Is An Anatolian Shepherd the Right Dog for You?
An Anatolian Shepherd Dog requires a serious commitment on the part of the owner. If you are considering purchasing an Anatolian Shepherd puppy, please ask yourself the following questions:
1. Have you trained a livestock guardian breed dog previously?
The Anatolian Shepherd is not a dog for a novice. The huge size, intelligence, and independence of this breed require an owner who is innately comfortable with and confident around powerful dogs. These dogs are keenly aware of the dominance hierarchy in their pack, which includes both dogs and humans. They will challenge frequently to determine if they can move up in rank, and this includes outranking you. Can you provide consistent discipline and maintain the alpha role? Being alpha is about attitude, not body size. Make an honest review of your experience with other dogs.
The necessity for a livestock guardian to think and act on its own has produced a temperament distinct from other working and sporting breeds. Anatolians do not understand the concept of obedience as we apply it to other breeds of dog. If they feel the need to investigate a threat, they will disregard your commands. This is not a fault, it is what they have been bred to do. Are you the type of person who expects a dog to invariably obey your commands? If so, you will find life with an Anatolian very frustrating.
2. Do you have space and secure boundaries?
The Anatolian Shepherd has been bred for thousands of years to follow free-ranging grazing flocks. These dogs need large areas and vigorous daily exercise to maintain optimal health. They bark throughout the night to warn off intruders. How close are your nearest neighbors and will they tolerate the barking of a guardian dog?
Anatolians will go beyond your boundaries when they detect threats. Anatolians can be aggressive to other dogs, and are strong enough to serious injure or kill them. Do you believe that country dogs learn to stay on the ranch without fencing? That belief is likely to lead to your Anatolian being shot by a neighbor. Sturdy and reliable fencing materials such as woven wire or 5 or more electric wires are required to keep an Anatolian securely on your property.
3. Do you have the right job for an Anatolian Shepherd?
Anatolian Shepherds are beautiful, impressive dogs, but first and foremost they are working dogs. They need a job to perform, and preferably that job is protecting livestock. Anatolians have been selected over many generations for instincts to guard small hoofstock, such as sheep and goats. They are able to generalize to other animals of similar size, such as alpacas, mini horses, calves, and even emus, and will bond to and protect them. It is just as important to realize what species they do not instinctively guard. Most Anatolians consider poultry or rabbits to be prey. Some Anatolians can be trained not to kill poultry or small mammals, but it requires significant effort on the part of the owner. Do you want an Anatolian to guard a flock of backyard chickens? You can install a coop and secure run with overhead netting for much less than the cost of an Anatolian. Anatolians can make excellent family guardians. They are gentle and tolerant of young children and will protect them. If you live on a large ranch or the edge of wilderness, protecting your children can be the right job for an Anatolian. Do you find it acceptable if your dog scares off visitors? Because if you have an Anatolian, that will happen.
If you are considering the purchase of a livestock guardian dog, we strongly recommend that you ask every breeder all of the following questions. A livestock guardian dog is a lifetime investment.
1. Are both the sire and dam purebred registered dogs of a recognized livestock guardian breed?
Marble Peaks Answer: Yes, our dams and sires are purebred, AKC-registered Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.
2. What type and how many head of livestock do your dogs guard?
Marble Peaks Answer: Corriedale sheep, ~50 head, and beef cattle, ~30 head (seasonal).
3. Do your dogs live with the livestock full-time, or do they rotate time in runs/kennels/house?
Marble Peaks Answer: Yes, our dogs live full-time in the pasture and barn with the livestock. They are not kept in the house or in kennel runs.
4. How many acres of property do your dogs protect?
Marble Peaks Answer: Main Pasture & Barn ~75 acres, entire property 450 acres, primarily forest.
5. What species of predator are active on or adjacent to your property?
Marble Peaks Answer: Coyote, mountain lion, black bear, bobcat, fox, and domestic dogs.
6. May I visit the ranch and observe your dogs at work?
Marble Peaks Answer: Yes, visitors are welcome to meet our dogs and go out in the pasture to watch them working.
7. Are the parents evaluated for hereditary defects that might affect health?
Marble Peaks Answer: Yes. Our dogs have both their hips and elbows x-rayed and evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hip and elbow dysplasia. We analyze pedigrees to rule out seizure disorders, hypothyroidism, and dermatological conditions.
8. Do you offer a health guarantee on your Anatolian Shepherd puppies?
Marble Peaks Answer: Yes, if a health problem is detected at the buyer's vet exam, the buyer will be offered a full refund. If a health problem with a genetic basis develops later in the dog's lifetime, the buyer will be offered a replacement Anatolian Shepherd puppy from a litter out of different parents.
9. Do you temperament test your puppies before placement?
Marble Peaks Answer: Yes, we evaluate the temperament of our Anatolian Shepherd puppies prior to making final decisions about placement. This allows an appropriate match between the dog, the type of work, and the new owner.
10. Will you accept back a dog you have bred, if I am unable to keep it?
Marble Peaks Answer: Yes, if your circumstances change and you are unable to keep one of our dogs, we will help find an appropriate home or we will take the dog back at our ranch.