When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Akbash Breed: Characteristics and History

Originating from Turkey, the Akbash is a large and powerful breed, known for its exceptional guarding instincts and unwavering loyalty.

This breed has a white coat that comes in medium and long lengths, and it closely resembles the more common Great Pyrenees.

The Akbash was originally bred as a flock guardian dog, and its name means “white head” in Turkish.

This breed is highly intelligent, independent, and courageous, making it an excellent choice for those who need a dog that can protect their livestock or property.

While the Akbash is known for its guarding instincts, it is also a gentle and affectionate companion to its family, and it thrives on human companionship.

If you’re considering adding an Akbash to your family, it’s important to note that this breed requires a lot of socialization and training from an early age.

While the Akbash is highly intelligent, it can be stubborn and independent, so it requires a firm and consistent hand in training.

With the right training and socialization, however, the Akbash can be a loyal and devoted companion for years to come.

Origins and History

Akbash Breed: Characteristics and History

The Akbash breed is a large, powerful dog that originated in Turkey.

Its exact origins are not well-documented, but it is believed to have been bred for centuries to protect livestock from predators.

The Akbash is thought to be a cross between sighthounds and mastiffs, resulting in a dog with the speed and agility of a sighthound and the strength and size of a mastiff.

The Akbash was primarily used as a shepherd dog in its native Turkey, where it was prized for its ability to protect flocks of sheep and goats from wolves, bears, and other predators.

The breed was also used to protect property and homes from intruders, thanks to its natural guarding instincts.

In the late 1970s, the Akbash was introduced to the United States by American researchers David and Judy Nelson.

The breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998.

Today, the Akbash is still used as a livestock guardian dog in many parts of the world, including the United States.

The breed is also popular as a family pet, thanks to its loyal and protective nature.

However, the Akbash can be difficult to train due to its independent personality, and it is not recommended for inexperienced dog owners.

Physical Characteristics

The Akbash is a large and powerful breed, known for its impressive size and muscular build.

Males can grow up to 34 inches tall and weigh up to 120 pounds, while females typically measure up to 32 inches and weigh up to 90 pounds.

With their large size and deep chest, these dogs are built for strength and endurance.

One of the most distinctive physical features of the Akbash is their coat.

They have a medium to long double coat that is typically white, although light biscuit or gray shading is also acceptable.

This coat helps to protect them from the elements and gives them a regal appearance.

The Akbash has a wedge-shaped head and a long tail that is usually carried low.

Their ears are floppy and their eyes are almond-shaped and set wide apart. Overall, their appearance is both powerful and elegant.

While the Akbash is not known for its speed, it is still a very athletic breed.

They are muscular and agile, with a strong build that allows them to perform a variety of tasks.

Whether they are guarding livestock or accompanying their owners on a hike, these dogs are up to the challenge.

In terms of coat color, the Akbash is almost always white.

This is a practical choice, as it helps them blend in with their flock and avoid detection by predators.

The white color also gives them a regal appearance that is both striking and elegant.

Temperament and Personality

The Akbash breed is known for its independent and watchful temperament.

They are intelligent dogs, but can be difficult to train due to their self-governing personality.

Akbash dogs are gentle and protective towards their family, but can also be suspicious and protective of strangers.

They are independent thinkers and need to be trained with patience and consistency.

Akbash dogs are loyal and affectionate towards their family, and make great companions.

They are calm and gentle, which makes them great with children.

However, they have a strong protective instinct and can be territorial.

They are not known for being aggressive, but they will protect their family and home if they feel threatened.

Akbash dogs are generally quiet and reserved, but they can be wary of strangers.

They are not known for their friendliness towards strangers, but they can be trained to be more social.

They are also known for their tendency to bark, which can be a problem if you live in a densely populated area.

Overall, the Akbash breed is a great choice for families who are looking for a loyal and protective companion.

They are intelligent, independent, and have a strong personality. With proper training and socialization, they can be great with children and other pets.

Training and Socialization

Training and socialization are crucial for an Akbash dog.

As a breed that has strong guarding instincts, it is important to train them properly to avoid aggressive behavior towards perceived threats.

Basic training for an Akbash should start at a young age.

They can be difficult to train due to their self-governing personality, but with a patient and consistent approach, they can learn obedience commands and basic manners.

Subordination exercises are also recommended to show who the pack leaders are in the household.

Socialization is also important for an Akbash.

They should be exposed to different people, animals, and environments to avoid becoming overly protective and aggressive.

Early socialization can help them develop into a well-adjusted and confident dog.

It is important to note that an Akbash should never be trained to be aggressive towards humans.

While they may be protective of their family and property, they should not be trained to attack or harm people.

Exercise and Lifestyle Needs

When it comes to exercise and lifestyle needs, the Akbash breed is fairly low-maintenance.

They have an average energy level and require about 20-40 minutes of exercise per day.

This can be in the form of a brisk walk or jog, or even just playing in a fenced yard.

While they are not particularly playful, they do enjoy spending time with their family and are generally affectionate and loyal.

However, they can be independent and may not always seek out attention.

In terms of agility, the Akbash is not known for being particularly nimble or athletic.

They are more suited to a calm and relaxed lifestyle, and may not be the best choice for someone looking for a high-energy or high-activity dog.

When it comes to digging, the Akbash may have a moderate tendency to dig, but this can be curbed with proper training and exercise.

They are generally well-behaved and easy to train, but may require some patience and consistency.

Grooming and Shedding

As a livestock guardian breed, the Akbash has a thick, white coat that can shed heavily.

However, grooming your Akbash can be relatively easy with regular brushing and bathing.

In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know about grooming and shedding your Akbash.


The Akbash has a thick, double-layered coat that is pure white.

The outer coat is thick and coarse, while the undercoat is soft and dense.

The coat is relatively easy to maintain, but it does require regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling.


Akbash dogs are known for their heavy shedding, which can be especially pronounced during the summer and autumn months.

To manage shedding, you should brush your Akbash at least once a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting.


When grooming your Akbash, it’s important to use the right tools.

A slicker brush is ideal for removing loose hair and preventing matting, while a metal comb can be used to remove any remaining tangles.

Be sure to brush your Akbash’s coat thoroughly, paying special attention to the areas around the ears, legs, and tail.


While the Akbash doesn’t require frequent bathing, you should give your dog a bath every few months to keep their coat clean and healthy.

Use a gentle dog shampoo and rinse thoroughly to remove any soap residue.

After bathing, be sure to dry your Akbash thoroughly to prevent matting and tangling.


The Akbash’s feathering is the longer hair on their legs and tail.

While feathering can be beautiful, it can also be prone to tangling and matting.

To prevent this, be sure to brush your Akbash’s feathering regularly and trim any excessively long hair.

Health and Nutrition

When it comes to the health and nutrition of your Akbash, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First and foremost, it’s important to provide your dog with a well-balanced and nutritious diet.

This will help to ensure that your Akbash maintains a healthy weight and has the energy and nutrients needed to stay active and alert.

In terms of specific health concerns, Akbash dogs are generally healthy and hardy, but there are a few issues that can arise.

One of the most common health problems in Akbash dogs is hip dysplasia, which is a condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly and can lead to arthritis and other joint problems.

Another issue to be aware of is bloat, which is a potentially life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself.

This can cut off blood flow to the stomach and other organs, and requires immediate veterinary attention.

To help prevent these and other health problems, it’s important to provide your Akbash with regular veterinary check-ups and to keep up with recommended vaccinations and preventative care.

Additionally, providing your dog with regular exercise and mental stimulation can help to keep them healthy and happy.

When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to choose a high-quality dog food that meets your Akbash’s specific nutritional needs.

This may vary depending on their age, activity level, and overall health, so it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog.

In terms of dental health, it’s important to provide your Akbash with regular dental care, including brushing their teeth and providing them with chew toys and dental treats.

This can help to prevent dental problems such as tartar buildup and gum disease.

Role as a Livestock Guardian

If you’re looking for a powerful and reliable livestock guardian, the Akbash breed might be the perfect fit for you.

These dogs have been bred for centuries to protect flocks from predators, and they excel at this task due to their natural instincts and strength.

As a livestock guardian dog, the Akbash is a natural predator control program.

They have a strong prey drive and are always on the lookout for potential threats to their charges.

Their size and strength make them an intimidating presence to predators, and their sighthound-like speed allows them to quickly respond to any danger.

One of the unique features of the Akbash breed is their independent nature.

They are not overly affectionate or needy, which makes them well-suited for the role of a guardian dog.

They are content to spend their days patrolling the perimeter of their territory and keeping watch over their flock.

When it comes to training, the Akbash can be a bit stubborn.

However, with consistent and patient training, they can become well-behaved and obedient.

It’s important to start training them at a young age and to establish yourself as the pack leader.

Adoption and Ownership

If you’re considering adopting an Akbash, there are several options available to you.

You can adopt from a rescue organization, a shelter, or a breeder.

Before deciding where to adopt from, it’s important to do your research and ensure that you’re adopting from a reputable source.

Rescue organizations are a great option for those looking to adopt an Akbash.

These organizations rescue dogs from shelters and provide them with temporary homes until they can be adopted.

When adopting from a rescue organization, you can be sure that the dog has been thoroughly evaluated and that their temperament and behavior have been assessed.

Additionally, many rescue organizations provide support and resources to help you care for your new pet.

Shelters also offer Akbash dogs for adoption.

While shelters may not have as many resources as rescue organizations, they still provide a valuable service by rescuing dogs and providing them with a safe place to stay.

When adopting from a shelter, it’s important to ask about the dog’s history and temperament to ensure that they’re a good fit for your family.

If you choose to adopt from a breeder, make sure that they are reputable and that they follow ethical breeding practices.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates commercial breeders, so you can check with them to ensure that the breeder you’re considering is licensed and follows USDA guidelines.

When it comes to owning an Akbash, it’s important to understand that they require a lot of space and exercise.

They’re also independent dogs that require a firm and consistent owner. While they’re affectionate with their family, they can be aloof with strangers.

The life span of an Akbash is typically 10-12 years.

They have a medium affection level and require regular grooming to keep their coat healthy and clean.

Comparison with Other Breeds

When it comes to dog breeds, the Akbash is a unique breed that stands out from the rest.

However, it is still important to compare them with other breeds to better understand their characteristics and traits.

First up, the Great Pyrenees is a breed that is often compared to the Akbash due to their similar appearance and protective instincts.

While both breeds are large and white, the Akbash is typically more lean and agile than the Great Pyrenees, which is more heavyset and lumbering.

Additionally, the Akbash is known for its sighthound-like speed and endurance, while the Great Pyrenees is more of a steady and reliable guardian.

Another breed that is often compared to the Akbash is the Anatolian Shepherd, which is also a large and protective breed from Turkey.

While the two breeds share many similarities, the Akbash is generally more independent and aloof than the Anatolian Shepherd, which is known for its loyalty and affection towards its family.

Additionally, the Akbash is typically more agile and athletic than the Anatolian Shepherd, which is more of a slow and steady guardian.

In terms of other dog breeds, the Akbash is often compared to sighthounds due to its speed and agility.

While the Akbash is not technically a sighthound, it shares many of the same traits and is often used for hunting and chasing prey.

However, unlike most sighthounds, the Akbash is also a capable guardian and protector, making it a versatile breed that can excel in many different roles.

Overall, the Akbash is a unique and versatile breed that stands out from the rest.

While it shares similarities with other breeds, its combination of speed, agility, and protective instincts make it a one-of-a-kind breed that is well-suited to a variety of different tasks.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

National Canine Research Association of America