Powerful and dangerous to opponents, Akbash is not only a strict guardian of sheep. For a man who loves and understands dogs, it is above all an intelligent and devoted animal. It seems that the Akbash, unlike many other dog breeds, develops very strong emotional bonds with its human owner, but also with animal roommates. So despite the fact that he was included in the list of aggressive dog breeds, his character is very complex and not obvious.
The FCI does not classify the Akbash as a separate breed. According to this cynological federation, Akbash is a variation of the Anatolian breed (i.e. Anatolian Shepherd Dog).
History and origin of the breed
This brave, white dog comes from western Turkey, but exact data on its roots have not been found. He appeared in the world probably about 3,000 years ago thanks to the shepherds. They selectively bred white sheepdogs to guard the herds of cattle.
The snow-white coat was to distinguish the dog-protector from the predator attacking the herd. White fur is also an element of surprise – a predator approaching the herd cannot see its defender, so the dog had time to attack the attacker. It also seems that the unusual structure of the Akbash is the result of crossing mastiffs with greyhounds.
The Akbash is possibly closely related to other white guard dogs such as the Kuvasz and Komondor, as well as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog and the Tatra Shepherd Dog.
The breed appeared in the USA only in the 1970s thanks to Judith and David Nelsons. The couple conducted research on the white coat of Turkish cattle dogs.
The Akbash’s hallmark – medium-length white fur – consists of two layers. Therefore, it is very thick and resistant to adverse weather conditions. Sometimes the hair forms small waves or curls.
The massive head is equipped with powerful, strong jaws. The ears are V-shaped, set high, and delicately rounded at the tips. Imported individuals may have cropped ears. Almond-shaped, clearly slanting eyes are located far apart. The color of the irises ranges from light gold to very dark brown.
The head rests on a strong, muscular neck covered with loose skin that protects against predator bites. The whole body rests on slender and long limbs ending in large, strong fingers. On the rump, however, there is a long tail reaching the ankle joint.
Generally speaking, the Akbash appears slimmer than other Turkish guard dogs such as the Anatolian and Kangal.
It is dominated by the instincts of the guardian and protector. It is therefore characterized by submissiveness and gentleness towards farm animals as well as domination and aggression towards its original enemies – wolves and bears.
Akbash requires early socialization if it is to become a pet rather than a working animal. It is aggressive by nature. It can react in this way to the attacking sounds of the city and general noise. In order to soften his impulses, he is advised to always have something to do.
The primary way of guarding and protecting a herd is by barking and patrolling, so it can bark frequently at night. An intruder for the Akbash may be a family friend with whom he has not been introduced before. It is therefore very important for your dog to get used to visitors early in life.
Obedience training may also be important. Akbash has an inherent distrust of strangers, so his presence near guests should be supervised by the owner who will show that the newcomers have peaceful intentions.
Intelligent, faithful and brave
Despite its difficult character, it is also an intelligent, faithful and courageous animal. He will give himself completely to the owner, just like the rest of the family. As a guard dog, it has a strong protection instinct as well as independence in action.
Guardianship is embedded in his genes, which manifests itself at a young age. The parental care of young sheep is also very interesting in Akbash. Parents of young sheep allow dogs of this breed to sniff and even lick their offspring. Due to a strong parent instinct, Akbash tends to live well with babies (provided he has been well raised, of course).
Independence in thinking allows him to react quickly in emergency situations without the command of the owner. When a dog looks after a human herd, it is able to risk its own life to protect its charges. Thanks to their bravery and fearlessness, Akbashs are employed by American farmers to repel attacks by coyotes and bears.
Akbash is unlikely to be suitable for a fresh dog lover or a man who does not want a watchman. If someone is going to invite this physically and mentally powerful dog into their home, they should invest in a good fence, at least 150 cm (5 ft) high, as well as extensive training in socialization and obedience. The point is that the dog should not see the leader in himself, but in the man with whom he lives. Therefore, in addition to training, Akbash primarily needs a mentally stable, calm, self-confident, and consistent owner.
Detailed data / dimensions (size)
- Height at the withers:
- Dogs: 71-86 cm (28–34 in)
- Females: 69-81 cm (27 – 32 in)
- Dogs: 41-64 kg (90–140 lb)
- Females: 34-48 kg (75–105 lb)
- Lifespan: 10-11 years
Akbash – interesting facts
- The name of the breed comes from the Turkish word akbaş, meaning “white head”.
- Other names for akbash are Akbaş Çoban Köpeği and Coban Kopegi (shepherd dog).
- Akbash can guard not only sheep, but also goats, cattle, horses, poultry, deer, alpacas, llamas and even exotic birds.
- Akbash is often referred to as a shepherd dog. However, this is not a correct term, because Akbash does not rush its charges, but only watches over them and protects them from danger. He sometimes chases individual individuals away, but only in situations where he wants to protect them from enemy attack.
- Akbash is unlikely to be found in an urban environment, despite little activity indoors. He will feel best in semi-rural and rural areas.