These distinguished looking dogs are large and powerful with a noble presence. They have a distinct white coat with feathering on the legs and curved tail.
The Akbash Dog can have either a long or short coat, and in both cases there is an inner and outer coat. The inner has softer, finer hairs for insulation. The longer haired dogs are better for colder climates. Though both versions have feathering, the longer coated Akbash have a lot more feathering, as well as a distinctive "ruff" around their neck.
The Akbash can be a guard or companion dog. When used as a guard dog, they are not very personable. But if raised as a pet and companion with plenty of socialization, they do very well. They are very independent.
Since they have been bred to stay with a flock of sheep, they are a relatively low energy breed (it doesn't take a lot of effort to lie around and watch the flock!). But they do not like to be confined indoors. They like wide open spaces. They are a working dog and love to have a task to complete.
They generally do well with children since they see the child as one of the flock to be watched and protected. You just have to be aware during the first year of the dogs life, when they are establishing pack hierarchy, that young children may get in the way of the dog establishing dominant behavior.
Overall, these dogs are known for their intelligence, independence, loyalty and bravery. They can bond very closely with their owners, as well as other animals, and may display a range of emotion and sensitivity that is not often seen in many breeds.
The outer coat does not normally mat or tangle, but a weekly brushing is still a good idea. This is especially good for longer coated dogs who tend to shed a bit heavier. Of both varieties, the undercoat will shed heavily twice a year.
The Akbash dog originates from Turkey and is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds that still exist today. Though not a lot is known about their history, they are believed to date back about 3,000 years as a dog used to protect sheep. Their white color allows them to blend in with the herd (so they are not seen by predators), but also to distinguish them from predators (so they are not mistaken as one by a shepherd!).
Despite their long history and striking appearance, they have not gained wide-spread popularity. In 1999 they were recognized by the United Kennel Club, but they are not recognized by other kennel clubs.
The Akbash Dog takes well to training because they are so pack oriented. Most dog breeds are either submissive or dominant, and should be trained with this in mind. The Akbash can be either, so the first thing you need to determine is what type of personality your dog has.
A submissive dog is easier to train, you just need to be consistent with your commands, reward positive behavior, and be patient. With a dominant Akbash you need to assert your dominance - and maintain it! This type of dog will regularly challenge your authority, so maintain your status as alpha leader.
The most critical time of training is between 6 and 12 months. They shouldn't be left unattended with children during this time because they may try to assert their dominance over them (to establish pack hierarchy).
These are extremely healthy dogs, but they are susceptible to hip dysplasia and joint inflammation. To reduce genetic joint conditions, Akbash Dogs International requires hip screening as part of its breed standard.