Akbash Dog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Information

Akbash Dog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Information

The Akbash is a rare, purebred guard dog of Turkish origin. Akbash Dogs are loyal, alert, and intelligent. These pups have some of the most sought-after qualities as both guard dogs and companion dogs. The Turkish name Akbash means “White head” in English, and they go by several other names, including Aky, Coban Kopegi, Akbaş Çoban Köpeği, and Turkish Shepherd. Despite the breed’s rarity, rescue centers and shelters often have them available for adoption. 

The Akbash Dog represents a very rare and special mixture of Mastiff and gazehound characteristics. The Akbash is a powerful, large dog, mostly white, sometimes with a touch of creamy-biscuit nuances, usually on the head. 

Akbash Dogs are exceptional livestock guarding dogs chosen by many sheep farmers for their white coats to blend in with the sheep. That ensures the shepherds won’t mistake the guard dogs for the mostly dark-colored predators and the predators won’t spot the Akbush among the sheep. This dog breed has six to eight puppies once per year, and their expected life span is 9 to 11 years.

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What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of Akbash Dogs?

Akbash dogs are large, strong, and fast. When they’re not protecting their flocks of sheep from wolves, they are quiet, calm, and steady dogs. They are highly intelligent, independent, and able to think for themselves and make decisions. 

They are used to working in partnerships with people and not as subordinates. Because of the dwindling number of flock guarding jobs in the U.S., Akbash dogs have become popular choices for home and other property protectors, companion dogs, and house pets. The Akbash is a slow-maturing breed, needing about two or three years to reach maturity.

Akbash Dog

Characteristics

Relationship with family

Loyal and protective

Relationship with children 

Mature Akbash dogs are friendly with children

Relationship with other dogs

Friendly if raised together

Shedding Level

Moderate

Drooling Level

Low

Coat Type

Double coat, the outer coat is long, thick, and coarse and the undercoat is dense 

Coat Color

White, with some shades of biscuit color around the ears

Grooming Frequency

Low, brushing once per week

Smelly

Low

Barking frequency

Prone to alarm-barking

Relationship with Strangers

Suspicious and wary at first

Playfulness Level

Puppies are not suitable playmates

Affectionate

High

Adaptability Level

Average

Intelligence Level

High

Trainability Level

Difficult due to stubbornness 

Energy and Activity Levels

Moderate 

Exercise needs

High

Mental stimulation requirements

High

Protective of territory and family

High

Guard dog ability

Excellent

The Akbash is strong-willed, and training it could be challenging. The dog’s owner must be firm enough to prevent the Akbash from taking the attitude of a pack leader. The Akbash typically chooses one person to be its master. 

This breed takes guarding their flock seriously, and their love for their family’s children is believed to be because they see the kids as part of the flock they must protect. Parents should not leave their children and playmates alone where the Akbash is present. 

The most insignificant action of a visiting child could trigger the Akbash to step in and protect his human child. Puppies tend to play-bite and should be supervised while playing with young children.

What are the Physical Traits of the Akbash Dog?

The Akbash is a solid and muscular dog with a thick white coat and a black nose on a large head. The Akbash’s thick, long coat has a rough feel. Akbash Dogs have been bred for centuries for their skills as flock guardians. The female Akbash Dogs are distinctly feminine compared to the male dogs, their smaller stature is obvious. Female Aky dogs mature faster than their male counterparts.

Physical Trait

Description

Size

Large

Weight Range

Male between 100 and 140 pounds

Females Between 80 and 120 pounds

Height at the withers

Males between 30 and 34 inches

Females between 28 and 32 inches

Body

Longer than height, deep chest, large, strong neck, well-sprung ribs, Powerful, muscular croup, rectangular back

Head

A massive head with a powerful jaw on a strong and muscular neck

Muzzle

Broad and square, well proportioned in width and length with the skull

Ears

Relatively small, triangular-shaped ears, slightly rounded, set high on the head

Eyes

Almond-shaped eyes with outer corners distinctly higher than inner corners, light golden brown to dark brown in color

Legs

Long

Tail

Long, reaching to the hocks.

Exercise Need

Average 

Coat

Double coat either medium-length sleek or long wavy hair. thick undercoat in the winter.

Hair

Thick, white, 2.5 inches on the body and fringes on the back of the legs, short on the head.

Litter size and frequency

Average 6 to 8 puppies once per year

Life Expectancy

9 to 11 years

What are the Social Behaviors and Nature of Akbash Dogs?

The Akbash breed’s temperament is steady, calm, and quiet. Aky Dogs are independent and can correctly respond to changing circumstances without human direction. Akbash Dogs are highly suitable as home companions or estate guardians. 

The Aky is loyal, gentle, and quietly affectionate with its own family, including children and family pets, once adequately socialized in interacting with children and other pets. They tend to be suspicious toward strangers and watchful of other dogs and may, on their own territory, react aggressively to intruding dogs, particularly those of the same gender.  

Akbash Social Traits

Breed Information

Relationship with family

Akbash Dogs are loyal, affectionate, and protective of their human families. Aky Dogs tend to choose a favorite human, often the person it regards as its pack leader.

Relationship with strangers

Akbash Dogs are wary and suspicious of strangers. They typically take their cues from their owners, ready to go into protective mode if necessary. Once they are satisfied that there is no threat, they will warm up to strangers.

Relationship with other dogs

Turkish Akbash Dogs have innate pack tendencies that make them sociable with other dogs. Akbash will be happy in families with more dogs, preferably the opposite gender.

Relationship with older people

Aky Dogs interact well with older people, but only if they have enough backyard space.

Relationship with children

Akbash dogs can certainly be good when interacting with children, but Aky parents should note the potential issues. Akbash dogs who grew up with children should not cause problems. If they join a household with kids already present, problems may arise. Akbash puppies tend to play-bite, and their massive size might knock small children over. Akbash Dogs may see their family’s children as part of the flock to guard and act instinctively when other children are around. Once the dogs mature, they will be OK with children, but they develop slowly and may only reach full maturity after 2 to 3 years.

Adaptability level

Akbash Dogs adapt easily to different circumstances, as long as they always have enough space to play and exercise with their human playmates and other house pets.

What is the General Information about Akbash Dogs?

Originally developed in Turkey to guard livestock, the Akbash dog became popular in America many years later. The Akbash is Turkey’s national dog, and reports of these giant guardians date back to the 750s to 300s B.C. Flock guardians are designed to bond with their flocks like goats and sheep in the field and children when they’re home. 

They tend to be independent because they have to function without human assistance or guidance much of the time. Their senses are acute, and they have excellent hearing and vision. Akbash Dogs do not drool excessively, but their barking might be more than expected. 

Their barking is part of their guardian skills in that they bark to chase predators from their flocks. They see themselves as always on duty, and when they’re home, any threats will get the barking treatment, to chase them away and to warn their humans.

In addition to being guardians of livestock and protectors of properties and families, many Aky Dogs in the U.S. are active service or assistance dogs. Despite being white, Akbash Dogs are not albinos, and they have dark pigment around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Many Akbash dogs are born with double dewclaws on the rear legs, similar to Great Pyrenees and Briard breeds from France.

Anyone who considers bringing an Akbash puppy home would be wise to avoid puppy mills and pet shops. Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. The best way to find a reputable breeder or rescue facility is to reach out to one of the three organizations below.

  1. Akbash Dog Association of America  ADAA
  2. Akbash Dogs International
  3. Dogs International’s Rescue Network

How to Feed an Akbash Dog?

Akbash Dogs do best on high-quality dog food, whether homemade with veterinarian guidance or commercial dog food. Any diet should be life-stage appropriate, like Akbash puppies, adults, or seniors. Akbash puppies should be fed food specifically formulated for large breed puppies. This will help their long bones grow and develop at a proper rate and help prevent a condition known as panosteitis, or ‘growing pains.’

 As adults, Akbash Dogs will do well on most high-quality commercial dog food brands. Due to their low energy requirements, they may need less food in a day than you might initially think. Dog parents should note that Akbash loves food, and if their feedings are not measured or controlled, obesity might be on the horizon. Akbash Dogs tend to gain weight, become bloated, and grow too quickly when young, leading to health problems like hip dysplasia later on. 

Dog parents are advised to feed their Akbash Adults between 1,500 and 2,000 calories or 4 to 5 8-oz cups of good quality kibble per day in two separate meals. Puppies need between 2,000 and 2,500 calories and their daily food in two or three measured meals instead of one meal per day, and they should avoid free-feeding all day. Although treats are necessary aids in training your Akbash, over-treating can also cause weight issues and obesity.

  • Food options for Akbash Puppies can be seen below.
    • Frozen Raw Food Option: Instinct Raw Cage-Free Chicken Recipe for puppies contains natural DHA for brain development and healthy vision. It is high in protein to help puppies build lean, healthy muscles and contains proper calcium and phosphorus levels for growing bones and strong teeth.
    • Dry Kibble Option: Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dog Kibble. This dry dog food is made with tasty chicken as the very first ingredient, providing a high-quality source of protein. It’s made with the special dietary needs of large breed puppies in mind, including omega-3 fatty acids to support brain and eye development. Plus, calcium helps support strong bones and joints, and essential antioxidants support a healthy immune system.
  • Food options for Adult Akbash Dogs can be seen below.
    • Frozen Raw Food Option: Instinct Raw frozen recipes deliver raw meat, fruits, vegetables, and the wholesome ingredients your large dog needs, all in a complete and balanced meal. It’s how pet food should be made—with real ingredients you can recognize.
    • Kibble for working dogs: Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic Working Dry Dog Food is a nutritionally dense diet that’s holistically formulated for working dogs, including pregnant and nursing females. The caloric density of each kibble also makes the Working Dog Diet a superb food for dogs that are either underweight or require an extremely high quantity of food to maintain weight.
  • Food options for Akbash Seniors can be seen below.
    • Frozen Raw Food Option: Instinct Raw Cage-Free Chicken Recipe for seniors contains natural DHA for cognitive support and healthy vision. It is high in protein to help senior dogs build lean, healthy muscles and it contains glucosamine and chondroitin for hip and joint health.
    • Dried Kibble Option: Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is formulated to provide both nutrition and flavor. Their senior foods feature antioxidants, fiber, and added calcium for bone and joint support.

What are the nutritional needs of the Akbash Dog?

The nutritional needs of an Akbash include high levels of specific nutrients. The essential nutrients for Akbash Dogs are listed below:

  • Protein: Akbash Dogs need natural animal protein, valuable for the amino acids they contain that are essential for Aky’s health. Equally important is the fact that protein builds lean muscles and provides energy.
  • Fat: Animal protein also provides adequate fat, an additional energy source that boosts the Akbash’s metabolism. However, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Excessive fat levels in the dog’s daily diet could result in weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. Most importantly, adult and senior Akbash Dogs need lower fat levels than puppies.
  • Carbohydrates: Although carbs are not essential nutrients, they are crucial energy sources. Giving the Akbash sufficient carbs will provide energy, encouraging the body’s protein absorption to build lean muscle. Beware, though, too much carbohydrate can lead to obesity.
  • DHA: DHA is one of the components of omega-3 fatty acids. It promotes proper eye and brain development in Akbash puppies. DHA develops cognitive development in puppies and slows cognitive decline in older dogs. Furthermore, omega fatty acids benefit aging dogs by treating chronic kidney disease and canine arthritis. Omega-3 oils improve the coat health of Akbash Dogs.
  • Micronutrient: Taurine is one micronutrient that aids heart health, and other valuable micronutrients for the promotion of strong joints in Akbash are chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • Minerals: Beneficial minerals for Akbash’s growth include a healthy balance of phosphorus and calcium. Pre- and probiotics and chelated minerals provide additional health to the diets of Akbash Dogs.

How Much Should an Akbash Puppy Eat?

The Akbash is a large breed. Guidance for feeding puppies is listed below.

  • Akbash puppies need slow, sustained growth to help prevent orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia. Raise them on a diet designed for large-breed puppies. Whatever diet you choose shouldn’t overemphasize protein, fat, and calorie levels.
  • Akbash Dogs should be fed according to a schedule, spreading meal times over three or four meals per day. Getting the puppy accustomed to meals at specific times is better than leaving food out to allow feeding throughout the day.
  • Akbash Dogs with medical conditions like hypoglycemia or low blood sugar are the exceptions because they need to nibble bits of food throughout the day.
  • Never feed your puppy from the table. It only encourages begging. Everyone in the family must follow this rule.

Akbash Puppies should eat a healthy, balanced diet because of the intense exercise they need every day. Aky Dogs tend to become overweight as they get older, so it’s important to monitor how much food they’re consuming from the time they are puppies. In addition, they have a risk for hip dysplasia, and joint supplements can keep them feeling healthy.

What are the Common Health Problems of Akbash Dogs?

Akbash Dogs are a healthy breed, but 6-monthly veterinarian checkups remain essential. 

The amount of time Akbash Dogs spend outdoors increases their risk of heartworm, and preventative care is crucial. Akbash Dogs are medium shedders and their grooming needs are moderate. Akbash Dogs are predisposed to several health problems, some of which are listed below.

  • Hypothyroidism involves insufficient thyroid hormone production, causing hair loss, dry skin and coat, and susceptibility to other skin diseases in Akbash Dogs.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease associated with the heart. Reputable breeders will screen their dogs for this disease and will not breed dogs that have it.
  • Hip dysplasia is a deformation that occurs and develops as Akbash puppies grow. It is caused by loose joints that prevent the ball part of one bone from sliding smoothly in the socket of the other joint bone. Instead, it grinds and rubs in the joint, causing painful wear and tear damage as the Akbash grows and becomes heavier. Although it could start in puppyhood, it usually only becomes evident in adult dogs, making annual medical examinations crucial.
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) or Gastric Torsion – often known as ‘bloat.’

This life-threatening disorder happens when an Akbash’s stomach fills with gas and becomes twisted. This is an emergency and requires urgent veterinary attention.

Akbash owners are recommended to have the following three health tests done:

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. PRA Optigen DNA Test
  3. Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  4. Thyroid Test

Akbash Dogs do not spend nearly as much time running as hunting dogs, and therefore they do not need as much exercise. However, please take note of their independent streak, and accept that your Akbash will not likely be the perfect jogging companion. A long walk is more to their taste, and any extra exercise they like to get involves playing with their canine and human playmates. 

What is the Average Maintenance Cost of Akbash Dogs?

The cost to adopt an Akbash is around $300 to cover caring for the dog before adoption. In contrast, buying an Akbash from a breeder can be significantly more expensive. Depending on the breeder, the average price of an Akbash puppy is between $600 and $2,000. Factors that impact the price of an Akbash puppy include the bloodline, gender, and show quality. 

Reportedly, the initial cost and expenses during the first year after buying an Akbash puppy could be between $4500 and $8500, and after that, the average annual expenditures could be between $2200 and $4500. 

The first year of an Akbash Dog’s life will involve significantly higher vet costs like vaccinations, tests for congenital diseases, microchipping, neutering, or spaying.

Some of the estimates of essential costs are listed below; however, none of the food and water bowl, bedding, toys, etc., are included here.

  • Premium Food & Treats $400 – $900
  • Vet Bills & Preventative Care $700 – $1500
  • Training $20 – $300
  • Registration & Tags $10 – $20
  • Insurance $720 – $1320

Potential Akbash parents need to be aware of the expenses they will encounter.

How to Train an Akbash Dog?

Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Please don’t wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and don’t forget to socialize your Aky pup all the time. New Akbash owners should be aware that the nature of the Akbash dog’s work as a protector makes it prone to barking, usually as a warning to those it sees as potential perpetrators.

Remember at all times that these are dogs selected to be suspicious and protective. Akbash dogs would often have to function independently without human guidance, making independent decisions while tending their flocks. This independence can make them more challenging to train and requires a steady but firm hand to make them acceptable family pets. 

Akbash Dogs will instinctively try to be the pack leader. A human with a strong character should train this breed to help them understand that although they are in charge and the decision-makers as the guard of their flock of sheep, there is another master back at home. 

Despite the Akbash’s friendly and easygoing disposition, training them can be a patience-testing exercise as they can be stubborn and independent. They tend to favor one person and see them as their ‘master.’ Once they have accepted their master, the training becomes less challenging.

Physical exercise is not enough for highly intelligent dogs like Akbash Dogs, and they need mental stimulation as well. However, the only way the Akbash can maintain high intelligence levels is by frequent mental stimulation to exercise their brains, similar to dogs who spend their days running need to exercise their bodies. If Akbash Dogs do not get the necessary mental stimulation, they’ll find their own entertainment, usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing.

What is the Akbash Dog Breed’s History?

The Akbash dog was developed in Turkey as a livestock-guarding dog. However, reports of these large guardian dogs go back to 750 to 300 B.C. Multiple accounts described the dogs as wearing spiked collars to protect their necks in fights with various types of predators. 

The Akbash breed originated from a significant crossroads area of early civilization. Therefore, contributors to the Akbash breed could have included dog types ranging from mastiffs to sighthounds.

Americans David and Judy Nelson became interested in the Akbash in the 1970s and imported many of the dogs to the United States. The United States Department of Agriculture also showed interest in the Akbash, using them in its predator control program. The United Kennel Club recognized the Akbash in 1998. The Aky is categorized as a guardian breed. 

Flock guardians like the Akbash breed are designed to bond with their home flocks (the flock can be anything from goats or sheep to children). They tend to be independent because they have to function without human assistance or guidance for much of their working time. 

They are very aware of their surroundings and have acute hearing and eyesight. Many of these dogs work both as livestock guardians in the United States and elsewhere as assistance and service dogs.

How to Name an Akbash Dog?

Naming your Turkish Akbash Dog might require different criteria than new Aky parents might expect. Finding inspiration and taking time to choose a name for your precious little ball of white fluff is essential, but keep in mind that your puppy will respond to the sound of your call and not the name. Choosing a name with two syllables is the secret to making a unique sound by which to call your Aky puppy

Another issue to consider is that you will undoubtedly do some obedience training, teaching your Akbash to “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “come,” and more. If you choose a one-syllable name, it might confuse your Aky Pup if its name sounds like a command. It is also a good idea not to lose sight of the tiny ball of fluff that will ultimately become a gentle giant weighing more than 120 pounds. 

By that time, Pixy or Puffball might no longer be appropriate. Below are examples of boy and girl Aky Dog names inspired by the Akbash’s Turkish origins.

  • Inspiration – White Color: Beyaz (White) and Kartopu (Snowball) for boys or girls.
  • Inspiration – Safekeepers: Mohafiz or Veli ( Guardian) for boys Aky Dogs. 

and Görkem (Splendor) or Kralice (Queen) for girls Aky Pups.

If you choose short names, use them in regular communication with your Akbash pup, but find a way to add something for when you call your Aky Dog to establish a sound she will associate with you from a distance.

What are the Different Types of Akbash Dogs?

Although there are no different types of Akbash dogs, there are some differences within the Akbash breed. Two significantly different coats exist, and both coat types come with undercoats with thickness depending on the season. Some Akbash pups are born with sleek-looking medium-length coats that lie flat against the undercoat. Other puppies have long wavy coats, rough to the touch, and this group has profuse feathering on the tail and legs.

Akbash Dogs come in both medium and long coat types. The medium coat lies flat and has a sleek appearance, while the long-coated dogs have slightly wavy hair, a distinct ruff feel, and thick feathering on the legs and tail. Coats are primarily white, with light biscuit-colored nuances around the ears of some Akbash dogs.

Another difference involves the genders of the dogs. The males are about 20 pounds heavier and 2 inches higher than the females, who have distinct feminine appearances.  

What Dog Breeds are Similar to the Akbash Dog Breed?

Although the Akbash is quite rare in the U.S., you can find several similar breeds, especially from the Mediterranean Basin (Turkey, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and France). Some breed similarities are listed below.

  1. Great Pyrenees: There are few similarities between the Turkish Akbash and the French Pyrenees, except that they are both large dogs with similar weights. Their coats are white with possible shades of cream and biscuit tints around the ears. The Pyrenees and some Akbash dogs have long-haired coats with moderate shedding and grooming needs. Both breeds are family and child-friendly and expected to live for 11 to 14 years.
  2. Anatolian Shepherd: The Akbash and the Anatolian are both from Turkey, with many similarities. The Akbash has longer legs, but the Anatolian weighs slightly more. Both breeds have white coats and live for 10 to 11 years. Both are friendly companion dogs. and much more about the life of Anatolian Shepherd Dog Breed and diet information
  3. Hungarian Kuvasz: You’ll find some similarities when comparing the Akbash and the Hungarian Kuvasz. Both breeds are large, but the Turkish dog is slightly heavier and taller. Both breeds have white coats with similar shedding and grooming levels. They have the same life expectancy, and both breeds are kid and family-friendly.

Michael Brady

Michael is an animal-lover who specializes in marketing. He started running Dog Food Care with his mother, Sarah, after leaving his office job. Michael gained enough flexibility in his schedule to be able to adopt a dog of his own and welcomed Emmie the dachshund into his home in 2020.