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German Shepherd vs Anatolian Shepherd – What Are The Differences?

Each dog breed has its own specific characteristics which can make them thrive in the right situation but can cause problems in the wrong environment.

This is especially true for shepherd breeds. These are the dogs that were developed to protect and take care of livestock, often on their own.

A part of their everyday life was facing wild animals, adverse weather conditions, and other natural threats.

This led to the development of certain traits separating them from other breeds. German and Anatolian Shepherds are among the most popular representatives of this group.

German shepherds, in particular, are the first breed that comes to mind when we think of shepherd dogs.

Both breeds have traits that are common to all types of dogs in the group. They’re intelligent, hard-working, and loyal.

However, when comparing German Shepherd vs Anatolian Shepherd, we also see many attributes that couldn’t be more different.

I’ll take a closer look and explore the distinctive features of both breeds.

AttributesGerman ShepherdAnatolian Shepherd
Good For First Time OwnersYesNo
Good Guard DogYesYes
Apartment FriendlyYesNo
Family DogWith TrainingWith Training
SheddingHighModerate
Barking And HowlingModerate To HighModerate To High
SizeMedium To LargeLarge
Average Life Expectancy12-14 Years10-13 Years

German Shepherd – Dog Breed Information

Initially bred as livestock herders, German Shepherds today are both respected workers and beloved family pets.

Appearance

They’re a strong, athletic, and agile medium-large breed. A bit wolf-like in appearance, they have a square head, long muzzle, and pointy erected ears.

Their legs are slightly angled, and the tail is bushy and long. The coat is commonly black and tan, and they usually feature a black mask on their muzzles and a black patch along the back.

Adult males can stand between 24 and 26 inches (60-65 cm) high and weigh 66-88 pounds (30-40 kg).

Females grow up to 22-24 inches (55-60 cm) and weigh from 49 to 71 pounds (22-32 kg).

German Shepherds have a double cat that serves as protection from harsh weather. The undercoat is thick and dense while the outer coat is straight and hard hair.

They shed abundantly and require daily brushing. The coat changes twice a year and both of those heavy shedding periods last about a month.

Temperament

It’s no accident that the German Shepherds have been among the most owned dog breeds for centuries.

They’re loyal friends, fun companions, and fearsome protectors. In a non-work environment, they’re relaxed and even-tempered, but not lethargic.

Intelligent and energetic, German Shepherds love a challenge and being given a job to do. Properly socialized, GSD is also gentle and enjoys spending time and playing with kids.

They form a strong bond with their master and are very protective of a family, which makes them excellent guard dogs.

However, they need a lot of attention and get easily bored when left alone.

Being dutiful and obedient, the German Shepherds are one of the easiest breeds to train. The lack of stubbornness enables even inexperienced owners to properly conduct training.

They are always interested in learning and teaching them various tricks is fun both for the dog and the owner.

Anatolian Shepherd – Dog Breed Information


Anatolian Shepherd by Jon Mountjoy (CC BY 2.0)

One of the most ancient dog breeds, Anatolian Shepherds were developed in the Anatolia region in Turkey.

Appearance

They’re large, strong, fearsome dogs with a bloodline that goes back over 6,000 years. Their sturdy and muscular body is covered with a coat that makes them look even heavier.

The coat comes in a variety of light shades, with buff the most common. Rectangular muzzles usually feature a black mask, while the dropped triangular ears are also occasionally black.

Fully grown males are 28-30 inches (71-76 cm) high and weigh 100-150 pounds (45-68 kg).

Females grow 26-28 inches (66-71 cm) and can weigh 90-130 pounds (41-59 kg).

As they come from mountain regions, their double coat is thick and warm, so it can protect them from the cold. The fur around the neck is usually longer and they have some feathering around the tail, legs, and ears.

They don’t require more than standard grooming care, meaning you’ll have to brush them once a week.

The exceptions are the heavy shedding periods which occur twice a year and require more frequent brushing.

Temperament

Thousands of years of herding livestock, usually without human help, led to the development of a very independent character.

They’re known to be rather introverted and prefer to perform their jobs alone. This doesn’t mean that they don’t form a bond with people.

On the contrary, they’re fiercely loyal and protective of their owners. However, unlike most dogs, they don’t see humans as their pack, but more as their flock, something they need to care about and protect.

They are good with children and other animals, but only if they were socialized early. Anatolian Shepherds are very intelligent and can learn quickly and easily pick up on instructions.

Still, they have a lot of stubbornness to them and can often be rather disobedient. Their response to training often depends on their mood at that moment.

That’s why it’s necessary to be firm and confident, but also loving with them. Establishing yourself as a leader will make the training much easier and more rewarding.

German Shepherd vs Anatolian Shepherd – What are the Differences?

As their names suggest, both breeds were developed as livestock herders. And both share traits that are characteristics of shepherd dogs – courage, intelligence, and agility.

Over the years, the trainability, willingness to learn, and obedience have earned German Shepherds jobs in police and the military.

The Anatolian Shepherds’ work assignments still mostly include herding and protection.

They are much larger than the Germans and their formidable presence alone is often enough to protect your family and property.

Due to their obedient nature, the German Shepherds are a much better choice for first-time owners.

The Anatolian Shepherd is independent and can often have a mind of its own.

In contrast, GSD requires constant pampering and affection. The smaller size makes them more suitable for smaller living spaces.

Anatolians have high wandering tendencies and can roam far outside of the household if left unattended. If you plan for them to spend a lot of time outside, make sure you have appropriate fences.

Both breeds are playful and child-friendly. However, Anatolian Shepherd requires much more early socialization to achieve this.

When comparing German Shepherd vs Anatolian Shepherd and their grooming needs, the latter is much lower maintenance and will keep your house cleaner with less effort.

Both breeds are commonly healthy dogs but expect fewer health issues with Anatolian Shepherds who are resistant to most of the common canine illnesses.

Life expectancy for German Shepherds is 12-14 years, while the average life span of Anatolian Shepherds is between 10 and 13 years.

Conclusion

If you’re planning to purchase a dog and your dilemma is German Shepherd vs Anatolian Shepherd, make sure to carefully consider all the above-mentioned factors.

Whichever you choose, you’ll get a smart, faithful, and hard-working dog.

German Shepherds earned their popularity by being gentle, obedient, and willing to learn. If you’re looking for a family pet, they are clearly a better choice.

However, be prepared to spend a lot of time with them and keep them engaged.

Anatolian Shepherds don’t require that much attention, but their stubbornness and independence can be an issue, particularly for inexperienced owners.

However, their energy, determination, and sense of protection make them excellent guard or work dogs.

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