Anatolian Shepherd

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a breed developed from Turkish 'guard' dogs called chomar kopegi in Turkish. While no one in Turkey breeds this group of dogs as a pure breed, Westerners fell in love with the various large, aloof dogs found throughout Turkey, from the Erzerum-Kars region near the Caucasus Mountains near Russia, where the dogs are most probably related to the ovcharka type dogs to the white 'Akbash' dogs found west of Ankara and near the historic site of Gordion, where the real King Midas lived, and on into the Kurdish areas where the 'Gammal' dog is found, and more recently as more publicity appeared outside of Turkey, the Sivas-Kangal Dog which is often called the 'National dog of Turkey' and is from the Sivas region of Turkey.

The first 'Anatolian' dogs were brought into the U.S. as 'souvenir' dogs. Lt. Ballard, then a young Navy lieutenant, imported the first pair of dogs to the U.S. in the 1970s when he returned home from a tour of duty in Turkey. His male was a long coated pinto and the female a cream with a darker mask. Subsequently, other young military families brought back dogs and a club was formed which included all these Turkish born dogs of various backgrounds and giving them the official name, Anatolian Shepherds. The first interview with the then Lt. Ballard and photos of his dogs and first puppies are found in the book "The Uncommon Dog Breeds by Kathryn Braund" and makes good reading for those interested in Anatolian roots.

In time, the name Anatolian Shepherd became adopted by owners of similar kinds of imports they had taken from Turkey to their home countries such as the U.K. and Germany. In time, as these first dogs were bred and their numbers increased and additional importations were made of other Turkish dogs, breed clubs in the U.S. and Europe recognized the Anatolian Shepherd. Today there is international interest in this dog whose roots trace into the ancient history of what was once Asia Minor.

Today the breed is known for its protective instincts and some lines are used as livestock guarding dogs as well as family guardians. For information on other native Turkish dog breeds see Catalburun (a scent hound), Turkish Tazi (a saluki-like native sighthound), the Akbash Dog, the Kangal or Sivas-Kangal Dog, and the Kars Dog. Of these last three, only the Kangal Dog has the honor of having actually been bred and kept pure by the Turkish government in several different facilities to provide livestock protection for local shepherds.

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