A Versatile Breed
The Akbash Dog can be an especially good companion dog as long as the owner understands the basic temperament of the breed. As a livestock guarding breed, certain behaviors tend to be "hard-wired," or bred in, just as hounds and bird dogs and terriers and other types of dogs are born with certain, instinctive behaviors.
Livestock Guard Dog Traits
Livestock guarding dog breeds, such as the Akbash Dog, have an ability to bond to other species, accepting that species as their social "pack." After generations and even centuries of use with sheep (primarily), the livestock guarding breeds are "bite-inhibited," that is, they do not "snap first, think later" like many of the herding dogs -- the other category of "shepherd's dogs," a very different group of dogs.
Likewise, livestock guarding dogs tend to be protective, often placing themselves between what they are protecting and the perceived threat. They are also creatures of habit. They learn by observation what is usual (and accepted) and what is unusual (and suspicious). The Akbash Dog can be deceptively quiet, but it is always watchful. This is seen in their tendency to find an optimal spot from which to observe what is going on. Outside an Akbash Dog will typically find a high spot on which to lay. Inside, an Akbash Dog will post itself next to the owner's bed, in the hall near an outside door, or in some other central location.
The native Turkish "shepherd's" or livestock guard dog breeds, the Akbash Dog and the Kangal Dog, differ from some of the other flock guardians. They are less people aggressive than some and more unfriendly to strange dogs than most. However, they learn to accept and protect and enjoy the company of many different species, including humans and other companion dogs.
Basic Information about Companion Akbash Dogs
How well do Akbash Dogs housebreak?
Usually, they housebreak easily because the breed is naturally very clean. If your pup has been raised outside with free access to grass and natural footing. It is all the easier because he will seek that familiar footing when he needs to relieve himself.
Do they shed?
Yes, Akbash Dogs have a double coat and shed that undercoat usually in the spring or early summer. Dogs that live outside require little coat care unless they are heavily coated long-coats (such as those that are in cold climates). However, weekly brushing for companion dogs to remove loose hair is recommended.
As a large breed, do they require a lot of space for exercise?
Although Akbash Dogs are large (technically they are a giant breed), they are not an active breed, like the shepherds. Mature dogs are typically calm and low energy. However, a young dog needs enough space to run and stretch out for at least a short distance. Free, off-leash exercise is critical to the development of a healthy young dog.
Is a fence necessary to confine an Akbash Dog?
Yes! Good fencing is mandatory. A physicial fence - wire or wooden - is the only secure fence. A combination of either of those with an electric fence is also a possibility. Invisible fence alone is not a good option for this breed. A young dog that learns to escape fences is developing a terrible vice! An older reliable dog that perceives a threat may challenge a fence for the first time.It is important to know that this breed, by nature, is not easily frightened and does not respond quickly to a sound or sight that might be frightening to another dog. Akbash Dogs are notoriously NOT watchful of cars or other vehicles. An Akbash Dog standing in a road will look at a car that honks at it -- not run away.
Can an Akbash Dog be compatible with other family pets?
The answer to this is "YES!" In fact, a surprising number of semi-rural famillies get their first Akbash Dog to protect their small housedogs or family cats that are easy prey to coyotes. The key to success is that the Akbash Dog not be placed in a situation where it will eventually be placed in competition with another large, dominant dog. Unfortunately, "dog collectors" who want to own a variety of exotic dogs exist. Akbash Dog breeders try very hard to identify that kind of potential owner. An Akbash Dog is very dedicated to its owners. They need to be willing to take the dog through basic obedience classes (we recommend "fun"classes designed to bond dog and owner).
Which is better as a companion - a male or a female?
Both males and females exhibit the breed traits that make good companions. Neutering at around 7 months is strongly recommended. In many cases, after neutering, males become less more mellower and less dominant than the females. It is important to rememember that the USDA studies led to the conclusion that Akbash Dogs did not lose their instinct to protect even after neutering.
How do I find an Akbash Dog?
The most important thing that a potential buyer can do is to find an experienced breeder that they feel they can trust. The breeder you select is probably more important than any other decision you make. A good breeder will not let you buy the wrong dog -- the key is not simply the good intentions of the breeder but also their level of experience. Expect the breeder/seller to quiz you about many of the points mentioned above. Do not take offense. The breeder/sellers are just doing their job to the best of their ability.