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The Turkish Akbash

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Tags: Akbash Dogs, Origin

Akc Champagne Boston Terrier Puppies



Marathon, NY

Boston Terrier

For many dog owners, it is a mystery where their dog originated. For mutts and non-purebred dogs, this is something that would be almost impossible to discover since the bloodlines would be muddled and undistinguishable. But for purebred dogs like the Akbash, the social history of the dog is not only known it is celebrated by the breed's owners.

The Akbash dog is a very ancient breed that has its roots a thousand years ago in rural Turkey. Historically the dog is the Turkish equivalent of all white guard dogs commonly used in the regions surrounding the Mediterranean basin. As the dog was bred from the Mastiff and the gazehound, and specialized for its primary job of protecting livestock, the dog became what it is today: the all white, large working dog still used today in western plain regions and mountainous areas by villagers and shepherds of Turkey to guard sheep.

In the Turkish language, the word "akbash" means "white head". This is very important for the specification of the breed since there is a similar breed from rural Turkey called the Karabash, which in Turkish means "black head". The reason for the two colors of the dog extends from the amount of water available in different areas of rural Turkey. In areas where there was a lot of water, the sheep were white, and the dogs bred to guard them were bred to be white as well. In areas where there was little water, the sheep were black, and therefore the guard dogs were bred black. The need for the dogs to match the sheep was both to confuse predators and to not alarm the sheep. The camouflage from predators prevented the predator from seeing the dog and attacking a sheep further away; as for the need for the sheep to be calm, that is self-explanatory.

So from these two areas of Turkey came two similar dogs: the Akbash, the white guard dog, and the Karabash, the black guard dog. Mixing of the breeds often happened when villagers intermingled, creating a breed that included both white and black dogs. In the 1970s, these dogs were imported to the US and Canada and were called Anatolian Shepherd dogs. In 1980 the US Department of Agriculture recognized Akbash and the Anatolian Shepherd dog as part of the Predator Control Program. However, Akbash purists do not regard the Anatolian Shepherd dog as the pure form of the breed because it is a hybrid of the Akbash and Karabash.

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