The Akbash dog is an exceptional working dog. For any farmer or rancher with a flock of animals to protect, there are few better options for a guardian dog than the Akbash. His breeding has ensured the dog's intelligence, instincts, protectiveness, and physical prowess, all very important aspects of the ultimate flock guardian.
It is a common misconception that the Akbash is a herder. While the Akbash does work with flock animals like herders do, the Akbash is actually a flock guardian rather than an actual herder. He is the "bodyguard" of the flock, and he does not take the dominant position over the flock; his job mostly consists of protecting the animals rather than leading them. Instead of taking the dominant position in his relationship with a flock of animals, the Akbash bonds with them and becomes very maternal; if they have been raised with the animals, Akbash dogs will protect their flock at any cost - even at the cost of their own lives.
Akbash dogs were initially bred in Western Turkey in rural plains areas as sheep guardians. The dogs were often required to protect a flock from very dangerous predators, such as wolves and bears. In such an intense and perilous environment, the dogs needed to be aware of their surroundings and needed to develop a keen sense of danger. As a result of their breeding, the current Akbash dog will display aggressive tendencies towards strangers and unknown animals if he perceives them as a threat. For the Akbash, any animal or person not accompanied by a familiar person is seen as a potential menace and will be treated as such.
The dog's physical appearance is another important part of his effectiveness as a guard dog for a flock of animals. The Akbash is physically made to live outside: his coat, whether long or medium-haired, is very course and will not become matted, making caring for the dog fairly easy. He is also quite happy to be outside and would prefer the great wide open to small, enclosed indoor areas. He will gladly sit in the rain and snow rather than seek shelter when he is with his flock, and adapts well to hot and cold climates. In addition to the dog's coat and penchant for the elements, he is quite large. His size makes him more of a threat to predators: male Akbash dogs can weight as much as 130 lbs, and the females can weigh up to 100 lbs.