

It is important to note, however, that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is not a breed for everyone. Their size and strength, combined with their protective nature, means that they require a firm and experienced hand to train and socialize them properly. They also need a significant amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

An Anatolian Shepherd Dog's Key Characteristics:

Size: Large

Weight: 80-150 lbs.

Coat: Short, smooth, and dense

Temperament: Patient, loyal, and protective

Training: Firm and consistent hand required

Exercise: Daily exercise and mental stimulation required for wellbeing

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Temperament and Personality

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a breed known for its independent nature, intelligence, and loyalty. As a working dog, they have a natural protective instinct that makes them an ideal choice for families looking for a loyal and devoted companion who can also provide protection.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is not an aggressive breed, but they can be reserved and cautious around strangers and unfamiliar animals. Early socialization and training can help ensure that they remain calm and confident in new situations.

Owners must establish themselves as the alpha or leader of their pack, as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog can be dominant and independent. They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and are highly intelligent, often excelling in obedience and agility competitions.

This breed is not well-suited for apartment living as they require ample space to exercise and explore. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential to prevent boredom and destructive behavior, such as chewing or digging.

Overall, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a wonderful breed with a strong work ethic and a gentle, loyal personality. They are not meant for everyone but can make an excellent choice for experienced dog owners who are willing to provide the right environment for this unique breed.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Care and Maintenance

Owning an Anatolian Shepherd Dog requires proper care and maintenance to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some tips to keep your beloved pet in top condition:


The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a thick double coat that requires frequent brushing to prevent matting and tangling. Brushing once or twice a week is recommended, and more frequent brushing may be necessary during shedding season. Bathing should be done only as needed to avoid stripping the coat of its natural oils.


Being a working dog, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog requires plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy. Providing a large outdoor space for them to run and play is important, along with regular walks or hikes. However, it's important to avoid over-exercising them, particularly at a young age, as their bones and joints are still developing.


A high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs is essential for maintaining their health. Avoid overfeeding and monitor their weight to prevent obesity, which can lead to joint problems and other health issues. Consult with a veterinarian to find the right diet for your Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

Health Care

Regular visits to the veterinarian, along with vaccinations and preventative care, are necessary to keep your Anatolian Shepherd Dog healthy. Their protective instincts can make them prone to territorial aggression towards unfamiliar people or animals, so socialization training is also important.

By following these care and maintenance tips, you can ensure that your Anatolian Shepherd Dog remains healthy and happy for years to come.

Training the Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Training and socialization are crucial for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, given their intelligence, independent nature, and working background. As natural guardians, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have a strong protective instinct and require proper training to ensure they are well-behaved around humans and other animals.

Training Techniques

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs respond best to positive reinforcement training techniques, which involve rewarding desired behavior with treats, praise, and playtime. Clicker training is also effective, providing a consistent audible cue that marks the exact moment of good behavior, and reinforces the behavior with a reward.

It is important to establish clear rules and boundaries from an early age, using consistent commands and gestures for basic obedience training. Leash training is also essential, given the breed’s size and strength.

Patience and persistence are key when training Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, as they can be stubborn and require extra time to fully understand and obey commands. Regular training sessions and daily exercise are recommended to keep them mentally and physically stimulated, preventing boredom and destructive behavior.

Training Challenges

One of the main challenges of training Anatolian Shepherd Dogs is their tendency to be independent thinkers, which can lead to selective hearing and disobedience. It is important to establish a strong bond with the dog and earn their trust, providing positive reinforcement and avoiding punishment-based techniques.

Another challenge is their innate protectiveness, which can lead to aggression towards strangers or other dogs if not properly socialized and trained. Early socialization with people and other animals is crucial, teaching the dog to distinguish between friend and foe, and promoting friendly behavior with other dogs.

Lastly, their size and strength require extra attention when training Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. Proper leash training, handling, and socialization are essential to ensure they do not become a danger to themselves or others.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog as a Family Pet

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog, despite being originally bred as a livestock guardian dog, can make a great addition to a family as a pet. They are known for their loyalty, devotion and protective instincts. However, it is important to note that they are not a typical lap dog and require special attention and care due to their size and exercise needs.

One of the most important considerations for those looking to bring an Anatolian Shepherd Dog into a family setting is socialization. Due to their protective nature, owners must carefully introduce their dogs to other pets and people to ensure they do not exhibit aggressive behavior. Early socialization, obedience training and positive reinforcement are key to raising a well-behaved and socially integrated Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

Although they are a large breed, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs can adapt well to living spaces of all sizes, as long as they receive sufficient exercise and attention. They are not apartment dogs, but with a large enclosed yard and regular walks, they can thrive in suburban or rural settings.

One common misconception is that Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are not good with children. However, when raised with and socialized with children from a young age, they can be affectionate and gentle companions. Their natural protective instincts also make them ideal watchdogs, and they will fiercely protect their family from any perceived threats.

Overall, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog can make for a wonderful family pet for those willing to put in the time and effort to properly socialize and care for them. They are fiercely loyal and protective, making them a great addition to any household.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog as a Livestock Guardian

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a working breed that has been used for centuries to protect livestock. Originally from Turkey, these dogs are powerful and fearless, with a strong instinct to guard and protect their territory and flock.

Their protective nature, combined with their size and strength, make them excellent at keeping predators at bay, such as wolves, coyotes, and bears. They are also adept at handling the rough terrain of rural areas, which makes them well-suited to working on farms and ranches.

Training and Working Capabilities

Training an Anatolian Shepherd Dog to work as a livestock guardian is a crucial step in their development. Because they are independent thinkers, it is important to establish yourself as the leader early on in training. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, are effective in training these dogs.

When it comes to working capabilities, these dogs are known for their endurance and toughness. They are able to work long hours in all types of weather conditions, and are highly adaptable to different types of livestock, such as sheep, cattle, and goats. Their natural instincts make them excellent at reading the body language of their flock, which allows them to quickly respond to any potential threats.

History and Effectiveness as Livestock Guardians

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a long history as a livestock guardian. They were originally bred by shepherds in Turkey to guard their flocks from predators, and their effectiveness at this task is well-documented.

Breeder Zeki Demirag, who has been working with Anatolian Shepherd Dogs for over 25 years, says that "they are very intelligent and independent, but they are also fiercely loyal to their owners and the animals they are tasked with protecting. They will defend their charges to the death if necessary."


Overall, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a highly effective livestock guardian that has been bred for centuries to protect their flock from predators. Their natural instincts, combined with their size and strength, make them well-suited to working on farms and ranches. With proper training and socialization, these dogs can be excellent additions to any livestock operation that requires canine protection.

Finding an Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breeder

When looking for an Anatolian Shepherd Dog breeder in the US, it's important to do your research and find a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs. Here are some factors to consider and questions to ask when searching for a breeder:

  • Ask for references from previous clients.
  • Check if the breeder is a member of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America or another reputable breed club.
  • Inquire about the breeder's health testing practices for their dogs.
  • Ask about the breeder's socialization and training practices for their puppies.
  • Find out if the breeder provides a health guarantee for their puppies.

There are also several resources available to help you find a reputable Anatolian Shepherd Dog breeder:

  • The Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America maintains a breeder referral list on their website.
  • American Kennel Club's Marketplace also has a directory of breeders.
  • Attend dog shows or events, where you can meet breeders and see their dogs in person.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog standing

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Adoption and Rescue Organizations

If you are considering adopting an Anatolian Shepherd Dog, there are several rescue organizations in the US that specialize in this breed. These organizations are dedicated to rescuing Anatolian Shepherd Dogs in need of homes and placing them with loving and responsible owners.

Adopting a dog from a rescue organization can be a fulfilling experience, as you are not only providing a home for a deserving dog, but also giving them a second chance at a happy life. Many rescue dogs have already been socialized and trained, making them easier to integrate into your home and family.

To find an Anatolian Shepherd Dog rescue organization near you, try searching online or contacting local animal shelters. You can also check breed-specific websites and social media groups for more information.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog in Popular Culture

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a breed that has made appearances in various forms of popular culture, showcasing its recognition and popularity. Here are some notable examples:


In the 1997 movie "Kundun", an Anatolian Shepherd Dog plays the role of a guard dog protecting the Dalai Lama.

In the 2012 movie "The Grey", an Anatolian Shepherd Dog is one of the survivors of a plane crash who must fight for survival against wolves.


The 2017 novel "The Resurrection of Joan Ashby" by Cherise Wolas features an Anatolian Shepherd Dog as a beloved pet of the main character.

In the 2012 thriller novel "Code to Zero" by Ken Follett, an Anatolian Shepherd Dog named Max plays an important role in the story.


In the popular HBO series "Game of Thrones", the character Sansa Stark is accompanied by an Anatolian Shepherd Dog named Lady.

In the animated series "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated", an Anatolian Shepherd Dog named Nova plays a recurring role as the pet of Cassidy Williams.

These examples show that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog has made a significant impression on popular culture, and its unique traits make it a memorable and impressive breed.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Clubs and Events

Being a member of an Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club can be an excellent way to meet fellow dog enthusiasts and learn more about the breed from experienced owners and breeders. Many clubs offer events and activities throughout the year, such as breed shows, training sessions, and social gatherings.

Here are some examples of active Anatolian Shepherd Dog Clubs in the US:

Club NameLocationContact Information
ASDCA - Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of AmericaNationwidewww.asdca.org
ASDCA - Heart of America Anatolian Shepherd Dog ClubMidwest USwww.hoasdc.org
ASDCA - Great Lakes Anatolian Shepherd Dog ClubGreat Lakes Regionwww.asdca.org/great-lakes

Attending Anatolian Shepherd Dog events can also be a great opportunity to learn more about the breed and witness their unique abilities firsthand. Here are some popular Anatolian Shepherd Dog events in the US:

  • AKC National Championship Dog Show
  • ASDCA National Specialty Show
  • ASDCA Top Ten Invitational
  • ASDCA Working Dog Championship

By participating in clubs and events, Anatolian Shepherd Dog owners can broaden their knowledge and appreciation of this amazing breed, while also enjoying the camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Cost and Maintenance Expenses

While the Anatolian Shepherd Dog makes an excellent pet and working dog, owning one comes with certain costs and expenses to consider.

The initial cost of purchasing an Anatolian Shepherd Dog from a reputable breeder can range from $1,000 to $2,500 or more, depending on factors such as gender, pedigree, and location. Additionally, ongoing expenses such as food, grooming, and vet bills can add up over time. It's important to carefully budget for these expenses before committing to owning an Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

In terms of maintenance, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a thick, double coat that requires regular brushing to prevent mats and tangles. They shed heavily twice a year, so be prepared for increased grooming during those times. Exercise is also important for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog's physical and mental health, so owners should plan to provide ample opportunities for daily activity and playtime.

Owners should also be aware of potential veterinary costs, including regular check-ups, vaccinations, and potential health issues such as hip dysplasia or bloat. As with any breed, it's important to have a plan in place for emergency veterinary care, which can be costly.

Despite the potential costs and expenses of owning an Anatolian Shepherd Dog, many owners find that the rewards outweigh the investment. With proper care and maintenance, these dogs can live long, healthy lives and provide their owners with years of love, loyalty, and companionship.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog vs. Other Similar Breeds

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is often compared to other similar breeds, such as the Turkish Kangal and the Akbash dog, due to their shared roots and working abilities. While these breeds share common characteristics, there are some distinct differences that potential owners should consider.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog vs. Turkish Kangal

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog and the Turkish Kangal are both native to Turkey and are often confused with each other due to their similar physical appearance and working abilities. However, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is generally larger and has a longer coat, while the Kangal has a thick, short coat. While both breeds are known for their protective and independent nature, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog tends to be more reserved and less aggressive towards strangers than the Kangal.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog vs. Akbash Dog

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog and the Akbash dog are both livestock guardian breeds that originated in Turkey, but they have different working styles. The Akbash dog is more aggressive and territorial than the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, and is often used to guard flocks from predators such as bears and wolves. The Anatolian Shepherd Dog, on the other hand, is more adaptable and can be trained to work with a variety of livestock, including cattle, sheep, and goats.

Ultimately, the decision between these breeds will depend on the owner's specific needs and preferences. Potential owners should do their research, meet with breeders and owners, and consider their lifestyle and living situation before making a final decision.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog: A Breed Worth Considering

After reading this comprehensive guide, it's easy to see why the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is gaining popularity in the United States. With their impressive history as livestock guardian dogs, strong and independent personalities, and loyal companionship, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is an exceptional breed that deserves careful consideration.

As a family pet, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are affectionate with their owners and protective of their household. They have a natural instinct to guard, making them ideal watchdogs. They are also great with children, as long as they are socialized properly from a young age.

As working dogs, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are highly intelligent and independent, making them well-suited for tasks such as guarding livestock or serving as search and rescue dogs. They require proper training and socialization to reach their full potential, but with the right guidance, they can excel in their roles.

Overall, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a breed worth considering for those looking for a loyal and capable companion. With its unique history and impressive abilities, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a breed that is sure to leave a lasting impression on its owners and anyone lucky enough to meet one.


Q: How big do Anatolian Shepherd Dogs get?

A: Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are large breed dogs that can reach weights between 80-150 pounds and stand at heights of 26-31 inches at the shoulder.

Q: Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs good with children?

A: Anatolian Shepherd Dogs can be good with children if properly socialized and trained. However, due to their size and protective nature, supervision is recommended, especially with younger children.

Q: Do Anatolian Shepherd Dogs require a lot of exercise?

A: Yes, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are an active breed and require daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. This can include walks, playtime, and interactive toys.

Q: Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs good with other pets?

A: Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have a strong guardian instinct and may be wary of other animals, particularly smaller pets. Proper socialization from a young age and supervision is important.

Q: How do you groom an Anatolian Shepherd Dog?

A: Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have a short to medium-length double coat that requires regular brushing to remove loose hair. They shed seasonally and may require more frequent brushing during these times.

Q: Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs good guard dogs?

A: Yes, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are known for their excellent guardian instincts and their ability to protect their family and property. They are wary of strangers and will alert their owners to potential threats.

Q: Are Anatolian Shepherd Dogs easy to train?

A: Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are intelligent but have an independent nature. This can make them more challenging to train compared to some other breeds. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and early socialization are important for successful training.

Q: How much do Anatolian Shepherd Dogs cost?

A: The cost of an Anatolian Shepherd Dog can vary depending on factors such as the breeder, bloodlines, and location. On average, you can expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,500 for a puppy.

Q: Do Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have any health issues?

A: Like all breeds, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs can be prone to certain health issues, including hip dysplasia, ear infections, and bloat. Regular veterinary check-ups, a nutritious diet, and proper exercise can help maintain their overall health.

Q: How long do Anatolian Shepherd Dogs live?

A: Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have an average lifespan of 11-13 years. With proper care and a healthy lifestyle, some individuals can live even longer.

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