Appearance, Temperament and Breed Characteristics
The Akbash Dog is one of the most beautiful of the guardian breeds, combining the grace and elegance of the gazehound with the power of the mastiff. Their primary function is to bond with and protect livestock from predation and theft. Their white, weather resistant, short, medium, to long length coats are coarse and non-matting, with very little doggy odor. Akbash Dogs tolerate both heat and cold temperatures well. They are tall, athletic dogs which can spring into action with amazing speed but are usually seen sleeping with or in sight of their flock. They should be calm with quiet mannerisms, show submissive posturing to livestock, and have low chase instinct.
Akbash Dogs are large but not considered a giant breed. Females range from 27" to 29" and weigh from 75-110 lbs. Males range from 28-32" and weigh 90-130 lbs. Both work equally well at maturity. Males are substantially larger and can usually intimidate more formidable predators, while females tend to mature earlier.
Livestock guardians are unique in combining submissive posturing to livestock with dominance and protectiveness. They bond to animals they were raised with and protect them from any perceived threats. Compared to other livestock protection breeds, the Akbash Dog doesn't drool, has an easy to care for coat, and generally protects better against stray dogs than some of the less dog-aggressive livestock protection breeds. Akbash Dogs are often more athletic and active than some of the other breeds and can get into more puppy play chase behaviors if not well supervised. However, as adults Akbash Dogs are far superior as livestock protection dogs, (having been documented to stand up to serious predation such as bear and wolves). They will bark and raise their hackles at unfamiliar animals or people approaching their territory unaccompanied by someone the dog knows. With people that they know or with chaperoned visitors, properly socialized dogs are gentle, friendly, and happy for a visit. What makes the Akbash Dog special is its ability to form strong bonds with both owners and livestock, and at maturity live in harmony with them and fiercely protect them with maternal zeal.
Both sexes make equally good guardians and rural companions, especially if neutered. Neutered dogs also live a longer, more disease free life. Even if breeding stock is desired, a neutered working dog provides protection for the livestock while the breeding dogs are distracted or indisposed.
Akbash Dogs are not for everyone. They are independent, self-thinking dogs that have no genetic memory of looking towards man for direction. A flock guardian pitted against predators must be able to assess any given situation on its own and act appropriately, or else the dogs’ survival may be at risk. Many say they are cat-like in personality and certainly not a breed to cater to our every whim. As trained and socialized companions they are intelligent, loyal, affectionate, clean, and generally non-destructive in the house. Akbash Dogs conserve their energy and will consume much less food than other breeds similar in size, generally eating 3-5 cups of premium dog food a day. Strong maternal instincts allow them to bond with and protect their human and animal flock; thus you may expect a properly trained and well-socialized Akbash Dog to be fond of and gentle towards infants and young children, while remaining suspicious of non-introduced strangers, particularly on its own territory.