THE VERSATILE ANATOLIAN
by CATHERINE EMANUEL ASDCA President
T he Anatolian Shepherd Dog is classified as a working dog, but that does not thoroughly explain the heart of the breed. Historically, the Anatolian was bred to serve as a livestock guardian dog. Th eir purpose almost makes the name a mis- nomer as they are not a shepherd per se. Th e breed does not instinctively herd. Tra- ditionally, their job was to blend in with the herd and protect them from outside predators, both two- and four-legged. Th e breed has a naturally calm and discerning demeanor as well as being fiercely loyal to their charge, independent thinking and extremely intelligent. In the show ring this often translates to the dog with no animation. In the real world, this means with proper socialization the breed has the potential to be extremely versatile. While you do not see Anatolians per- forming obedience at every show, it isn’t that it doesn’t happen. In 2014 there were two dogs that competed in tradition AKC performance events and several that went on to achieve their Canine Good Citizen title. Anatolians tend not to excel at obe- dience, but it doesn’t mean they can’t. Th eir intelligence is unmatched and they learn everything that you teach them. Unfortunately, they also are independent
thinker. Th erefore they will sit but it is often not a quick response. Th ey tend not to enjoy repetitive actions and get bored with it quickly. However, the right dog with the right owner can make a great obedience team. Anatolians are performing as service dogs all over the world. Th e characteris- tics that help them excel in service work are their loyalty, low-energy, nurturing and discerning demeanor. While per- forming as service dogs, the Anatolian replaces their natural charges, i.e. a lamb or a goat, with an owner that needs their service. Since the breed is naturally very nurturing, they want to help the young and ill. Th is makes service a perfect fit for the Anatolian. With proper socialization, the Anatolian helps to relax a patient with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by making them feel safe. Th e Anato- lian can sense the use of drugs and alco- hol, making them very adept at noticing medication changes and chemical imbal- ance. Th eir large size also makes them ideal to serve as a stabilization assistant and their judgement of character helps to prevent others from taking advantage of the human they are charges with serving. Th erapy is another arena that Ana- tolians are able to excel. Th erapy work
consists of visitation of nursing homes, rehabilitative services and visitation of the physically and mentally ill to provide pos- itive stimulation. Th e properly socialized Anatolian thrives on nurturing the young and the weak. Th e very behaviors that make the Anatolian stay with the new- born lamb in the field can be applied to visiting a nursing home. Each year more Anatolians are performing as therapy dogs successfully. Th e key to versatility outside the field is socialization, socialization, socialization. Socialization will never remove the protec- tive instinct of the Anatolian Shepherd, but it does allow them to apply themselves to numerous challenges in a fast-paced growing society. It helps merge the old world nature of the breed with the new world challenges. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Katie is the only AKC breeder-judge for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. She has bred and shown some of the top-winning dog in the breed as well as worked them in the fi eld on the family farm. Currently, she has one Anatolian serving as her service dog. She aids in her mobility and stabil- ity due to weakness and pain as a result if systemic lupus.
“ANATOLIANS TEND NOT TO EXCEL AT OBEDIENCE, BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN THEY CAN’T. THEIR INTELLIGENCE IS UNMATCHED AND THEY LEARN EVERYTHING THAT YOU TEACH THEM.”
154 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2015
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