Anatolian Shepherds are very interesting dogs. In this article we will present you their main characteristics, a bit of their history, and how to breed Anatolian Shepherds. A livestock and flock guardian dog breed that has its origins in the Anatolian Plateau in Asia Minor. The blackheads, the name they receive in Turkey, are strong, intelligent, loyal, and protective.
Until today they retain their original purpose, but also as pets all over the world. In both situations, what people look for are the qualities they have been developed through thousands of years. If you would like to learn about breeding Anatolian Shepherds for establishing your business or just intend to buy one as a companion, then this article is for you. The same goes if you just want to know more about this outstanding breed.
Background of Anatolian Shepherds
Let’s start by giving you a proper background about this breed, to let you see its main features, origin, history, temperament, and appearance standards.
Origin and History
The Anatolian Shepherd, as the name suggests, is original from the Anatolian Peninsula, Middle East, Asia. Nowadays, the region composes a large part of the Turkish territory.
In Turkey, it is known as Karabaş (Blackhead). That region, inhabited by humans for thousands of years, always had grazing as a way of subsistence. This breed descends from livestock guardian dogs that have been used by those people for over 6 thousand years. The blackheads were developed through the crossbreeding and environmental adaptation of those guardian dogs. The harsh climate, with very hot summers and incredibly cold winters, is one of the main factors that made those dogs so strong and robust.
The other main cause is their purpose itself. In order to defend flocks against wolves and other predators, they had to be really strong and brave. Indeed, an Anatolian can face a wolf or similar animals and they can still act as guardians. The first specimens were brought to America a few years before the Second World War, but they only became popular in the 1970s. Now, they are quite known and can be found all over the country.
According to the AKC rank, the Anatolian Shepherd is the 90th most popular dong in the United States out of 196 breeds. It has also appeared in several movies such as:
- Bart from Kate & Leopold
- Butch from Cats & Dogs and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
- Corky from Road Trip
- Marlowe from Simon & Simon
- Sam from Shooter
Therefore, it is quite recognizable in popular culture and especially thanks to its characteristic temperament and physical features.
According to the official statement of the American Kennel Club, the features that characterizes the Anatolian Shepherd are the following:
In general, they are large, rugged, and powerful dogs. They are really resistant and agile, which makes them effective working guard dogs with a great ability to protect livestock, thanks to being bold and calm unless when they are challenged. They have good bones and muscles.
The head is large, but proportional to the body. Their eyes are neither so big nor so small, being usually almond-shaped and with a color that varies from brown to yellow. The color around the eyes is usually black or brown.
The ears are generally set on the plane of the head and dropped to sides. The apex is V-shaped and rounded, measuring about four inches at the bottom to six inches long.
The Muzzle is stronger for the male. Flews and nose are black or brown in color. The muzzle looks rather square since the Flews are usually dry and pronounced.
The body is robust, big but not disproportional, and functional. The neck is a little arched, not very long, and quite strong. The neck’s fur is thick, making it look like a lion’s mane. It has a dewlap, but it is not bulky.
The part behind the withers descends forming an arch, it slopes downward at the croup. The chest is deep and well arched, with a distinct tuck-up in the loin.
Reaching the hocks, the tail is long, situated very high. When the dog relaxes it. It is carried low with the curled end up. When alert, the tail is carried upwards, making a wheel.
Coat and Color
The coat is short, measuring one inch minimum and four inches maximum. The neck hair slightly longer, making a mane. There may be feathering on the breech, ear fringes, legs, and tail.
The colors can vary, but the most commons are white, cream, sesame, tan, and piebald. The muzzle and the ears are often black, but not always.
Anatolians are livestock guardians by nature. Therefore, their temperament follows the qualities they have for that purpose. They are intelligent and very loyal dogs. Their personality is calm, but they do not back from challenges, for they are really brave as well.
They like space, so it is not a good idea to have one inside an apartment for example. Fetching is not their favorite activity, they’d rather run and swim. Due to their nomadic instinct they tend to roam, disappearing for days. So, if you have them in an open space, it is a good idea to insert a chip. They are not outgoing and usually avoid strangers. In order to turn them into proper pets, you must socialize them from an early age, when they are cubs.
When aroused or angered, they can get extremely violent. Once it happened, they will not obey the owner and fight mortally. That is another reason for socializing them properly when they are puppies. Under normal conditions and with proper training, they are very calm, loyal, and protective with families.
Health Concerns When Breeding Anatolian Shepherds
These dogs tend to develop certain health issues – which is common for all breeds. Below, find all the details you must be aware of.
Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex, also known as Bloat, is a serious medical and surgical condition that may occur in dogs, especially large ones as shown by the evidence. It happens when the stomach is filled with air and the inner pressure increases enormously. It blocks the blood from limbs and the rest of the body from returning to the heart, paralyzing the dog.
The situation can get even worse. The stomach may flip and do the same with the spleen and pancreas, stopping the bloodstream. This situation stops oxygen from reaching the pancreas and then, it starts producing toxic hormones. One of them attacks the heart and stops it. A dog can undergo a successful treatment, seem to be cured and yet, the heart surprisingly stops beating. Dogs may die with even a mild case of bloat.
An enlargement of the dog’s abdomen, restlessness, retching, and salivation are signs that your dog may be having bloat. If you see these signs, you should immediately take the dog to the vet. There is not a hundred percent efficient method to prevent dogs from having bloat. However, there are some cares you may take. Bloat is often associated with an empty stomach. Feeding the dog twice a day can help prevent the condition. Avoiding stress is an important thing as well. There is also a preventive surgery developed for bloat, but the cost can be prohibitively expensive.
An ear infection is a common condition in dogs. Around 20 percent of dogs suffer from this condition at least once in their lives.
Head shaking, scratching at the sick ear, dark discharge, bad odor, ear redness and swelling of the ear canal, pain, and itchiness, crusting or scabs in the ears are the symptoms of ear infection.
The treatment consists of, basically, cleaning the ear with the medicine prescribed by the vet. Some severe cases might need oral medicines or even injections. The vet will analyze and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.
Elbow dysplasia is a generic name for many problems concerning the bones that forms the dog’s elbow. Any disturbance in them, like bad growth or bad shape, may lead to problems in the joint and, therefore, cause pain and compromise the ability to walk. It is another disease prone to attack large dogs.
The causes are genetic, but there are some risk factors that can worsen the case. Over-weight, too much exercise, and too fast growth are the main ones. An appropriate diet and the right amount of exercise are the keys to avoid those situations.
Mild cases can receive treatments such as physiotherapy, but serious cases require surgery. The vet is the one who can analyze the cause and recommend the appropriate treatment. Would you like to learn more about this disease and how to detect and treat it? Then check our article on elbow dysplasia here.
How to Breed Anatolian Shepherd Dogs?
Anatolian Shepherd breeding can be very profitable. If you know what you are doing, have a good match of bitch and stud, and have a good way to publicize your business you can earn a considerable amount of money. The puppy can sell for a good price and the investment is low. We will explain more below.
Choosing the Bitch and Stud
Check that the dogs you are choosing are healthy, have no genetic diseases, have a good temper, and are registered with your respective kennel clubs. Ensure both are biologically healthy. Such as the bitch having a normal heat cycle and the male is fertile.
Investing a proper bitch or stud is essential for your business. Remember that breeding is not for the sake of making money, it’s for improving and maintaining the standards and features of the breed. To bring future puppies and their owners a better quality of life.
The average amount of puppies is eight, but the litter size can vary from 5 to 15. The first litter will be smaller whereas the upcoming ones will be significantly larger. Furthermore, the health of the bitch during the pregnancy will have a direct influence in this as well.
Birthing issues receive the name of dystocia. The birth should not exceed 70 days gestation, if it does, then the bitch is suffering from dystocia and a vet will need to assist. The most common symptoms of dystocia are:
- Labor has a slow start at 56 days prior to delivering
- Labor is taking longer than 70 days
- Abnormal bloody discharge
- If there is any presence of green/black discharge and the bitch does not deliver
- Abnormally strong contractions for longer than an hour without delivering
- The fetus has been trapped in the birth canal
- The bitch is struggling for more than two hours, but is not delivering
- If the bitch takes more than five hours between delivering puppies
- If the bitch presents a fever higher than 103 degrees F
- Weakness and lethargy with no puppies
The main causes include an extremely large fetus, abnormal position of the fetus, birth canal too small and lack of effective uterine contractions, age (too young or too old), large heads or flat faces, mother extremely overweight, and previous dystocia.
If you believe that the bitch has dystocia, you should get in contact with a vet immediately. The treatment will depend on the condition. For abnormal positions, the vet can try to manipulate the fetus into the right position, but if that is not effective, then there will be a need for a cesarean. The same goes in case the puppy is too large or too small.
If there are no contractions or if the bitch is not strong enough to push the puppies out, the vet can administer oxytocin or calcium gluconate with intravenous fluids, also electrolytes, and oxygen. If they do not work, then a cesarian will be necessary as well.
Normally, the vet requires that the bitch and the puppies must stay, at least, 24 hours for observation. If it was a cesarian, then the time may be longer. The vet may also prescribe some medicines.
To sell Anatolian shepherds, you must sell them to the right owners. Due to their temperament and fiery attitude, they’re ideal for people who want to protect their land. Farms, big homes, you name it.
Therefore, you must focus your listings and promotional material on selling to that specific type of client. Show the benefits of buying your puppies and why yours are better than the competition.
The average cost of a puppy is $1500. Considering that a litter has around 8 puppies, it can be a quite lucrative business. Keep the standards high by choosing wisely the stud and the bitch. That will be your biggest investment, but it will pay off in the long run.
Breeding Anatolian Shepherds – FAQ
We’ve searched and collected for the most frequently asked questions about Anatolian shepherds, to solve all of your doubts and get you ready to start breeding!
About eight, but it can vary from five to fifteen. As we said at the beginning, this number will be at the lower range for the first pregnancy, but it will grow with the subsequent ones. Furthermore, factor in the health of the bitch during pregnancy. With a proper diet and care, you should get a decent litter.
Anatolians are natural guardians as they developed to work as livestock and flock guardians. Therefore, they are protective, intelligent, loyal, and courageous. They are, however, difficult to train, for they are very independent.
So, you need to start with the training when your dog is still a young puppy. You must socialize the dog with as many people as possible. This way the Anatolian will grow calm and used to live around people. The protective instinct will do the rest.
However, beware! The Anatolian Shepherd is a very large dog with nomadic instincts. It is not a good idea to have one if you do not have a large space.
The Anatolian Shepherd is an extremely old breed, one of the oldest in the world and is a combination of many different breeds. It is about 6 thousand years old. It descends from livestock and flock guardian dogs that lived in the Middle East, Caucasus, India, and Tibet. There are several mixes, but the following ones are the most popular and effective:
Anatolian Shepherd + Golden Retriever
Plush Danios + Anatolian Shepherd + Great Dane
Plush Danios + Anatolian Shepherd + Great Dane
Anatolian Pyrenees + Anatolian Shepherd + Great Pyrenees
The temperament traits mix well as well as the physical features, especially to control the aggressiveness factor of Anatolian Shepherds.
It is a big dog, many consider it a giant breed. This dog measures about 29 inches and weighs from 110 to 150 pounds, while the bitches measure about 27 inches and weigh from 80 to 120 pounds. Due to its big size, this breed is ideal for homes with proper space such as a big backyard.
The Anatolian Shepherd is a large and loyal breed. These strong and brave dogs are wonderful to own, but do have some health problems to consider. So whether you are buying or breeding, be aware.