Akbash Dog: Herder, Protector, and Friend

A Akbash Dog and some goats in the garden
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Dogs are man’s best friend. They are loyal, fun to be with, and perhaps most importantly, they are protective. They will guard you, your house, and everyone else that they consider to be a part of their family with their lives. However, there are many dog breeds that are hailed as great protectors today. How do you choose between them? If you have open space and aren’t looking for a high maintenance dog, why not consider the Akbash dog?

The Akbash is originally from Western Turkey and was bred as a livestock guardian. Though, don’t let this fool you. Yes, they’re working dogs, but they’re also loving and highly protective of their family. They can be great watchdogs, as well as casual companions. If you live in an apartment, they may not be the breed for you because their size demands a larger living space. But if you have a home with a yard or a larger piece of land, you’ll love every moment you spend in their company.

Two Akbash Dogs sitting together outside in the yard

In this article, you’re going to find out everything you need to know about the Akbash. They have an interesting breed history, as well as personality and character. And although they are low-maintenance dogs, you really don’t want to miss out on learning more about how to properly care for them. You’ll be able to tell for sure if this is really the right breed for you or not after you’ve read through this article.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: Moderate

  • Trainability: Below Average

  • Health and Grooming: Good

  • All Around Friendliness: Below Average

  • Exercise Needs: High; requires daily exercise

Dog Breed GroupWorking Dogs
Height28 to 34 inches at the shoulder
Weight90 to 120 lbs
Lifespan10 to 12 years

The Akbash is native to Western Turkey and was bred to be livestock guard. They originated as far back as 750 to 300 B.C. Today, this is a very rare breed. Though they’re built and bred as a livestock guardian, they’ve also become a favorite choice among households with children and other pets.

Two Akbash-Dogs meeting for the first time

Realistically speaking, they do well with children. However, they need to be trained and taught how to behave around them because their immense size can be a risk factor. As puppies, they do not understand their strength and love to play rough—which doesn’t always work well when playing with children. However, once they understand their strength and role in the family, they become amazing family members.

See Also: Best Dog Breeds For Kids

Due to their breeding history, they have extremely good hearing and sight. Their coats are weather-resistant, odor-free, and non-matting—which is great for those that are looking for a low maintenance dog. They’re quite large as they’re intended to protect livestock from wolves.

an Akbash Dog relaxing on the grass

They’re not overly welcoming to new animals or people as they are protective and can be full of suspicion toward strangers. With new dogs, they can become aggressive. Thus, socialization is absolutely necessary. It needs to start right away when they are still young. Though they have their flaws, as all breeds do, they’re extremely hardworking and protective—making them great guard dogs for your home.

See Also: How to Socialize a Dog

Main Highlights

  • They take their name from a Turkish word that translates to “white head.”

  • These dogs can be traced as far back as 750 to 300 B.C.

  • The Akbash dog is also known as the Coban Kopegi.

  • They originate from Western Turkey and are a very rare breed.

  • They have acute hearing and eyesight, making them extremely aware of their surroundings.

  • They’re mainly used as livestock guardians in rural Turkey—protecting livestock from wolves and other predators.

  • They’re highly independent and can function well without human guidance.

  • Because they’re guard dogs, they’re known to become “barking alarms.”

  • They’re very protective of other family pets and children. They are not very friendly with strangers.

  • They usually have a white coat, but it can sometimes be a bit brownish or greyish.

  • They’re athletic—making them not ideal to have in apartments.

See Also: Best Dogs for Apartments

Breed History

The Akbash is a Turkish breed that originated in Western Turkey. Before they became world-famous, they spent most of their time on the plains and mountains of Western Turkey guarding livestock against wolves or thieves. Though there is little known about the origins of the Akbash, they’ve been traced as far back as 750 to 300 B.C.

Close-up of an Akbash Puppy

Flocking and guarding dogs are typically white—allowing them to blend in easily with their livestock and giving the element of surprise to those that pose a threat to them. Their powerful eyesight and hearing also give them the extra advantage over those who challenge and threaten their herd.

They weren’t seen in America until the 1970s. An American couple—David and Judy Nelson—were interested in the Akbash and started to import them to the United States. In 1998, the UKC bestowed upon them the title of a guardian breed.


The Akbash is a large dog that’s bred for protecting livestock. Though they’re large in size, they were also bred with agility and speed in mind. They weigh between 90 to 130 lbs. Their females are smaller than the males. In addition, their height varies between 28 to 32 inches—of course, with females smaller than the males.

Personality and Character

With Akbash dogs, you have to remember that they were bred to protect livestock. This means that the Akbash dog is naturally protective and suspicious of outsiders. Thus, they may not be entirely trusting with visitors. However, they usually do very well with their own family.

An akbash dog and a goat

They’re quite independent and will often perform tasks without the guidance of a human. They are used to making their own decisions when protecting livestock. Of course, this means that they’re not the easiest when it comes to training as they like to live by their own rules and ideas. However, if you’re an alpha with a firm hand, then they’ll have no problem abiding by the rules.

See Also: Basic Dog Obedience Training Techniques

They can become quite the barkers as this comes with their need to guard and protect. With an Akbash, you can expect them to stand between you and anything that appears to be dangerous.

Close-up of an Akbash Dog

Akbash dogs tend to be apprehensive or suspicious of new or different things. Thus, you will want to make sure that you expose them to different sights, sounds, and people as early and frequently as possible. Socializing them will help them relax around new pets and people as well.

Health and Potential Problems

Regardless of the breed, all dogs have the opportunity to develop health problems. It’s the same for all living beings, including humans. If you’re purchasing your Akbash from a breeder, make sure that they have a health guarantee on the puppies and tell you any health-related issues from the parents.

See Also: Questions to Ask a Dog Breeder

There are a couple of health issues that are common in Akbash dogs:

  • Hip Dysplasia: is a very common orthopedic disease in larger dogs. It changes the inner area of the hip joints. It is usually hereditary.

  • Epilepsy: is a neurological disorder which causes epileptic seizures. It’s caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brains which is uncontrollable.

  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy: is a disease of the heart muscle which enlarges the heart—causing it to fail to function properly. It usually occurs in both the upper and lower chambers of the heart.

  • Hypothyroidism: is when the thyroid gland is under-producing hormones which regulate the metabolism, reproduction, and other functions. It causes the dog to become lethargic, gain weight, and may result in a decreased heart rate. However, it’s treatable.

Care Features

The Akbash was bred as livestock guardians—making them very easy to maintain as they’re designed to be self-sufficient. If you don’t have a large area for them to run around in, you’ll have to make sure that they are still exercised daily.

Akbash Dog with a red collar

They’re not highly active. However, they do need to move. Young Akbash dogs require more exercise than older ones.

See Also: Best Dog Playpen

They’re not overly social and comfortable with other dogs they’re not familiar with. Thus, it’s important that you focus on socializing them immediately—starting from when they’re still a puppy. This is extremely important as you will want to reduce their aggression towards other dogs.

Feeding Schedule

Canines are carnivores—meaning they need to have an adequate amount of protein in their meals. Of course, your feeding schedule will depend on the type of food you’re feeding them and their activity level throughout the day.

Close-up image of an Akbash old dog

The best way to determine how and what you’re going to feed your dog is to consult the vet. They’ll be able to recommend high-quality dog food for your Akbash, as well as the amount and time of when they should be fed. This will depend on your lifestyle and your daily routine as well.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The Akbash has a beautiful white coat which is medium to long in length. They usually have white hair, but it can sometimes be a bit brownish or greyish. They do shed and will require weekly brushing to remove dead hair. Regular brushing will keep their coat and skin healthy. You don’t have to bathe the Akbash on the regular, but rather when you notice that they’re smelly or dirty.

The Akbash It is a quiet dog and alert at the same time. He is not shy, nor is it aggressive.

Other than that, the rest of the grooming is very rudimental. Make sure that their nails are trimmed every few weeks and make sure that you brush their teeth on a weekly—If not daily—basis. In general, the grooming and care of the Akbash are very minimal—which is great if you’re looking for a low maintenance dog.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Akbash dogs can be good with children. However, they’re not bred to be so. Therefore, it will take some training for them to understand their role around children. As puppies, they’re quite mouthy—which means that when they play, they bite and play rough. With smaller breeds, this wouldn’t matter so much. However, the Akbash puppy is quite large and strong; they’re not aware of their strength.

akbash female dog with her puppies

During this period, it’ll take time for you to train your Akbash. However, as your children grow and as the Akbash grows as well, the dog will become an amazing companion for the children.

See Also: Newborn Baby and Dog

They tend to get along with other pets. However, it will take some socialization. If they are acquainted with your other pets, then there won’t be a problem. However, with dogs they don’t know, they can become aggressive.

Make sure you introduce them to the other animals and children in the house carefully. You should try to help them relax around their new environments, people, and other animals as much as possible.

Wrap Up

If you’re looking for an energetic and loving dog, then the Akbash is a great option. The Akbash is a highly intelligent breed that’s very protective of the people they know and care about. Though they’re highly suspicious of newcomers, with some proper training, you can help them relax and enjoy the new people and animals around them.

They’re quite independent as they’re used to making decisions about their herd without human assistance. So, training may be a challenge if you’re not firm. Though, if you do manage to train them, they’re amazing dogs that will never let you down.


They’re extremely low-maintenance, so if you don’t have much time for grooming or if it simply isn’t your thing, you’ll love the Akbash. When it comes to grooming, their coats rarely mat, shed, or smell. A simple brushing once a week will suffice.

Do you think the Akbash is the breed for you? Let us know what you think in the comments section below! If you already have an Akbash, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about this breed! If, after all is said and done, you’d prefer a small dog, check out this article on the best toy breeds.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.