Shahbazin Anatolian Shepherds Basics

The Anatolian originates from the ancient land whose general boundaries are now known as Turkey. Çoban Köpegi (Cho-bawn Ko-pey), Turkish for "shepherd's dog", was the term used to describe these working dogs on whom the Turkish shepherds depended. The dogs had to live peacefully among and protect the flock with little or no special attention from the shepherds. The dogs stayed with the animals, night and day, sleeping in the thick snow of winter and walking for miles in the heat and dust of summer. Swift enough to race around a widely scattered grazing flock of several hundred head, the courageous guardian had to be large and strong enough to be able to best an interloper that dared stand its ground. Clocked by visitors driving alongside fenced property containing a herd guard, Anatolians have been observed running at speeds over 35 miles per hour.

Anatolians are regarded as flock guardians of the mountain molossian-type. Large, rugged and impressive, they possess great endurance and agility. These dogs are tall and powerful, yet not massive in build. This magnificent ancient working dog presents an impression of functional utility without exaggerated features. Large size is important, but correct breed type, soundness of movement, overall balance with correct temperament should be given precedence so as to preserve working ability. This breed is registered in the United States with both the United Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club.

Maranda's Garnizon of Shahbazin & grandsire, Turk Pala Simsek of Sivas, T.T.

The Anatolian is a sturdy, healthy breed, but buyers can still promote lower rates of hip dysplasia (a hereditary malformation of the hip joints common to large breeds) by buying only from the litters out of OFA certified parents. Entropion occurs in the breed, as does elbow dysplasia (OCD), and hypothyroidism.

The Anatolian does not require a lot a food for his size, but as a puppy, he may seem to eat a lot because he has so much growing to do. An average healthy adult in good condition will eat around 40 pounds of premium quality dry chow per month. As with any double coated breed, the management of light daily shedding and heavy seasonal blowing of coat should be considered. Regular grooming of the coat and vigorous brushing during shedding season will minimize problems. The Anatolian is unusual among the giant breeds with its longevity. A healthy, well-bred Anatolian will live into its teens in a safe, optimal environment.

The Anatolian is a bold, confident dog that does not become overstimulated easily. He is calm and observant of his surroundings. The Anatolian may not go looking for trouble, but he may not back down if challenged. He is loyal, affectionate without being overly demonstrative with family, yet is aloof and suspicious of strangers. Independence is a primary characteristic of the livestock guardian breeds. They have varying degrees of territoriality, but most will expand their territories if they are not fenced in. They are generally wonderful and tolerant with children, but may be dog aggressive, unless well-socialized. Anatolians are fairly dominant dogs, generally best suited for people who have not let other dogs take over their families. Obedience training is a requirement for responsible ownership of this breed. Anatolians are highly intelligent and very quick to learn new ideas, but are not particularly keen on repetitive exercises. This breed has a strong inclination toward independent thinking and may seem stubborn. Owners have been successful with these dogs in directed work such as obedience trials; however, they must keep the training motivational and interesting to get the best out of these dogs. For more information on the traits of flock guardian dogs, see the book review for Paws to Consider.

Anatolians are very primitive in nature, and have not been bred to work by direction. They are a challenge, but if you have prepared yourself with knowledge about the breed’s character and instincts, you may find them to be among the most magnificent, awesome, noble, and loyal members of the canine family.

Anatolian Shepherds as Livestock Guarding Dogs

The ASD is a slow maturing breed and the newly acquired puppy is not an instant livestock defender. Puppy needs to learn the rules, develop enough size and confidence to protect himself before he can be a reliable guardian. Some pups will show guardian behavior at 3 to 6 months, but he will command more respect from trespassers and predators once he is at least 8 months old. Confidence increases with maturity. The mature stock guardian of 3 years or more is a valuable asset to the farm and is sometimes considered priceless.

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