Working Dogs

Anatolian Shepherd Dog – The Original Turkish Working Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dog – The Original Turkish Working Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Image: CharlitoCZ/

Name Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Size Large / 41 - 68kg
Grooming Easy
Training Easy
Exercise Daily / Twice a day
Origins Turkey

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog – A Turkish Delight For An Experienced Dog Owner

Anatolian Shepherd

mage: Bobby Bradley/

Quick Overview

Name:                                  The Anatolian Shepherd Dog/Anadolu Coban Kopegi

Size:                                     Anything up to 82cm in height

Weight:                               Large – up to 65 kg for a healthy adult male

Grooming:                          Medium – once a week at least

Training:                             Medium – socialising and obedience training essential, herding comes more naturally to them

Exercise:                             Two hours daily as a minimum, working breed

Temperament:                 Great at guarding, watchful of predators, loyal, independent, intelligent and stubborn

Origins:                             The Central Anatolian Plateaus of Turkey

Lifespan:                              More than 10 years, difficult to say after that

Breed Type:                        Pastoral Breed – dogs bred to help herd and aid masters

A Brief Breed History

Experts believe Anatolian Shepherd Dogs date back some 6000 years. They were bred from a range of shepherd-type dogs that would have been large and strong and would have been used throughout the plains of Turkey to haul, drag, accompany, retrieve, herd, and guard flocks. The Anatolian Plateaus that birthed the breed lend their name to it. In ancient Turkey, they would have been referred to as the Coban Kopegi… the dog that belongs to the Shepherds.

Anatolian Shepherd's accompanied their tribes all the way down to the Babylonian Empire, earning their place as herders depicted in Assyrian Bass-Relief Carvings, which you can now view at the British Museum. The dog remained a constant, with thick fur made for the harsh mountain weather and the intelligence of any good companion and working breed. It is thought that they are descended from the Mesopotamian hunting dogs… this is one of the oldest breeds we know about.

So, of course, they didn’t get recorded by the UK Kennel Club until the 1970s. Nowadays, they are widely used in the west as herding dogs, earning their place in the more rural regions of society. You can find them in the AKC, too.

Fun Facts About the Anatolian Shepherd Dog!

They’re not all about work! There are some cool fun facts about the Anatolian Shepherd dog out there and we have our favourites. Here are some fast and fun facts about this breed of dog:

  • In 1985 Australia made a formal request to the UK to be issued a few of these dogs. Since then they have made a serious impact on farmland down under!
  • The breed was brought to America just before WWII as part of a Sheepdog project. This was top secret at the time but was later revealed to be about finding the best sheepdogs. How disappointing.
  • Despite being imported in mass numbers in the post-war years, it was the 70’s before the breed was made official by the AKC.

Every dog has some interesting historical points, no matter how well named.

Nature and Temperament of the Anatolian

They are ridiculously loyal dogs that will follow you to the ends of the earth, but they will do it because they want to, not because you told them to. They love their human pack and will take a bullet if they need to. They are also independent and used to working alone. If there was ever a breed you wanted to attach a webcam too, it was an Anatolian Shepherd dog.

Remember they are highly intelligent and would have spent their lives working as herders if they remained in their native lands. They are a big breed too, so give them the respect they deserve.

What About Training?

The Anatolian Shepherd dog was bred to mind sheep in place of the shepherd himself. They would often be left overnight with herds, to fend off intruders and keep the goats in check. This means that although they aren’t particularly difficult to train, they do tend to listen to you only to decide for themselves whether or not to obey you.

You will need obedience training to get around this. They are also herders that guard, and they will guard your family too. Obviously, there is a limit on how acceptable this is. It’s fine in the home at night, not so great at the dog park. To this end, socialise the dog often and from as young an age as you can. Otherwise, they may become too possessive to work with.

Or Grooming?

You will need to groom the Anatolian Shepherd dog at least once a week. They kind of look like over-large Labrador retrievers and their coat is thicker, but not any longer than that. A stiff brush every couple of days will do fine. Warning though: if you have black carpets and a cream/tan dog you might want to groom him/her every night, just to cut down on the casting.

What Health Problems do Anatolian Shepherd Dogs Have?

The Anatolian Shepherd is a large breed with an estimated 6,000 years of farm work to its name. This ought to leave them with multiple health problems but it didn’t and for one simple reason… Breeding. There is a school of thought that believes this breed does not strictly exist, but rather it refers to the multiple types of herd dogs that can be found in the Turkish Planes.

Look out for hip dysplasia, where the socket part of the joint is malformed, for floating kneecaps, and watch for a stomach flip when they get older, just purely because they are big dogs.

Where Do I Even Find One Of These?!?

You can find an Anatolian Shepherd dog through the American Kennel Club or the UK Kennel Club. This helps both avoid the breeders using puppy farms, and helps you get a good idea of your pup’s family history. If you don’t have the money to spend on a new puppy then check out your nearest rescue centres. The Anatolian is a fairly specific breed, however, so you will be waiting a while to pick one up this way. You could always try and import one from Turkey however this route would take patience and knowledge of the relevant Turkish laws. Should you go down this route then you will need to seek expert help.

Have Five Minutes To Learn About Other Breeds?

Whichever breed of dog brought you to the Five Minutes Spare pages, it did you a huge favour. You can find out all about all sorts of different doggies if you head over to our website. Not a dog person? No problem. Learn a new skill or take up a hobby, all in just a few short minutes. They could be the best minutes of your life. If you don’t visit you will never know.

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