The Anatolian Shepherd is a livestock guardian breed from Turkey. He still has strong working instincts, but he can be a family companion or show dog as well. He is a member of the American Kennel Club’s Working Group. He is a giant breed, weighing 80 to 150 pounds.
Is the Anatolian Shepherd the Right Dog for You?
The Anatolian is quiet, watchful and protective of his family, including other pets. He is suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive toward dogs he doesn’t know. Anatolians bark loudly at anything or anyone that appears to be suspect, and will act to protect their people and property.
While his protective nature is attractive, the Anatolian Shepherd is not an appropriate choice for a novice dog owner. He needs someone who can guide him with kind, firm, consistent training, never force or cruelty. He is an independent thinker but responds well to routine.
Begin training as soon as you bring your Anatolian Shepherd puppy home, while he is still at a manageable size. That 20-pound puppy will quickly grow much larger. A nothing-in-life-is-free program, requiring puppies to “work” for everything they get by performing a command before receiving meals, toys, treats or play, works well with this breed. It’s always a good idea to take an Anatolian Shepherd to puppy kindergarten followed by basic obedience class, especially if you are working with a trainer who understands the Anatolian Shepherd mindset.
Early, frequent socialization is essential to prevent an Anatolian Shepherd from becoming overly suspicious or fearful of anything new or different. Purchase an Anatolian Shepherd puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes. Continue socializing your Anatolian Shepherd throughout his life by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses. This is the only way he can learn to be discriminating, recognizing what is normal and what is truly a threat.
The Anatolian Shepherd needs daily exercise in the form of a long walk or the opportunity to run in a safe, traffic-free area. A dog park is not a good choice, though, since he may be aggressive toward dogs he doesn’t know. He is best suited to a home with a large yard surrounded by a solid fence that is at least five or six feet high. This is a territorial breed, and he must learn his boundaries. Do not rely on an underground electronic fence to keep him contained. The shock it provides is nothing to this tough dog, and he won’t let it deter him from leaving the yard.
Like any dog, Anatolian Shepherd puppies are inveterate chewers and because of their size can do a whole lot of damage. Don’t give them the run of the house until they’ve reached trustworthy maturity. And keep your Anatolian Shepherd puppy busy with training, play and socialization experiences. A bored Anatolian Shepherd is a destructive Anatolian Shepherd.
The Anatolian Shepherd can live outdoors, but he should spend plenty of time with his family. Chaining an Anatolian Shepherd out in the yard and giving him little or no attention is not only cruel, it can also lead to aggression and destructive behavior.
The Anatolian Shepherd has a fawn-colored double coat that sheds. Brush him at least once a week to remove dead hair and keep the skin and coat healthy. Clean the ears and trim the nails as needed, and bathe the Anatolian on the rare occasions that he’s dirty.
5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Anatolian Shepherd Puppy
- Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. A list of breeders can be found on the website of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America.
- Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Anatolian Shepherd aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Anatolian Shepherd can live to be at least 10 to 12 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
- Puppy or adult, take your Anatolian Shepherd to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
- Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you’ll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
- Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Health Issues Common to Anatolian Shepherds
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
The Anatolian Shepherd has some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren’t cautious about whom you buy from. They include orthopedic problems such as osteochondritis dissecans and hip and elbow dysplasia; epilepsy; cardiomyopathy; and autoimmune thyroiditis. The breed may also be prone to gastric torsion (bloat) and cancer such as osteosarcoma.
Ask the breeder to show evidence that a puppy’s parents have OFA or PennHIP clearances for hip dysplasia. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Pet Insurance for Anatolian Shepherds
Pet insurance for Anatolian Shepherds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Anatolian Shepherds are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Anatolian Shepherds are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Anatolian Shepherd is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.