About this Ancient Breed

Since Babylonian times, there is documented a breed of large strong dogs with a heavy head. Some spectacular depictions of the breed dating back to 2,000 BC can be seen on the well preserved bas-reliefs in the Assyrian Rooms of the British Museum in London.


With the advent of the first domestic sheep, the dogs went from “hunter” to “protector”. The book of Job, which dates back to at least 1,800 BC and is set in the region of Turkey, makes reference to the dogs with the flocks.

In Turkey today, the breed is known as Coban Kopegi (cho-bawn ko-pay) which translates to “Shepherd’s Dog”. He is a livestock guardian dog, living his life in constant association with his sheep or goats, and is accepted as a member of the flock.



Large, rugged, powerful and impressive, possessing great endurance and agility. Developed through a set of very demanding circumstances for a purely utilitarian purpose; he is a working guard dog without equal, with a unique ability to protect livestock. General impression – Appears bold, but calm, unless challenged. He possesses size, good bone, a well-muscled torso with a strong head. Reserve out of its territory is acceptable. Fluid movement and even temperament is desirable.


General balance is more important than absolute size. Dogs should be from 29 inches and weighing from 110 to 150 pounds proportionate to size and structure. Bitches should be from 27 inches, weighing from 80 to 120 pounds, proportionate to size and structure. Neither dog nor bitch appear fat. Both dog and bitch should be rectangular, in direct proportion to height. Measurements and weights apply at age 2 or older.


Expression should be intelligent. Eyes are medium size, set apart, almond shaped and dark brown to light amber in color. Blue eyes or eyes of two different colors are a disqualification. Eye rims will be black or brown and without sag or looseness of haw. Incomplete pigment is a serious fault. Ears should be set on no higher than the plane of the head. V-shaped, rounded apex, measuring about four inches at the base to six inches in length. The tip should be just long enough to reach the outside corner of the eyelid. Ears dropped to sides. Erect ears are a disqualification. Skull is large but in proportion to the body. There is a slight centerline furrow, fore and aft, from apparent stop to moderate occiput. Broader in dogs than in bitches. Muzzle is blockier and stronger for the dog, but neither dog nor bitch would have a snipey head or muzzle. Nose and flews must be solid black or brown. Seasonal fading is not to be penalized. Incomplete pigment is a serious fault. Flews are normally dry but pronounced enough to contribute to “squaring” the overall muzzle appearance. Teeth and gums strong and healthy. Scissors bite preferred, level bite acceptable. Broken teeth are not to be faulted. Overshot, undershot or wry bite are disqualifications.


Neck slightly arched, powerful, and muscular, moderate in length with more skin and fur than elsewhere on the body, forming a protective ruff. The dewlap should not be pendulous and excessive. Topline will appear level when gaiting. Back will be powerful, muscular, and level, with drop behind withers and gradual arch over loin, sloping slightly downward at the croup. Body well proportioned, functional, without exaggeration. Never fat or soft. Chest is deep (to the elbow) and well-sprung with a distinct tuck up at the loin. Tail should be long and reaching to the hocks. Set on rather high. When relaxed, it is carried low with the end curled upwards. When alert, the tail is carried high, making a “wheel.” Both low and wheel carriage are acceptable, when gaiting. “Wheel” carriage preferred. The tail will not necessarily uncurl totally.


Shoulders should be muscular and well developed, blades long, broad and sloping. Elbows should be neither in nor out. Forelegs should be relatively long, well-boned and set straight with strong pasterns. The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape. They should have stout nails with pads thick and tough. Dewclaws may be removed.


Strong, with broad thighs and heavily muscled. Angulation at the stifle and hock are in proportion to the forequarters. As seen from behind, the legs are parallel. The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape. Double dewclaws may exist. Dewclaws may be removed.


 Short (one inch minimum, not tight) to Rough (approximately 4 inches in length) with neck hair slightly longer. Somewhat longer and thicker at the neck and mane. A thick undercoat is common to all. Feathering may occur on the ear fringes, legs, breeching, and tail.


All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable.


At the trot, the gait is powerful yet fluid. When viewed from the front or rear, the legs turn neither in nor out, nor do feet cross or interfere with each other. With increased speed, footfall converges toward the center line of gravity. When viewed from the side, the front legs should reach out smoothly with no obvious pounding. The withers and backline should stay nearly level with little rise or fall. The rear assembly should push out smoothly with hocks doing their share of the work and flexing well.


Alert and intelligent, calm and observant. Instinctively protective, he is courageous and highly adaptable. He is very loyal and responsive. Highly territorial, he is a natural guard. Reserve around strangers and off its territory is acceptable. Responsiveness with animation is not characteristic of the breed. Overhandling would be discouraged.


Blue eyes or eyes of two different colors. Erect ears. Overshot, undershot, or wry bite.

Common Questions about the Breed


👉The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a slow maturing breed and may not reach his full weight and stature until 4 years of age. In the first year, puppies grow rapidly, from a twenty pound, eight-week old to a ninety pound 1 year-old.


👉The average lifespan of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is between 11-13 years in a normal, safe environment. Working dogs, because of the nature of their job, have a high mortality rate and longevity becomes difficult to tabulate. The nature and demeanor of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog make him truly one of the rare giants with an extended lifespan.


👉There is little difference between the male and female when it comes to guarding ability or the degree of affection shown. Spaying or neutering the livestock guardian is advisable and will not affect working ability. The male Anatolian seems to go through more of an adolescent phase beginning at about 15-18 months of age. During this time he may need more than usual correction and discipline to guide him along. With maturity, this adolescent behavior should diminish.


👉Anatolian are sturdy and not prone to any particular diseases, but they are highly sensitive to anesthesia. Hip dysplasia (HD) is present in nearly all large breeds, and the Anatolian Shepherd is no exception. Although hip dysplasia is not yet a serious problem in the breed, breeders should be conscientious about x-raying their breeding stock and submitting those x-rays for certification.

Entropion (inverted eyelids) is also present in the breed though, like HD, it is not widespread. If breeders only breed from healthy stock of no known genetic problems, then entropian will not become widespread.

Bloat is still rare in the breed. However, as with any large- chested breed the potential for developing bloat exists.


👉While many Anatolian Shepherd Dogs in the United States are carrying on the tradition of their ancestors by guarding flocks of sheep and goats successfully on ranches and small farms. It is any incorrect assumption to think that all Anatolian Shepherds will protect livestock. Some dog will work—others will not. Just as not every Collie is a herder or every German Shepherd a Seeing Eye Guide Dog, not every Anatolian Shepherd is a potential livestock guardian dog. Research statistics tell us that approximately 66% of the breed are successful working dogs.


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