Loyal & protective Turkish dog: Akbash

Loyal & protective Turkish dog: Akbash

The Akbash is an ancient breed of dog, used in Anatolia for the protection of herds against attacks by predators (wolves and bears). The Akbash is a brave, intelligent and a very independent dog that lives to protect his family and the cattle he is assigned to look after. He is very close to his owners however very suspicious of with strangers including guests of Akbash owner.

Akbash owes its name to its appearance. In Turkish, “ak” means “white” and “baş” (prnounched ‘bash’) means head.
The Akbash is a working class dog and usually is not seen as a companion dog however like most canines it is capable of adapting to its surroundings.

Akbash dogs are found mostly in Western Anatolia, near Kutahya and Eskisehir.

Akbash puppy

Akbash puppy

It is believed that the Akbash was originally bred by the Turkic nomads in Central Asia purely to take care of their cattle and thus migrated to Anatolia with the Turkish tribes. The ancient Turkic tribes picked Akbash as the primary guard dog partly due to its colour. Their white colour allowed Akbash to easily blend in within a herd of white sheep and therefore prevented them from being immediate targets to wolves and other predators. The Turkic tribes also used Kangal dogs for darker coloured cattle for same reasons. Akbash and Kangal are very similar and it is believed that Kangals are the ancestors of Akbash breed.

The Akbash is related to the Hungarian Kuvasz dogs. Their physical and other characteristics are identical. It is believed that the Turkic tribes moving towards west into Anatolia using the south of Black Sea brought with them the Akbash whereas the Turkic tribes moving from the North of Black Sea brought with them the Kuvasz into Hungary.

Akbash is also preferred by the herd owners for their protective side overpowering their predator character. Akbash are known not to chase the predators to kill them but rather dedicate themselves to stay with the herd and to protect it from scary intruders.
David and Judy Nelson, two American researchers, went to Turkey in the 1970s to study the Akbash and brought back with them 40 of these dogs to the United States. Since then the Akbash became world famous.

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