This breed of Dog is mastiff type of dog and is known for it's flock-protecting attributes with it's origins tracking back to the ancient silk routes and would have been known then as Çoban Kopegi which would have translated to the "Shepherd’s Dog" name. Over the years the breeds name has been refined and they are now finally registered as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog but they are sometimes called as Kangal. The name Kangal originates from a town in Turkey where these dogs are most popular.
The Anatolian Shepherd, also known as Karabas (Blackhead) and Çoban köpegi, is a large breed of shepherd dog with a rugged, large and very strong body. It is an adaptable breed, able to withstand the hot summers and freezing winters of the Anatolian Plateau. This muscular breed has a proportionally large skull with a square, strong muzzle with black mask, strong jaw, scissors bite, solid black or brown nose, almond shaped, medium size eyes that are dark brown to light amber in colour. The triangular ears have rounded apex, measures about 15cm in length and dropped to the sides of the head. It also has a thick neck, slightly arched and powerful – an important characteristic of an animal used to subdue predators. It has a tail that reaches to the hocks, carried low with the end curled upwards when the dog is at rest. The well-boned, straight front legs are also muscular. The hind legs are supported by broad and heavily-muscled thighs. All four feet are protected by rough, thick pads. The coat can either be short (2.5cm) or rough (10cm) with slightly longer neck hair and comes in all colour patterns, although white cream and sesame are the dominant colours. Male Karabas stand between 66cm and 79cm in height while females stand between 68cm and 76 cm. A typical adult weighs between 40kg and 70kg with males on the heavier side of the scale.
The Anatolian Shepherd is one of the ancient breeds of canine, probably dating back to more than 6,000 years ago and descended from ancient Mesopotamian mastiff-type dogs used for hunting and fighting. Originally used to guard sheep against wolves, bears, lions and other large predators, the Çoban köpegi (“shepherd’s dog” in Turkish) originated in the Anatolia region of what is now modern-day Turkey. It is an invaluable livestock protector, able to withstand extreme weather and endure the nomadic lifestyle of Turkish shepherds protecting the flock with little or no special attention from the shepherds.
The first pair of Anatolian Shepherds were brought to the UK by author and archaeologist Charmian Hussey in the 1960s. The British Museum in London has a bas relief of a dog from Babylonia that greatly resembles the Anatolian Shepherd. Today, the Anatolian is still used as a sheep guard dog.
The Anatolian Shepherd is naturally independent, alert, intelligent, calm and vigilant with a superb sense of sight and hearing. It is instinctively protective and will defend its territory from any intruders – a trait of a natural guard dog. It is wary around strangers but early socialisation can correct this attitude. It possesses great speed and endurance.
A large, territorial dog such as the Anatolian Shepherd requires a lot of socialisation and training at an early age from a firm and confident owner who can provide a positive, motivational, and consistent training. Early socialisation and exposure to other people and animals is particularly vital because a fully grown Anatolian Shepherd will be too big and difficult to train. Inheriting its natural independence from its ancestors, an Anatolian puppy is a bit more challenging to train than other breeds and can be slower to respond to commands. Training must be done in a firm, subtle and consistent manner by an experienced owner.
The thick double coat requires minimal grooming and will usually benefit from brushing once or twice a week, but a lot more frequent during seasonal moulting twice a year when it experiences heavy shedding. This breed has little “doggy” odour and does not drool.
This is a sturdy dog that was bred especially to endure extreme hot and cold weather conditions. Among the minor health issues associated with the Anatolian Shepherd are skin allergies, lipoma, entropion, ear infections and canine hip dysplasia. A study by The Kennel Club (UK) in 2004 indicates that the leading causes of death for this breed are cancer, cardiac diseases and old age. This breed is sensitive to anaesthesia. Typical lifespan is 12 to 13 years but there are records of dogs that live longer.
Being a large breed plus a working dog that belong to the pastoral group, the Anatolian Shepherd requires a lot of exercise to stay physically and mentally fit. More than two hours of exercise per day is the minimum exercise requirement. It is not suitable for an apartment living because of its sheer size. A large country home where it can run in open but protected areas is an ideal home for this breed. This breed likes to roam so it must be allowed to run freely only under supervision and in a fenced environment.
Although the Anatolian Shepherd is a high protective breed, it is generally calm, friendly and patient and is very good with children especially with his immediate family. However, care must be taken when the dog is around small children as it can easily knock them down accidentally with its sheer size. It will do well with other pets including cats provided that it is introduced early as a puppy with these animals. An Anatolian Shepherd typically matures between 1.5 years to 2.5 years old.