Akbash Dog

Country of origin: Turkey
Registries: Akbash Dogs
International, UKC
Occupation: Livestock guardian
Size: 90–121 lbs (41–59 kg)
27–34 inches (71–86 cm)
Lifespan: 9 to 10 years
Exercise: Daily long walks
Training: Challenge
Grooming: Easy
Colors: White

Akbash Dog: Breed Overview and Characteristics

The Akbash Dog, a light-colored breed native to western Turkey, is also known by the names of Akbas and Coban Kopegi. Developed as a livestock guardian, this breed exhibits a natural dignity and calmness that make it highly effective in protecting livestock from predators. It shares some similarities with the Anatolian Shepherd Dog in terms of its rangy shape, natural dignity, and calm demeanor. The Akbash is intelligent, athletic, and low-activity, spending most of its time in grassy environments with its flock. Despite their protective nature, they are not known for being aggressive and prefer to use warning signs or chase away potential threats instead of resorting to physical assault. In the 1970s, the breed was exported to North America, where it has been successfully used to protect sheep and goat ranches from coyote predation in the Canadian and American Rocky Mountains.

History of the Akbash Dog

The Akbash Dog, one of the most established national dog breeds in Turkey, originated from Western Turkey. The breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) but is registered with the Turkish Kennel Club (KIF). In the 1970s, two Americans researching white dogs in Turkey brought the Akbash to North America. Still a rare breed today, the name “Akbash” is derived from the Turkish word “akbas,” which translates to “white head.”

Size and Appearance of the Akbash

  • Male Height: 28-34 inches (71-86 cm)
  • Female Height: 27-31 inches (69-79 cm)
  • Male Weight: 90-130 lbs (41-59 kg)
  • Female Weight: 75-100 lbs (34-45 kg)

Akbash dogs are large, with their main purpose being to protect livestock. Males typically stand between 28 and 32 inches tall and weigh 90 to 120 pounds, while females are slightly smaller, standing between 27 and 30 inches tall and weighing 75 to 90 pounds. Despite the variation in size between genders, both male and female Akbash dogs possess the same abilities and capacity for protection.

Akbash Breed Temperament

The Akbash is a calm, gentle, and intelligent breed that thrives in herding environments rather than domesticated situations. They are excellent protectors but do not typically display aggression. Instead, they rely on their powerful, flexible bodies, keen hearing, and sharp eyesight to patrol their surroundings and ward off potential threats. With their own animals, Akbash dogs are gentle, especially towards baby animals in the flock. They do not herd by rounding up or chasing but may guide the flock in a specific direction.

Health Considerations for the Akbash Breed

Common health issues for the Akbash breed include:

Akbash dogs are generally healthy but may be prone to certain health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, and osteochondritis dissecans. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and preventative measures can help ensure the long-term health of the breed.

Grooming Essentials for the Akbash

Akbash dogs have a double coat of pure white fur with varying lengths. They are considered above-average shedders, but their fur is not prone to matting, making grooming relatively low-maintenance.

Akbash Dog Breed Diet

Example foods for the Akbash dog breed include:

  • High-quality dry dog food
  • Raw meat
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits

Akbash dogs require a well-balanced and nutritious diet to maintain their health and energy levels. High-quality dry dog food, raw meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits can be included in their diet. The exact amount and type of food may vary depending on the dog’s age, weight, and activity level. Consult a veterinarian for personalized diet recommendations and portion sizes.

Akbash Exercise Requirements

Example exercises for the Akbash dog breed include:

  • Long walks
  • Running
  • Playing in a securely fenced area
  • Hiking
  • Herding exercises

As a low-activity breed, the Akbash dog still requires regular exercise to maintain its physical and mental well-being. Long walks, running, playing in a securely fenced area, hiking, and herding exercises are all suitable options for this breed. It is crucial to provide ample space for the Akbash to roam and exercise, as confinement may lead to stress and destructive behavior.

Akbash Dog Training Tips

Akbash dogs are intelligent and capable of learning, but their independent nature and strong protective instincts may make them challenging to train in a traditional obedience setting. Early socialization and consistent, positive reinforcement-based training methods are essential for this breed. Training should focus on building a strong bond between the dog and the handler while reinforcing appropriate behavior in various environments. Patience and understanding of the breed’s unique characteristics are crucial for successful training.

Ideal Living Conditions and Limitations

As livestock guardian dogs, Akbash dogs are best suited to environments where they can fulfill their natural protective instincts, such as large, open areas with livestock to guard. They are not ideal for apartment or small home living, as they require ample space and mental engagement to thrive. The breed is not recommended for families with young children or inexperienced dog owners, as they may not fully understand the breed’s specific needs and temperament.


Early and consistent socialization is vital for the Akbash breed, given their innate suspicion of strangers and strong protective instincts. Socialization should begin at a young age and expose the dog to a variety of people, animals, and environments to help them become well-adjusted and confident adults. This process is crucial for ensuring that the Akbash dog can differentiate between genuine threats and non-threatening situations, reducing the likelihood of inappropriate aggression.

The Loyal Guardian at a Glance

The Akbash dog is a unique and exceptional breed with a natural ability to protect livestock and a calm, gentle temperament. As a low-activity breed, they thrive in environments where they can fulfill their protective instincts, making them unsuitable for apartment or small home living. The Akbash dog requires a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, early socialization, and consistent training to ensure their long-term health and well-being. While not ideal for every household, the Akbash dog can be an excellent companion and guardian for those who appreciate and understand the breed’s specific needs and characteristics.



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