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Akbash Information
Akbash

The Akbash Dog is native to western Turkey in the region known as the Akbash, and it is primarily used as a Livestock guardian dog. The name comes from the Turkish word meaning white head.

Akbash Dog Quick Facts

Weight:

40-64 kg

90-140 lb

Height:

71-86 cm

28-34 inches

Coat:

Flat, long, on chest

Coat (cont):

long on tail & body

Activity level:

Low

Learning rate:

High

Temperament:

Calm, quiet,

Temperament (cont)

protective

Guard dog ability:

High

Watch-dog ability:

High

Litter size:

Unknown

Life span:

10-11 years

Appearance

It is a large dog, weighing between 90 to 130 pounds (40 to 60 kg), averaging 90 pounds for the female and 120 lb (55 kg) for the male, but it is leaner than other Turkish guard dog breeds, and has a distinct white coat, long legs, and feathered curved tail. It possesses characteristics of both mastiffs and sight hounds. The breed is often referred to as a sheep dog, but it does not herd its charges. Instead, it is designed to live with the flock and act as a guardian.

The supposition of fact is that the Akbash and the Kangal were originally distinct, natural and pure breeds and that they were combined to create the Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

Temperament

The Akbash is not shy. When used as a guard dog, it is not extremely personable with humans, although the breed is not by nature hostile. The Akbash can be used as a companion dog as well as a working breed, and if trained appropriately can be extremely personable with any creature no matter the size or age. The Akbash has been bred to be independent and dogs of this breed might think that they know better than their owners during training. The Akbash is a relatively low-energy breed. Because it is in their nature to lie with the flocks they guard most of the day, they do not require tremendous endurance and little energy. That does not mean, however, that they can be happily confined to small spaces. It is still very much a working breed and is happiest when given a task to complete. These dogs are known for their intelligence, bravery, independence and loyalty.

Health

Cases of hip dysplasia and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) have occurred with this dog; however, the breed as a whole does not seem to be afflicted with these conditions nearly as often as many other large, rapidly growing breeds. Akbash dogs, like many large breeds, can be expected to live 10 to 11 years. There is currently an Akbash Dog living in Toronto, Canada that is 17 years old, likely the oldest Akbash Dog alive.

History

The origins of the breed are not well understood but it is believed by some to be an ancient pure breed. The Akbash Dog is thought to be the Turkish equivalent of other white guardian breeds found in and around the northern Mediterranean Basin. Unlike those breeds, only the Akbash Dog has its unique combination of molosser and sighthound qualities. This breed was developed at least 3000 years ago, probably by shepherds who purposely bred for white-colored guarding sheepdogs, perhaps to tell them apart from predators. Archeological evidence suggests that the earliest civilizations arose in the parts of the world currently occupied by Syria, Iran and Turkey (the fertile crescent region). It is here that about 10,000 years ago enough people congrated to form a society or societies, which in turn began to domesticate animals and cultivate (or domesticate) plants. In short order there would have been a need for livestock protection dogs to care for the livestock. The white breeds of livestock protection dogs include the Great Pyrenees of the Pyrenees Mountain area in France and Spain, and the Maremma of the Maremma Mountains of Italy. A reasonable - but not in any way proven - hypothesis is that white (Akbash) dogs were developed in Turkey, and spread from there with the exploits of the Ottoman and earlier empires, to where they are found today.

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