Turkey is a country with a long tradition of shepherding. Sheeps and other livestock are kept in large numbers and they are seasonally took on transhumance, when they are moving from one grazing ground to another, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer.
But it is also a home to many dangerous predators, which see sheeps as a delicious food, which is why the shepherds needed strong and brave dogs that would protect the sheep. And that is exactly, what Coban Kopegi is!
Coban Kopegi can be translated as a livestock guardian breed and it is reffering to dogs who have their roots in Turkey, or Anatolia. And there is not only one or two turkish livestock guardians, but as you will see in this video, most of them are very very similar to each other.
They have the same ancestry, but since they all evolved in different parts of Turkey, they over the time evolved into slightly different dogs. Some are slightly more athletic than others, some are stronger and more muscular. Some have longer coat and some have shorter coat. But afterall, all of them are incredible livestock guardians with similar temperament and extreme strength.
Rather than a breed, it is better to say, that it is a landrace dog, which is a term that is describing those dogs and animals that evolved naturally over the time by naturalforce, surviving of the fittest and by adapting to local envirnonment, weather, terrain, etc.
In comparsion, traditional breeds are developed by deliberate breeding for certain aspects, such as size, color or temperament. As one of my favourite websites about Turkish livestock guardians – turkishboz.com – say, the landrace evolves with a man, whereas a breed is created by a man.
The Coban Kopegi landrace is one of the oldest of all dog types in the world with its history dating back thousands of years. There are 4 variants of the Coban Kopegi, the Anadolu, Kars, Yoruk and Kangal. Some of the variants were further bred by people for regionally specific needs. Every variant of the Coban Kopegi is slightly different and now i will show you some of the most popular Turkish LGDs and how they are specific.
The most popular is definitely the Kangal variety. Very often you will hear, that the Kangal is the strongest dog in the world. And it definitely belongs to the group of strongest dogs, but there are even some stronger Turkish Livestock guardian dogs.
The Kangal is not only strong, but also very athletic, agile and very highly energetic. Kangals have elliptical bones and they have rectangular shape.
All the Coban Kopegi share similar temperament. All of them are extremely protective, very brave and courageous, independent, confident, poweful, aloof with strangers but friendly and absolutely loyal with its family and most of them are also very alert. And Kangal share all these characteristics as well.
The average height of Kangal is around 28-32 inch, which is 70-80 cm and weight between 90-145 lbs, which is 40-65 kg.
I told you, that the Kangal is not the biggest and strongest turkish livestock guardian. One of the larger Coban Kopegi is the Boz Shepherd.
For comparsion, the Boz Shepherds height should ideally be between 27-36 inch, which is 68-92 cm and weight between 100-190 lbs, which is 45-85 kg.
On average, the Boz is little bit taller, heavier and stockier than the Kangal. They are also more squared, than the rectangular Kangal and they have larger feet and blockier head. They are also not that high energy, as they are calmer and more tolerant.
The Boz is one of the dogs from Yoruk variant of Coban Kopegi. Another one is the Akbash. But again, there are some differences between them and Akbash is not identical with the Boz, or neither with the Kangal.
The Akbash has most likely more of the Tazi ancestry, which makes them look more agile, athletic and more slender. They are smaller sized. At least when comparsion with the Boz Shepherd. But it is still giant and strong dog in comparsion with most of other breeds. The Akbash should also be solid white dog, which is not true for majority of other turkish LGDs.
So the Boz Shepherd is larger than the Kangal, so is it the largest of all Coban Kopegi? Well, it is not. There is the Aksaray Malaklisi dog, which tends to be even larger than the Boz or Kangal. You might be wondering, that the Malakli was not on the Coban Kopegi chart. Well, it is true, as several genetic analysis have shown the Aksaray Malaklısı is a distinct breed from other Turkish livestock guardian dog breeds, including the Kangal, Anadolu, Akbash and Kars. But it is still livestock guardian dog from Turkey, so they have to be mentioned in this video.
While most of the Coban Kopegi are quite athletic and agile dogs, the Malakli structure is built for pure power. It seems that they do not have any of the sighthound genetics, that are often found in other Turkish LGDs. It is usually extremely heavy and stocky breed.
The size of Aksaray Malaklisi can be up to 100 cm and some of the dogs weigh even more than 100 kg, which is 40 inch and 220 lbs.
In contrary to the Aksaray Malaklisi, another Turkish Coban Kopegi, the Kars, is one of the smallest of all Turkish LGDs. On average they are 72 cm tall, which is 28,5 inch and weight is around 45 kg, which is 100 lbs.
The Kars Shepherd also has slightly longer and very dense coat, which is how you can easily distinguish them from majority of other Turkish LGDs. The Kars Shepherd is originally from the turkish Kars province in eastern Turkey.
There are some other, rarer turkish livestock LGDs, such as Anadolu, Karadeniz or Rize Koyun. Many of you probably also heard about the Anatolian Shepherd. But Anatolian Shepherd is actually not a turkish name for any of the local breeds. This breeds name is used in foreign countries, it is very popular in United States for example, and it is describing all the dogs descended from regional Turkish livestock guardian dogs. So Anatolian Shepherd can be any dog which descended from any of the dog breeds mentioned in this video. It can be an ancestor of Kangal, Akbash, Kars or Boz Shepherd.
As you can see, Turkish livestock guardian dogs come in great variation. There are different types of these dogs, but they share the same purpose and utilization – to protect the sheep and their loved ones. No matter which Coban Kopegi is your favourite, they all belongs into the group of best livestock protectors all around the world.