Anatolian Shepherd dog breed characteristics, origin and care

Anatolian Shepherd Dog breed characteristics

  • Size: Giant
  • Traits: Independent, loyal, reserved, friendly, affectionate
  • Maintenance: Medium maintenance
  • Best Suited To: Families with older children, Adults on country properties

Independent, loyal and affectionate, the Anatolian Shepherd, also known as Karabash or Kangal Dog, is a large dog with a big heart. It will go over and above to look after livestock and its family but strangers won’t receive such a warm welcoming.

Where I'm From

The Anatolian Shepherd takes its name from Anatolia in central Turkey and the breed has existed for more than 6000 years. These large dogs were developed to thrive in Turkey’s harsh climate of low and high extremes. They took on the nomadic lifestyle of shepherds and feel very protective of their livestock and immediate family.

Before being used to guard sheep and goats, Anatolians were employed to hunt lions and horses. This ancient breed is positioned deep in the hearts of the Turkish people and is considered a national emblem.

Selective breeding over thousands of years has not only resulted in a dog with very few (if any) hereditary health problems but it’s also created a supreme working dog. Its colour is purposely similar to the livestock it protects to confuse its predators.

What I Look Like

The Anatolian Shepherd is a large and powerful dog measuring 74-81 centimetres in height. It comes in eight colours including biscuit and white, blue fawn, brindle, fawn, gray fawn, liver, red fawn and the less exotic shade of white. Marking are also varied and include black, brown, Dutch, pinto and silver. An Anatolian coat is short and dense undercoat.

How I Act

Anatolians are territorial and protective dogs and so early socialisation is extremely important with this breed. They have a natural guard dog instinct and can be aggressive toward other dogs if they don’t learn to mix with them as a puppy. These pooches can also be wary of and unfriendly toward strangers so be vigilant when guests are over.

They’re also independent by nature which can making training difficult. For this reason they’re not suited to first time dog owners. Parents should also think twice about adopting this breed if they have young children. These dogs are big and can easily knock over a small child. They’re also not inclined to recognise small children as people they should respect and may be exert dominance over them.

Looking After Me

Anatolians will need to be trained from an early age if you’re to have any hope in getting through to them. They can be slower to cotton on to commands than other breeds so prepare for a lengthy training program. You’ll need to be consistent and firm to show this dog who’s in control.

These large canines will need a lot of running room if they’re to get a proper amount of daily exercise. If they’re to run off the lead, they’ll need to be in a fenced area. It’s important to note, these dogs are not partial to life in a kennel or being chained up and they’re not suited to life in the city.

You won’t need to put too much time into cleaning these pooches as they look after their own cleanliness pretty well. Giving them a bath three or four times a year is all that’s required. Put some time aside at least three times a week to clean their teeth and trim their nails as needed.

Grooming won’t take long. This breed has a short coat that will only need to be brushed once a week. It will shed heavily during the moulting seasons though.

Feeding Anatolians will set you back a bit financially. While they’re growing they require a lot of feeding but once they mature they won’t need quite so much food. Male Anatolian Shepherds can take four years to mature and females may take three years.

As mentioned earlier, this breed is pretty healthy but there are still certain conditions you should watch out for including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, demodectic mange, hyperthyroidism and entropion. It’s also worth noting this breed can be sensitive to anesthesia.

Am I the pet for you?


  • Natural guarding instinct
  • Loyal and protective of their immediate family
  • Suitable for country life


  • Difficult to train
  • May be unsuitable for families with young children
  • Shed heavily during moulting season
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