The Anatolian Shepherd Dog (Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Çoban Köpegi, Coban Kopegi, Anatolian Shepherd) his history goes back more than 3000 B.C. It is an ancient breed having been used for thousands of years in Asia Minor in the fights and for animal protection. His ancestors were connected with the mastiffs mentioned in the Assyrian art. Turkish Breeders Club Kangal states that ancient Assyrians and Babylonians bred them for protection against wild animals, particularly lions and tigers, later on these dogs guarded herds of cattle and dwellings of the shepherds against wolves, bears and jackals.
In the 11th century Turkish tribes brought their sheep and dogs to Anatolia. Some sources state that their original motherland is apparently the Himalayas area (Tibet, Tibetan mastiffs). They expanded from China further to Spain, Europe and Asia. The oldest evidence of selectively bred dogs comes from the 17th century from the explorer Evliya Celebi, who described ceremonial processions of elite troops of Osmanian janissaries accompanied by the stately war dogs. One legend says that they could easily defeat a lion in a fight; another says that the Indian Osmanian sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim Murat started political negotiations by giving a dog as a present. At present his popularity as a home-guard and a pet increases, however, for example in Africa, Namibia, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is used for guarding domestic animals against cheetah attacks.
From the point of view of the registered breed the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a very little numerous breed. The first dog was brought to the USA in 1930 as a gift from the Turkish governement; next dogs were imported by the archeologist Dr. Rodney Young in 1950s. The first female dog was brought to the Czech Republic from the Netherlands in 1998 by the married couple the Mostyns, first puppies were born in their breeding station in 2001.
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog and the world
What is the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, then? In Europe Turkish shepherds are joined under the standard of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog – Çoban Köpegi, in Czech: Anatolský pastevecký pes. The prototype for the breed was the Kangal dog, however unlike him, all colour variants are permitted. In practice it means that all Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have in their descent more or fewer direct ancestors from Turkey and with a high probability they will be just the Kangals. Very often national breeds of shepherd dogs recognized in Turkey and living in Anatolia: the Kangal, Akbaş and Anadolu Mastifi, are mentioned as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
In Austrialia are the dogs of Turkey classified as Coban Kopegi (Anatolian). Standardized Kangal and Anatolia had no physical difference there. This experiment started in 1998 and was discontinued in 2012. It was discontinued because after 14 years there was no way to determine Kangal from Anatolia in Australia.
You can find more details about the breeds and variants of the Turkish dogs on the page Turkish breeds.
Europe and most other countries officially recognize only the breed the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), whose member is the Czech Republic, registered the breed the Anatolian Shepherd Dog – Çoban Köpegi (ASD, Anatolian Shepherd Dog) under the standard no. 331 of 10. 4. 1989 (you will find more information on the standard on the page Standard). In practice it means that even if you bring the registered Kangal, he will be always registered in our country as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Due to the danger, expenses and misguidance the import of dogs from Turkey is very risky and therefore is not recommended.
The American United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the breed Anatolian Shepherd on 1.1.1993. Subsequently on 1.1.1998 two separate breeds the Kangal Dog (Kangal) and the Akbash Dog (Akbash) were detached from the standard of Anatolian Shepherd. In several cases the UKC recognized that the descendants of the thoroughbred Kangals, who were originally registered as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, were the Kangals.
In Turkey besides state and academic institutions there does not exist breeding pedigree dogs controlled by kennel books, however, in some regions by means of specifically targeted selection of shepherds typally different and maintained variants were distinguished. Some of them were consecutively recognized by Turkey as national breeds, particularly in Anatolia three of them were selected and now are bred – the Kangal, Akbaş a Kars Köpeği. They neither have the breed Anatolian Shepherd Dog in Turkey nor do they recognize it. It does not exist for the Turks. They insist on the fact that there are more regional dog breeds in Turkey and that the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs originates from all Anatolia or even from the whole Turkey and they disdain the fact that it can be in all colours. They say that in fact all dogs including mongrels living wildly in villages and towns, which do not have any breed features and are not pure-bred, may be considered as Anatolian dogs (for example “Kangal or Anatolian?” – from Onur Kanli, chairman of the Turkish Shepherds’ Dogs Protection Society in Turkey and Turkish Kennel Club).
Dogs are traditionally distinguished according to the type and colour and each Turk knows that in Turkey the Kangal Dog is a separate breed with the particular origin, history, colour and hair. In the Turkish countryside çoban köpeği in translation means “shepherd´s dog”, not the breed: dogs guarding sheep are called çoban köpeği (shepherd dog), köy köpeği (village dog) or only „that“, which in Turkey is the way how to call the dog (something like in our country „mongrel“, but the name does not have an abusive meaning). For town inhabitants they are only sokak köpeği (street dogs).
We present more detailed information on Turkish dogs and nationaal breeds recognized by Turkey on the page Tuskish dogs