Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Canis lupus

Last updated: January 25, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© rebeccaashworth/

Big livestock dogs possibly resembling the Anatolian Shepherd were mentioned in the Book of Job


Anatolian Shepherd Dog Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Conservation Status

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Locations

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Locations

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Facts

Fun Fact
Big livestock dogs possibly resembling the Anatolian Shepherd were mentioned in the Book of Job
Courageous, powerful, protective, calm and devoted.
Should be trained from an early age and respond best to motivational training as they can be dominant and stubborn
Litter Size
5-10 pups
Average Litter Size
Common Name
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Guards it's master's flocks!

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Blue
  • White
  • Brindle
  • Cream
Skin Type
11-13 years
80-150 pounds
27-29 inches

Anatolian Shepherd Dog as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Cold climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
Dog group
Male weight
110-150 lbs
Female weight
90-120 lbs

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Beginning in the 1970s, with the passage of the Endangered Species Act, American ranchers used Anatolian Shepherd to deter endangered predators that threatened livestock, since they were illegal to kill.

The Anatolian Shepherd is a big, muscular breed of ancient guard dog that originated from what is now modern-day Turkey, perhaps as far back as 2000 BC. The dog’s original purpose was to guard the livestock, not to shepherd them. Thanks to its size and ferocity, it could stand up to aggressive predators like bears, coyotes, and wolves that might threaten the livestock.

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The Anatolian Shepherd is characterized by long legs and neck, a curled-up tail, a deep chest, drooping triangle-shaped ears, and a big skull. The short coat of fur is dense, particularly around the neck and limbs, with a fawn or white color and a black or brown mask around the face. This gives it a distinctive look, even among larger breeds.

A quick note on the name: “Anatolian Shepherd” is kind of a catch-all term given to it when the dog arrived in the United States in the 20th century. It includes the Kangal Shepherd Dog and other related Turkish livestock breeds. “Kangal” comes from the name of a small town in central Turkey, where the breed was particularly popular for centuries.

3 Pros and Cons of Owning an Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherd in Armenian Hills, Guarding Sheep
The Anatolian Shepherd was bred to protect its “flock” from danger.


Alert and Protective: The Anatolian Shepherd was bred to protect its “flock” from danger.Suspicious of Strangers: The Anatolian Shepherd treats any unfamiliar person or animal with suspicion.
Loyal Toward Family: This breed displays fierce loyalty toward its family.Independent-minded: While independence serves it well in the field, this might not necessarily be an endearing quality to some owners as a pet.
Intelligent: The Anatolian Shepherd scores highly on any intelligence ranking.Reserved: While generally playful, the Anatolian Shepherd is not quite as outgoing and affectionate as other breeds.

Size and Weight

Anatolian Shepherd in a field
The Anatolian Shepherd is a large dog, weighing in at anywhere from 90 to 150 pounds.


The Anatolian Shepherd is a large dog, weighing in at anywhere from 90 to 150 pounds. This livestock guardian has a thick coat of hair that adds weight to its body, making it look considerably heavier than it is, especially in the area of the mane.

Health and Entertainment for your Anatolian Shepherd Dog

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The color of this hair is usually either brown, red, tan, or white, and the dog often has a blend of one of these colors together with black on its face and ears.

It needs to be brushed about once a week most of the year to get rid of the heavy coat that would otherwise fall off over time.

It will need more brushing twice a year to get rid of the coat that is coming out. The dog may ignore strangers if it has not been properly socialized, so if you are interested in one of these it is best if you socialize it well from the beginning.

Height (Male):29 inches
Height (Female):27 inches
Weight (Male):110 to 150 pounds
Weight (Female):80 to 120 pounds

Evolution and Origins

Anatolian shepherd dog standing outside
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog, also known as the Anatolian Karabash, is a breed of large livestock guardian dog that originated in the Anatolian region of Turkey.


The Anatolian Shepherd Dog, also known as the Anatolian Karabash, is a breed of large livestock guardian dog that originated in the Anatolian region of Turkey. These dogs have been used for centuries to protect livestock, particularly sheep and goats, from predators such as wolves and bears.

They were bred to be independent and self-sufficient, able to make decisions on their own while guarding their charges. The breed has evolved over time to become well-suited to the harsh, rugged terrain of Anatolia and the strong, resilient dogs that are able to withstand the extreme conditions of the region.

The breed was officially recognized by the Turkish Kennel Club in the 1930s and later by the American Kennel Club in 1996.

Common Health Issues

anatolian shepherd vs kangal
The Anatolian Shepherd has a decent lifespan of around 11 to 13 years, but it still may be at risk of developing several health problems.


For a dog of this size, the Anatolian Shepherd has a decent lifespan of around 11 to 13 years, but it still may be at risk of developing several health problems, including demodicosis mange (skin and fur issues caused by an infestation of mites), entropion (in which the hair from the eyelash grows backward and irritates the surface of the eye), dysplasia (a deformed joint), and cancer (a leading cause of death).

Bloating, a life-threatening condition that results from the buildup of excess gas or food in the stomach usually isn’t a big problem with this breed, but owners should know the symptoms, like excess salivating or an enlarged abdomen, so you can act quickly when it arises.

Good breeders will always test their dogs for common developmental and genetic disorders, so you should always ask the breeder for proof of a positive health assessment. After bringing your dog home, you should also schedule regular visits to the vet to check for everyday health problems. In summation, these are the most common health problems of an Anatolian Shepherd:

  • Demodicosis mange
  • Entropion
  • Cancer
  • Dysplasia


Anatolian Shepherd dog in the snow
The Anatolian Shepherd is an excellent guardian and protector; all of its natural instincts were bred for this purpose.


First and foremost, the Anatolian Shepherd is an excellent guardian and protector; all of its natural instincts were bred for this purpose. It has an alert and protective personality and regards anyone within the close family as its “flock” to be guarded.

This also means the dog is very suspicious and wary of strangers. While a properly socialized dog won’t exhibit too much aggressive behavior, it will take a lot of time and effort for this breed to accept unfamiliar people and animals. Once it becomes part of the family, though, this breed should be a calm and devoted companion.

How to Take Care of the Anatolian Shepherd

Due to their enormous size, independent nature, and somewhat difficult care, the Anatolian Shepherd probably isn’t recommended for novice owners. It requires a strong but understanding leader who knows how to work with their unique quirks. This breed also is not very well-suited for apartment living either. If you have any other questions or concerns about this dog, then you should consult with your vet.

The Best Dog Food

Anatolian Shepherds are quite a furry breed, and they can experience skin and fur problems. In the event of excess shedding, it’s a good idea to check out some dog foods that help address shedding. This breed can also be susceptible to dangerous bloat, so careful feeding is crucial. Some experts believe that wet food is preferable for preventing bloat since it won’t absorb liquid like kibble.

So, A-Z Animals recommends Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Pate Wet Dog Food, FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Entree to supply Anatolian Shepherds with the nutrition they need.

This balanced dog food has linoleic acid to keep the skin and coat in prime condition, with additional omega fatty acids, rice/oatmeal, and prebiotic fiber for digestion.

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Best Wet
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Pate Wet Dog Food
  • High protein wet dog food with real salmon taste and rice
  • Contains linoleic acid, an omega fatty acid, for healthy skin and coat
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Set of 12 13 oz cans
Check Chewy Check Amazon

An adult Anatolian Shepherd will probably need around 3 to 4 cups of high-quality dog food per day, which may vary based on age, size, and activity level. This breed does not tend to overeat, but treats and snacks should be nonetheless limited.

Maintenance and Grooming

While this breed doesn’t require any special grooming techniques, it should receive weekly brushing to deal with loose hair and prevent matting. During the shedding season, brushing should ideally occur at least once a day. The Anatolian Shepherd will also need the occasional nail trims (maybe once every four to six weeks), regular ear checks, and teeth brushings with healthy vet-approved toothpaste.


This breed scores highly on intelligence rankings and has the ability to learn commands relatively quickly, but it is by no means an easy dog to train. It’s independent-minded, relentlessly driven, and always seeking to dominate and become the leader, so obedience training is absolutely necessary as early as possible. This breed needs a consistent and assertive presence (combined with positive reinforcement methods) to properly guide it. Keep in mind that there is only so much training can do; at some level, its instincts are always ingrained. If you are having trouble, then you might want to hire the services of a professional trainer.


The Anatolian Shepherd is an athletic breed that needs at least an hour of exercise every day in the form of long walks, hikes, jogs, toys, games, fetching, and other playtimes. This breed will benefit from access to a large fenced yard with a locked gate. When walking your dog, make sure it is tethered to a leash at all times. Its behavior can be somewhat unpredictable.


Anatolian Shepherd Puppy
Anatolian Shepherds are big, fast-growing puppies because their bones and joints take time to fully develop.


Anatolian Shepherds are big, fast-growing puppies. Because their bones and joints take time to fully develop, it’s recommended to limit the amount of time your dog spends playing or running on hard surfaces for the first year or so of its life.

Early obedience training and socialization are necessary with these puppies. Even if their instincts remain strong, it will help them become comfortable around new people and situations. Crate training can also help ease anxiety and assist with house training.

The Anatolian Shepherd and Children

This breed is surprisingly gentle for its size and should get along very well with any children it’s been reared with. Older children are generally better because they can take on the responsibility of caring for a large dog.

Unfortunately, due to its naturally protective tendency, this breed might regard other children with suspicion. Any such interactions between your dog and your children’s playmates should be carefully supervised by an adult at all times.

Dogs Similar to the Anatolian Shepherd

An Anatolian Shepherd Dog Puppy
The Pyrenean Mountain Dog is similar dog to the Anatolian Shepherd.


If you’re looking for a dog similar to the Anatolian Shepherd, then you should check out one of the following livestock guardians:

  • Pyrenean Mountain Dog – Originating from the French side of the Pyrenean Mountains, the Great Pyrenees, as it’s also called, was first bred to protect its flocks from dangerous predators. Today, it also works as a pet and overall good companion. The thick double coat of fur is white all over, but it may have patches of black, tan, or gray.
  • Kuvasz – This big, strong, Hungarian breed has served a dual purpose for centuries as both a livestock guardian and as a pet for royalty. The thick double coat is white or ivory white and generally lacks patches, spots, or markings of any kind.
  • Caucasian Shepherd Dog – Originating from the Caucasian mountains region, this is another large livestock guardian with a naturally protective temperament. It comes in many different colors with a solid, spotted, or piebald pattern.

Famous Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

This breed ranks average in terms of popularity in the United States, but it has appeared in numerous films, including the 2001 romantic comedy Kate and Leopold, the 2001 children’s film Cats & Dogs (in which it was voiced by Alec Baldwin), and the 2000 comedy Road Trip.

If you are still searching for a good name for your new Anatolian Shepherd, then you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • Bear
  • Aslan
  • Sabir
  • Duke
  • Dora
  • Zeya
  • Tara
  • Teddy
  • Riley

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

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About average energy.
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All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
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About the Author

Rebecca is an experienced Professional Freelancer with nearly a decade of expertise in writing SEO Content, Digital Illustrations, and Graphic Design. When not engrossed in her creative endeavors, Rebecca dedicates her time to cycling and filming her nature adventures alongside her supportive partner. When not focused on her passion for creating and crafting optimized materials, she harbors a deep fascination and love for cats, jumping spiders, and pet rats.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is an Anatolian Shepherd?

The Anatolian Shepherd is a big, strong livestock guardian originating from what’s now modern-day Turkey. While very loyal toward family, it’s also suspicious and wary of strangers and needs to be socialized early on. This breed scores very high on intelligence rankings, but it’s also independent-minded and somewhat difficult to train. It has a lifespan of around 11 to 13 years.

Is an Anatolian Shepherd a good family dog?

The Anatolian Shepherd should be naturally protective toward members of the family, but it might need time to become comfortable with people.

Are Anatolian Shepherds dangerous?

The Anatolian Shepherd does have a natural tendency to become aggressive toward anything it perceives as a threat. Proper obedience training and socialization from an early age will teach it to be calm around strangers.

How much does an Anatolian Shepherd cost?

The price of a newborn Anatolian Shepherd from a high-quality breeder will normally be somewhere between $500 and $1,500, in addition to the price of food, toys, and optional things like a crate. You can count on paying a lot more than this for a dog with an excellent pedigree. If price is a concern, however, then you might want to consider adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue. There are some rescue groups across the country specifically dedicated to the Anatolian Shepherd. Otherwise, you might have to get lucky at a general rescue.

Is an Anatolian Shepherd a mastiff?

While there are certainly some similarities between them, such as the large size, short coat, and working characteristics, the Anatolian Shepherd is not generally regarded as a type of mastiff. Livestock guardians are closely related but distinct. The evidence suggests that the livestock guardians were developed first, and the mastiffs may have been developed from them.

What are the most common mixed breed Anatolian Shepherds?

The most common mixes are the Anatolian Pyrenees (a Pyrenean mix), a German Anatolian Shepherd (a German Shepherd mix), and a Plush Danois (a Great Dane mix).

What's the difference between an Anatolian shepherd and a Kangal?

Anatolian shepherds differ from Kangals in coloring as well as size. However, many people consider them the same breed of dog.

What's the difference between an Anatolian Shepherd and a Great Pyrenees?

The key difference between the Anatolian Shepherd and Great Pyrenees is their appearance, including coat length, color, and size.

Other differences include lifespan, temperament, trainability, and drooling level.

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