Showsight Presents The Anatolian Shepherd

The Quiet Man: THE ANATOLIAN SHEPHERD DOG IN THE SHOWRING

BY JO LYNNE YORK

T he Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Anatolian or ASD for short, is a work- ing breed of Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) that was created from regional subtypes of landrace Turkish LGD. They are used for the pro- tection of livestock from predators such as wolves, bears, large cats, foxes, and stray dogs. While their primary charges in Turkey have traditionally been sheep and goats, they can generalize, and have been used to protect poultry, llamas, and alpacas, as well as other farm animals. Dog breeders living in rural areas have successfully used them to protect their Toy breeds from coyote and rap- tor predation. Because the breed originates from a landrace, and the breed parent club does have an open studbook agreement with the AKC so that new blood can be brought in from the country of origin, you will see a wider variance in accept- able type than might be the case in breeds with a closed studbook. It is imperative that you understand and keep the purpose of the breed as an LGD in mind when judging. Their working nature is of paramount importance and it has a bearing on every aspect of the breed, not just their behavior in the ring. A PURELY UTILITARIAN PURPOSE This is a breed that was selected for millennia to guard livestock. Let that sink in for a moment. People have been keeping small, hoof stock for thousands of years in Turkey, and they have used dogs to protect those herds. The selection process for weeding out dogs with inappropriate working potential has often been brutal, and the breed is a product of this harsh natural selection environment. Nothing about the Anatolian is extreme or superfluous to the breed’s purpose. Despite having the word Shepherd in their name, Anatolians are not a herd- ing breed. The breed name is a literal translation of the name given to them in Turkey, Coban Kopegi or Shepherd’s Dog. Herding dogs behave in a predatory fashion by stalking, barking and, sometimes, hard-staring or using “eye” to make livestock move where the shepherd wants them to go. Sheep and goats are prey animals, and as such they have a low tolerance for animals and situations that elicit a flight response in them. They are hardwired to move away from highly active, predatory behavior that makes them feel like they’re the next item on a predator’s menu. Picture a Border Collie; active, busy, a coiled spring ready to go off on its next task if you glance at them. Got that mental image? Now, imagine a dog that is the polar opposite of a herding dog in behavior; a large, unassuming, placid dog that can walk into a herd of agitated animals and, simply by being there, bring the “temperature” down.

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2021 | 249

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