Developed as a livestock guardian, the big-size, strong, large-headed Akbash Dog is a rare Turkish breed that is always white, having brown, oblique almond-eyes, strong neck, blunt nails, long and often feathered tail, v-shaped ears, dark mottles on the skin (under coat), and is known for its keen sense of hearing. This breed takes time to mature, with some individuals taking even up to two to three years. The Akbash dog is good for such owners who have previous experience in canine behavior.
|Other Names||Çoban Köpeği, Akbaş, Akbash Dog|
|Coat||Dense, rough, double, short to medium|
|Group (of Breed)||Guardian|
|Lifespan||10 to 12 years|
|Weight/Size||Male: 90-140 pounds; Female: 75-105 pounds|
|Height||Male: 28-34 inches; Female: 27-32 inches|
|Temperament||Independent, intelligent, loyal, alert, loving, bold|
|Country of Origin||Turkey|
|Litter Size||7-9 puppies|
|Good with Children||Yes|
|Competitive Registration||NKC, UKC, CKC, ADI, ARPI, ACR, DRA|
Video: Akbash Dogs Working in the Snow
Little is known about the origin of this breed, but they have been considered to be ancient. As mentioned, the Akbash dog was first bred in Asia Minor, now called Turkey, as a guard dog to guard livestock, seemingly having influence of both the mastiff and the sighthound in its ancestry. Later, in the 1970s, two American researchers, Judith and David Nelson, while conducting research on white colored Turkish dogs, introduced many of the specimens of the breed of akbash to USA.
Temperament and Behavior
As a flock-guard dog (preying especially upon predator wolves, coyotes, bears etc.), the akbash, with its strong maternal instinct, takes the responsibility in protecting the family children like they are a part of its flock, and would even guard its family by instinct by patrolling, for which reason they would be very suspicious of strangers, and would initially bark or growl as warning, however not being aggressive. Not being too much of an energetic breed, the dog would keep its energy in store for emergency situations, during which time they would show their immense speed, strength, and athleticism. They are not tolerant to other breeds, and the most effective place to put this dog is where they have some job for themselves, and they would not hesitate giving up their lives for the owner. They are not suitable for apartment life though, since they need at least half an acre of space to play. Rural or country life suits them the best.
The usually calm-natured, low-energy breed, with a low rate of metabolism, and hence, if they do not get proper exercise hours, they would tend to become destructive, indulging in lots of barking, digging, pacing, chewing etc., hence, taking them out for long walks or jogging and allow them to play around in a fenced area daily is important, and hence, leashed exercise is not recommended.
The natural guardian dog is adapted with a harsh coat requiring nominal maintenance, and hence, brushing it weekly is enough to keep it healthy and the dead hair away. Bathe it rarely, if only the white coat is dirty. Other than that, trimming their nails at times, and brushing the teeth regularly is good.
While getting the puppies from the breeders, buying only from OFA hip certified stock is recommended, since this breed might get affected by hip dysplasia, however, they are otherwise a generally healthy breed, with a few other general dog diseases and conditions like epilepsy, osteosarcoma, lymphoma, cruciate ligament injuries, hypothyroidism, gastric torsion (bloat), umbilical hernias, cardiomyopathy, kidney failure, a few other cancers and joint inflammation. Keep it away from sun and heat.
Train it consistently and reward it for good behavior, rather than being harsh while giving them socialization or any kind of training, since that might only lead to challenging behavior or any other such behavioral syndromes when adult. Let it know that it’s you who is its pack leader by leading it wherever you take it, since, as a flock guard, its authoritative instinct is strong [3, 4]. Use a stern voice and some light negative methods to rectify its bad behavior. Allow it to socialize with people and not to become too possessive about its ‘flock’ or ‘property’.
Even though it can survive on any kind of food, but basically, the akbash is a meat-eating type of dog and read meat is the recommended type of food. You can also serve it with vegetable dishes and other eatables with high nutrition, especially those that contain enough fiber. However, do not let it overeat to avoid problems like bloating. If you feed your pet with dry foods, leave the food for 10 to 15 minutes only, and then remove to avoid overeating. You can also mix the dry food with some ideal canned food, however, no more than two meals a day is required. If your akbash enjoys foods like cooked egg, fruits, cottage cheese and vegetables, make sure that these do not exceed more than 10% of its daily diet. It is also advisable not to allow it to exercise one hour before or after its meals. Supply enough water to your dog and change the water every day.
- Officially, the akbash has been recognized by Köpek Irkları ve Kinoloji Federasyonu (KIF), i.e. the Turkish Kennel Club.
- Although the coat of this breed is purely white, but sometimes it bears some gray or beige-colored shades around its ears.
- Till date, the akbash works as a livestock guard in the rural regions of Turkey.
- The AKC has categorized the dog under type ‘Rare’.
- The very name of the breed ‘Akbash’ is a Turkish word which means ‘white head’ in English.
- Officially, the akbash is the National dog of Turkey.
We have a pyr bitch, but our male died at 10:years. We would like a male akbash. We live on a 5 acre hors ranch in San Diego ca.
Marylin will be two years old in February; she was my ex-husband’s, who found her at a working goat/sheep farm in Calhan, Co at 4 months. I took her at 11 months, and knew I’d have to socialize her.
She’s great with my neighbor’s dog, she’s learned how to follow commands (not too many, as she’s VERY independent), and I can leash walk her without any issues.
She’s incredible to have. I couldn’t imagine my life without her!!
I have a year old male Akbash. He had a good home, obedience training and toys. He needed a different home (large yard only) and I needed a hero. I acquired him when he was 6mos old and 80lbs. He’s 120lbs now. I’m 5’5 and 125lbs, 65 yrs old. I’ve had many fabulous dogs in my life. Never a LGD. I’ve 20 acres, 2 standard size horses and one 12 hand pony, barn cats and two cats around the house. He was amazing powerful at 6mos. I’m not weak; I buck hay, work horses, move 50lb bags of grain, etc. I needed help with training and for the first time in my life… I bought a beeping, vibrating shock collar. (Used beep and vibrate mostly). I HAD delved into Akbash information and all I could read. Never be punitive and always be short in correcting them. They never forget abuse. Never ever. These I’d read and I stayed true to be such. (not that I’m abusive OR punitive ever). With this amount of land I needed to be able to reach out and touch him if need be. No collar after a month or so. He protects my horses and cats, and me if needed no doubt. They’re highly intelligent, loyal, brave, independent decision making dogs. Their short attention span is typical and keeps them from going too far from their charges and saves them from being killed or damaged by a pack. No longer do I have coyotes, bobcats, (both previous killed and ate several barn cats), cougar, skunks, raccoons, opossums or much else! I am not a master to him. We are partners. I trust my dog and respect the dog. He has the heart of a hero. I’m grateful to have him and I love, love, love him.
My Akbash mix is a very loving 6 year old, but she was abused when she was a puppy. We have tried to socialize her and get her comfortable with with the outside, but she is still terrified of people and kids. Does anyone have a recommendation for some training or ways that might help?
I have a 4 year old, female Akbash – about 110# or so. I’ve had her since she was 4 months, and she’s been trained and socialized almost daily. I live in LA and she goes out to the hills to walk every day. Lots of walking with other dogs – and no problems at all with animals. She is a purebred Akbash.
The last several months, she’s become kind of aggressive towards people. No biting or touching at all – but the growling and challenging she is doing is concerning. I’m not sure where it is coming from – but I’d like to change the behavior.
I’m thinking of engaging a behaviorist – and would be open to suggestions and advice.
We are very bonded and she is very smart.
How old is she?
My akbash is very obedient and extremely mellow and loving… Except for very brief moments, toward some random dogs at the dog park, homeless people on drugs, and cats, which he eats. He is very well trained, but turns into an entirely different dog when he suddenly decides that he needs to go after a dog fetching, a dog getting too close or excited or when he’s on a leash. He socializes with other dogs every day on walks and at the park. He has only become aggressive toward dogs and people in the last 8 months and he is now almost 5 years old. He has been socialized since birth with livestock and other dogs on ranches, rural and urban settings, public places and at dog parks. I have had him since he was 6 weeks. I have much experience raising and working with large dogs, cattle dogs and livestock guard dogs, and have had great luck with training him aside from the aggression issues. The basket muzzles I’ve tried are too small. He is very responsive to the vibrate and beep mode on the training collar, and becomes more aggressive if kept on leash at the park. However, I am looking for more advice and ideas. The more help, the better. Please do not criticize or belittle me. Thanks.
I got Lukas from a rescue that had found and trapped him at 3 mos . they tamed him and treated the mange that covered over 3/4 of his body.. he will be a year aprox the end of April. He LOVES my other dog, a female bossy Anatolian/ Pyrenees cross with serious guarding and food aggression issues. They have had a couple “scuffles”, which the female started and Lukas was only fighting back in defense. But it seems that every other time I take him to the dog park he gets into it with another dog. I am usually close by and it’s over within seconds. And usually the two end up playing later. And never any damage inflicted on either dog. I hope I can nip this before he scuffles with the wrong dog. Any suggestions? He is a part time guardian of a couple ducks at home, just so I can feed his instincts.
I’m pretty new to the Akbash breed. All I have read… they are not the most social pets. As far as I can understand, DOGS be they wolf … These Guardian class dogs are wary of. It’s within their breed to be this way. At the age of your dog it’s normal to be aggressive toward strange dogs not bonded with. I wouldn’t take my dog to a park and expect him to not be aggressive and he’s almost a year old. I’ve neighbor dogs who he is familiar with. He doesn’t bark at them. Strange dogs show.. exact opposite. He’s aggressive, barking and they’re a threat to us and what he protects. Again, not an expert but I’ve studied to raise this one and understand their history and respect their mission. Appreciate your love and care if such a special breed of dog!
It’s very sad how people want to modify behaviours created over a thousand years ago ! This breed is not friendly towards other dogs , barks a lot , and need a job !! It’s pathetic the comments of socialising a pup , and pack leader menthality !
These dogs were bred and developed to think for themselves ! These dogs were bred and developed to attack predators , specially other canines !
I think it’s great to protect his ducks at home, but there will always be times it is necessary to take him other places such as the vet, and he is going to have to display acceptable behavior when he is away from his property. I would love for him to continue to enjoy a dog park outing, but not if he can’t be trained to behave.
We are looking to adopt from a shelter. They are telling us that they want to listen to the previous owners who said they want the dog to go out in the country. I personally think they left this dog because it’s not doing what they want at the age of two. Having had Labs before I know it can take up to three years for them to fully mature. We have a large yard and the knowledge and Veterinary experience behind us to take care of this animal, I feel. I have done my research on this dog and feel very comfortable bringing him into our home. Does anyone have any comments regarding the shelter claiming that the previous owners wanted something in particular? I have a real problem with any owner Who can have a dog for 2 years and then just drop them off at a shelter. They moved from one state to another but even that being said I have done the same, moving to another home with animals, and had to Simply take the time and effort to make sure my dogs were also able to go with us without any problem.
These dogs are bred to patrol property and guard livestock. Perhaps the previous owners recognized that this dog possesses theses traits and is not suited to living in a suburban environment. These dogs are very different than Labs.
We are considering a male Akbash, 2 yrs, neutered. I am extremely excited to read so many train well as mobility dogs! Cancer has eaten my spine/neck, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia all have me face planting often.
This dog we are thinking about is a rescue.
Can someone who has been using their sweetie as a working/help dog (esp mobility) contact me?
Our local work/therapy dogs united group does none of the training & I know I’ll need guidance!
We have a 10 yr old Aussie Shepherd at home but the shelter says the Akbash is good with other dogs.
My biggest concern is we have a fully fenced large yard but one side is chain link & not privacy. Comments?
Hi Beverly. Did you get your home care Akbash? I would like to hear how it’s going
I rescued an Akbash/Lab mix (Jerry) from my local pound, in mid-Nov. 2016. In early Nov. (’16), at neutering, the vet estimated him to be @24 months. I’ve been owner-training him as a mobility service dog, including helping me to be able to get up when I fall. I have nothing but glowingly positive things to say about Jerry!!!! Granted, if he were a full Akbash, that might’ve been at least a somewhat different story and a bad trade off to gain a few extra inches and pounds (he’s only 27.5″ at the shoulders and @100#’s.) He’s HIGHLY intelligent, learns extremely quickly, and absolutely LIVES FOR getting his vest on and getting to go with me! When he’s “off-duty,” he loves his “2nd job” almost as well – doing his best to rid my rural 7 acres of rodents… (Which probably contributed to his having wound up in the pound, in town….. When he gets onto a rodent scent, he “turns into a roto-tiller.”) He’s happy being a couch-potato part of the day; and, is perfectly behaved when he’s in his service dog vest (even at restaurants, where he knows he has to wait until we get outside for him to get his) ; but, I typically dress and undress him in the car; and, when I’ve taken him “off-duty” and given him permission to get out of the car, I’ve seen him go from flat-footed to about 4 feet straight up in the air, do a 180 turn in mid-air; then, gleefully take off like a white rocket… Having a dog like Jerry in an apartment; or, even a house with a small yard, would be GROSSLY UNFAIR to him!!! I fully agree that it’s CRITICAL to understand, large, working breed dogs; and, to have a rather large, well-fenced, area for them – one which you don’t mind having dug up. (Keep in mind that this breed has been bred for things such as decision-making ability and self-reliance, FAR MORE SO than dogs who’ve been bred to be “pets.”) Mixed with Lab, Golden, etc. can “smooth things out” some, while retaining the desired attributes of the Akbash breed; but, it’s still CRITICAL to research and understand that “tabula rasa” is a “load of bravo sierra.” There ARE trade-offs for all those wonderful Akbash attributes; and, too often, ignorant people result in absolutely fantastic dogs being slaughtered at pounds for reasons which are NOT the dog’s fault!!!!
Really? It’s okay to take an Akbash pup to socialize at a dog park? I am considering a hybrid Akbash/Anatolian. I have a small farm and about 30 goats. High predation, so I move them from paddock to paddock and enclose at night. Paddocks vary in size from 1/2 acre to full acre. I have a two year old Maremma, also. I like the short coat of the pup I am considering. She is mostly black with white socks and a blaze. Thoughts?
Since the Akbash are naturally aggressive towards other dogs, taking them to dog parks needs constant supervision. Make sure that you earn your Akbash/Anatolian pup’s loyalty, trust, and respect before it sees you as its pack leader. This is crucial for controlling dog-on-dog aggression. For starters, expose your dog to different things, places, animals, and people, take it out to walk on-leash, and get it accustomed to car rides. Work on getting its attention before going out. If you find another dog approaching head-on, go around your pet in an arc to keep its attention as usual, and then reward.
I got an akbash about 3 months ago.. and the last month she has been showing some serious aggression with other dogs when we go on walks. But does fine with the dog at our house… any tips on how to correct this?
What you need now is a bit of patience. The more your dog shows aggression towards other dogs, outdoors, the more you should take it out to help it relax, and get used to it. You should also take your dog to the dog park, where it can see (and learn) how other dogs from different owners are playing peacefully with each other. This should work. Best of luck!
I’ve been raising Akbash, Kangal and Anatolian dogs now for 7 yrs. I had pyrenees dogs previously. I don’t recommend these dogs for 1st time big dog owners. If you are experienced with big breeds and have a family and a place with acreage…..yes. these dogs will protect you and your family with extreme prejudice! I know this 1st hand.
These dogs have a long memory. You can fool them once, but never again the same way. They work at night. They bark to warn predators away. You will get used to the barking.
Your estimate of the breeds years (3,000)is off. Most dog historians and Turks will agree that the breed is closers to 5,000 years old. They’ve never been bred out of their breed in Turkey. So their blood line and habits have been ingrained. By the time they are 8-10 months they will be wanting to get to their job. They work all night and tend to sleep and be on the lazy side during the day.
I can’t recommend a better dog for the right situation. Awesome dogs!
Mark, I love your comments about your experience with the Akbash and their traits. I would like to point out however that they will work during the day and sleep at night depending on the situation. I have a beautiful 1.5 yr old female that cares for and guards my chickens, ducks, goats, and rabbits. Since my animals are all free range, and go into their respective housing at night, my dog has no need to be alert at night, but she does patrol, and stay within eye-shot of her charges during the day. I think I was also quite lucky with her instincts, she was chomping to start her work with the animals before she was even 5 months old. I spent a lot of time outside with her and by the time she was only 6 months old, she put the chase to a marauding fox that I’d been having trouble with. I whole-heartedly agree with you. They are awesome dogs!
We have a 21 month old female She is a very solid 105 lbs .We got here at 4months and 40 lbs. By the time she was a year she was 98 lbs. Very smart loving and independent. She tends to be sluggish in the afternoon but can be very active at night We have 5 acres and she loves to patrol outside running security. Her play has always been roughhousing tug of war or such Confronting a raccoon, opossum, is such great fun for her She has these natural instinctive bouncy moves kind of like Ali the boxer dancing around as she does this to catch them off guard She barks but not a barker. Great with small kids . WE absolutely love her to death, but you need to look up the traits of the breed as she a slave to her thousands of years of DNA. Very smart and indepentant ,appreciate it and respect them for it
I have an 11 yr female akbash. She is so sweet, follows me around the house. She loves people, I used her as a therapy dog. She helps me when I fall down from my fibromyalgia and helps calm my anxiety. I grew up with large dogs German shepherds. She gaurds me from house flys and black flies. I do dog walking and she loves the other dogs, they are in her pack.
its kinda strange because my akbash is a shady grey colour, and he’s such a playful dog. I don’t know if ill every teach him and tricks all i can do is make him sit and thats with a treat. 🙁
“This is one breed that takes time to mature, even up to two to three years, and is a good choice for inexperienced or new owners.”
WHAT?!? This dog is absolutely unsuited for novice owners. It is large, powerful, independent and dominant. This is a working breed. They are no more suited to uncertain, novice owners than they are to apartment life in the city.
Considering your comment, we have reviewed our article. Thanks for pointing out.