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.