Q & A

Frequently Asked Questions about the Anatolian Shepherd Dog




1. How common is the Anatolian Shepherd Dog in Australia?
Relatively uncommon, and outside of dog circles, generally unknown.


2. What is the average lifespan?
12 to 15 years


3. What is the history of the breed?
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog (Anadolu Çoban Köpeği = shepherd's dog of Anatolia) - is an ancient breed native to the historical region of Anatolia, known today as Turkey.  In its homeland the Anatolian or Turkish Çoban Köpeği, protects flocks and serves as shepherd's companion as it has for millennia.  On the high Anatolian Plateau, where summers are hot and very dry and winters are cold, the Çoban Köpegi lives outside all year round. For centuries it was used as a combat dog in war and for hunting.  It was particularly valued for the victorious battles it could fight with wolves.  As a sheepdog, it was bothered by neither fatigue nor bad weather. Today the Anatolian Çoban Köpeği is still used as a sheep dog as well as a guard dog.
In Australia, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are widely used in a working capacity to guard sheep, goats, chickens, alpacas, horses and are renowned for their dedication to their livestock charges, and unsurpassed loyalty to their human handlers.


4. What is the general temperament/personality?
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog (ASD) is independent and suspicious by nature. They like to observe what is around them and make their own mind up whether something poses a risk or not.  The Anatolian is typically alert and protective, possessive of what it regards as its own (be it human family or animal stock) and requires a formal introduction when meeting strangers.
In Australia there is no division between working lines or show lines; individual breeders may breed or prefer a certain temperament type.  Some Anatolians are good family dogs and some are not.   In an assertive rank orientated Anatolian, human aggression is not unusual. Breed fanciers need to keep in mind the Anatolian is a primitive guardian dog, and as such individual ASDs will exhibit traits (to varying degrees) in keeping with this description.
Some temperament descriptions state: 'ASD, good with children'.  Frankly, I do not know why they write this.   It is folklore.  A blanket ‘good with children’ for the ASD is simply not true.  Yes, some Anatolians can be very good with young children, but it would not apply to the majority of adult Anatolians in Australia.  Some Anatolians do not make good people dogs at all (except with their owner).
A prospective owner with children, certainly does not want an assertive, rank orientated ASD living with them in a suburban family home.


5. Can solo Anatolian Shepherd Dogs easily occupy themselves for long periods?
No pack animal likes to spend the majority of its time, in its own company.  'Independent' should not be confused with Isolation, and parallels drawn between a solo working Anatolian living with goats, and an Anatolian living on its own in the backyard.
A solo ASD can certainly find something to do ... a bored ASD will almost always find a destructive task (from the human point of view) to occupy itself with, and sometimes a young ASD will be destructive when it is not bored, but just because it can.
From the Anatolian point of view: what does not work the first time, might work the second, and if it adjusts its approach slightly, a different end result might be obtained. 
Most Anatolians easily work out how to open doors, go through windows and generally get the most out of their environment and any opportunity that presents itself.


6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult?
An Anatolian Shepherd Dog living as a working dog will take care of its own exercise (obviously) :)
An ASD living as a family dog in a farm or rural environment with large paddocks or acreage to roam, will benefit from and enjoy, a one-on-one stroll or activity with its owner each day. This is also excellent for strengthening bonds and reinforcing leadership.
An ASD living as a family dog in a suburban environment will have more difficulty attaining optimal physical condition wrt bones, muscles, and general soundness of structure, because the natural ability for the ASD to move at its own leisure is compromised. That being said, a 1 to 1.5 hour walk every day will be sufficient for an adult ASD.  Although it will not tire an adult ASD at all, rather give the Anatolian an important and enjoyable activity to undertake with its owner.
Adult ASDs should not be exercised off lead in public places.


7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with?
Generally, no.

8. How much grooming is required?
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has a thick double coat that requires minimal grooming (rough coat varieties require brushing once a fortnight). The Anatolian coat sheds lightly all year round, dropping more coat with the changing seasons.  Brushing and washing required is minimal - if the Anatolian gets dirty, the mud tends to dry and fall off their coat and they look clean again.
In Turkey the shepherds’ dogs are never brushed, so when they shed their undercoat it gathers like dreadlocks until the coat falls out in pieces likes a shedding sheep.


9. Is the Anatolian Shepherd Dog too boisterous for very small children or for the infirm?
Because of their size and strength, a family Anatolian Shepherd Dog should always be supervised when being the companion of young children.
Regarding the infirm: common sense dictates that modern companion purpose breeds are a more appropriate breed choice, over a large, primitive guardian dog. An infirm person cannot properly control their Anatolian Shepherd Dog if the need arises.


10. Are there any common hereditary problems and what should a puppy buyer be aware of?
Overall the Anatolian Shepherd Dog in Australia is a robust, hardy breed. There are incidences of hip dysplasia and entropion in the Australian ASD population, but these are not endemic in the breed.

Dogs with abnormal thyroid levels, heart conditions, degenerative joint health, poor rate of aging should not be bred from and avoided in the selection of breeding stock.
Breeders should know their lines and propensities.

In addition to breed research, Anatolian Shepherd Dog owners need to be responsible for their own contribution to their dog's health and well being, and not overfeed their ASD, as well as ensuring their Anatolian Shepherd Dog has the appropriate level of exercise for its age and environment.
Excluding the baby puppy period, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs should be kept lean for the first 12 to 18 months.


11. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder?
Puppy buyers should find an MDBA or ANKC Registered breeder who will consider the type of Anatolian that will match their requirements as All Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are not suited to All homes. 
Points to consider:  household dynamics (children, other pets), environment (suburban, rural), expectations (ie what you want to do with the dog: stock guard, family companion), and determine a suitable puppy accordingly.
Anatolians are not the type of dog where it will benefit the puppy buyer to choose from a litter, which ASD puppy they should live with. An ill matched puppy and home can encounter problems as early as their first week together - if you find your ASD puppy is more of a challenge than you expected, then contact your breeder asap ... Anatolians rarely change their mindset, but we can change the way in which an Anatolian is managed.





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