Akbash vs Great Pyrenees

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Published: June 4, 2022
© iStock.com/JZHunt
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Akbash dogs and Great Pyrenees are incredibly similar dogs. Both are giant white livestock guardians, and it may be difficult to tell them apart at a glance.

Akbash Dogs originated in Turkey and are not recognized by the American Kennel Club. They can have either medium or long white coats. Great Pyrenees are stockier but shorter. They can have darker markings in various colors.

Let’s take an in-depth look at these breeds to learn more about how they vary.

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Comparing Akbash vs Great Pyrenees

Akbash and Great Pyrenees differ in size, appearance, origin, and AKC recognition.


AkbashGreat Pyrenees
Size28-34 inches; 90-120 pounds25-32 inches; 85+ pounds
AppearanceLean body, white, medium-long coatStocky build, white, medium-length coat with tan, grey, badger, or reddish-brown markings
Country of OriginTurkeyCentral Asia or Siberia
AKC RecognitionNot recognizedRecognized

The Key Differences Between Akbash and Great Pyrenees

The key differences between Akbash and Great Pyrenees are size, appearance, origin, and AKC recognition.

Let’s discuss these differences in detail!

Akbash vs Great Pyrenees: Size

Akbash dog standing in a yard
Akbash dogs are a bit taller than Great Pyrenees, standing up to 34 inches.


The Akbash stands at 28-34 inches and weighs 90-120 pounds. This is a couple of inches taller than the Great Pyrenees, which stands 25-28 inches tall.

Female Great Pyrenees weigh more than 85 pounds, while male Great Pyrenees weigh upwards of 100 pounds. There is no maximum weight limit under breed standards.

When you measure for weight, Akbash dogs tend to weigh less than Great Pyrenees due to their slimmer build.

Akbash vs Great Pyrenees: Appearance

Great Pyrenees dog outdoor portrait against sky
Great Pyrenees tend to have stockier builds.


Although Akbash dogs are purebred, the breed combines Mastiff and sighthound traits. This accounts for most of the difference in appearance between the Akbash and Great Pyrenees.

Akbash dogs have slimmer bodies, weighing just slightly more than Great Pyrenees despite their taller stature.

Both dogs are muscular and fully capable of guarding livestock, as they were bred to do!

The Akbash breed standard specifies that they have a white coat, though they can have a light biscuit or grey shading near their ears or in the undercoat. They don’t have prominent markings, however.

Great Pyrenees are white with tan, grey, badger, or reddish-brown markings.

While Great Pyrenees always have a medium-length double coat, Akbash can have either a medium or long coat. Both types are double-coated. The long coats may be slightly wavy but not curly.

Long-haired Akbash may require more frequent grooming to prevent mats and tangles. In general, both breeds require brushing at least once a week to reduce shed and keep the coat healthy.

Akbash vs Great Pyrenees: Country of Origin

The Akbash originated in Turkey around 3,000 years ago. Because of the age of the breed, little is known about its origin.

However, we know the dogs served as livestock guardians and were likely a cross between ancient Mastiff and sighthound breeds.

The Great Pyrenees is also an ancient breed—there are fossilized remains dating back to the Bronze Age from 1800-1000 BC.

We don’t actually know for sure where this breed originated, but it was likely somewhere in Central Asia or Siberia. The breed then migrated to Europe before landing in the Americas thousands of years later.

Akbash vs Great Pyrenees: AKC Recognition

Akbash dogs are natives to turkey and are imported to the United States
The Akbash is not recognized by the American Kennel Club.

©Jerry Kirkhart / Creative Commons

Despite being such an ancient breed, the Akbash isn’t currently recognized by the American Kennel Club and was only recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998.

These dogs aren’t populous in the United States but are instead mostly seen in Turkey, where they’re owned primarily by shepherds and used to guard sheep.

The dogs in the United States are mostly descendants of 40 Akbash dogs brought here in the 1970s.

The Great Pyrenees, however, is a pretty popular breed in the United States. It was recognized by the AKC in 1933 and the UKC in 1949.

Great Pyrenees were first brought to the United States in 1824.

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The Great Pyrenees is one of the largest dog breeds.
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About the Author

I'm an animal writer of four years with a primary focus on educational pet content. I want our furry, feathery, and scaley friends to receive the best care possible! In my free time, I'm usually outdoors gardening or spending time with my nine rescue pets.

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