This article will help if you plan to bring an Akbash home as your pet and want to gather more information about it.
It will also give you all the information about the Akbash, including Breed Information, history, temperament, health, grooming needs, and more. We have even included pictures of the Akbash to help you better understand their physical appearance.
Let’s take a quick look!
Breed Information About Akbash
|Akbash Dog Breed Information:|
|Dog Breed Group:||Livestock Guardian|
|Temperament:||Intelligent, brave, loyal, independent|
|Alternate names and nicknames:||Coban Kopegi, Askbash Dog, Akbaş Çoban Köpeği,|
|Tendency to Bark or Howl:|
|Health and Grooming:|
|Amount Of Shedding:|
When one talks about the Akbash, the first thing that comes to mind is a mighty white breed with a prominent physical appearance. This breed of Turkish origin was developed as a livestock guardian breed.
The purpose was to take care of flocks and protect them from predators. It also stands out because of its interesting temperament. It is loyal, intelligent, alert, calm, and steady at work. Its distinguishing feature is its white coat.
It is so prominent that shepherds can easily identify the dog and differentiate it from the predators even when pitch dark. Akbash translates to ‘white head’ in Turkish, complementing its coloration.
History of The Akbash
There isn’t any concrete information about the Akbash. However, these dogs developed as early as 3000 years. Shepherds needed a livestock guardian dog to protect their flock from predators in Western Anatolia’s rugged terrain. That’s how the Akbash came to be.
These dogs can be found in the whole of Turkey. They are distributed across Ankara, Afyon, Tunceli, Sivas, Manisa, Konya, and Agri provinces. The Turkish Standards Institution published a standard for this breed in 2002. In 2006, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs also recognized the Akbash.
Eventually, Akbash’s name was added to the list of native breeds. The official standard for the breed became a part of the Resmi Gazete, Turkey’s official journal.
Even now, these dogs are bred and used as livestock guardians in their native land. The two individuals who played a significant role in introducing this breed to the United States are Judy Nelson and David Nelson. The Nelsons imported around 40 Akbash breeds to the United States.
These dogs became the founding stock of the Akbash that developed in the United States. The Akbash was included in the United States Department of Agriculture Predator Control Program. The American Kennel Club has yet to recognize the Akbash, though! However, on the 1st of January 1998, the breed gained the United Kennel Club’s recognition.
More About The Akbash
This white beauty has lived up to the reputation of being an efficient livestock guardian dog in the past. It performs its job efficiently even in the present times.
The AKC and other prominent breed clubs have yet to recognize it. That does not take away the dog’s inherent grace and charm. When trained correctly, it would become a wonderful pet for your family. You’ll have a perfect companion like the Akbash and an efficient watch and guard dog.
One look at the Akbash gives you the impression of a lean, muscular breed with long legs. When speaking about their body stature, they are longer than tall. They even have wedge-shaped heads and V-shaped high-set ears rounded towards the tips and flat against their skull.
Their well-set, almond-shaped eyes intensify their delightful and intelligent expressions further. If alert, you will see these dogs carrying their ears high. However, when disturbed, the Akbash would have their ears pulled back.
The Akbash’s eyes vary in coloration, whether golden or dark brown. When it comes to their eye color, a darker shade is preferred. These dogs have muscular necks arched towards the crest, well-muscled shoulders, and deep chests.
Some dogs could have cat feet, while others have hare feet. No matter their feet’ shape, they are strong and large. The toes are also well-arched.
One could notice some feathering in the area behind their legs and tail. They even have an undocked tail. The part of the tail near the base is thick, and that towards the tip appears tapered. The tail is curled to its back when the Akbash is excited or in motion. To what extent the tail gets curled depends on how excited the dog is. A short or docked tail is considered a fault.
These are big dogs. The males appear taller and bigger than their female counterparts. The male dogs measure around 30-34 inches at withers, while for females, it is around 28-32 inches. Regarding weight, the male Akbash is around 90-140 pounds. The females weigh approximately 80-120 pounds.
Personality And Temperament
As mentioned, the Akbash was bred to protect livestock. And the guarding instincts are distinctly observed in present-day Akbash as well. They are strong and courageous enough to challenge big predators.
These dogs are even adept runners capable of chasing their foes by getting after them at a top speed. What adds to their advantage is their strong visual and auditory perceptions.
Though bred to perform a task, these dogs are also great companions. They have the perfect traits to excel as great family dogs. The Akbash isn’t a loving and caring dog when outside their domain. It’s due to their gentleness, affectionate nature, and loyalty.
While dealing with strangers, they are reserved and aloof. They are quick to alert their masters of any stranger at the door. These dogs could even become aggressive toward unknown people if the situation arises—no wonder these dogs perform the role of a watch and guard dog to the tee.
Because of their reputation as guardian dogs, the Akbash is independent. It means they aren’t prone to separation anxiety and would enjoy some space for some time.
These dogs mature slowly, both physically and from a temperamental point of view. So most individuals will get into the prime years of their life when they are 2 to 3 years old.
These dogs are healthy but may suffer from certain health problems common to big dogs. They are explained as follows:
Like most other big dogs, hip dysplasia is also common in the Akbash. You would mostly notice the symptoms when your dog is 1-2 years old. If your dog has hip dysplasia, he will have trouble in movement and may even limp. It’s an inherited condition. So, it is always advisable for breeders to get their dogs screened for hip dysplasia before breeding them.
Dogs are mostly affected by hypothyroidism when 4-7 years old. Some common signs include hair loss, flaky skin, thin, dull coat, intolerance to cold, lethargy, disinterest in exercise, etc.
Big and deep-chested dogs are susceptible to bloating. The condition could get life-threatening if not addressed immediately. If bloated, your dog would have a distended abdomen, drool excessively, and even show signs of discomfort.
That’s why taking special care in fixing your dog’s diet is essential. Avoid giving your dog too much to eat in one go. Instead, divide his food into two equal meals.
This condition is more common among breeds like the Great Dane, Boxer, and Doberman Pinschers. Yet, the Akbash is also at risk of suffering from DCM. Some common signs to watch for are coughing, gagging, troubled breathing, weakness, sleeping problem, difficulty exercising, etc. The symptoms develop gradually and, if ignored, may be fatal for your dog.
Though they had a working lineage in the past, most Akbash have low energy levels. It means that they don’t need heavy workouts. Yet, owners should take the initiative to give the Akbash around 40-50 minutes of exercise each day.
It can be a combination of one 30-minute walk or two 15-minute walks. You can even include playtime inside a fenced yard or indoors. It would keep them in good health. Regular exercise would even help the Akbash keep a check on their weight.
Maintaining your Akbash’s oral health is of utmost importance. For this, you would have to brush your dog’s teeth two to three times a week. It should be done at least once a week. It would help prevent tartar buildup.
Another important aspect is to check their ears and eyes for any infection. Clean their ears gently using a cotton ball dipped in a proper ear solution approved by the vet.
Big nails are a menace for you and your dog as well. If you hear a clicking sound as your dog walks, it indicates that the nails have gotten long. So, make it a point to trim them once or twice a month, or even earlier, if it gets long before the stipulated time. Your Akbash only needs baths once or thrice a year. A mild shampoo can be used for this purpose.
The Akbash is a big dog but with low energy levels. So, plan their diet in a way that they get all the essential nutrients they need. Yet, it would help if you kept a watch on the calorie requirements. Dogs with low energy levels are prone to gaining weight fast.
The best choice for these dogs is high-quality dry dog food, homemade or commercially manufactured. If you wish to combine homemade and store-bought food, consult a vet.
Coat Color And Grooming
These dogs have a fabulous white coat that blends perfectly with the color of the flock they care for. They may even have gray or light biscuit shading around their ears and undercoats.
They have a double coat. Their outer guard hair is long and coarse, while their undercoat is made of soft and fine hair and appears dense. The coats are of two types – medium and long.
Those with medium coats have short hairs lying close to their body, giving them a sleek appearance. Long-coated dogs’ hair is a little longer than their medium-coated counterparts. The hairs on the coat could even be a little wavy, but it is never matted or curled.
The Akbash shed moderately throughout the year. But, in summer and spring, they shed heavily. Brushing these dogs once or twice a week would help remove the dead hair and dirt from their coat. However, during the shedding season, you should brush your Akbash daily. That’s when they shed a lot.
Children And Other Pets
These dogs don’t have trouble mingling with kids of the family, especially when they are socialized to do so. The Akbash is low on energy and would prefer older kids, who would know to behave in a controlled manner.
They would develop a rapport with other family dogs, especially if brought up with them. However, when it comes to other dogs, the Akbash may show aggression. It’s because they would consider the latter as a threat to their domain and family.
Speaking about cats, and other smaller pets like hamsters and rabbits, these dogs don’t do well with them. Their chasing instincts could get triggered, leading to an untoward incident.
The Akbash prefers to be the solo dog in the house rather than share his space with other canines.
They are loyal and obedient. But the trait that comes in the way of hassle-free training is their independent nature. So you should start training when they are around 8 weeks old.
There are better choices for first-timers. It would help if you were firm, and tactful and applied positive reinforcement techniques when training your Akbash.
Socialize your dog at an early age. It would help control its aggressive tendencies toward unknown people and pets. The more he gets acquainted with different people and experiences, the better he learns to differentiate the good from the bad.
In this way, he wouldn’t perceive every unknown person or situation as a threat. Command training is also paramount to disciplining your dog as he grows.
To sum it up, this rare breed is an interesting one to have. True, Abash dogs are independent. But when you train them well and give them the space they need, the Akbash will develop into a great family pet.
These dogs aren’t heavy barkers. However, when they sense trouble in their household, they would warn their masters of the same through a loud, distinct bark. A bored Akbash may even resort to persistent barking if bored or agitated.
Though low on energy, the Akbash will not do well in apartments. These big dogs need a spacious dwelling to stay happy and healthy.
They are rare. It means that the cost of getting them is high. Choosing a reputable breeder for buying your Akbash puppy may cost you around $700-$1000.
They are known to be aggressive towards dogs unknown to them and even towards strangers at times. The more you train your dog, the better you will be able to keep his aggression under control.
Hi, I’m Walter,
I live in Oklahoma City, USA, and have extensive dog caring and grooming expertise. In addition, I provide dog training tips and tricks through my blogs in Canine Weekly. I have a Dog Behavior and Training diploma and have previously worked as a Dog Trainer at ROC Animal Training and Behavior and Tip Top K9 of OKC Dog Training.
Apart from writing on Canine Weekly, I share my views on Twitter and Linkedin.