Anatolian Shepherd Breed Information Guide: Quirks, Pictures, Personality & Facts

Written by: Casey Estorque

October 27, 2019

Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.

Intro / Overview

(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)

Meet the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, an ancient dog whose lineage can be traced back to the Bronze Age! This longstanding breed is devoted, reserved, and independent. Additionally the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is impressively smart, calm, and protective.

These are large dogs whose weight typically falls in the triple digits! It is no mystery why this breed falls into the Working Group. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have a longstanding reputation as the supreme flock guardian. In fact, their skillset and hardiness are so valuable that the Turkish refrained from exporting this breed to America until the 1930s.

Also Known As…

“Guardians of the Galaxy!” The Anatolian Shepherd Dog’s expert guardianship is not confined to sheep pastures. These vigilant pups are employed to protect endangered livestock and aid cheetah conservation efforts.


The Anatolian Shepherd Dog hails from some of the “oldest known domestic-canine bloodlines” according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). In fact, this breed’s ancestry can be traced back 6,000 years to the Bronze Age.

The Anatolia Shepherd Dog’s impressive ancestry is evident in ancient relics and even the Bible. Assyrian carvings dating back to 2000 B.C. showcase dogs who strongly resemble the Anatolian Shepherd. Furthermore, the Bible’s “Book of Job,” which is set in Turkey, describes shepherd dogs who were likely a variation of the beloved Anatolian Shepherd.

This breed originates from Asian Minor, also referred to as Anatolia. Anatolia is the westernmost region of Asia, which constitutes the majority of Turkey. It was here, many millennia ago, that goat and sheep herders developed the Anatolian Shepherd Dog’s ancestor – the Coban Kopegi, a skilled livestock guardian.

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog evolved to withstand Anatolia’s brutally hot summers and snowy, sub-zero winters. This breed’s hardiness in the midst of harsh weather conditions earned itself the reputation as the “flock guardian supreme.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were considered so valuable that they were not exported from Turkey. However, this changed when the Anatolian Shepherd Dog partook in a top-secret “Sheepdog Project” organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This program imported breeding pairs of Anatolian Shepherds and other breeds to determine which would be the best American sheepdog.

Unfortunately, the Sheepdog Project went awry as it was discovered the female Anatolian was sick with a parasite and pregnant. The outbreak ofWorld War II further interrupted this program. Thankfully, the parasite was eradicated and the Anatolian gave birth to 12 healthy puppies. However, the project was disbanded as war broke out and the Anatolian Shepherds and their offspring were dispersed.


Anatolian Shepherds are large dogs with heavy heads. On average, female Anatolian Shepherd Dogs stand 27 inches at the withers (tops of shoulders). Males typically stand at 29 inches.

Weight Range

These pups are far from petite! In fact, they weigh as much as a petite human. On average, males Anatolian Shepherd Dogs weigh 110 to 150 pounds while females weigh 80 to 120 pounds on average.


Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are serious, smart, and devoted. Raised as guardian dogs for millennia, this breed is naturally protective. Anatolians are calm, affectionate, and protective of their families. A natural defender, this breed is typically reserved and suspicious towards new people.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are remarkably independent. During the breed’s earliest days, these pups were left to find their own food and herd flocks without assistance. So, this breed is self-sufficient to say the least! This independence may pose barriers with training. Yet, it is possible to train an Anatolian with patient, firm, and consistent training.

Intelligence / Trainability

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs sure are brainy! The breed’s combined intelligence and independence has earned the Anatolian an outstanding working dog reputation.

However, their deeply ingrained sense of independence poses challenges in training. But, don’t lose hope! Anatolians work best with firm and consistent training. Patience is key in training this breed while harsh, punishment-based training should be avoided. Additionally, socialization training is vital with this instinctively protective breed. Moreover, the AKC notes that, “under no circumstances should an Anatolian receive protection or guard-dog training.”

Ideal Environment

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a hardy and adaptable breed. So, they can comfortably live indoors, outdoors, or both (as long as the weather conditions are not too extreme). Anatolians should only be kept in securely fenced yards. And, due to their large size, it’s important that this fence is at least six feet tall. This not only protects the pup, but also those who visit the protective Anatolian’s territory.

Good For Families And Kids

Anatolian Shepherds are very loving and devoted towards their families. These gentle giants are typically calm, even with children. However, this breed tends to be domineering, so their interactions with small children should be supervised. While Anatolian Shepherds are affectionate, this serious dog may not meet children’s desire for playfulness.

Average Lifespan

Anatolian Shepherds Dogs typically live 11 to 13 years.


Rejoice, Anatolian pup parents! According to the AKC, this breed is very healthy and hardy. Hip dysplasia and bloat, common canine maladies, are thankfully not common in Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. However, they can be sensitive to anesthesia. So, Anatolian pup parents should ensure their veterinarians are aware of this sensitivity prior to any surgical procedures.

Proper health care for Anatolian Shepherd Dogs should include routine veterinary visits, heart worm and parasite prevention, teeth brushings, and ear checks for infection.


Though their towering size may suggest otherwise, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs need only a moderate amount of exercise. They’re content with a romp around the yard – as long as this yard is securely fenced! You can also take long walks with your Anatolian once or twice a day to meet their exercise needs.

Friendly With Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?

Due to their long history as guardians, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are instinctively protective. So, they are typically wary around strangers. Because of these instincts, Anatolians must be properly socialized. This socialization is important in developing your Anatolian’s friendliness with other people and animals. Anatolian Shepherds are most likely to accept other dogs and pets that they have been raise with since puppyhood. Through this process, they will naturally regard them as part of the “flock.”

Coat & Grooming

The Anatolian’s coat comes in multiple color variations, including pinto, white, brindle, and fawn. However, fawn with a black mask and black ears is most common.

Over the millennia, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog developed a thick undercoat to protect her from harsh elements. While some Anatolians have a long outer coat, most feature a short outer coat about an inch in length.

Thankfully, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog’s coat tends to stay naturally clean. So, they only need a bath three to four times a year! Can you imagine only needing to bathe once a season? Anatolians surely evolved well!

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are typically not heavy shedders. During most of the year, these pups only need a weekly brushing to keep their coats looking great. However, about twice a year, the Anatolian sheds his undercoat. During these times, expect profuse shedding – maybe enough to create another Anatolian! More frequent and thorough brushing with a short-bristle brush and comb is needed during shed times.

Toys Anatolian Shepherd Dogs Would Like Best

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have strong jaws, so the best option for them is definitely a Super Chewer Toy like the Peanut Butter Pawplexer or the Magnum Toy Can (which you can hide treats inside!).

Recommended Diet Or Supplements

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs should be fed high-quality dog food. Additionally, this dog food should correspond to the dog’s age (e.g. puppy, adult, senior). Serving size and frequency is dependent on the dog’s size, health condition, and dog food. Luckily, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are not typically overeaters. However, an overload of treats could tip the scale!

While this breed is notably healthy, any dog can benefit from supplements. As always, consult your vet before administering anything!

Glucosamine Supplement For Hip & Joints

These veterinarian-formulated supplements are made with all natural glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, all packed into a delicious soft chew. ($32.99.)

Fish Oil Skin & Coat Supplement

These delicious, vet-formulated chews are made with all-natural ingredients including Omega 3, 6, 9, and Vitamin E. They are designed to support immune health, provide relief from itchy allergic skin, and promote a healthy coat. ($19.99)

Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil

BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)

Recommended Products

Anatolian Shepherds, just like any dog, love to take a load off after a long day of…running around for hours on end or whatever they’re doing. That’s why they deserve their own bed, especially if they have joint issues.

Orthopedic Ultra Plush Memory Foam Dog Bed

This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the most active of dogs! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. ($27.99-64.99.)

Notable Rescues To Find The Anatolian Shepherd Dog Of Your Dreams

Notable Instagram Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Tex @agventuredod!

Sam @freesamplesammy!

Dane @Anatolian_Dane!

Hunter @hunter_anatolian!

***Looking for a gift to blow your Anatolian Shepherd Dog’s mind? Spoil them with a Super Chewer BarkBox! Every month Super Chewer delivers 2 super-durable toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and 2 (!!!) meaty chews. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month.

Featured image via agventuredod/instagram

Want More Breed Guides Like This?

German Shepherd Breed Information Guide

Belgian Malinois Breed Information Guide

Belgian Sheepdog Breed Information Guide

Old English Sheepdog Breed Information Guide

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Written by: Casey Estorque

October 27, 2019


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.