Frequently Asked Questions ~

 What are Anatolians like?

Anatolians are low prey-drive and as such are not hyper, nor do they have tendencies toward obsessive compulsive behaviors which make them good house dogs.  The only exception is digging.  They love to dig in cool dirt and they also love play pools in the hot weather – which makes for an Anatolian that needs to be hosed/toweled off before coming back in the house!  I train them from puppies that we stop at the front door and I wipe paws with a towel before entering.  If your Anatolian gets plenty of exercise, then digging is usually not a problem.  However, they are pretty good at catching a vole if it is near the surface of the yard - which is not a bad thing depending on your viewpoint.

As puppies, people are taken with how calm they are - they are like Lab puppies on valium.  (Many Labradors are usually wide open or "full throttle" until they are two years-old.)  Anatolians are easily housebroken and crate trained. 

 The Skyview Anatolians have good solid temperaments and they have a sense of humor.  They learn quickly and they don't miss much even if you don't think they are paying attention - so be careful what you let them get away with once, because it will become a habit when they do it twice.

Are Anatolians good with children?

Anatolians have a natural sense of what is a baby (helpless) and that they need to be careful with it.  They are very good with children provided the children are properly taught not to harass the puppy/dog. Anatolians are naturally protective of your children.  Many people that live in areas of high coyote, wolf or mountain lion populations get an Anatolian to be a companion and watch over their children while they play outside.  In Turkey, it is said a mother would tie her child to the family Anatolian when she went out in the fields to work so she didn't worry abut her child's safety while she was away.    

However, I don´t normally recommend an Anatolian for a home with very small children just because of the size factor.  A big dog could inadvertently knock a small child off balance when walking past them! 

Do Anatolians like other dogs and pets?

If raised with other dogs and pets, Anatolians can accept and protect whatever is on your farm/home.  My male, Duke, watches over my West Highland White terrier and helps me raise all my puppies.  He has done a wonderful job with my Border Collies too.  However, none of my Border Collies are allowed free reign of the farm, they are either working, training, hanging out with us or in the kennel.  When you have multiple pets, you have to manage them.  Don't put them in situations where they can end up in a squabble and you not be there to end it.  I don't leave dogs loose in my house if I am gone either.  They are crated until I return that way my house and dogs remain in one piece. In other words, I don't set them up for failure. 

When adding a new pet to a household with a mature Anatolian, you should have a lengthy introduction period.  For example, if you get a new puppy, let the dog see the puppy while the puppy is in an exercise pen.  After about a week, when the puppy is old news, then have supervised introductions and build from there. It should take a couple of weeks to fully acclimate the old to the new.

Aren't Anatolians aggressive towards other dogs?

Anatolians possess the intelligence to make their own judgment call about what is a threat and what is not.  As guardians, they can become dog-aggressive as they get older unless they are socialized as puppies and beyond.  They have what I call an "on/off switch."  When my dogs are at home, they are protective of anything on the farm, including my other dogs.  Any visitors will be announced, any stray dog or wild animal may be driven off.  (Which is why you must have a good fence – see the article I wrote for the Anatolian Times.)  A fully-grown Anatolian can reach speeds in excess of 35 mph and can take down a deer by themselves.  When my dogs are not at home such as going to the vet, Petsmart, dog show, obedience competition, the mall etc. - they are not "on duty" and any person or animal can approach them and be greeted in a friendly, "hey, how are ya?" manner. 

Do you recommend spaying or neutering my Anatolian?

For a pet home, absolutely yes.  You should spay/neuter after they reach at least eighteen months of age, but not before.  Preferably after 24 months.  Spaying/neutering early can have serious health consequences, such as increased risk of joint problems and bone cancer. The Anatolians are a slow-maturing large breed.  However with altering, the issues of dog-aggression, wanting to stray to find a mate, and the edge a natural dog/bitch might have, may be mitigated.  A bitch, when she comes in heat, may suddenly despise other female dogs and fight with them.  An intact male, when a bitch comes in heat may start fighting with other male dogs and/or cry and whine incessantly if he can't reach the female.  So, if you are not going to show your dog/bitch or have plans on breeding them, I would definitely neuter your pet and livestock guardian.  Spayed/neutered livestock guardians are just as effective and you don't have the issues with them leaving the stock to seek out Mr. or Mrs. Right.  Just wait until the bones and joints have fully developed.

Is it true that puppies meant for livestock guarding homes not be handled at all?

Puppies that are to be flock guardians and live amongst the stock, should be raised with the stock from the time you get your puppy.  However, you have to handle the puppy to teach it socialization skills, basic commands, and give it proper veterinary care (shots, wormer, heartworm preventative etc.), but you don't let that puppy in the house to watch the TV with you.  You love and praise the puppy for doing the right things, and correct them for playing with/biting the stock so he/she learns what is acceptable behavior.  That puppy will bond with the stock because that is what that puppy knows and accepts. 

When will my puppy start guarding my livestock?

Many dogs don't start really guarding until they are about a year-old.  However, some puppies may show guarding behavior at 4-5 months-old.  Raising a livestock dog is not as simple as "throwing them in the field with stock".  They have to be raised with your stock in order to bond with the sheep, goats or birds.  They have to learn the boundaries of your farm to understand what their territory is.  From 10wks to 4 months old, your pup needs to become accustomed to you and your farm's inhabitants in a positive and rewarding manner.  For example, put the puppy in with a few gentle sheep (ones that won't knock the puppy for a loop.)  Feed the puppy with his sheep.  The second phase – the adolescent phase from 4 months to 12 months – you need to monitor your pup's progress and make sure he doesn't chase and bite the stock (i.e. play with the stock like it is another puppy).  You also have to make sure you don't put your puppy in with gorilla sheep – aggressive stock that will render your puppy afraid.  Once your pup is confident and bonded with the gentler stock, introduce the rest of the flock. 

All I see my dog do is lay around.  I thought he was supposed to guard.  What's up?

Lay around = conserve energy = lower dog food bill.  He is guarding!  Anatolians mainly work at night when fox and coyote are most active.  Believe me, your dog is not missing much if your stock losses have been decreased or eliminated. 

Do Anatolians make good pet dogs in a subdivision setting?

If the Anatolian is raised in the house with you and becomes a part of your family, then absolutely yes.  If you don't have time, don't want the dog in the house and you tie them up outside or leave them out in a kennel 24/7 with little human time, then no, because they won't be happy.  Anatolians need to bond with their human family if they are to be pet - and that means sleeping in your house.  Anatolians that are outside at night will bark to warn other dogs, threats etc. not to come into their territory.  That behavior, in a dense subdivision, will annoy the neighbors.  However, if a burglar broke into your house at night, he would be wishing he was at the neighbor's.   

Is an Anatolian right for me? 

If you like a dog that retrieves balls for hours, hangs on your every word and immediately obeys your every command - then the Anatolian is not right for you. 

If you are not assertive and don´t correct your dog for fear of hurting his feelings, or because you think he won´t like you - then the Anatolian is not right for you. 

If you appreciate a highly intelligent, beautiful and powerful dog, then the Anatolian might be right for you.  They make wonderful companions as long as the person is the pack leader and they are fair and consistent in their treatment of the Anatolian.  Anatolians form strong bonds and will lay down their life to protect their family if the situation calls for it.  Caesar Milan coined the term, "calm assertive" when describing how a human "pack leader" is supposed act and Anatolians respond to, and respect that type of owner.  Someone who is inconsistent, gets angry or screams, is not going to do well with an Anatolian.  Anatolians are far too intelligent and will take advantage of an owner if they are not diligent when raising them as puppies.  (As will any intelligent breed) Always remember that you have to raise the puppy for the dog you want!

At Skyview, puppy buyers will get lifetime support and education.  The new owner of an Anatolian may have questions five months after they get their puppy home, or they may have questions 20 minutes after they leave the farm - their questions will be answered.  I also can provide individual training to new owners.  For those owners who do not live in Virginia, there is a network of professional trainers (who have techniques that I recommend for Anatolians) that can be accessed.  

  I have heard that the breed is "spooky."  Is this true?

Anatolians are naturally reserved and cautious around new people, especially if they have not been socialized as puppies and you suddenly expose them to new things when they are older.   They can get set in their ways - which is why it is so important to socialize them as puppies and continue to socialize them as adults (i.e. take them places and let them meet new people etc.)   Now, an older dog on 800 acres guarding sheep with limited human contact is not going to be thrilled with suddenly going to Petsmart and that would be your fault - not the dog's!  That would be like taking your old-fashioned 90 year-old grandfather to a computer store, buying him an x-box and video games and expecting him to know how to use it without showing him.   

Many Anatolians exhibit "guardy" behavior at home and bark at visitors upon approach.  So, when you have guests coming to your house that your dog doesn't know, don't expect the guests to be able to run up and immediately pet your Anatolian.   The dog needs a proper introduction and you need to let the dog know that you welcome your guests and allow your dog to greet them on his own timeframe.  Once your dog accepts your guests, they too will be watched over and included in the family unit.     

Now, to answer the question, analytical calm reserve does not equal "spooky" or "squirrelly" behavior in my opinion.  Those are two different things.  When you have a dog, regardless of breed, whose behavior just doesn´t make sense or one that is terrified of new people or things and panics in those situations as does its littermates and cousins, it is more likely than not, a breeding problem and not an inherent breed problem. 

Anatolians are big dogs.  How much does it cost to keep one?

Surprisingly, they don't eat a lot.  Being calm, they are conservative on their energy use for the most part.  Puppies and young adults will eat more because they are growing.

Anatolians don't require extensive grooming so you don't have to budget for trips to the pet salon.  The shorter-haired types (like Duke, Sally and Pie) are EASY to maintain.  Their hair doesn't mat up, you don't have to clip them and they don't have an odor whatsoever.  Unless of course, they have found a dead animal to roll over and walk away with "Eau de Dead Mouse" thanks to the barn cat.  The rough-coated types do have to be brushed regularly, but once they lose the puppy fuzz matting is not usually an issue.

I am a firm believer in preventative maintenance and a healthy dog will be cheaper to maintain in the long run.  I use Frontline for fleas and ticks and Interceptor for heartworm and parasite control year-round.  I order both from Drs. Foster and Smith, as they usually are very reasonable in price.  You don't need a prescription for Frontline and your vet will fax one to the online pharmacy for the Interceptor.  If your vet refuses to give you a prescription, then ask that they match the catalog price and bring in your catalog or printout from the internet.  (If you vet won't work with you on this - find another vet!)

The monthly maintenance (food, frontline, heartworm and chews/treats) typically runs about $70 per month.  But this will vary on where you live and how extravagant you get with the toys!

What are some tips for living with dogs in the house? 

Crate train your dogs!

Don't start feeding your dog from the table or let the cute little puppy put his paws on the kitchen table - because in a few months that cute puppy will be able to look down on the table and sniff your plate!  

Get an mid-grade allergen filter for the air-intake for your heating and cooling system and change it every 3 weeks instead of every 3 months.  If your heat pump can't get enough air - which the allergen filters block air flow - it doesn't work efficiently and you can have problems with it not cooling in summer and heating in winter.  Even if you don't have pets in the house this is a good idea. Vacuum twice weekly and change your vacuum bag weekly!  

Do companion Anatolians guard?

Yes, but in subtler ways.  Anatolians are naturally protective.  For example, Duke is my companion and house dog.  I had my computer guru, Mike, come to my house to show me how to maintain my website and change the pages around.  He was there for about four hours on his first visit.  After the initial introduction, Duke laid down on the floor behind me.  Towards the end of the session I heard him emit a low, but ominous growl, yet he never lifted his head off the floor.  I turned around to see why he had done that and Mike said, "I went to touch your arm to get your attention."  Duke had been guarding me the whole time (four hours) because Mike was a stranger in the house.  I told Duke that "everything was okay" and he never uttered a sound afterward.  Duke knew Mike was not a regular in our household and therefore he watched him closely.

In households with children, your Anatolian should quickly learn which children are regular visitors and not give them any notice except to get petted by them.  However, if you have older children that play rough (wrestling, tackle football and there is a lot of yelling and screaming involved) your dog may try to block the visiting child from jumping on your kid by getting in between them and using his body as a physical block. (Anatolians put themselves in between the danger and what they are protecting.)  In that situation, I would just put the dog in the house while the kids horse play so he won't be worried about your kids and feel like he has to go to their aid when they are yelling.  Many Anatolians become used to children's rough play and ignore it.  If you don't seem concerned that little Johnny is getting tackled in the back yard and you tell your dog that there is nothing to worry about, then your dog shouldn't be concerned either.  In most cases, Anatolians quickly learn what is the "norm" for your household.  If your house is a revolving door of children between 3:00pm and 6:00pm - then anything goes for your dog at that time of the day.  However, if a stranger walked into your house unannounced at 10:00pm then most likely, your dog would alert to the intruder.   

Anatolians need to be included in the family activities so that they become well-informed and adjusted members of the household.  They need to be a part of your life and you will be rewarded with a loving, intelligent and devoted pet. 

 Do you have any recommended reading?

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog by Richard Beauchamp and Livestock Protection Dogs by Orysia Dawydiak and David Sims.  A lot of good information can be gleaned from Caesar Milan’s books and videos too.   

updated 4-2-11

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