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Akbash DogAn Akbash dog guards a flock of sheep in California.Turkish Akbash, livestock guardian dogAn Akbash dog guards a flock of sheep in California.
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Akbash Facts

Common Name:
Most widely used name for this species
The area where the animal first came from
The domestic group such as cat or dog
Average Size (H):
The average length (L) or height (H) of the animal
86cm (34in)
Average Weight:
The average measurement of how heavy the animal is
63kg (140lbs)
Average Lifespan:
The average time the animal lives for
11 years
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
The animal group that the species belongs to
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
White, Brown
The way the animal thinks, behaves or reacts
Calm, independent, brave and protective
The level of house-training needed for the animal
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Big head and powerful jaws

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Akbash Location

Map of Akbash Locations
Map of Europe


Akbash History and Domestication

The Akbash is a large, white breed of domestic Dog, native to the plains and mountains of western Turkey. The Akbash is a guard Dog and was originally bred by shepherds around 3,000 years ago to create a white-coloured Dog that could guard their flock of Sheep. Although the exact reasons for this particular choice in colour are unknown, it is widely believed that a white guard Dog was wanted, to ensure that it wasn't mistaken for a hungry predator, such as a Wolf. The Akbash is an ancient breed of domestic Dog and although it is thought to have derived from similar breeds in Italy and Hungary, its exact ancestry is not really known. These other continental guard Dogs however, were thought to have been brought into Europe from parts of Asia.

Akbash Physical Characteristics

The Akbash is a large and powerful breed of Dog, that is perfectly built for a life of Sheep guarding in the mountains. It has a short to medium length coat, which is white in colour with occasional patches of light brown. The coat of the Akbash is coarse to prevent it from matting when exposed to the alpine elements, and the double-layer allows it to also be water-resistant, protecting the Akbash from getting too cold. The Akbash has a big head and powerful jaws, along with a very strong body, a short neck and large, curved toes. The tail of the Akbash is very distinctive to the breed as it is not only long and curved, but is also covered in longer, feathered fur. The Akbash has thickly padded feet and almond-shaped eyes that vary from gold to dark brown in colour.

Akbash Behaviour and Temperament

The Akbash was originally bred by shepherds to guard their flocks from large mountain predators, so they are naturally a dominant and aggressive breed. They are one of the most primitive guard Dogs among domestic breeds today and therefore require a firm and experienced owner. They are however, intelligent and courageous animals that risk their lives to protect the animals and people under their guard. The Akbash is a very loyal breed, completely devoted and dedicated to their owner and often regard strangers that are not in their owner's presence, as suspicious. The Akbash is very independent with strong and protective instincts, known to respond quickly and without help in the case of emergency, when it feels that its flock is under threat.

Akbash Breeding

The Akbash breed first appeared roughly 3,000 years ago, when it was bred to be a strong and protective guard Dog that was white in colour. Although the breed itself has changed very little since the early days, individuals found in households today are less dominant and aggressive than these original guard dogs. They are however still bred to guard livestock, particularly on the ranches in southern America where they are used to protect animals from large carnivores like Coyotes and even Bears. Since their introduction the USA in the 1970s, the breed has become a popular guard Dog and although affected by hip problems like other larger breeds, they are not thought to be so badly affected. The Akbash tends to give birth to between 7 and 9 puppies per litter, which are fully mobile within their first 6 weeks,

Akbash Interesting Facts and Features

The Akbash is known to be a calm and clean breed of domestic Dog, and happily lives both inside and outside the house. Their fur also has little odour compared to that of other breeds. They are also known to have strong maternal instincts, and have been observed aiding Sheep in cleaning their newborn calves. In its native country of Turkey, the Akbash was named after the Turkish word akbas, which means "white-headed". The Akbash breed first became popular as a household pet when 40 Dogs were imported into the USA from Turkey in the 1970s. These Akbash individuals are thought to be the ancestors of the entire population there today.

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First Published: 10th November 2008, Last Updated: 21st October 2019

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