The Loving, Independent Anatolian Shepherd Dog: All You Need To Know

Last Updated on April 22, 2023

The Anatolian Shepherd, also known as the Anatolian Karabash, Coban Kopegi, or Karabash Dog, is a loyal, protective, and independent pooch.

Kangal Shepherds are listed to be the same breed as Anatolian Shepherds by the AKC but are separate breeds according to the UKC.

If you’d like to learn more about Anatolian Shepherds and where they came from, then keep reading.

Handsome Anatolian Shepherd dog portrait
The mighty Anatolian Shepherd

Where Did the Anatolian Shepherd Come From?

The Anatolian Shepherd got their name from Anatolia or Asia Minor. This area is a peninsula that has the Asian portion of Turkey. So the Coban Kopegi is Turkish for Shepherd Dog.

The Kangal dog was bred as a flock guardian, herding flocks of sheep. Turkey kept this dog breed all to themselves until the 1950s, preceding World War II when the breed came to America.

The Department of Agriculture imported a breeding pair from Turkey to participate in the Sheepdog Project. However, when the war broke out, the dogs and their offspring dispersed.

In the 1970s, Lieutenant Robert Ballard, US Navy, found a pair of Anatolian Shepherds while stationed in Turkey. He took them back to America, where they had a litter.

Thus, the dogs became assets in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in protecting the wildlife and flocks from certain predators. In addition, about 300 of this breed was given to farmers in Namibia by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to protect livestock from cheetah attacks.

So, how did Anatolian Shepherds come to be? Currently, it’s not known what breeds make up this Kangal dog. However, the breed is of a Mastiff type and may have come from dogs originating from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan, and Afghanistan.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Anatolian Shepherd as part of the working group in 1996.

Anatolian Shepherds are rare these days, but there are plenty of other Shepherd dogs. Read our article about the different types of Shepherd dogs to learn more.

What Does an Anatolian Shepherd Look Like?

An Anatolian Shepherd standing
Source: @lifeofmooseman/ IG

So, how can you tell what an Anatolian Shepherd looks like? These doggos are large, powerful, and rugged. Overall, this working dog is strong and has a well-muscled body with a calm demeanor.

According to the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) breed standard, this doggo has a large skull proportionate to the body and intelligent expression. Its ears are V-shaped, set no higher than the plane on the head. The muzzle is strong and blocky.

Its neck is muscular and slightly arched, going into the topline that appears level. Overall, the Anatolian Shepherd dog has a well-proportioned body. The tail is set high, long, and reaches the hocks.

In addition, this pooch has muscular shoulders that are well-developed, broad, and sloped. Its forelegs are long with strong, compacted feet.

The hindquarters are strong, with their back legs parallel to one another. The back paws are also strong and compact.

How big does an Anatolian Shepherd get?

Anatolian Shepherds are relatively large dogs. However, females are often smaller and lighter than males.

A male Anatolian Shepherd dog can grow up to 29 inches (73.6 cm) tall and weigh 110 and 150 pounds (49.8 to 68 kg). The female of this dog breed can grow up to 27 inches (68.5 cm) tall and weigh between 80 and 120 pounds (36.2 to 54.4 kg).

You’ll know when your Anatolian Shepherd pup is fully grown when they reach three years old. Large dogs take longer to grow, and this particular breed will reach full maturity by the age of three.

Unfortunately, given its size, this pooch will do much better in a house with a fenced-in backyard. However, they won’t adapt well to apartment living.

What coat colors can an Anatolian Shepherd have?

Anatolian Shepherd has a smooth coat that can have longer hair at the neck. In addition, it has a thick undercoat that protects them from all types of weather. Usually, they have a short double coat that can be thick and dense. Feathering may also occur around the ears, legs, tail, and breeching.

The Anatolian Shepherd dogs can come in quite a few coat colors. They are all accepted by the AKC. For example, their coat colors can be biscuit & white, blue fawn, brindle, fawn, gray fawn, liver, red fawn, white, and pinto.

In addition, they can also be fawn to wolf sable with white or lighter chest and paws, fawn or dark fawn sometimes with white, or fawn coloring with a black muzzle.

You may also see this dog breed with some coat markings such as black mask, brown mask, dutch markings, pinto, pinto & black mask, silver mask, or fawn with black mask.

Do Anatolian Shepherds Make Good Family Pets?

An Anatolian Shepherd, lying on a haystack, smiling
Source: @odie_the_anatolian / IG

If you’re looking for a large breed that will be a cuddle buddy for you, this pooch may not be the right fit. Anatolian Shepherds will do better with experienced dog owners. Why? Because they are independent and reserved. However, they are loyal.

This pooch is not the most affectionate, but they do love their family all the same. Since they enjoy having alone time, they have moderate playful levels. They’ll enjoy a rousing game of fetch once in a while, but if it’s their idea.

Anatolian Shepherds can be friendly when they want to be, but it will depend on the situation. If brought up with kids and other dogs since puppyhood, your Anatolian Shepherd will be okay. Otherwise, they’re not too fond of kids or other dogs and animals.

The guardian dog will see their family as their “flock” and protect it. This is one reason they will not do well with young kids. This dog doesn’t see children as a “leader” and won’t know it’s part of the “flock.”

With that said, can this large breed because aggressive? The short answer is yes. This doggo is protective of their property and belongings. It’s not a good idea to have this pooch as a guard dog since they will become aggressive.

However, with early socialization, then the aggressive tendencies will lessen. This pooch will not get along well with strangers, other dogs, cats, or other pets without proper socializing.

Since they are so independent, you can leave them home alone for some time. They won’t get separation anxiety, but it’s never a good idea to leave your dog home alone all day long.

If you do leave them home alone, make sure the dog is inside. Anatolian Shepherd dogs are escape artists. Even with a fenced-in yard, they will dig and climb their way out.

This breed isn’t much of a barker, but they can bark a lot at night. They’ll do this is keep an eye on the territory.

Anatolian Shepherds are intelligent. They can be easy to train, but they’re not motivated to please you. Obedience training will do them well, but they can sometimes be stubborn and too independent for their good.

A puppy kindergarten class will be a great idea for your large doggo. They’ll meet other humans and dogs alike. In addition, they’ll learn some manners, get to know some unfamiliar places. It’s great exposure to different places, people, and smells.

How To Take Care of Your Anatolian Shepherd

An Anatolian Shepherd standing on dried grass
Source: @nova_jax_and_vada / IG

No dog should be left outside for long periods, no matter the weather. However, Anatolian Shepherds can tolerate both hot and cold weather, thanks to their undercoat. Luckily, when it comes to caring, Anatolian Shepherds are low maintenance.

Exercising your Anatolian Shepherd

The Anatolian Shepherd dog has moderate energy levels. Despite their herding background, they require moderate mental and physical stimulation.

One or two long walks per day will suffice for this pooch. If one day, you can’t get out for that walk, then some time in the backyard will be just fine. Just be sure the fence is tall and sturdy so that your pooch can climb or jump out.

Do Anatolian Shepherd dogs shed?

Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, Anatolian Shepherds are not hypoallergenic. They have a double coat that sheds twice per year. During shedding season, you’ll want to brush your dog’s coat daily to remove any dead hair.

Otherwise, you should brush their coat at least once a week to keep it clean and healthy.

This dog breed is relatively easy to groom if you can handle the fur. To keep their coat and skin looking clean and healthy, then you should bathe your puppy once every eight weeks or as needed. You can do it yourself or bring them to a professional groomer.

Anatolian Shepherds can have an odor, and they may even drool from time to time. Since they love to dig, they may also get pretty dirty. So, they’ll need regular baths.

In addition, be sure to check your pup’s ears frequently and keep them clean. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly and trim their nails.

How much dog food should Anatolian Shepherds consume in a day?

Every dog is different, so if you’re unsure about what to feed your pup, then be sure to speak to your veterinarian. Together, you can discuss the best diet for your pooch.

Overall, Anatolian Shepherds should have high-quality kibble. In addition, the food should be formulated for large breeds and be age-appropriate for puppies, adults, or seniors.

Never feed your dog table scraps or people food. Some human foods are healthy and safe for dogs to eat but always consult with your veterinarian first. 

What Health Problems Do Anatolian Shepherds Have?

A sad Anatolian Shepherd lying on the grass
Source: @lifeofmooseman / IG

Similar to other dog breeds, Anatolian Shepherds have health issues. Some health conditions you may need to worry about are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s Disease, demodectic mange, bloat, and entropion.

In addition, most Anatolian Shepherds are sensitive to barbiturate anesthesia. So, if your doggo needs to undergo surgery, be sure to talk to your vet about that first.

Luckily, you can get health screenings or occasional tests such as hip evaluations, elbow evaluations, or screenings for entropion.

However, tumors are the leading cause of death for this large breed. If your Anatolian Shepherd is relatively healthy, they have an average lifespan of 11 to 13 years.

Bring your pooch to the vet for a regular check-up at least once or twice a year, and your doggo will live a long, happy, and healthy life.

How Much is an Anatolian Shepherd Puppy?

A little Anatolian Shepherd Puppy lying on the ground
Source: @canis.lunaris / IG

Did you know the average litter size of this dog breed is about five and ten puppies?

Even though this is a rare dog breed, if you happen to find someone who has a litter, you can be sure there will be a puppy for you. This pup may not come cheap, though.

The average cost of an Anatolian Shepherd puppy is between $800 and $1,200. However, the price may be more or less, depending on where you adopt the dog.

Overall, you can expect to spend about $4,200 in the first year of having your Anatolian Shepherd puppy. Each year after that, you can expect to pay about $2,000.

The costs of owning an Anatolian Shepherd include dog food, treats, a crate, dog bed, toys, grooming supplies, medical bills, harness, collar, leash, food bowls, poop bags, cleaning supplies, and more.

It’s best to avoid adopting an Anatolian Shepherd from puppy farms or pet stores. These places are often looking to make a profit rather than find a good home for the puppies.

Anatolian Shepherd Breeders

Instead, you could look for a reputable Anatolian Shepherd breeder. A good breeder will want to improve the breed as a whole. In addition, their main goal is to find the puppies a good home that’s happy and safe.

If you happen to find a good breeder, then they’ll be able to tell you the family tree and health history of the litter. They’ll want to meet with you in person so that they can make sure you’re a good fit for the puppy.

In addition, the breeder won’t allow the puppies to leave their mother until they are at least eight weeks of age. The puppies will also be well socialized with people.

A great place to start looking for breeders is the AKC Marketplace. You can also look at the breed club, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America

Anatolian Shepherds for Adoption

Alternatively, you can ask your local animal shelter or a breed-specific rescue. These places may not have Anatolian Shepherd puppies, but they might have adults or seniors looking for a good home.

A great rescue to look into is the National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network.

Also, they may have Anatolian Shepherd mixes instead of purebreds. Finally, you can adopt a crossbreed that has mixed traits from both parent breeds.

Curious about Anatolian Shepherd mixes?

Yes, Anatolian Shepherds can be mixed with other dog breeds. However, if you get a hybrid dog, this pooch will share different physical and emotional traits from both parent breeds.

In other words, if you want an Anatolian Shepherd but you need a pup that’s more kid-friendly, you can look into getting a crossbreed.

Great Pyrenees Anatolian Shepherd Mix (Anatolian Pyrenees)

An Anatolian Shepherd Great Pyrenees Mix lying on the grass
Source: @starlingwoodlee / IG

First, we have the Anatolian Pyrenees, which is a Great Pyrenees Anatolian Shepherd mix.

This crossbreed is another livestock guardian and will consider its family its flock. In addition, this particular hybrid is a gentle giant and is great with children. This pooch is mellow and affectionate as well.

They will still need plenty of early socialization and training. Like the Anatolian Shepherd purebred, this hybrid is not for novice dog owners. Also, this pooch requires plenty of grooming maintenance since they are constant shedders.

Siberian Husky Anatolian Shepherd Mix

An Anatolian Shepherd Siberian Husky Mix sticking its tongue out
Source: @prophetdrdanareece / IG

The Siberian Husky Anatolian Shepherd mix is a cute hybrid that will take after either parent breed. Siberian Huskies are friendly to everyone, including other dogs and strangers. However, similar to the Anatolian Shepherd, they are working dogs.

On the other hand, Huskies require a lot more exercise needs than Anatolian Shepherds. These dogs love to play and are affectionate with their humans. In addition, they’re eager to please their families as well.

You’ll most likely get a hybrid that’s friendly and intelligent. Training may or may not be a challenge.

Labrador Retriever Anatolian Shepherd Mix

A Labrador Retriever Anatolian Shepherd Mix who posts for the camera
Source: @lonestarpetexpress / IG

When it comes to the Labrador Retriever Anatolian Shepherd mix, you may end up with a friendly, outgoing pup or a more reserved, independent dog. Unfortunately, these two purebreds are opposites, and your hybrid may take after either parent.

However, the crossbreed could be anywhere in between. For example, they might be affectionate and eager to please when it comes to training. Or, your pup may be loving but more stubborn when it comes to learning commands.

Regardless, this mixed breed is fun to have at home, as long as you’re an experienced dog owner.

Golden Retriever Anatolian Shepherd Mix

A Golden Retriever Anatolian Shepherd Mix puppy lying on the kitchen floor
Source: @leah._mc / IG

The Golden Retriever Anatolian Shepherd mix is a lovely pooch. Golden Retrievers are friendly, intelligent, affectionate, and make excellent family dogs. But, unfortunately, it sounds the opposite of the Anatolian Shepherd.

That’s why crossing these two purebreds together may not result in the “perfect” dog breed. Instead, your doggo will take after a certain parent breed. So, this hybrid might be more like the Golden Retriever, or it might be more like the Anatolian Shepherd dog.

Regardless, early socialization and obedience training is a must for this crossbreed.

German Shepherd Anatolian Shepherd Mix (German Anatolian Shepherd)

A German Shepherd Anatolian Shepherd Mix puppy, lying on the ground, with a bowl of water

The German Shepherd Anatolian Shepherd mix, also known as the German Anatolian Shepherd, is a mixture between a herding and protection dog. This hybrid is better suited for an experienced dog owner.

Training can prove difficult. In addition, this pooch won’t get separation anxiety, but they may get bored easily. So, destructive behaviors may arise. They need plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

If you can handle this hybrid and have experience in dog handling and training, then this is a fun-loving crossbreed.

Should You Get an Anatolian Shepherd?

An Anatolian Shepherd lying on the grass, smiling
Source: @dextertheanatolian / IG

There’s a lot to love about this large breed. However, they are not for novice dog owners.

Anatolian Shepherds are independent, reserved, and protective. But, sometimes, they can become aggressive. In addition, you’ll need to make sure they can’t escape the fenced-in yard through their digging or climbing.

However, they are loyal to their family and are loving. They don’t mind being home alone for too long, either.

So, if you live with other adults or it’s just you, and you’ve had a large dog breed before, then you can certainly consider bringing this pooch home.

Have you had an Anatolian Shepherd before? Let us know in the comments below. 

Further reading: Similar Breeds to the Anatolian Shepherd


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