The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is native to Turkey where they were bred to guard livestock. They are often called Turkish Mountain Dogs resemble mastiff-types with the difference being they have a distinctive black mask and black ears. The breed is thought to be among the more ancient with an ancestry that dates as far back as 6000 years.
These dogs have found a big fan base in the United States, but are less popular here in the UK with very few puppies being registered with The Kennel Club over the last few years. Anyone wanting to share a home with an Anatolian Shepherd would have to go on a waiting list because finding a pedigree dog can be challenging.
Bred to live alongside man and guard flocks of sheep and other stock, the Anatolian Shepherd was highly prized in Turkey for being able to ward off wolves, bears and other predators in harsh, challenging and mountainous regions of the country. There are stories of Turkish farmers placing a collar studded with spikes around a dog's neck to help them fend off predators and today many of these striking dogs still wear this type of collar in their native Turkey.
Thought to be over 6000 years old and originating from Asia, the Anatolian Shepherd as a breed boasts having its roots in 11th century Turkey, first appearing on the Anatolian Peninsular around that time. The exact origins of the breed are subject to much debate, but over the years many regional variations were developed, all thought to have descended from what is known as the Kangal Dog, so named for the region in Turkey where they first appeared.
Whatever their true history, the Anatolian Shepherd dog became popular in the West in the 1970's and in particular in the US where they still boast a big fan base. The breed was first recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1995, and then afterwards here in the UK although Anatolian Shepherds are still rarely seen over here. They are however, recognised as being Turkey's national dog.