The Akbash is one of the çoban köpeği dogs, or turkish livestock protector dog breeds, which are believed to be one of the oldest of all dog breeds we know today and their history is tracing back thousands of years. The Akbash is a so called landrace breed, which means that they evolved naturally, by adapting to their environment, with limited influence of people. They evolved with the man, next to the poeple, but they were not purposefully developed by the people.
The main purpose and utilization of the Akbash breed is and always was protecting the livestock from all kinds of predators and The Akbash Dog as we know it today is the result of centuries of natural selection as a guardian of livestock. Next to the large size, big strength and great courage, the Akbash is absolutely devoted not only to its people, but also to its flock it is protecting. They basically adopt the herd, even though it is a different animal specie, and they will do anything in their power to protect it. These dogs have very strong maternal instinct and they will bond to other living creatures at a very early age. This is definitely one of the best livestock guardian dog you can find.
Of course, the Akbash can also be a great companion, but it is definitely not a dog for novices and you must understand Akbash temperament to have a good companionship with it. They are smart, but also independent and they like to make their own decisions. Of course, they are absolutely loyal and naturaly protective, which is why extensive socialization from the puppyhood is an absolute must, so the dog is not overly protective and agressive. These dogs should never be agressive without a reason. These dogs will be naturally alert and reserved with strangers and it can také a while before they accept a stranger, but they are absolutely loyal, friendly and devoted to its whole family and they can truly be the mans best friend. And not only that, because the Akbash can typically happily live with other dogs or even other pets in the family as well, as they do not have high prey drive or chasing instict.
4) Coat and color
The Akbash comes in two coat types, a shorter and longer coat. The longer coat is known for its dense mane and tail feathering. Both coat types are very dense doublecoats with coarse outercoat and soft undercoat. There is only once accepted coat color and that is all white. These dogs were mostly used to protect sheeps and the all white coat helps them to blend in with the flock.
I just said that these dogs can only be found in white color and they have it in their breeds name as well. The word Akbash means white head and it is in cotrast with another Turkish livestock guardian called Karabash, which means black head. The white color and white head is the easiest way how to recognize Akbash from most of other Turkish livestock protector breeds, such as Aksaray Malaklisi, Boz Shepherd or Kangal Shepherd.
The Akbash is a large dog with long legs, big head, and long athletic body. The average height of Akbash is 27-32 inch, which is 68-81 cm and weight is 75-135 pounds, which is 35-60 kg. These dogs are large, but not overly massive and they should be both, muscular, but also pretty lean and athletic. Females are naturally slightly smaller and lighter than males.
The Akbash is not hyperactive dog, but not a total coach potatoe neither. They have lets say medium energy level and they do need daily exercise and some activities like walking, playing or training to stay healthy and happy. Daily longer walks are must, so the dog does not develop any bad behaviour such as excessive barking or destruction. Just like with any other breed, puppies are much more energetic than adult dogs and it is important to say that Akbash mature quite slowly and males may not reach full size until the age of three or more.
The Akbash is relatively rare breed, which can be mainly found in mountainous regions of western Turkey. There are not many pure specimen outside Turkey, but they can be found in smaller numbers in Europe or even in North America, where they were first imported in 1970s by Judith and David Nelson. But if you would like to see Akbash dogs on your own eyes, your best bet would be to visit the Western Turkey.
Just like all the doublecoated dogs even the Akbash does shed some deal of fur all year long, more heavilly during the shedding seasons in spring or fall. The Akbash coat maintenance and grooming is not hard as the coat does not mat or tangle much and only regular brushing is recomended to keep the coat as clean as possible, to remove the dead hair and any dirt. Just like with all dogs, you should also regularly check the dogs eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The Akbash has an average lifespan similar as other large breeds, which is around 11 years and they may ocassionally suffer from the same health issues as other large breeds, such as hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, hypothyroidism or cardiomyopathy, but overall, this is generally pretty healthy and hardy dog breed.