If you are a dog lover, you might be familiar with popular breeds like the Golden Retriever, Labrador, or Poodle. But have you ever heard of the Kangal, Akbash, or Turkish Pointer? These are just a few examples of the amazing Turkish dog breeds that have been bred and cherished in Turkey for centuries.

Turkish dog breeds have a rich history and unique characteristics that make them stand out from other breeds. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at these remarkable dogs, exploring their origins, physical and behavioral traits, and their place in modern-day Turkey and beyond.

So, let us dive in and learn all about the fascinating world of Turkish dog breeds!

Large Turkish Dog Breeds


Akbash dog

Akbash Breed Overview

Other Names: Akbaş

Size (inches): 28 to 34 inches

Weight (pounds): 80 to 140 pounds

Coat Colors: White with a touch of biscuit color

Personality: Independent, vocal, friendly, loyal, suspicious, and protective

Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

Akbash, one of the Turkish dog breeds, is a remarkable livestock guardian breed of dogs native to western Turkey. While the origin of this breed is a bit obscure, what is clear is that Akbash is an ancient and pure breed. It is well-known for its ability to protect livestock, and its calm demeanor makes it a popular choice for families.

The breed first came to the limelight in the Western world, mainly during the 1970s when 40 Akbash dogs were imported to the US. With their large size, it’s no surprise that Akbash dogs are used to guard large flocks of sheep or goats. But what makes them unique is their gentle, affectionate, and calm nature. They are known for their loyalty and their ability to form strong bonds with their human families. In fact, Akbash dogs get along well even with children, making them a great choice for families looking for a gentle yet protective companion.

One of the most striking characteristics of Akbash dogs is their size. They are large dogs, typically weighing between 80 to 140 pounds and standing up to 32 inches tall at the shoulder. Despite their size, Akbash dogs are surprisingly agile and quick on their feet. Their lean, muscular build allows them to move quickly and efficiently when guarding their flocks.

Akbash dogs have thick, dense white coats, providing protection from the harsh Turkish winters. Their coat also helps them blend in with their surroundings, making them more effective at guarding their flocks against predators.

While Akbash dogs were originally bred for their protective instincts, their gentle nature has also made them popular family pets. They are calm, affectionate, and loyal dogs that form strong bonds with their owners. They are known for being good with children, and their calm demeanor makes them an ideal choice for families with young kids. However, Akbash dogs have a strong protective instinct, which means they need to be properly socialized and trained from a young age to prevent aggression toward strangers.

Regarding grooming, Akbash dogs have a thick, white coat that sheds moderately throughout the year. Weekly brushing can help keep their coat clean and healthy.


A face closeup of a Kangal dog

Kangal Breed Overview

Size (inches): Up to 29 inches in males; up to 27 in females

Weight (pounds): Between 110 and 150 pounds in males; between 80 and 120 in females

Coat Colors: Blue fawn, brindle, fawn, liver, red fawn, white, biscuit and white, and gray fawn

Personality: Gentle, protective, and friendly

Lifespan: 10 to 13 years

Kangal, another fascinating Turkish dog breed, is often grouped together with the Anatolian Shepherd by the American Kennel Club. However, other sources differentiate between the two breeds based on some distinctions, such as the amount of fur around their necks. Regardless of how they are classified, Kangals are an impressive breed that has been around for about four millennia, originating in the Kangal district of Turkey. They were brought to the United States during the Second World War and have been gaining popularity ever since.

One of the most remarkable features of Kangal dogs is their impressive size and strength. They have a large stature and the strongest bite force in the canine world, which makes them an excellent choice for guarding livestock against predators. However, despite their guardian instincts and imposing presence, Kangal dogs are actually quite level-headed, calm, and cautious unless provoked enough. This temperament makes them an ideal family pet when properly socialized and trained.

In fact, Kangals are known for their loyalty to their families, and they can even take on the role of nannies for children when socialized properly. They are naturally protective of their families and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. However, this protective instinct means that Kangals must be trained and socialized from a young age to prevent aggression toward strangers.

When it comes to grooming, Kangal dogs have short, dense coat that sheds moderately throughout the year. Weekly brushing can help keep their coat clean and healthy.

Aksaray Malaklisi

Aksaray Malaklisi

Aksaray Malaklisi Breed Overview

Other Names: Malaklı Karabaş, Turkish Mastiff, and Anatolian Lion

Size (inches): 29 to 31 inches

Weight (pounds): 130 to 190 pounds

Coat Colors: Grey

Personality: Fierce, courageous, and protective

Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

Another remarkable breed among Turkish dog breeds is the Aksaray Malaklisi, which takes its name from the Aksaray province in Central Anatolia. This breed is believed to have descended from Kangals, but they were selectively bred for larger size and heavier weight. Today, these dogs can be found all over Turkey and are renowned for their territorial nature and unbiased temperament.

At first glance, Aksaray Malaklisi might appear to be a lazy dog, but they are actually quite active and vigilant. These dogs take their guarding duties seriously and will stop at nothing to protect their family and territory. Their territorial nature means that they may not be as welcoming to strangers, but with proper socialization, they can become friendly and affectionate companions.

One of the most notable characteristics of Aksaray Malaklisi is their sheer size and weight. They are a large and imposing breed, with males weighing up to 150 pounds and standing up to 32 inches tall at the shoulder. This size makes them ideal for guarding livestock and property, but it also means that they require ample space to move around and burn their energy.

In terms of grooming, Aksaray Malaklisi has a short, dense coat that is easy to maintain. They shed moderately year-round and require weekly brushing to keep their coat clean and healthy.

Rize Koyun

Rize Koyun

Rize Koyun Breed Overview

Size (inches): Up to 28 inches

Weight (pounds):Up to 150 pounds

Coat Colors:Commonly dark gray

Personality:Vocal and protective

Lifespan:Nine to 13 years

The Rize Koyun is a guardian dog breed named after the town of Rize, located near the Black Sea coast of Turkey. This breed is also known as the “Turkish variant of the Molosser dog” due to its strong, muscular build, especially its legs. Originally bred to protect livestock, these dogs are also fiercely protective of their owners and will do anything to keep them safe.

One of the most notable characteristics of Rize Koyun is its formidable bark. They have a deep, booming bark that is sure to alert their owners of any potential danger. This makes them ideal guard dogs for homes and properties, as they can quickly alert their owners of any intruders. However, this also means that they may not be the best choice for apartment living, as their barking may disturb neighbors.

In terms of appearance, Rize Koyun has a short, dense coat that is usually black or fawn in color. They have broad heads with short muzzles and powerful jaws. Their ears are typically cropped to stand upright, which gives them a fierce and intimidating look. They have a strong and muscular build that allows them to take on any challenge that comes their way.

While Rize Koyuns are known for their protective nature, they are also incredibly loyal and affectionate towards their owners. They thrive on human companionship and love nothing more than spending time with their family. However, they can be wary of strangers and may require proper socialization from an early age to prevent any aggressive behavior.

In terms of training, Rize Koyun is a highly intelligent breed that responds well to positive reinforcement training. They require daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy, and they love nothing more than going for long walks or playing in a fenced yard. However, due to their size and strength, they may not be suitable for inexperienced dog owners.

Kars Shepherd

Kars Shepherd

Kars Shepherd Breed Overview

Other Names: The Kars and Kars Köpeği

Size (inches): Around 28.5 inches

Weight (pounds): Around 100 pounds

Coat Colors: Black, white, red, gray, and brown

Personality: Loyal, strong, courageous, and assertive

Lifespan: 10 to 11 years

The Kars Shepherd, also known as Kars Dog, is one of the largest and most imposing dog breeds that originated in Turkey. With its long and dense coat, the Kars Shepherd’s majestic appearance often commands attention. The breed is said to have originated in the Kars province of Turkey, and it is known for its brave temperament and fierce loyalty. This breed is often compared to the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, and it is not hard to see why. Both breeds share a similar appearance and are known for their impressive size and strength.

The Kars Shepherd is a working dog and is best suited for rural environments. This breed was initially bred to protect flocks of sheep from predators such as wolves and bears. The Kars Shepherd’s imposing stature and territorial instincts make it an excellent guardian of both livestock and property. In fact, these dogs are highly valued in Turkish farms for their immense protectiveness and ability to fight off predators.

Despite their fierce reputation, the Kars Shepherd is known to be a loyal and affectionate companion to their family. However, it is essential to note that this breed requires a lot of socialization and training to prevent any aggressive tendencies. Proper training will also help control their strong guarding instincts and prevent them from being overprotective of their family.

Boz Shepherd

Boz Shepherd Breed Overview

Size (inches): 28 to 35 inches in males; 26 to 33 in females

Weight (pounds): 120 to 190 pounds in males; 100 to 170 in females

Coat Colors: Gold/fawn

Personality: Intelligent, loyal, and protective

Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

Hailing from the Toros Mountains in southern Anatolia, Boz Shepherds are an ancient dog breed. They are ideal livestock guardians and are used for personal property protection. The breed shares many physical characteristics with the Kangal breed, including a heavy bone structure and a broad, muscular frame. Boz Shepherds, however, are slightly larger in size than Kangals.

One of the most striking features of Boz Shepherds is their calm and relaxed demeanor. Despite being bred for athleticism and agility, these dogs have a laid-back temperament, making them ideal family pets. They are patient with children and get along well with other animals when socialized from an early age. Boz Shepherds are naturally protective and are known for their fierce loyalty to their family.

Boz Shepherds are independent and intelligent dogs that require consistent training and socialization. They are excellent watchdogs, alerting their owners to any potential threats with their loud bark. Due to their history as a working breed, they are not suited for apartment living and require ample space to run and exercise.

Medium and Small Turkish Dog Breeds

Turkish Pointer

Turkish Pointer

Turkish Pointer Breed Overview

Other Names: Catalburun

Size (inches): 17 to 24 inches

Weight (pounds): 30 to 55 pounds

Coat Colors: White base with dark patches of red, pied, and black

Personality: Loyal, friendly, and even-tempered

Lifespan: 10 to 13 years

The Turkish Pointer is a fascinating dog breed with a unique appearance and impressive hunting skills. This breed comes from the southern Taurus province in Turkey and is relatively rare, with only around 200 Turkish Pointers today.

What sets this breed apart is its split nose, a genetic trait shared by only a few other breeds in the world. Turkish Pointers are smart, devoted, and highly skilled at hunting despite their rarity. They have a high prey drive and are excellent trackers, making them great for search and rescue missions.

In addition, these dogs are very loyal and affectionate towards their families. They form strong bonds with their owners and are always eager to please them. While they are not well-known outside of Turkey, Turkish Pointers are a unique and fascinating breed that deserves more recognition. If you are lucky enough to come across one, you will surely be impressed by its intelligence, loyalty, and hunting abilities.

Tonya Finosu

Tonya Finosu

Tonya Finosu Breed Overview

Size (inches): 12 to 13 inches

Weight (pounds): 20 to 26 pounds

Coat Colors: White only

Personality: Tolerant, playful, lively, and alert

Lifespan: 12 to 13 years

Tonya Finosu is a lesser-known breed, yet it is one of the most interesting ones. Hailing from the city of Tonya in Turkey, this breed is a beautiful white spitz dog with a fluffy coat and a curled tail. The history of this breed is shrouded in mystery, but it is believed to have been acquired during the Russian fur trade in Asia and Europe.

Despite its mysterious origins, Tonya Finosu has a loyal following among those who appreciate its lively and alert personality. These dogs are small, making them an excellent choice for families with limited space, but they are also very watchful and make great watchdogs. Tonya Finosu is a great example of how some dog breeds can be lost to history, but their unique characteristics and personalities can still make them cherished pets.

Popularity of Turkish Dog Breeds

Turkish dog breeds have gained recognition and popularity around the world for their unique physical characteristics, impressive skills, and endearing personalities. They have been featured in Turkish media and literature and in movies, TV shows, and books worldwide.

One of the most famous Turkish dog breeds, the Kangal, has been depicted in Turkish literature as a symbol of bravery, strength, and loyalty. The Turkish movie “Sivas” released in 2014, is a poignant story of a young boy who forms an unbreakable bond with a Kangal dog. This movie won numerous awards and was even Turkey’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.