The Akbash is a Turkish working dog. Primarily, it is used as a livestock guardian, which means that it has been used to protect sheep and other livestock from predators and even would-be thieves. Unfortunately, this protective nature can be difficult to manage as a pet owner. The Akbash is wary around strangers and will watch and study them to ensure that they are not a threat.
27 – 34 inches
80 – 140pounds
10 – 12 years
Working roles and very experienced pet parents
Fiercely loyal, intelligent, brave, protective, independent
The breed does form a very close bond with its human family, though, and can be a loving and loyal companion. The Akbash will require early and ongoing socialization to ensure that it does not view all strangers as dangerous. It will also need regular and consistent training. Thankfully, it is an intelligent breed and will take to controlled training, well.
Despite being a large dog, the Akbash does not require a lot of exercise but will benefit from having a yard in which to prowl. He may not get along with other dogs, will not usually do well in an apartment, and prefers cool weather to hot weather.
Akbash Dog Characteristics
The Akbash is a purebred dog and is respected as a working animal. However, it is not a popular pet and is not used for exhibition, showing, or in agility and canine sports.
Because this breed can be highly protective and may show signs of aggression towards strangers, you must find out as much as possible about a puppy before buying it. Meet one or both parent dogs, and any siblings. This will allow you to assess their attitude. While a puppy will not necessarily have the same emotional or mental attributes as its parents, it can be a good starting point.
Because of the size of the Akbash, as well as its independent nature, this breed can be a struggle for first-time and even experienced owners. You may find some examples of the breed in rescues. Ensure that you meet the dog, safely, on more than one occasion, before you agree to take it home. Have it meet your other dogs, too: the best way to introduce your dog to a possible rescue dog is to walk them together.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Akbash
The Akbash is a dog of two temperaments. With his family, he is trusting and affectionate: loving, even. With strangers, he is distrustful and potentially even aggressive. As a potential owner, you need to be sure that you can manage both sides of the breed, and this typically means providing him with authoritative, but not cruel, training. You will need to keep this up through the dog’s life.
Although the Akbash does not require a lot of exercise, his size and his desire to wander and prowl mean that the breed is not well-suited to life in an apartment. He will benefit from having outdoor space.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Loving and affectionate with his own family, the Akbash can get along with family members of all ages, although you should always be careful when letting dogs spend time with small children. The Akbash is a very large breed and can weigh 100 pounds or more, and it is very easy for a dog of this size to accidentally hurt or injure a child.
Where the breed will struggle with family life is when visitors and guests come round. The breed can be highly protective, so you will need to keep rough games between children down to a minimum. Also, be prepared for the dog to measure and monitor newcomers until it is more familiar with them.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
The Akbash will get along with other animals when they are introduced at a young age. As a working dog, the breed would settle with a flock of sheep without attacking or worrying the sheep. This is a trait that the Akbash can show at home, too, befriending other dogs and potentially even cats.
Never allow small animals like rodents any unaccompanied time with large dogs like the Akbash.
Things to Know When Owning an Akbash:
The Akbash is not an ideal dog for all families or individuals and requires an experienced handler. Although the breed is independent, it still needs your intervention in everything from feeding to exercise. Below are the requirements if you do intend to take one of these dogs home with you.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
The Akbash is a large breed. It is meant to have some size and weight. However, because it is large and it does not need that much exercise or have much energy, the breed is prone to putting on weight and becoming obese. Obesity in dogs is just as dangerous as it is in people and increases instances of diseases like diabetes, respiratory and heart conditions. A good diet is vital to the continued health of your dog.
Aim for a diet that is made up of between 28%-30% protein. Follow the feeding guidelines on the bag or packaging, and if you feed a combination of dry and wet food, take this into account and reduce the amount of both. Also, take into account any treats or other bites of food that you give to your dog, and take this off their daily allowance.
The Akbash is an outdoor dog and will enjoy spending time in the yard. However, that does not mean that this breed enjoys exercise. In fact, the Akbash is known for being a low-energy dog. You may have to convince it to go for a daily walk. Ensure that you get out for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. The breed only requires walking and does not require running or other forms of exercise.
Training is vital to the Akbash breed and to its family. The breed needs an authoritative leader to take charge. This does not mean that you need to be physical or use any cruel training techniques, but you do need to be assertive and in control. You must know what you want, how you intend to achieve it, and you need to show confidence throughout training. The Akbash may start to ignore your training if it believes that you are not fully in control.
Socialization should be considered a part of training, too, and this will need to start when your dog is only a couple of months old. Because this breed is known for being apprehensive and potentially aggressive towards strangers, early socialization should be geared towards introducing your dog to new and unusual situations and people. This introduces the dog to people, but it also teaches him how to behave when he faces something unusual for the first time.
With a short to medium-length coat, the Akbash does shed and is considered a moderate shedder for most of the year. It will experience a major blowout every year during shedding season. You can help prevent matting and stop knotted fur, while also controlling the shedding, with weekly brushing. Most dogs enjoy being brushed, although they can be apprehensive at first.
You will also have to help maintain your Akbash’s dental hygiene, which means brushing your dog’s teeth two or three times a week, at least. If you start when your dog is a puppy, it will make the process a lot easier when it gets older. Use a finger brush if your dog doesn’t like having a long-handled brush in its mouth.
Claws also need trimming, especially with a low-energy dog like this. Wait until you can hear the nails clipping on a hard floor. If your dog regularly walks on concrete, you may only need to clip nails every 2 months. Otherwise, you should expect to trim claws every month. Again, this is best started when your dog is young because he will become accustomed to it more easily and more quickly.
Health and Conditions 🏥
The Akbash has a relatively short life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years, which is not uncommon for a breed of this size. Ensure that your dog gets good exercise and a healthy diet to ensure a long and healthy life. Look for signs and symptoms of the following conditions and seek veterinary treatment if you spot any.
Male vs Female
The male Akbash is known to grow bigger than the female. You can expect a male to weigh approximately 20 pounds more than a female, and to be a couple of inches taller.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Akbash Dog
1. The Akbash Coat Must Be White
The Akbash breed comes from Turkey, where it is used as a guardian dog for livestock, other animals, and for farmers and their families. The breed has short to medium fur, and the coat must be white for it to be considered a true member of the Akbash breed. The white color was chosen so that the dog would be able to better blend in with a herd of sheep, therefore preventing it from being confused with a wolf, coyote, or other predators.
The coat does shed modestly throughout the year, and profusely during the shedding season. As well as the white coat, this large breed of dog has long legs, a curled tail, and feathery fur.
2. It Is Not Considered Suitable for Novice Dog Owners
The Akbash is used as a guardian dog because of a combination of talents, traits, and attributes. It is a large and imposing dog, considered to be a Mastiff-type breed. This gives it the physical strength to be able to fight off large would-be attackers like wolves and even bears.
Its use as a livestock guardian also means that the breed is highly inquisitive and very alert. It regards strangers, whether human or animal, with distrust. The Akbash will watch and monitor strangers and may growl or bark if it perceives them as being a threat.
The breed is also known for being highly independent. Again, this is a beneficial trait for a guardian dog, because it would be left alone with the flock for extended periods. The dog would watch and protect the flock without having to be told what to do by the shepherd or farmer.
While these are desirable traits for protective guardian dogs, they do not make the best combination for a family pet. The Akbash can be mistrusting, suspicious, and may not get along well with unknown persons. Therefore, it is not a suitable breed for first-time and novice owners.
3. The Akbash Can Be Quite Lazy
Despite being a working dog, the Akbash breed can be quite lazy. It is a large dog and shares a lot of traits with other Mastiff breeds. It will rarely run, will do a lot of its guarding from a prone yet alert position, and it does not require excessive runs or especially long walks. This can be beneficial to owners looking for a large dog that does not require a lot of exercise. It also means that the breed is prone to putting on too much weight.
If you do welcome an Akbash into your family, ensure that it gets adequate exercise, even when it doesn’t necessarily want to, and stick to a rigorous and monitored diet to prevent your dog from becoming overweight and getting ill.
The Akbash is not an ideal breed for novice owners, and may not be suitable for your family, especially if you have very small children and welcome visitors to the house frequently.
As a livestock guardian, the Akbash treats strangers with caution. You will need to be an authoritative trainer and provide guidance, and you will have to socialize your dog from a young age to ensure that it knows how you want it to behave when in public and when meeting new people or in new situations for the first time.
However, if you do have the experience, the breed can be a very loving family pet, and will certainly be loyal. It is a hardy breed that enjoys time outside, despite not being particularly fond or in need of a lot of exercise. Ensure that you stick to a controlled diet and do provide daily walks because obesity is one of the biggest health problems with this breed.
Featured Image: Liam Copeland, Shutterstock