Anatolian Shepherd Dog Care

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog (ASD): Big, bold, athletic, and incredibly protective. These large-breed dogs were originally developed in Turkey to be fierce livestock and property guardians, so they're instinctive defenders of their loved ones. Overall Anatolian Shepherd Dog care and maintenance will require a moderate amount of time, and will need to include a lot of training and socialization starting when the dog is a puppy to help minimize aggression.

Here you'll find plenty of details on caring for this breed, including info about puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. Your definitive Anatolian Shepherd guide is below--so keep reading!

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed Development

As a giant-sized breed, the Anatolian Shepherd growth rate typically spans 22-24 months from birth to full maturity.

Physical Development: ASD puppies grow steadily in height and length for the first 9-10 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent "fills out" by gaining muscle mass and fat. And when do Anatolian Shepherds stop growing? These big dogs normally reach their full adult size (an average of 28 inches at the shoulders in height and 115 pounds in weight) by 13-14 months of age.

Social Development: ASD pups reach adolescence at 6-7 months, sexual maturity at 10-11 months, and full mental maturity by 24 months.

For specific milestones in Anatolian Shepherd Dog development, see the chart below.

(NOTE: Anatolian Shepherds are fiercely loyal and protective, which can lead to suspicion and aggression around anyone or anything outside the dog's immediate circle. This means that new owners must provide their ASDs with lots of obedience training and socialization, starting as early dogs' lives as possible and continuing through maturity. If an ASD is taught proper behavior starting in puppyhood, the dog will be better-behaved in adulthood--though those defensive instincts will likely remain for its entire life.)

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Exercise Needs

Though athletic, these dogs aren't especially active, so overall Anatolian Shepherd Dog exercise requirements are only moderate. The main thing to consider when it comes to exercising these dogs is making sure they're controlled: leashed when in public, and secured by a tall fence when in the yard. ASDs will be fine with a couple of daily walks or jogs and a few minutes' play on a daily basis.

The typical adult Anatolian Shepherd will need 45-60 minutes of proper exercise per day. You can start exercising your ASD puppy when it's three months old by taking it on short (5- to 7-minute) walks, then you can increase the walks' length and frequency as the puppy grows. These early leashed walks are also a good opportunity to start teaching your ASD pup obedience, by way of leash training: make sure the puppy walks beside or behind you on the leash instead of being allowed to lead or "tug" on it. This, in the puppy's mind, establishes you as the leader, and will likely make obedience training easier as the dog matures.

A few precautions to keep in mind when exercising your ASD: first, puppies younger than nine months old shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping, running on hard surfaces, or navigating of stairs, as doing so can injure their still-developing joints and bones. And again: all Anatolian Shepherds, regardless of age, must be leashed at all times when in public. With their history as livestock and property guardians, these dogs are instinctively suspicious of others and very protective--which means that any ASD, even one that's well-trained, will be defensive and even aggressive towards strange people and animals. A leash will go a long way in helping you control your ASD in these situations! Even when exercising in your own yard, the area will need to be securely fenced to keep the dog from confronting people or animals it perceives as potential threats. And finally: large, deep-chested breeds like the ASD can be prone to bloat, an often-fatal condition caused by a dog's stomach filling with air when it "wolfs" its food; the condition is most common when a dog exercises immediately before or after eating. This means you shouldn't exercise your ASD for an hour before or two hours after eating.

Safeguards aside, it's extremely important that owners exercise their Anatolian Shepherds every single day. These dogs are bold, task-oriented, and independent, and without consistent activity they'll become anxious, disobedient, destructive, and overly aggressive. Regular exercise will be great for the dog's peace of mind, and for your own sanity (and protection!) as well. A few exercise ideas:

  • Walking/Jogging: Two 20-minute walks (or 15-minute jogs) per day is a good target
  • Fetch/Frisbee: ASDs will chase a ball, stick, or Frisbee for hours
  • Tug-of-War: Great indoor, rainy-day activity; use a rope or old towel
  • Canine Sports: These dogs can excel at obedience trials, cart-pulling, and other events
  • Hiking: Excellent bonding activity; bonus if you can find a remote area where the dog can be off-leash

If your Anatolian Shepherd spends a lot of time indoors, it's a good idea to give the dog access to one or more balls or chew-toys that will allow it to burn excess energy. It's also recommended that you establish a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks or jogs in the late morning and early evening and a play period in the afternoon.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Maintenance

In terms of shedding and drooling, these dogs need a good bit of care. Anatolian Shepherd shedding is moderate for most of the year, but heavy during the twice-yearly shedding seasons; drooling can be somewhat of an issue as well.

ASDs have short-haired, thick, double-layered coats that shed a fair amount all year long--but when they "blow" their coats in the spring and fall, the shedding is heavier. Owners can brush their ASDs 2-3 times per week with a bristle brush to minimize the shedding; during the 2- to 3-week shedding period, brushing can be done daily, and a de-shedding tool is helpful as well. Hair cleanup--vacuuming the floors and lint rollers on clothes and furniture--will be necessary once every week or two for owners of these dogs.

And an Anatolian Shepherd might drool some in anticipation of food, after drinking water, or when especially excited--but the drooling won't be heavy like that of a Saint Bernard or Bloodhound. Owners might want to keep old rags or towels near their ASDs' food and water bowls for cleaning up excess slobber. If your Anatolian Shepherd is drooling constantly, it's probably a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian's care is recommended.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog Diet

Like that of all breeds, the Anatolian Shepherd diet will need to include plenty of animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. This means the best dog food for Anatolian Shepherd Dogs is the premium dry kind, particularly brands formulated for large breeds. This high-quality food, while more expensive and difficult to obtain, has balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients your ASD will need to maintain its health in the long term. Cheap, generic dog food is not recommended for this breed, because it contains mostly empty "filler" ingredients that are not healthy, are harder for the dog to digest, and may even shorten its lifespan if consumed on a daily basis.

Blue Buffalo, Royal Canin, and Hill's Science Diet are three recommended brands that carry excellent lines of premium dry food for large breeds.

And as you can imagine, your ASD will eat a lot! The typical adult Anatolian Shepherd, depending on its age, size, and activity level, will need about five cups of premium dry food per day, divided into two meals. An ASD puppy, again depending on age, will need a bit less: about 3½ cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until nine months of age.

For further details on feeding these dogs from puppyhood through maturity, see this Anatolian Shepherd Dog feeding chart:

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by first mixing in a bit of adult formula with the puppy formula. Over the course of a week, with each meal add a bit more adult food to the mixture, until the dog is eating it entirely.

If possible, try and stick to the above-listed portions. Though these dogs are not especially prone to obesity, if constantly overfed and under-exercised they can certainly become overweight--and a fat Anatolian Shepherd will have joint, digestive, and breathing problems, not to mention a potentially shortened lifespan. You can help control your ASD's weight by having consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps, and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time, thereby allowing it to eat anytime it wants. It's better to put your ASD's bowl down only at mealtimes, then pick it up a few minutes after the dog begins eating.

If you're worried your Anatolian Shepherd is overweight, give the dog this simple test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Reduce the dog's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk, jog, or play period to its daily exercise schedule.