10 Turkish Dog Breeds You’ll Love!

anatolian shepherds running

We have lots of ways of categorizing dog breeds. There are the ‘official’ ones, such as sporting, hound, and Terrier… and there are also the ‘unofficial’ ones such as cuteness, color, and whether they have floppy ears or not.  

But countries are another great way to find out more about different pups. In this blog, we’re going to be looking at some of the amazing Turkish dog breeds there are, so you can find out whether one of these ‘köpekler’ are the furry friend you’ve been waiting for.

Here are 10 amazing Turkish pups. Some are recognized by the kennel clubs and others are yet to be. Wherever your dog comes from, it’s important to make sure they’re a good fit for your family and experience.

Some on this list are big pooches with big personalities and need an owner that recognizes and respects this. Always do your research so you can be sure you’re offering a dog the perfect home for them!

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

anatolian shepherd standing

These pups are one of the best-known Turkish dog breeds. As their name suggests, these dogs are fierce sheep-guarding dogs that have been around for thousands of years. They’re therefore naturally territorial and protective of those around them. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are also very intelligent and patient and can get on with kids and other dogs they’re grown up with.

If you’re looking for a lap dog that will love to have its ears scratched, this isn’t the breed for you. These dogs are workers before anything else. They’re also very big – males can grow up to 150 pounds, so they really need an experienced owner who can take care of a pup of this size. 

Although they love their family, they do have a tendency to be dominating if not taught otherwise from a young age.

Kangal Shepherd Dog

kangal shepherd dog standing

The Kangal Dog is very similar to the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. A main difference, however, is that the Kangal Dog is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) but the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is. They are, however, recognized by the United Kennel Club. These pups are named after the Kangal District in Sivas Province in Turkey, where they were originally bred.

Just like the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Kangals are fierce livestock guardians bred to protect everything around them. They’re big and muscular and can be territorial at times (which is a sign of a good livestock pup).

According to the UKC, they have the strength and speed to show aggression towards a threat but will prefer to intimidate them where possible. Kangals are very loyal pups and will adore their owners but they will be reserved around people they don’t know.

Akbash Dog

akbash dog standing

The Akbash dog is another Turkish pup not recognized by the AKC although it is by the UKC. These large, fluffy white dogs are also livestock guardians first bred in Western Turkey. They’re very similar to other white guard dogs found around the Mediterranean, such as the Great Pyrenees.

Early socialization is a must with these dogs. Protecting is their main goal and they can easily become overly protective which can lead to problems with other pups. They’ll benefit from exposure to other people and dogs from a young age so they grow up familiar with them.

These beautiful dogs are usually very calm and prefer to wander around their backyard and have a quick nap rather than go on long walks or runs.


catalburun dog portrait

The Catalburun dog is a truly unique dog breed, and not just on this list. They’re one of only three dog breeds on the planet that have a split nose! Unlike many other Turkish dog breeds, the Catalburun is not a guarding pup but a hunting dog.

Also known as the Turkish Pointer, this breed is an incredible hunter. They’ve been used for centuries by their owners to perfectly ‘point’ out where prey is hiding. They’re very athletic dogs that have the distinctive ‘Pointer’ look about them (beautiful floppy ears) although they’re a little larger and more stocky than some other pointers. 

Catalburun are usually calm dogs that get along well with children but can be reserved around some canines. Like other hunting dogs, they need lots of mental and physical exercise and can become mischievous and destructive if they don’t get it.

Although a wonderful and unique-looking dog, Catalburuns are incredibly rare and hardly ever found outside their native Turkey.

Aksaray Malaklisi

Aksaray Malaklisi standing
Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aksaray_malaklisi_beto.jpg

You’re right, many Turkish dog breeds are large, sandy in color, have a black bask, and are livestock protectors. And the Aksaray Malaklisi is no different. These pups are also known as the Turkish Mastiff. They were first bred in Aksaray Province in Central Anatolia and are a very strong and muscular breed.

Although more common in Turkey, Aksaray Malaklisi are not recognized by any of the major kennel clubs in America. These dogs, like others on this list, are guardians first and pets second. They can be aloof and don’t tend to work well with other dogs, especially not if they’re the same sex. 

They also need an owner who will respect their space and their unique temperament. They’re not a good choice for first-time owners or those who want a pup to cuddle.


These pups are a little different from other Turkish dogs on the list because they’re a spitz breed. They have compact bodies, erect ears, and beautiful, fluffy tails that curve over their backs. They can be in many different colors and patterns and have thick coats.

Little is known about the origins of these dogs but some experts think they’ve been around since the middle ages! They were first discovered in the Baltic and Black Sea ports so it’s presumed they came in with traders and were further bred.

Zerdava are excellent hunters and guard dogs and are very loyal. They work well in a group and can even hunt large animals such as bears and boars. Whilst devoted to the ones they love, they can be very suspicious of strangers and other canines, making them great guard dogs too!

Anatolian Sultanic Dog

turkmen tazi standing
Credits: Akin Tulubas

These beautiful, elegant dogs are also known as the Greyhound of Anatolia or the Turkmen Tazi. As you might guess from their form, this breed is a sighthound and incredibly fast – they can run up to 40mph! Because Anatolian Sultic Dogs have a very high prey drive it’s best they’re kept on a leash when out walking. Other pets in the home may also be a problem.

This breed of dog is very calm and sweet-natured. They’re affectionate toward their owners and like to spend time relaxing at home. They don’t need lots of exercise and prefer to sprint for a few minutes around a fenced-in yard rather than go on long walks. 

They can be sensitive and respond best to positive reinforcement.

Kars Dog

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This is another breed of Turkish origin bred to guard livestock. These pups get their name from Kars, a town in Kars Province in Eastern Turkey. They look very similar to the Caucasian Shepherd dog but they are a separate breed. 

Although still large, Kars Dogs are usually a little smaller than Akbash and Kangals. They’re still sturdy, strong, and dominant dogs that need an experienced owner to bring out the best in them. Early socialization is essential with Kars Dogs so that they get used to being around other pups and people from a young age. 

These dogs can be many different colors including black, red, sand, brown, and white and many will have white markings.

Rize Koyun

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Rize Koyun dogs are beautiful, bear-like pups that were originally bred (yes, you guessed it) as livestock guardians. They’re big and hairy, and have something of the Tibetan Mastiff about them. Their thick coats can be various different colors and combinations including gray, black, red, brown, and white.

These pups are quite aloof and don’t mind spending time alone. They’re fierce protectors of their livestock and have a very powerful and intimidating bark to ward off predators. They don’t need much exercise and would prefer to wander around a large backyard than go for a long walk or run.

Zagar Dog

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This breed, also known as the Turkish Dikkulak (erect ear) is another spitz dog breed used for guarding and herding. They’re slightly shorter than others on the list, a little more stocky, and have the classic spitz tail and erect ears. They can be in many different colors including beige, sand, and brown.

As is common for spitz breeds, the Zagar Dog is very loyal to its humans and gets on well with other pups that they’ve been socialized with. They like to work as part of a team and enjoy other canine company. They’re great workers and enjoy what they do. Although also good companion dogs, they enjoy having something to do so their owners can praise them!

What Are The Origins of Turkish Dog Breeds?

As you can see from these 10 amazing pups, Turkish dogs don’t just have one origin. Many were bred to be guard dogs but there are also a couple of hunters and companion breeds among them. Some are ancient breeds and others have been around for less time.

As you can tell from the pictures, many of the breeds on this list look very similar and some do have distant ancestors although they’re considered to be separate breeds today. Others, like the Anatolian Sultanic Dog and the Catalburun, look very different!

What Are The Most Popular Turkish Dog Breeds?

In Turkey, many of these breeds are very popular and common – especially for those looking for a livestock guardian. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, Kangal Shepherd Dogs, and Aksaray Malaklisi are three of the best and most popular ones.

In the United States, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is arguably the most famous Turkish breed as it appears at number 79 in the AKC’s list of most popular dog breeds.

What Are The Rarest Turkish Dogs?

The rarest Turkish breed is the Catalburun. This adorable, split-nosed pup is hard to find, especially outside of Turkey. If you have your heart set on one of these dogs, you can expect to do a lot of research for a breeder and wait a long time.

Last Thoughts

You might have heard of the Anatolian Shepherd or the Kangal but it’s possible that many of the other breeds on this list are new to you.

It’s important to think carefully about any dog you adopt, and that’s especially true when it comes to Turkish dog breeds. Many are large, independent, territorial, and bred to guard – which can make them a handful for inexperienced owners.

It’s also important to make sure you have the space to have such large dogs in your home. They’re perhaps not the easiest dogs, but with the right owner, they’ll be loyal, hard-working, and totally devoted. 

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