Dog Breed Group: Pastoral Dog
Life Span: 10-13 years
Weight: 110-150 pounds (male), 80-120 pounds (female)
Height: 29 inches (male), 27 inches (female)
Origin of Name: The name Anatolian Shepherd Dog is unknown in Turkey and the breed is sometimes described as having the Turkish name of Çoban Köpeği.
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The central region of Anatolia is a high plateau of endless plains and rolling hills. Summers are dry and brutally hot, and winters are icy, with sub-zero temperatures. In this harsh time, the ferocious betrayal of the Anatolian Shepherd maintained his long-standing reputation as the supreme protector of the herd.
The ancient artefacts dating back to the days of the Babylonian Empire are documents of the ancestors of the breed. Assyrian relief-relief carvings placed in the British Museum, dating back to 2000 BCE, depict large dogs of the recognizable Anatolian Shepherd type. The earliest books of the Bible refer to shepherds whose dogs were some local adaptations of the Anatolian.
The history of the breed in the US begins in the years before World War II, when the Department of Agriculture imported a breeding pair from Turkey to participate in the top-secret "Sheepdog Project". The purpose of the program was to determine which breeds would be best suited for work on American sheep pastures. With the outbreak of war, the project was disbanded and the Anatolians and their offspring were dispersed.
American rankers began importing anatolees in the later 1950s, but the breed took hold in this country in the 1970s. The credit for firmly establishing the breed in the US goes to Lieutenant Robert Ballard, the US Navy, who acquired a pair of Anatolians while stationed in Turkey. He brought them to America and banned their first littler in 1970.
This new breeding activity coincided with the passage of the Endangered Species Act. The new law requires that hunters cutting the field control the population of wolves, without killing them. The Anatolian Shepherd, who wanted to intimidate hunters rather than fight them, was perfectly suited for the job. Many Anatolian shepherds are still working as ranch dogs, protecting everyone from sheep and goats to ostrich and llamas.