Akbash Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

The Akbash is a rare, ancient, large-giant breed of dog that was bred to guard livestock in Turkey between 750 BC and 300 BC.

They are born in an average litter size of 8 puppies and reach their full adult size by 2 to 3 years of age. 

An Akbash dog standing on a hill
Meet the Akbash – Image source

The average purebred female Akbash is 28 to 32 inches (71.1 to 81.3 cm)  tall and weighs around 90 lbs (40.8 kg).

On the other hand, the average male Akbash stands at 30 to 34 inches (76.2 to 86.4 cm) tall and weighs 120 lbs (54.4 kg).

Akbash dogs have a large, strong, but lean build with long legs and long tails, wedge-shaped heads, and triangular, floppy ears. Their thick white coats can be medium-length or long.

They are calm, confident, brave, and vigilant, without being aggressive. They’re also loyal, independent, and intelligent. 

The breed has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years and a bite force of 220 PSI, as well as a moderately frequent “alarm-like” bark.

They need 3 cups of high-quality diet to power their large bodies and a half or one hour of gentle exercise per day, as well as some mental stimulation to prevent boredom. 

Keep reading for all of our top tips on owning an Akbash dog.

What is the Akbash Dog? 

The Akbash is a livestock guardian from Turkey. There is a misconception that they were used to herd livestock, but this is not the case.

They were purely bred to watch, guard, and protect, with their imposing stance and bark and their fearlessness. 

Where Does the Akbash’s Name Come From? 

In Turkish, the Akbash’s name is a very literal description of their appearance. The word “Akbash” translates to “Akbaş” in Turkish, which means white head.

Its full name is Akbaş Çoban Köpeği, which means white head shepherd dog. It is also called Coban Kopegi and Akbash Dog.

What is the History of the Akbash Dog? 

An Akbash lying down on a hill
An Akbash herding – Image source

The existence of the Akbash dog is thought to date back as far as 750 to 300 BC, making them one of the oldest breeds of dog in the world.

Little is known about their exact ancestry or region of origin, but they make fantastic livestock guard dogs for farmers. 

Their closest canine relatives are thought to be the Komondor, the Kuvasz, the Tatra Mountain Sheepdog, and the Great Pyrenees

They were introduced to the USA in the 1970s by American citizens Judith and David Nelson who had been researching canines in Turkey.

They have yet to be recognized by the American Kennel Club but have been recognized by the United Kennel Club since 1998

How Many Akbashes are there in the World?

It’s not known or estimated how many Akbash dogs there are worldwide, but they are registered as a rare breed

What are the Variants of Akbash Dogs?

There aren’t really any official variants of the Akbash dog, but there are two different coat types within the breed.

As mentioned above, their beautiful white coats can be short to medium or long. Long coats tend to have more ruff around the neck part and feathering on the legs and tail areas.

What are the Characteristics of Akbash Dogs?

Three Akbash dogs in a flower field
Three loving Akbash dogs in a flower field – Image source

The Akbash is an interesting dog with a complex temperament.

We’ve listed their most standout personality traits below and made a table ranking the breed on their most important canine characteristics. 

  • Loyal and protective: The Akbash dogs are loyal and protective towards their home and family, which can become overprotective and territorial without training. 
  • Independent: They’re also very independently minded and like to do their own thing, which can lead to stubbornness. 
  • Loving: Despite their independent nature, the Akbash dogs love spending time with their families and are very affectionate with their loved ones. 
  • Calm: Akbashes are pretty calm dogs, and they’re not particularly active for their size.
  • Brave: With independence comes courage. The breed is fearless due to its guard dog DNA. 
  • Vigilant: Again, due to their working DNA, the breed is naturally watchful and will eagerly alert its owners to disturbances. 
  • Intelligent: Like most farm-working breeds, the Akbash is very bright and tends to learn quickly. 
  • Suspicious: Although the Akbashes love their family members, they tend to be suspicious of strangers and unfamiliar dogs, which can lead to aggression without careful handling, training, and socialization.
Akbash Characteristics Rating
Relation with Family 5
Good with Children 4
Friendly with Strangers 2
Friendly with Other Dogs 3
Easy to Train 3
Energy Level 2
Barking Level 3
Mental Stimulation Needs 3

What Does The Akbash Look Like?

An Akbash dog standing on all fours
The beautiful Akbash dog – Image source

Akbash dogs are tall, large, and strong, but not stocky. They’re fairly lean with long legs and tails, as well as wedge-shaped heads, labrador-like faces, and triangular, floppy ears.

Their almond-shaped eyes can be golden or dark brown, and they may or may not have double dewclaws on their feet.

How big is the Akbash?

The average female Akbash dog is 28 to 32 inches (71.1 to 81.3 cm)  tall and the average male is around 30 to 34 inches (76.2 to 86.4 cm)  tall.

They need to live in large-sized homes, ideally with access to a yard. 

Despite not being too active, the breed isn’t really suited to apartment life because of their size.

If you’re planning on crate training your Akbash, you should buy a large crate that is around 54 inches in size.

Akbash Physical Features Male Female
Height  28–32 in
(71–81 cm) 
28 to 32 inches
(71.1 to 81.3 cm)
Weight 120 lbs
(54.4 kg)
90 lbs
(40.8 kg)

How long does an Akbash dog grow?

The average Akbash dog should grow to reach their full adult size by 24 to 36 months of age.

Adolescence can also last this long in such large breeds, with sexual and mental maturity typically occurring between 1 to 1.5 years of age. 

What is the average weight of an Akbash?

The average male Akbash weighs 120 lbs (54.4 kg), while the average female weighs 90 lbs (40.8 kg).

Their exact weight will depend on their age, size, sex, diet, and health, but the breed is prone to weight gain.

So, a balanced diet, and sufficient exercise are necessary to maintain a healthy weight. 

What is the Average Lifespan of an Akbash Dog?

The average lifespan of an Akbash dog is 10 to 12 years, although they can live for much longer.

Like many large dog breeds, they are prone to experiencing joint and heart problems in old age. Akbashes are also vulnerable to hypothyroidism and bloat.

What Coat Type Does the Akbash Have?

An Akbash dog walking
The gorgeous Akbash coat – Image source

Akbash dogs can have a thick double coat. This is either medium or long, with the latter having more ruff around the neck area and feathering gracing the legs and tail.

Whatever their coat type, the Akbash requires a moderate amount of grooming.

What is the Akbash dog’s coat like?

The Akbash’s double coat is straight. The top coat is coarse while the undercoat is dense yet it has soft, fine hair.

As mentioned, longer coats tend to have more ruff and feathering. Regardless of the type, the coat needs brushing at least once or twice a week and bathing once a month or when necessary.

How long is the Akbash dog’s coat?

The length of an Akbash’s coat depends on whether he’s medium-coated or long-coated.

Unlike some other breeds, the Akbash does not require haircuts, either regularly or occasionally. Trimming can be done twice or thrice per year or as needed. 

How dense is the Akbash’s coat?

The Akbash’s coat is thick. Regardless of their coat length, all Akbash dogs have thick, double coats consisting of a fine, insulating undercoat, and a coarse guard coat. 

Do the Akbash dogs shed?

Akbash dogs shed moderately all year round, with heavier annual shedding during the summer.

They are not suitable for people with allergies to dog hair, although excessive shedding can be tackled with extra grooming, dietary changes, and supplements. 

Are Akbash Dogs Easy to Groom?

A groomed Akbash standing on all fours
A groomed Akbash – Image source

As mentioned above, Akbash dogs need only moderate maintenance grooming-wise during most of the year.

They don’t require haircuts but they do need weekly brushing with a rake or slicker brush to remove loose fur and debris, and bathing every few months to maintain good hygiene with a natural dog shampoo. 

Can the Akbash Live in Hot Weather?

The Akbash’s thick double coat makes them less heat tolerant than some other breeds of dog. Plus, like other large breeds, they can easily overheat.

Akbash dogs can stand temperatures between 7 and 16 degrees Celsius (45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit)

Can Akbash Dogs Survive in the Cold?

Akbash dogs are naturally cold-tolerant dogs because of their thick double coats, and can easily work and live in cold climates.

However, we don’t recommend that any dog, whatever the breed, is exposed to freezing temperatures for long periods of time, or sleeps outside in freezing conditions. 

What are the Colors of Akbash Dogs?

White is the only recognized color of Akbash dogs, there are no others seen among the breed.

This is because they were bred to blend in with the livestock that they were protecting, which was most commonly sheep. 

What are the Markings of Akbash Dogs?

Akbash dogs, whether short or medium-coated, are known to be solid-colored and don’t ordinarily have markings.

However, they can sometimes have light biscuit-colored or gray shading around their ears or in their undercoat. 

Is an Akbash a Good Family Dog?

An Akbash giving its paw to its owner
Ayse, an Akbash, gives his paw to his pawrent – Image source

Akbash dogs are calm, independent, intelligent, and watchful dogs.

They can be loving and affectionate with their families but tend to be reserved around strangers and unfamiliar dogs.

They’re very loyal, and protective, and won’t hesitate to show their watchdog and guardian skills. 

Akbash Temperament Rating
Adaptability 3
Friendliness 3
Mouthiness 3
Playfulness 3
Family-Oriented 5
Stranger Tolerance 3

Why can’t Akbash dogs be kept at home?

Akbash dogs can be kept at home. This independent breed can be left alone, too.

That said, this fiercely independent breed isn’t prone to separation anxiety, and once trained, they can do well alone for 4 to 6 hours at a time, depending on their age. 

Are Akbash dogs good for novice owners?

The Akbash isn’t the ideal breed for first-time owners, because they can be difficult to train.

Despite their intelligence, their independent nature can lead to stubbornness without firm training from someone that knows what they’re doing. 

Do Akbash dogs get along well with other dogs?

The Akbash is generally friendly towards family dogs that they have been socialized with from an early age.

However, they tend to be naturally suspicious of unfamiliar dogs, especially intruding dogs. That said, this can usually be combated with dedicated socialization. 

Is the Akbash dog friendly with other people?

The Akbash dog is very loving, loyal, and affectionate with their family members and enjoys spending time with their loved ones.

However, they can be a little reserved around people they don’t know. 

Can Akbash get along well with strangers?

The Akbash is generally reserved with strangers until they get to know them. It can take a while for these dogs to warm to new people, especially in their own territory.

This is likely because of their guard dog DNA and wanting to protect their family and home. 

However, if approached in a friendly manner, these dogs shouldn’t be unfriendly and will be affectionate once they get to know you. 

Can Akbashes live with young children?

Akbash dogs have an affinity with children, even young children, and can handle overexcited play.

However, due to their calm nature and not being particularly active, they tend to prefer playing with older children. 

Are Akbash Dogs Adaptable?

An Akbash on the stairs
Dude, an Akbash, asks for playtime in a yard – Image source

Akbash dogs are not particularly adaptable. Despite not being the most active dogs, they do need their space due to their size.

They should live in large-sized homes, preferably with a spacious yard to wander about in, and aren’t really suitable for small houses and apartments.

Are Akbash Dogs Aggressive?

Akbash dogs are calm and gentle. While they are aloof and can bark at strangers, they are not necessarily aggressive.

However, just like any other breed, they can show aggression if mistreated and not properly socialized.

Are Akbash Dogs Dangerous?

Akbash dogs shouldn’t be dangerous to humans unless they are threatened or have been mistreated and are not approached sensitively.

With these gentle giants, it’s best to approach calmly and quietly, and let them come to you when they’re ready. 

Do Akbash Dogs Bite?

While Akbash dogs can be aloof from strangers and suspicious of unfamiliar dogs, they are not aggressive. You can expect this calm gentle giant to not bite.

However, just like any other dog, they may show aggression when mistreated and not properly socialized. Their bite force is as strong as 220 PSI.

Are Akbash Dogs Protective?

Given their history of watching after and protecting livestock, Akbash dogs are very protective of their homes and family members by nature.

Whilst this is not a bad thing, they can easily become overprotective and territorial without training and socialization just like any other protective breed. 

Are Akbash Dogs Easy to Train?

An Akbash standing on a rocky beach
Ayse is a well behaved Akbash – Image source

Akbash dogs are not the easiest dogs to train due to their independent temperament, which can lead to stubbornness if they are not being treated fairly or enjoying themselves.

So, it’s essential to bond with your Akbash throughout your training and to keep your training sessions short, simple, consistent, and fun. 

Positive reinforcement should be the driving force, and negative signals should be associated with something strong to demonstrate undesirable behavior, such as putting a stop to fun activities or crossing your arms and ignoring your pup.

You should never punish your Akbash pup or give him little attention, as this could ruin your bond and trust.

Areas of focus should include obedience training and socialization, as mentioned above.

The best way to start obedience training is by practicing recall, and socialization should begin at home. The use of a behavioral marker will also help to speed up your training. 

How sensitive are Akbash dogs?

Akbash dogs are of average sensitivity.

However, each dog is different and a dog’s background can play a part in it, too. Different owners report different things, and some Akbashes can be very sensitive.

Can Akbash dogs be used as working dogs?

Akbash dogs are not generally suitable for service work, but they make great watchdogs. In fact, in their home country, they’re still commonly used as livestock guardians.

In the US, however, they’re more commonly kept as beloved pets. These dogs also pull carts very well.

Do Akbash Dogs Bark a Lot?

An Akbash standing on a snowy sidewalk
Ayse, the Akbash, is vigilant, too – Image source

The Akbash dog’s protective instinct means that they will gladly use their voices to alert you when something is up, sometimes to excess, but they won’t usually bark when it’s not necessary. 

How does an Akbash bark?

The Akbash has a bark that is often described as “alarm-like” because it has an alert tone to it, and they really only bark when they need to tell you something.

Their bark is deep and loud, although nothing is recorded about its exact decibel level of it. 

What is the Energy Level of Akbash Dogs?

The Akbash dog is not a particularly high-energy dog, but they do need daily exercise to stay in shape and stimulate their mind.

They also need some mentally stimulating play to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. 

Are Akbash Dogs Active?

The Akbash dog needs half or 1 hour of exercise per day, split into two walks. They prefer a gentle walk over running.

These dogs would also benefit from active play sessions every day. 

Do Akbash Dogs Like to Play?

The Akbash dog does like to play, but rather than games of fetch and a few cuddly toys, these dogs prefer toys and games that stimulate the mind.

Some firm favorites include: 

  • Hide and seek
  • Treasure hunt
  • Treat dispensers 
  • Puzzle toys
  • Sensory toys 

Does The Akbash Drool a Lot?

An Akbash dog lying down on fallen leaves
Leo, an Akbash, knows how to pose – Image source

If you don’t like the idea of a dog that drools a lot, you’re in luck! The Akbash doesn’t usually drool much, although any dog can drool a little when they’re around food.

That said, if your Akbash does drool a lot, it could be an indicator of stress or a deeper health problem. 

What is the Family Life of Akbash Dogs Like?

Akbash dogs are the ideal dogs for families that are a little more relaxed, as they aren’t overly social or high-energy.

They prefer to be the sole pet in the home and are not well suited to households with cats, although they can live together with lots of socialization. 

What is the Average Cost of an Akbash Puppy?

Akbash puppies typically cost between $700 and $900.

The price of an Akbash puppy will depend on a variety of factors, including the breeder’s experience, the dog’s lineage, and whether the pup has been registered with a kennel club. 

Prospective owners should be prepared to pay more for a pup with show-dog potential.

It is also important to factor in the cost of routine veterinary care, which can add several hundred dollars to the overall price tag.

With proper care, an Akbash puppy can provide years of companionship and protection, making it a wise investment for any family.

What Kind of Food Do Akbash Dogs Prefer?

An Akbash with dog treats
Hoka, an Akbash, wants more treats – Image source

Akbash dogs should nutritiously complete food that is tailored to bigger breeds and appropriate for their age group.

A healthy adult Akbash should eat food with a balanced amount of essential nutrients to power their large bodies.

To make them happy, 3 cups of food per day, depending on their size, split into two meals, will do. 

Owners should also look for foods made out of naturally sourced ingredients and avoid anything containing unhealthy fillers like wheat. 

Young pups should receive a little extra protein and DHA to help them grow and develop.

Elderly Akbashes should eat fewer calories as they slow down to avoid gaining weight, with extra healthy fats to aid their aging joints and brains. 

What are the Best Akbash Dog Foods?

Following the above criteria of being nutritionally complete, size-appropriate, and high protein, here are our top commercial dog food recommendations for Akbash dogs of all ages. 

For Akbash puppies:

For adult Akbash dogs:

What Other Dog Breeds Look Like the Akbash? 

A Great Pyrenees sitting in a forest
The equally beautiful Great Pyrenees – Image source

The Akbash’s lovely white coat is similar to a few other large dog breeds.

Here is a list of the top dog breeds that could easily be mistaken for an Akbash! 

  • Great Pyrenees
  • Kuvasz
  • Slovensky Cuvac
  • Maremma Sheepdog
  • Tatra Shepherd Dog

Verdict: Should You Get an Akbash?

If you want an active, playful dog that never slows down, you may be better off with a Border Collie.

Or, if you want a super friendly crowd-pleaser that gets on with everyone, you may be better off with a Labrador. 

However, if you want a dog to fit in with your relaxed family, and a loyal companion that will protect you and your home no matter what, the Akbash may be the ideal dog for you. 

But beware, they’re not for first-time owners, and just because they’re low energy doesn’t mean that they’re easy.

You must be willing to put a lot of effort into their training and socialization, as well as into making sure they don’t get bored. 

Do you have an Akbash or are you thinking of getting one? Let us know what you like about them in the comments down below!

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