The Breed History
An ancient and rare breed, perhaps 6,000 years old, these Central Turkish guard dogs have a commanding presence. In the 1950s first imports to the USA occurred. The AKC registry accepted the breed in 1998.
Breeding for Function
They were resident in a harsh environment, withstanding temperature extremes to carry out flock protection against large predators. This led to a hardy, large working dog that could endure long days of work.
Height at Withers: female 27" (68.5 cm), male 29" (73.5 cm) minimum.
Weight: females 80-120 lb (36.5-54.6 kg), males 110-150 lb (50-68 kg).
Coat: Two coat variants exist; the Short and the Rough. Rough is about 4" (10) cm in length, while Short is 1" (2.54 cm). The undercoat is dense. Some feathering may be present. Color or markings are not limited in this breed, but fawn with a dark mask is common.
Longevity: 12 years.
Points of Conformation: They possess a rugged build, large body frame with heavy muscling and bone, the head is large and the skull has small furrow in the midline. The flews are dry. Eyes are dark brown to amber and almond in shape, palpebral margins dark. Blue or odd irises are not allowed. The ears are triangular, the apex is rounded, and they are folded along the head. The muzzle is square, the nose is dark (brown or black), the neck is moderate in length and musculature, and with a ruff of skin and fur. The topline slopes down towards the croup, Thorax is deep and the ribs are well sprung, and an abdominal tuck up is present. The tail reaches the tarsi, and is high set. At rest, the tail is curved along the back of the legs, and when active it is up high and moves to do a "wheel" movement. Limbs are straight, metacarpals heavy, oval feet have thick pads, and are compact. Some specimens have double dewclaws in back. Dewclaws front and back may be removed. Gait is smooth and long in stride, ground-covering with significant agility.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Traits ascribed to the breed include: Works well independently, loyal, aloof towards strangers and new territory, calm unless acting in defense of the family or flock, an excellent guard dog but can be fierce in protection. Needs early obedience training to counteract the intelligent self-direction (strong willed) nature it possesses. A reserved attitude is not discouraged. Not considered a companion dog primarily. Typically a heavy shedder, and they can be a bit clumsy in small areas. Lots of exercise is recommended. Allow them only a free run in enclosed areas. Good with other dogs if raised with them, though they can be territorially aggressive. Tolerate quiet children if socialized to them early.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Anatolian Shepherds are reported on the ASDCA website to be sensitive to anesthetics. A reduction in dosage may be required.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 10.2% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 4.5% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Anatolian Shepherds have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 9.5% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Ocular Disorders: Too few Anatolian Shepherds have been CERF examined to determine the frequency of ocular disorders in the breed. Entropion (rolling in of the eyelids with associated corneal abrasion) is reported to occur at an increased frequency on the ASDCA website.
Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer): Reported at an increased incidence in the breed on the ASDCA website.
Gastric Dilation/Volvulus (GDV, Bloat): Life-threatening twisting of the stomach within the abdomen. Requires immediate veterinary attention. Reported at an increased incidence on the ASDI website.
Complete Ventral Ankyloglossia (Tongue-tie): Multiple case reports of a complete attachment of the lingual frenulum to the floor of the oral cavity. In one report, three Anatolian Shepherds (two full-brothers and one half-sister) presented at 8 months of age with a history of excessive drooling and poor weight gain. Physical examination revealed that the dogs were unable to protrude their tongues properly, due to a thin tissue band between the sublingual surface of the tongue and the floor of the oral cavity. This tissue band extended from the lingual frenulum to the gingiva of the mandibular incisors. All 3 dogs returned to normal function and weight gain after the tissue band was transected. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Distichiasis, Elbow Luxation, and Renal Dysplasia are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Copper Toxicosis (Copper Storage Disease): Identified in a seven year old male Anatolian shepherd with a history of progressive weight loss and vomiting, and a finding of nodular hepatitis with excessive copper accumulation.
Giant Cell Tumor: An eight-year-old female Anatolian Shepherd dog presented with a malignant osteoclast-like giant cell tumor arising from the hilus of the left kidney. Pathologically, the mass was comprised of large osteoclast-like multinucleated giant cells and spindle-spheroidal-shaped cells.
Tests of Genotype: none
Tests of Phenotype: Recommend hip and elbow radiographs, CERF eye examination, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, patella evaluation and cardiac evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Anatolian, Anatolian Karabash Dog, Coban Kopegi (Turkish for Shepherd's dog), Karabas, Anatolian Sheperd, Anatolian Shephard, Kangal Dog.
- Registries: AKC, UKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 110 (373 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America: www.asdca.org
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs International: www.anatoliandog.org
Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of Great Britain: www.asdc-of-gb.netfirms.com
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