Anatolian Shepherd

Meet the Anatolian Shepherd: The Perfect Homestead Guardian

Anatolian Shepherd: With small farms, many of us often feel drawn in many directions. There are many things to do on one farm but not always enough help to do them all. Enter the Anatolian Shepherd.

Anatolian shepherds are a livestock guard dog (LGD), who like to work to protect your farm.

Loyal and intelligent, they make a wonderful guardian for a homestead. Apart from being known as a valuable protector, he is calm, attentive and a friendly pet with his family.

What are livestock guard dogs?

There are many types of guardian animals that you can use to protect your home. Among them, dogs are probably the most famous.

Dogs are often classified by the jobs they perform. Some breeds are called working dogs by the American Kennel Club, and many of these breeds make good livestock protectors.

LGD is one of the various breeds of dogs that live outside and protect livestock from predators.

Some of the popular LGD are the Great Pyrenees, lambs, and mastiffs (there are many varieties of each breed). They usually live on a farm or in a barn with farm animals.

To protect their home, these dogs patrol, mark their territory, bark, and warn you of any potential danger and possibly engage the “enemy” in a collision. These are all normal behaviors they should be allowed.

My experience is that many LGDs are not friendly like house dogs. We have many different breeds, and it often bothers them enough to be confined to the home and not able to do their job.

Once during a severe winter storm, I brought the dogs home. He spent time running back and forth between me and the door. They were not happy!

Anatolian History

The Anatolian Shepherd is a large rugged looking dog that can weigh up to 150 pounds. They are about 26–28 inches long at the shoulder.

They are an old breed with a long history. Coming from Asia Minor and eastern Turkey, these dogs have been restricted to protect the herd for many thousands of years. They are written about the Bible and depicted on the walls of the cave.

Anatolies did not begin to arrive in America until the 1950s. They gained popularity in 1973 when the Endangered Species Act was established, and farmers wanted to protect their flocks without harming endangered animals.

The answer for farmers was to start using livestock guard dogs.

They are also used in Namibia’s cheetah conservation program to protect both cheetahs and farmers’ livestock.

Anatolian Shepherds Care

Once you bring your Anatolian shepherd home, you must ensure that they are well taken care of. Here are the basics.


Good nutrition is important for a dog that works while walking and always. You can buy high-end commercial dog food or make your own. If you cook your dog, you should take care that it covers all the nutritional needs of the dog. Talk to your vet about the diet for your dog.

Feeding high quality food is important but not too much food. Breastfeeding can cause health problems that shorten the lifespan of these dogs.

It is also important to establish a good feeding routine. Feed the puppy in the barn, not in the house. However, give them a private eating area where other animals will not help them eat.

With good nutrition, an Anatolian will live an average of 13–15 years.


Anatolian can come in a “short” or “rough” coat. Rough is a fancy term for a long time. Anatolian coming from such a cold region of the world is necessarily thicker to keep warm.

They actually have two layers of coat. An undercoat and an outer coat. The coat will be one to four inches long.

Anatolian loses some hair throughout the year. Typically, they shed their top hair throughout the year and undercoat twice a year. A good brushing will help the old hair fall out.

It is important to give them occasional good brushing to prevent hair from forming thick mats. Tangled hair can cause skin irritation and possibly infection.

Anatolees have long nails and are good diggers. Check their nails every couple of weeks to make sure they are not too long. The toe that is too long puts pressure on the muscles. They can become a snag on something in the field.

It is important to start working with your dog’s feet at an early age. In this way, they get accustomed to having their nails trimmed.


Anatolians are strong, healthy breeds and lack many of the issues of more popular breeds – and their breeders are working hard to keep them that way.

They are not prone to hip dysplasia or swell like some other large breeds.

Anatolies have sensitivity to anesthesia, so talk to your veterinarian about the breed to make sure they are aware.

Behavior and training

Anatolians are not a dog for the first time owner. He requires firm leadership from his human and has a lot of supervisory experience with livestock.

He is also a family-focused dog. This means that they will accept their humans and other animals as their family. However, they may feel the need to protect you from other humans and animals.

Like many larger breeds, the Anatolian is quite independent and can be stubborn at times. They are not naturally in anyone’s family.

Having a puppy

Good socialization is necessary and should begin when they are puppies. Make sure that your puppy has many opportunities to learn about different situations.

Bonding pens work well when introducing a new puppy to the herd. Use a smallholding paddock and keep some of your more dog-friendly livestock in the pen. If you have baby animals, this works great.
The puppies were picked up along with the animals and let them bond with their charges. Photo by Mary Remley.

Introducing a few animals at a time allows your new puppy time to be tied up. Keep an eye on the new group to ensure that all is going according to plan. If the puppy or livestock seems upset or nervous, give them a break.

You should take time to give your puppy obedience training. It is better to start young when they just want you to wait until you have an adult dog with bad habits.

When training any large dog, you must establish yourself as an alpha. This means that you are the top dog, one is in charge. Anatolian is a pack animal that appreciates a hierarchy in the house.

An Anatolian shepherd will respond better to positive reinforcement than coercion or punishment. Praise your puppy often when he does the right thing. Go into a bonding pen and praise the puppy for a positive interaction with the livestock.

Spend one-on-one time with the new puppy every day. Make it a habit to wear a collar and walk on a leash. Take your young dog with you as you go about your farm work.

Give them a ride in the farm truck. All these things introduce the puppy to his job and also help him bond.

Site out of mind

Sometimes, dogs living on the farm do not get much human involvement, but you need to make sure that your dogs are doing well. In addition to feeding them every day, you need to make time to investigate and spend time with them.

They may be working animals, but they are still social animals.

Go out to the farm or call the dogs in the barn area. Make sure they have no cuts or scratches and that their feet are in good shape.

Talk to them and tell them that they are doing a good job. This will help your dog feel motivated in their job (like people).

Buy an Anatolian

There are many things to keep in mind when purchasing Anatolian Shepherd. You can find breeders on AKC’s website or by looking at advertisements from your favorite farm journal.
Ease of protecting the herd. Photo by Mary Remley

What to look for in a breeder

  • Raises puppies with livestock so that they learn from parents to do modeling and bonding with animals
  • Animals are screened with the OFA (Canine Health Information Center) for hip and joint issues
  • Works to socialize puppies and gives them a variety of experiences with meeting different people and animals
  • Willingness to communicate with you to ensure the puppy is a good fit for your environment

There is also a National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network for those of you who want to give a good dog a new leash for life.

An Anatolian Shepherd Can Save Your Swarm

Your livestock is an important investment. As homesteaders, we are responsible for their safety and, of course, want to thrive them.

If you are looking for a quality livestock guard dog, getting an Anatolian Shepherd can be a great option, which can protect your animals from predators.

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