We are adding a new family member to our homestead: a dog. Not just any dog, but an Anatolian Shepherd, which is a breed that originated in Turkey. Known also as the Kangal (some kennel clubs combine the breed while others do not), they have protected flocks, villages, and the local children for centuries.
We like the idea of a protective dog, mostly to protect our chickens from predators, but our understanding is that the dog will consider us part of her flock and seek to protect us as well. I’m fine with that and will consider her just one more layer in our layered defense.
In fact, Anatolians are not recommended for protective training because they are already protective enough. They don’t need those tendencies enhanced.
Having worked with law enforcement and having owned large breeds before, I have seen first hand how a large dog can change the attitude of someone who might otherwise be aggressive by nature.
The Anatolian Shepherd is a large, muscular dog, with adults ranging from 80 to 130 pounds. That makes for an intimidating presence, and she should be a deterrent to home break-ins and assaults.
Bred to protect sheep, goats, and other herd animals, we will have to see whether she will have the same protective instincts when it comes to chickens. She should, and if so, it will increase our willingness to free range them. (We are currently confining the chickens in their 750-square foot run.)
The presence, smell, and bark or the Anatolian shepherd usually keeps predators away, but they are capable of killing bobcats, coyotes and even wolves. (We have the former two but not the latter.) We expect her very presence will help keep bears away despite the lure of the bee hives.
Since we previously owned a large dog with a double coat, my wife is not looking forward to the shedding season and the constant presence of dog hair. Their coat keeps them warm, which will be an added benefit given our elevation and long, sometimes snowy winters. I expect I will be doing some brushing and frequent vacuuming, but that is an acceptable trade off compared to the benefits of owning a dog like this.
We’ll be making the road trip to pick her up next week.
Here’s some further information on the Anatolian Shepherd breed.
Below is a rather lengthy video about the breed featuring a working sheep farmer who breeds them.