Breeding For An Elegant Dairy Doe That Dances Like a Ballerina and Milks Like a Cow
OUR HERD PROTECTORS--ANATOLIAN SHEPHERD DOGS
As one look into their eyes will attest, Anatolians are the most extraordinary dogs. Those soulful eyes--reflecting thousands of years of independent herding experience upon the steppes and in the mountains of Turkey--communicate both incredible intelligence as well as gentleness. Contrary to their tough demeanor, Anatolians employ a unique inbred ability to use "graded aggression" in encounters with identified predators. Very smartly, if a warning bark, threatening posture, or chasing will take care of the problem at hand, then so be it. However, that's not to say that a typical Anatolian is a push-over; if the situation warrants, these dogs will bravely and unequivocably fight to the death in protection of their charges.
Our four Anatolians--three sisters kept on pasture with our goats and one big boy raised as a household/human kid guardian--have very different personalities, but all remain true to their genetics in terms of both intelligence and the use of aggression. (Indeed, the graded aggression characteristic of the Anatolian was the deciding factor in adding them to our farmstead.) After a long and trying puppyhood and adolescence, all four have proven to be invaluable in the performance of their duties. The girls have taken care of the coyote and fisher cat problems threatening our goats, and Bo, our lion of a boy, shadows our children and watches the house 24/7.
The fairly long period of maturation--two years or more--required by an Anatolian to "grow up" and assume its duties in a safe and trustworthy manner is one reason why so many of the dogs, through no fault of their own, end up as candidates in various national rescue programs. It's unrealistic to expect that an Anatolian puppy can be placed with its livestock and learn what to do by instinct alone. Household Anatolians also require ongoing training in obedience and acceptable social behaviour. Foremost, both field dogs and household dogs must learn the lesson of "human alpha-dom", because an Anatolian that does not submit to its humans is a DANGEROUS TIME BOMB!
There are many educational resources available to Anatolian owners, but the best way to start (after researching!) is with a purchase from a reputable and experienced ASD breeder. Experienced breeders know their genetic lines and will have the ability to carefully screen homes and dogs for the best matches. An established breeder will also be able to provide the necessary ongoing support for training, especially needed during the challenges of Anatolian maturation.
Despite the veneer of civilization shown by our household Anatolian, Bo, it is important to remember that ASDs are "wired" for a protective role and can quickly turn from couch potatoes into fearsome adversaries! All Anatolians--field dogs as well as house dogs--need obedience training and ongoing reminders that their humans are Top Dogs. Surprise photo of Bo, age two, enjoying the AC on a hot summer day.
TID BITS...MISCELLANEOUS CARE TIPS AND OUR EXPERIENCES WITH ASDs
A 2/09 POSTING TO ND MINI-GOATS REGARDING THE WISDOM OF EXPOSING LIVESTOCK GUARDIAN DOGS TO FREQUENT VISITS FROM "NON-FAMILY" DOGS:
We have two almost-four-year-old Anatolian sisters who live with our
goats 24/7 in an area enclosed by electric perimeter strand fencing.
As well, we have three house dogs, two goofy Goldens and a neutered
Anatolian male, who is three. The dogs do not mix. The house dogs seem
to have a mental territory map that allows for about fifty feet of "No
Man's Land" between them and the pasture girls. That distance is never
broached. When our household Anatolian was younger and more daring, he
used to tease the goat dogs by running back and forth on top of
boulders that overlooked their pasture. One day, he lost his footing,
tumbled down, hit the electric wire and, with the shock of it all, ran
through the fence into the girls' area. I was horrified as I watched
from a distance, because I figured it was the end of him. The girls
came running ASAP and Bo stood there, looking like a Christian martyr
awaiting the lions. The girls were not aggressive to him, just wanted
to play. The end of the story was happy...I removed him from the pen
without any injury and he NEVER EVER tried to go across "No Man's
I think that this story illustrates a lot of behavioural features
unique to LGDs that make them very special, but also potentially
dangerous to other dogs. Our Bo did OK with the girls because he was a
familiar daily feature to them, since puppyhood. Secondly, he was a
neutered male (oftentimes, a dog of the same sex--especially non-
neutered--will precipitate aggression). Thirdly, he was completely and
utterly submissive. Fourthly, I--Alpha Wolf --was there to "protect"
him and my mighty mouth was screaming at the girls to "Back off!"--a
command that I had used with them since puppyhood. I don't think that
I could predict the same outcome for another dog, even for a dog that
visited here periodically. The behaviour of an Anatolian may lead you
to believe that they will tolerate other animals quite well, since
ASDs are wired to conserve energy and only use "graded
aggression" (matching behaviour to the degree of threat.) A visiting
dog may elicit some barking across the fence, and then watchfulness.
But let that dog get into the area being guarded and the
story will change rapidly. Depending on how the LGDs perceive the
threat level of the visiting dog, they may chase and allow the dog to
escape or they may attack and kill. Even on leash, outside of the
guarded area, LGDs may be aggressive to other dogs, although that
varies with personality and training. So, I do not think that it's a
good idea to have lots of strange dogs visiting a farm where LGDs are
used; too dangerous for the visitors and too stressful for the
Beyza August 10th, 2012 Bo January 8th, 2013 Zoe July 14th, 2013 Kit November 20th, 2014--Our Family's Golden Retriever Whose Loving Presence Blessed Us
Lay down Your sweet and weary head Night is falling You’ve come to journey's end Sleep now And dream of the ones who came before They are calling From across the distant shore --ANNIE LENNOX
Beyza--Running in Dog Heaven Now--August 10th, 2012
Several years ago, an innocuous lump between Beyza's eyes was diagnosed as a neural sheath tumor. After the lump was removed, Beyza enjoyed a long period of good health before her decline. Unfortunately, in December 2011, an x-ray was ominous: the reoccuring tumor had spread throughout her skull and behind her eye orbits. It appeared that she didn't have long to live. However, since Beyza was still painfree and eager to return to her barnyard duties, we took her home with the hope of making every one of her last days the best: she was treated to her favorite foods and given lots of hugs and kisses. Under the wise ministrations of Dr. Audrey at Fremont Animal Hospital, Beyza lived for eight more months, her symptoms kept at bay by a daily antibiotic and Prednisone. On the morning of August 10th, it was time for Beyza to end her battle. She was peacefully put to sleep (thank you, Dr. Mary of Deerfield Vet Practice), surrounded by her bucks in her barnyard, and cradled in my arms when she passed on. As we buried her in the field opposite, a gentle breeze came up...Beyza saying her final good bye as her soul found "Dog Heaven".
Bo--Never Forget--January 8th, 2013
The photo above shows Bo on the morning of his death, shortly before he was humanely euthanized by our farm vet, Dr. Mary of Deerfield Vet Practice (who we thank again for her exceptional kindness and sympathy.) Despite being rendered "three-legged" due to pain from osteosarcoma, Bo did his job bravely and without complaint up to the very end. Rest in peace, Old Boy, as you guard the gates of "Dog Heaven". You are missed.
Zoe--Sweet Kisses--July 14th, 2013
Zoe was humanely euthanized on July 14th, 2013 after suffering severe facial and oral wounds from a porcupine quilling. Our appreciation again goes to the wonderful docs at Deerfield Veterinary Practice. Zoe loved her people with all her heart and her dog kisses will be missed.
In Memory of Kit--July 31, 2001 to November 20, 2014--A long life, well-lived as a woods roamer, human kid companion, floor mopper-upper, and soul soother...Rest in peace, old friend.
Emma and Zoe as Puppies, June 2005
Our Anatolians amuse us, love us, and guard our goats with their lives. They are intelligent and resourceful dogs. Here's Emma as a puppy, cooling off on a hot July day.
In April 2006, Emma and Zoe celebrated their first year milestone! The girls have developed an interesting division of duties. Emma (light fawn) is the worker, ever on the lookout for danger. Zoe (stretched out) is the "mop up crew" and is usually found taking it easy.
Emma and Zoe, Age Two, Winter 2007. Although the girls have proven to be very effective in deterring predators, they are also big babies who thrive on their humans' love and attention.
Bo, The Gentle Giant. Photo at Age 18 Months. Summer 2007 Photo.
Bo's 2009 Spring Shed-Out
WE ARE A SMALL FAMILY FARM EMPHASIZING EDUCATION, COMMITMENT TO THE HUMANE AND INDIVIDUALIZED CARE OF OUR ANIMALS, AND RESPECT FOR THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE THAT SURROUNDS US...