Dog Breeds 101: Akbash

Dog Breeds 101 - Akbash - WP
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The large and strong Akbash dog was originally developed as a livestock guardian. This rare Turkish breed has brown almond eyes, a strong neck, v-shaped ears and very sharp hearing. The Akbash takes a long time to mature – some individuals take up to three years to grow into adults. [1]

The name Akbash comes from the Turkish word “akbas” which means “white head”. The breed is thought to have been developed around 3,000 years ago and shepherds purposely bred them to have white coats to differentiate them from dark-coated predators. It is highly probable that the Akbash is a relative of the other white flock herders of Europe such as the Komodor, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog and the Tatra Mountain Sheepdog. [2] The Akbash dogs were introduced to North America in the 1970’s by Judith and David Nelson who had been conducting research on white colored dogs in Turkey. [3]

Akbash dogs usually spend all day lying with their flocks and as a result, the breed developed to have low energy levels. But don’t mistake them for being slackers; it is said that they are always aware of what is going on in their surroundings even if they are dozing off. They just reserve much of their energy for possible encounters with predators. [3]

Since they are livestock guardians, Akbash dogs are naturally suspicious and protective. They would often have to function without human supervision and to make decisions without human guidance so overtime, they became independent dogs. This independence is a good trait when they are herding but not so good when in training. They are notorious for being hard to train and they require a firm hand in order to make them good family pets. They are also known to bark excessively if they perceive that someone is invading their territory. Needless to say, they are very protective of their human families, especially children. [4]

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