Trials & Tribulations of owning an Anatolian Shepherd Dog


The independent and protective nature of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog combined with its very large size mean that it is not the easiest dog in the world to control. In reality, a good Anatolian should be submissive to its livestock, so the "perfect" temperament is self-confident, but deferential to the leader. However, Anatolians will eagerly assume the role of "boss" if their owners are not in charge. Almost all test their owners at some time(s) during adolescence or young adulthood to see if becoming Number One is indeed possible. Untrained and unsocialized Anatolians, and those whose owners refuse to be leaders, can become over-protective and aggressive and, sometimes, uncontrollable. Living with an Anatolian that has learned to intimidate people can be frightening indeed.

These dogs need to be socialized well and taught to behave politely if they come in contact with a lot of strange people and animals. Some Anatolians, even socialized ones, will not let strange dogs come on the home territory. And most intact male Anatolians cannot realistically be expected to live with other intact males - at least not uneventfully.

As we said before, fencing is virtually required, because Anatolians are independent and will expand their territories voluntarily. Some are hard to keep home even with fencing. A great many Anatolians like to dig. Anatolians use barking in their protective behaviors, so a certain amount of noise goes with the dog. Many puppies go through a destructive phase, and those behaviors can become habits if the dogs are not supervised and corrected while still young.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before deciding to get an Anatolian.

  • Why do you want an Anatolian? Working? Companion? Family Guardian? Show? Therapy?
  • Can you be a partner with a loving, protective, independent dog? Are you a strong leader who could live with a dominant, demanding and determined Anatolian?
  • Can you commit to AT LEAST 10 hours per week socializing your Anatolian and taking your pup to weekly training (obedience and/or handling) classes?
  • Can you commit to establishing a POSITIVE relationship with your dog, providing the necessary, carefully controlled environment for keeping your dog healthy, safe and trustworthy?
  • Does the entire family (including wife and children) want this dog - one that will be very large, very strong and powerful to handle?
  • Do you have the necessary enclosed environment (with secure 5/6 ft fencing) to contain a large protective guardian and keep it from becoming a neighborhood liability?
  • Do you have close neighbors who will not tolerate barking?
  • Do you have adequate space which will allow plenty of exercise for a large working breed.
  • Is there the possibility of a new baby / family move / new job in the future? If yes, are you absolutely positive the dog will not be a problem with a new family member or be able to make the move if a job transfer occurs?
  • Are you financially able to provide a good quality of life (vet care / good food / quality personal time / thorough grooming for coat, eyes, footpads and nails) for this dog throughout its life.
  • Can you carefully supervise this dog around your children or neighbor's children when they come to visit?
  • If you have good furniture or a beautiful lawn, do you want a large dog that might like to dig or chew (especially puppies) on everything?
  • If you have other animals, how will you introduce these animals to the new pup?
  • Do you plan to breed? If you purchase a female, how will you deal with her heat cycles to prevent unwanted/unplanned litters? Are you willing to neuter?
  • Have you previously lived with large (over 100 pounds) dogs? What breed? How long? What was your experience with them?
  • If you are a first time dog owner, are you willing to keep in touch with your breeder and/or other experienced Anatolian owners to make use of their expertise and guidance? Are you willing to contact your breeder at the first instance of behavior that you have questions about so that it does not become a problem?
  • Do you understand that your breeder is available to you for the life of your dog, in order to provide you with any assistance needed?


Puppies not used for Livestock Guardian Dogs that are exiled from the house are likely to grow up to be unsociable (fearful and/or unprovokedly aggressive), unruly and unhappy. They may well develop pastimes, such as digging or excessive barking, that will displease you and/or your neighbors. An adult so exiled will be even more miserable. If you don't prefer to have your dog's companionship as much as possible, enjoying having him sleep in the house at night and sharing many of your activities by day, you should choose a pet less oriented to human companionship. Likewise, if your job or other obligations prevent you from spending much time with your dog, you would do better with a cat, as they are solitary by nature.