What is the Akbash dog like? What is its character and appearance? Is taking care of an Akbash demanding? Are they easy to train dogs? And most importantly – will an Akbash dog be a good companion for you and your family? Here’s everything you need to know about the Akbash dog breed! 

If you are looking for a dog that is balanced and loyal, yet energetic and brave, then the Akbash will probably be a good choice. This dog brings together the best of large dogs – a calmness along with a readiness to react quickly, and a gentleness paired with courage in the face of danger. However, the Akbash is not a dog for everyone. Find out why Akbash dogs are great but demanding friends.

Akbash – appearance

The Akbash’s appearance certainly catches the eye. It is impossible not to spot this dog among many others. Both the adult Akbash dog and Akbash puppies are noted for their size, stockiness, and a thick, beautiful coat. The body shape of the Akbash is a combination of Molossus and Greyhound traits. 

The Akbash is a large and strongly muscled dog, distinguished by its unusually long legs and big toes. The body shape of this breed is almost square, i.e., the length of the dog only slightly exceeds its height at the withers. Its beautifully curled tail makes the Akbash look majestic and powerful.

Akbash – head

Adult Akbash dogs and Akbash puppies are characterized by their broad and massive heads. Dogs of this breed have strong jaws and high-set V-shaped ears with drooping tips. The Akbash’s eyes are widely spaced; they come in various shades of brown. The loose skin on the dog’s neck has formed as a protective function against possible predator attacks. The dog’s eyelids, nose and lips are usually black, but they can also occasionally be pink.

Akbash – fur

The fur of the Akbash dog breed is dense, pleasantly smooth, and slightly wavy. Akbashes have a double coat – long, coarse, outer-guard fur and an undercoat made up of soft, fine hairs. The hair is slightly longer on the tail and legs. Thanks to its thick coat, the dog shows great resistance to harsh weather conditions. The fur of adult dogs and puppies of the Akbash breed is white, sometimes ivory.

Akbash – size

Akbashes come in many shapes and sizes. Akbash bitches are generally much smaller and slimmer than males. 

Dogs of this breed reach the following height at the withers:

  • 71-86 cm (dogs),
  • 69-81 cm (bitches).

The weight of the Akbash is typically within the limits of:

  • 41-64 kg (90-140 lb.) (dogs),
  • 34-48 kg (75-105 lb.) (bitches). 

The Akbash’s size and weight may suggest that this dog is slow and logy. But this assumption is far from the truth – the Akbash is an agile and fast dog. This feature proves that this breed is related to greyhounds.

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Akbash – character

Is the Akbash an aggressive dog? Or rather a gentle furball that can be tugged at during play?

The Akbash dog breed is, above all, a very self-reliant and independent dog. This is due to its history as a shepherd dog. Like any good herding dog, it has a strongly developed territorial instinct. It won’t hesitate to fight any predator to defend its herd.

The Akbash has very strong protective instincts. The dog is intelligent and devoted to its master. At the same time, the character of the Akbash dog is sometimes described as difficult. This is due to its inborn independence and distrust towards strangers.

The great defender

Akbashes’ primal instinct to defend their herds also keeps them strongly attached to their caregivers. The dogs are faithful, gentle, and devoted to both adults and children. However, the Akbash can also be distrustful and combative towards strangers. Therefore, they make great guard dogs. When defending the herd, property or household members, they bark loudly and are ready to attack the intruder. 

Instinct tells the Akbash dog to defend its territory and its herd at all costs. It becomes a dangerous dog when put under pressure. Therefore, this breed requires an experienced owner who can properly socialize the dog, so that it does not pose a threat to its surroundings. 

A dog for the family 

The Akbash has a great, balanced temperament and is a rather easy-going, calm dog for the home. There is no fear that the Akbash would destroy your comfy couch or chew on your favorite shoes. 

At home, the Akbash likes to keep a close eye on its family, so that it may immediately react in the face of danger. The dog follows the hierarchy principle, so it is important to ensure that it is well disciplined. Otherwise, there may be problems with enforcing the dog’s obedience. However, when properly socialized and trained, the Akbash dog is an ideal family pet and home guardian.

A hardy and agile dog

The Akbash is a shepherd dog whose natural habitat are vast herd grazing pastures. That is why the dogs of this breed are agile, fast, and resistant to harsh weather conditions.

Necessary training

Training dogs of this breed may be difficult because Akbashes are independent and they rely heavily on their herd defending instinct The Akbash dog likes to make its own decisions and is reluctant to obey commands. 

The owner of an Akbash must consider that their dog will show great independence in everyday situations, despite the hours spent on obedience training. You should start socializing the Akbash dog while it is still a puppy.

Akbash – health

It is common to believe that large dogs are more likely to get sick than smaller ones. Is this true for such a huge dog as the Akbash?

The good news is that Akbash dogs are considered a healthy breed which rarely gets sick.However, it does happen that Akbashes may struggle with some diseases, just like other large dogs. The most common illnesses are:

  • hip dysplasia,
  • obesity,
  • bone fragility.

They also tend to be more prone to stomach torsion than smaller breeds. However, cancers are rare for this breed.

The right food for Akbashes

In their natural environment, Akbash dogs spend their lives on pastures, guarding herds. Such work requires a lot of energy, so an Akbash should receive sufficiently large portions of well-balanced food. This can be dry food for giant breed dogs, divided into two or three portions fed during the day.

Dietary supplements

In order for your Akbash dog to be healthy and full of energy, you should supplement its diet with vitamins and calcium, especially if they are not included in the dry food. If you are unsure whether your dog’s diet is well-balanced, consult your vet. The right amount of vitamins and minerals can effectively prevent diseases and bone fractures, as well as making your dog stronger.

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Food for Akbash puppies

Akbash puppies should be fed good-quality, balanced food made for puppies of giant dog breeds. Well-selected food will ensure that your Akbash puppies gain weight properly and grow into strong and healthy dogs.

Life expectancy

The average life expectancy of Akbash dogs is approximately 10 years. In their older age, dogs of this breed may develop diseases such as epilepsy, hypothyroidism, umbilical cord hernia, kidney failure, and cancer.

Akbash – care

Grooming the Akbash dog is not difficult. It requires regular brushing and trimming unnecessary hairs. When the dog molts, it should be brushed daily; on other days – at least once a week. Neglecting to brush the Akbash can quickly lead to coat felting. In such an event, you may need to visit a dog grooming salon, which can be quite an expense.

It is recommended to bathe the Akbash only when it gets so dirty that brushing the fur does not solve the problem. It’s a good idea to check your dog’s teeth regularly and remove tartar. Thanks to this, your Akbash will not suffer from teeth problems, even in old age.

Deworming is essential

Regular deworming is essential in order to keep your Akbash healthy and full of energy.

Necessary vaccinations

Akbashes must be vaccinated against rabies and other infectious diseases. It’s best to ask your vet about the immunization schedule.

Akbash – breeding

Purchasing an Akbash with the dog’s pedigree certificate can be a problem in some countries. This breed is not recognized by some Kennel Clubs. Such is the case for the United States, where the Akbash dog breed has not been registered in the American Kennel Club (AKC). Among countries which have registered the Akbash breed as official is Great Britain.

When buying an Akbash, make sure you get a puppy from a renowned, professional kennel. Ask your local Kennel Club for a list of certified Akbash breeders. Purchasing a puppy from a renowned Akbash breeder guarantees that your dog is healthy and comes from good Akbash parents.

Akbash – price

When planning to buy an Akbash dog, be prepared for a considerable expense. A puppy of this breed costs an average of $700 to $900 USD.Buying a dog is also associated with other expenses, such as food or visits to the vet. The Akbash is a large and energetic dog, therefore it needs a lot of good quality food. Make sure you can afford an Akbash dog prior to purchasing one.

Akbash – breed history

The Akbash dog breed is recognized as one of the oldest breeds in Asia Minor. It comes from Turkey, where the breed is still very popular. 

Where exactly the Akbash dog breed came from is not certain. Undoubtedly, the Akbash is related to several old dog breeds, such as the Komondor, Kuvasz, Tatra Mountain Sheepdog, and even the distant Pyrenean Mountain Dog. This is indicated by the Akbash’s physique and temperament.

The dispute over the Akbash breed

The International Canine Federation (FCI) has recognized the Akbash as a variation of the Anatolian Sheepdog breed due to the many common features they share. On the other hand, Turkish cynologists do not agree with the classification adopted by the FCI. They demand for the Akbash to be recognized as a separate breed. Therefore, Akbash puppies receive the pedigree of the Turkish Kennel Club, even though according to the FCI it has the status of a “non-recognized breed”.

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A popular dog in the United States

The Akbash became a popular dog in the United States in the 1970s. American ranchers began to use Akbashes to work with herds of cattle and sheep. The dogs have proven to be great herd defenders against predators, especially coyotes. Akbash dogs are still valued among farmers for their great defense and guarding skills.

Akbash – for whom?

The Akbash is definitely not a dog for everyone. Being a large guard dog, it requires space to move freely, as well as a good dose of daily movement. That is why dogs of this breed do not tolerate living in a block of flats or even in a city. They feel best in the countryside, on farms, where they can run around the garden or pasture.

Due to its great independence and strong personality, the Akbash is not suitable for people who have no experience in working with large dogs. An Akbash owner must be patient and consistent with their dog. The Akbash’s socialization is necessary, so that it doesn’t behave aggressively towards strangers.

A properly socialized Akbash is a devoted and calm companion, great for families with children of all ages. This dog establishes a very strong emotional bond both with its owners and domestic animals.

Akbash – trivia

The dog’s name “Akbash” comes from the Turkish word “akbaş” meaning “white head”. The Akbash can guard various herd animals – sheep, goats, cattle, horses, poultry, deer, alpacas, llamas, and even exotic birds. This versatility of the Akbash makes it a popular watchdog on farms.

The Akbash at work

While Akbash dogs are frequently referred to as herding dogs, their role in the pasture is in fact to ensure that no predator creeps into the herd. Interestingly, Akbashes do not circle the herd, but rather lie in its center watching the sheep or cattle. They don’t look like dynamic dogs when lying on the ground. However, they are actually very agile and ready to react immediately, whenever they sense a threat.

Traditionally, two Akbashes are assigned to watch over a herd, as these dogs instinctively cooperate with their breed.

Caring instinct

Akbashes show a strong caring and protective instinct towards children and young animals. While guarding a herd of sheep, the Akbash often sniffs young sheep and even licks them lovingly. The Akbash will not be aggressive towards infants and children if it is well mannered.

The Akbash as an aggressive breed

In many countries, Akbash dogs are included in the list of aggressive breeds. This is due to their massive posture and strong defensive instinct. Dogs of this breed can indeed show aggression towards strangers. That is why it is so important to train the Akbash from an early age.

Akbash – a great but demanding member of a family

There is no doubt that the Akbash will be a great dog for everyone who loves big and intelligent breeds of dogs. If well socialized, the dog will be a wonderful, devoted companion for both adults and children. However, when considering buying an Akbash dog, make sure you are able to train it well. This breed can be aggressive if not handled properly from a young age. 

Do you think the Akbash is just the dog you are looking for? We hope that this article has helped you to make up your mind about your new family member. In the meantime, why don’t you read our other articles about the world of animals? See you next time!

Photo from: Teddy Llovet via Flickr, CC BY 2.0