Yoruk Anatolian
Traditional Nomad Dogs for Functional Beauty
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**General Information About Anatolians **How To Determine The Standards Of Anatolians ** Indispensability of Function and Selection ** Rooting for a Team or for Kangal ** The White of Akbaş

Chapter 2

General Information about Anatolians

It would be helpful at this point, before sharing my research, to describe what ASDs are. They are large-sized dogs, and they come with different coats and colors. They have been bred for centuries in Anatolia where they have been used to guard the villages, to protect mainly the small livestock, to hunt wild boar, wolf, and tiger, as well as to take their place in the ancient battles as war dogs.

In this section of the study, varieties of Shepherd Dogs in the Anatolian Plateau were observed. Shepherd Dog characteristics were considered, as well as their distribution relative to the regions. The provinces where the observations took place were: Izmir, Manisa, Denizli, Afyon, Burdur, Isparta, Antalya, Balikesir, Bursa, Bolu, Eskisehir, Ankara, Konya, Cankiri, Sivas, Kayseri, Rize, Kars, Agri, and Diyarbakir.

The Main Food for ASDs is Carbohydrates

Itis obvious that dogs are basically carnivores when one takes a look at their teeth and jaw structure. However, when dog teeth are compared to wolf teeth, dog teeth are significantly shorter. Although dogs are not as carnivorous as cats, they are also not as omnivorous as bears. However, dogs and wolves are more carnivorous than bears, and are closer to cats in that regard. Both cats and wolves are primarily hunters and dogs are in between the cat and bear in terms of diet. It is recorded that wolves and coyotes live on melons, dates and berries for certain periods of the year. Although ASDs are omnivorous like wolves and bears, they are more herbivorous compared to other dogs.

Based on experience, when ASDs are fed with wheat instead of meat, they grow more. While the ratio of meat to wheat is roughly 3 to 1 in the diet of German Shepherd Dogs, it is 1 to 3 with ASDs. If diet were based solely on the structure of teeth, it would be good to take a look at the Pandas, because the structure of teeth in Pandas is entirely carnivorous. However, Pandas mainly eat bamboo. They occasionally eat, eggs, fish and meat. Furthermore, during mating season, they fight just like the other carnivores with their teeth.

Although the Panda has carnivorous teeth, and its digestive system is carnivorous, its diet is primarily herbivorous. “The bamboo eating giant panda, has passed right through meat-eating into vegetarianism again and thus has become, paradoxically, a vegetarian carnivore” (Thomas, 1994). Even though the situation is not exactly the same with ASDs, today everywhere in Anatolia, they are heavily fed on “yal,” which is broken wheat mixed with mostly hot water, or depending on the abundance, sometimes with milk. This mixture is made with tomato sauce in some regions instead of water or milk. Milk contains almost every kind of protein, and it is especially good for young dogs. But in general, food with high protein makes ASDs over-active, an undesirable trait because they are supposed to calm the flock down and not rile it up or attack it. Too much energy may make them go wild or crazy or become unnecessarily aggressive. Excessive energy makes them chase after everything they see. This is also an undesirable trait, because a good ASD is supposed to stay with the flock and not stray away from it. I stayed away from commercial dog food, prepared yal for my dogs every day, and encountered no problem with yal feeding. After all, it has been tested repeatedly for centuries.

Excessively rapid growth in ASDs causes proportionately less muscle versus bone development. A healthy development in ASDs is one which is spread over about two years. The concern is not about having large dogs, but, more importantly, it is about having well-built and well-proportioned dogs. Barley, oats, and wheat products, milk, or yal with milk, appear to be the best nutritionfor these dogs. According to Altays, who are Doberman and Kangal Shepherd Dog breeders in Izmir, when Dobermans are fed with yal, the growth rate that is seen in Kangals fed on yal, is not met by the Dobermans, even though Dobermans consume three times more food than Kangals (taking into consideration the weight of the dogs). On the other hand, not only do grain products have a positive effect on the growth of Kangals, they are essential.

Shepherds slaughter old donkeys and horses at the end of autumn, because it would be expensive to feed them during winter, and because it helps them to continue to feed their dogs. Donkey and horse meat provide the dogs with a rich nutritional supplement as a preparation for the difficult winter season. Although this diet can cause a disease called Brucellosis, which can cause infertility, this possibility is not taken seriously. Dogs that receive all the trace minerals do not easily get affected by Brucellosis. This diet is a temporary one and is not required by the dogs. Some shepherds see it as a way to utilize meat they would not otherwise consume. In other words, the diet based on carbohydrates is the general practice for ASDs because it is about the physiology of the dog and the dog’s effectiveness and efficiency in the flock.


ASDs are bred for two main purposes in Turkey: first as a shepherd, and second as a guard. Shepherding is a protective activity, not a herding one like in Border Collies. The ASD is there wherever the flock is. ASDs also guard barns and villages during winter. Currently they are kept as guard dogs in the big cities and are replacing the German Shepherd Dogs. To a lesser extent, ASDs are also bred to hunt wild boar and wolves.

The puppies which will work as shepherds are chosen when they are one or two days old. The ones that are not chosen are culled, lest they contribute to the unnecessary increase in the dog population.Shepherds have no access to “humane poisons” to kill them, and no one can tell which method hurts more anyway. Technically killing a pup is not any different than killing a lamb or chicken. Even when they have access to modern methods of dispatch, the cost incurred will be not justified. Every shepherd has his own methods and standards for selecting the puppies to be used as shepherds.

Most of the time, the standard for choosing puppies is: size; pain tolerance; parents. Naturally, the puppies from parents which are good shepherds are preferred. Color has no weight in decision-making. It is only a secondary personal choice.

If puppies are born in winter, they are kept with the flock in the barn until they are about two months old. They join the flock outside the barn when they are three months old. The puppies that are not interested in staying close to the flock, or those that act aggressively toward the flock are removed. If the puppies are born in spring or summer in the grazing land (yayla), they are naturally part of the flock with their mothers and other dogs from the time they are born.

ASDs are also trained to guard military areas. Preferably they are kept on the borders and at the army warehouses. Recently, they have been employed in the prisons, chicken farms, and as nighttime guards in hotels.

Anatolians are actually conditioned and prepared to work. They cannot be trained like Belgium Shepherds to follow specific instructions. Once the foundation conditions are ready they perform inherently.

Toht (Spiked Collar)

The toht has different names in different regions. It is a collar armed with spikes, nails, or sharp wires, used for the protection of the dog, especially against wolves. It has widespread use in the Taurus Mountains, and in the inner Aegean and central Anatolia regions. Although the toht protects the dog from wolves, it also causes unnecessary wounds when there is a conflict among the dogs. But, in general, dogs know what a toht is, so they behave accordingly amongst themselves.

In some regions of central Anatolia, a dog can only wear a toht after it kills a wolf. Wearing the toht, then, means the dog is worthy; it is wolf-proven. The shepherd does not want to risk a useful dog any further, so the toht helps protect the dog as an asset for the shepherd. The other dogs also know what the toht means. I believe it is an excellent practice which helps the shepherd keep only the best dogs and makes the fight between the wolf and the dog fair because the dog is then protected. A long time ago, a similar practice was seen in central Asia. However, the subjects of this practice were young boys. A boy was supposed to do something worthy in order to deserve a name. Otherwise, he could go nameless for the rest of his life. Some people were called “nameless” because of their position in that society which normally pushed boys to do something worthy.

Putting the toht on dogs in the city is either ignorance (not knowing the purpose of the toht), or imitation (as a fashion statement). If the dog owner knows the purpose of the toht, yet chooses to use it, he creates an unfair advantage over the other dogs.


Although most breeding takes place randomly and naturally, sometimes some shepherds breed the dogs in barns to ensure the sire of the puppies, but mostly the breeding takes place under the natural conditions of the village and in the context of a pack of dogs. After having a series of naturally-occurring wrestling matches amongst the male dogs in the village, the strongest ones mate with those females that are ready to mate. It is not unusual sometimes for females to prefer certain males over the others. Since the best males can mate by default, the quality of the female is important. However, since the number of females is very limited (e.g., a male to female ratio of approximately 4:1), there is not much choice among the females. On the surface it appears to be a disadvantage, but closer consideration reveals that the female puppies go through a picky selection process in terms of size and shape. Both sexes go through different selection standards in order to survive. The rest of the selection process is mostly handled by the dogs themselves. Thus, the female has more importance for the random mating because only the strongest males can mate with her anyway, in addition to the fact that most of the males in the village are kept because of their valuable shepherding skills.

There are occasions when a shepherd picks a special male to mate with a specific female, if he wants to have puppies from one or both of them. This special circumstance occurs when the male is famous for his shepherding skills or is a brave wrestler. However, it is generally believed that bitches should be able to pick their mates. Unforced and unaided breeding would ensure sensitive and healthier generations, and that is why the term “insightful line” is used occasionally.


ASDs come in a variety of sizes. The height range is between between 25 ½ and 35 ½ inches (65-90 cm) from withers to toes. This range varies within the same type or subgroup of dogs. The largest dog I ever saw was in 1978 in the Bursa-Gemlik military breeding plant. It was over 39 inches tall and was a semi-long-coated, yellow, black-masked male. It weighed about 200 lbs. It looked like a lion. However, generally the ones that can be seen in the highlands are about 27 ½ to 31 ½ inches tall (70-80 cm). Knowing what I know today, my impression is that the 39-inch dog was a Yoruk type. I encountered dogs of his type later on in 1978-88 in the Gemlik villages and in Keles Bursa.

The concept of the ASD as a breed will be examined more closely in the following pages. However, please note that I will avoid using the general term “breed” for ASDs, since the local and regional subgroup labeling is a more plausible approach to analyze ASDs. Take, for example, the number of subspecies of wolves in North America that has changed several times during the past two decades. Although it is thought that there are twenty-four subspecies in North America, it is hard to insist on that, because wolves can travel great distances, easily fifty miles a day. Different wolf populations move continuously, and the territorial gap can be temporarily filled by others. It is reasonable to assume that a genetic drift here is inevitable, especially when it is believed that there are occasional matings between coyotes and gray wolf.The red wolfis supposedly a product of this. Therefore, within the same area and within the same pack there are wolves with different sizes and skull forms. According to L. David Mech (1991) in The Way of the Wolf, Eurasian and American wolves are similar in terms of behavior and natural history. The real difference comes from the difference in nutrition, climate, and geographical area.

Looking at it from this perspective, the ASDs are a natural, regional, and functional group. Therefore, the differences in height, color and skull type should be taken as normal, even though the sample of ASDs was taken from a certain place and from a certain group of shepherd dogs in Anatolia.


According to Robinson (1990), body size is a typical continuous characteristic and it is determined by many genes, each one having a small effect individually but acting cooperatively and capable of producing remarkable variation.

In some individual dogs, the distance from the fore-chest to the base of the tail is equal to the distance from the withers to the toes. This is a square body. (Dogs which have square bodies are believed to be fast runners, which is an important quality for ASDs.) Other individuals have a more rectangular body, a body that is long instead of tall. Most ASDs are long-legged, tall dogs with equal proportions. The preferences of body proportion change from region to region.

A rectangular Anatolian never looks like a German Shepherd Dog (GSD). As a matter of fact, fifty years ago, GSDs were not as long-bodied as they are now. They had a more natural appearance, with higher hips. As a result, they probably had less hip dysphasia. Having hips higher than shoulders is normal in some strains of ASDs, like in the Yoruk Shepherds. Yet several dogs from Sivas region also have hips higher than withers.


In Anatolia, dogs are mostly seen in natural colors. Their main color is a variation of the gray wolf color: gray, yellow, and chimney red. Since black and white are also seen in wolves, they must be called natural as well. White and spotted dogs called “Ala” are seen almost everywhere in Anatolia. Some have as many as three colors in their coats. These are actually unlike Dalmatians or Australian Shepherds. The patches on the skin do not look like they are splashed on. Rather, the distribution of the color is seen over larger areas, not like spots but like patches, twice the size of the palm of the hand, with dark parts staying closer to each other and mostly in a continuous distribution. The same is true for the white parts of the body. The whiter the dog becomes, the smaller is the continuous distribution of the dark parts, and vice versa. The white parts start from the toes, chest, and tail and may cover the rest of the body from there. Dogs that have chocolate coloration, like Labradors, or cream color like Golden Retrievers, are rarely seen. However, I did see a few Labrador-chocolate-colored ASDs in Diyarbakir in 1975 and in Cankiri in 1997. There is no relationship between the color of the dog and its functions. ASDs are cared for to the extent of their capabilities, not their color.

In general, Kangals are defined as Akyaka (white coat with no black mask), Karayaka (black or brindle coat mostly with a black mask), Sariyaka (pale yellow or beige with a black mask), or Bozyaka (tones of beige with a black mask). Yoruks, on the other hand, are called by different names but with similar words and meanings: Akbas, Akkus, Akit (white body with no black mask), Karabas (any color other than white, with a black mask), Saribas (a pale black mask), or Alabas (white spots on the mask or on the head). The standards enforced by the European and American kennel masters convinced Turks that they should accept only Sariyaka and Bozyaka as Kangals. According to these "tourists" other colors are wrong. Turks subserviently bought these baseless arguments.

Dew Claws

The dew claw is a frequently observed characteristic of ASDs. The dew claw is actually a toe, which may be single or double. It corresponds to a human’s thumb but with no apparent function, and comes from prehistoric times. The dew claw on the front leg is present on almost all dogs. ASDs may or may not have rear dew claws. The rear dew claws may either be a simple extension of the four basic claws or they may be located somewhere below the hind knee. Choosing dogs with or without dew claws is a personal preference, but I like their presence since it reminds me of their archaic and primitive past. Although it is advocated that they should be removed, for they may get damaged in the field, I simply do not agree with this removal choice because I have not seen one single ASD in Turkey that had a dew-claw-related problem. If the problem were a true problem, then none of the Great Pyrenees and Spanish Mastiffs would have had dew claws. If dew claws were a nuisance, they could have been eliminated by the shepherds centuries ago. One of my dogs Sarp has fifth toes on his hind legs right next to the fourth one. This kind of dew claws have definitely functionality. I have seen him using the fifth digits when he tried to climb rocks. He used the dew claws as the last pushing points as he tried to pull himself up. Sarp is a very swift dog. His dew claws are not in his way in any way. Ears are removed in the ASDs not the dew claws. The modern dog person mixes up priorities especially when it comes to primitive landraces like the Anatolians.


Skeptical, inquisitive, willing to engage in physical challenge, physically strong, resistant to counterattack, stern, and persistent. These are the valued characteristics and most basic qualities of an ASD’s personality in Anatolia. Some shepherds prefer dogs which do not stop their aggression in the owner’s presence in order to obey the owner’s word because these shepherds think that if a dog cannot be calmed down even in his master’s presence, then who knows how tough he becomes in the master’s absence. This attitude of the dog is taken very seriously because it shows that the dog developed a sense of attachment toward the person, object, or territory it is supposed to protect, whether a flock of sheep, a turkey, or men. A dog may become calm in the presence of the owner after his command, and become extremely aggressive in his absence. This shows the dog’s cautious side, which may be preferred over a constantly aggressive, uncontrollable dog.

In Europe and North America, dogs which have low aggression levels and are easily trainable may be preferred. When this is true, these people are wasting their time training dogs which have been selected over hundreds of years for their instinctual work under different conditions. In fact, the outcome will be cultural assimilation in the short run and genetic assimilation in the long run. I would advise those who like control to get breeds such as the Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, or Doberman Pinscher. These breeds will be more successful in reaching the goal of trainability. With one of these other breeds, the owner will eliminate unnecessary battles and a torturous training process.

Every plant has a preferred soil type and climate. What can someone expect to get from a tree which is planted in the wrong type of soil or in the wrong climate? What makes a Mustang? A Mustang is freedom, wildness, resistance, stamina, and the unbent spirit. Once you break it, you have to say farewell to the qualities you admire most. You can no longer have both the Mustang and the qualities that make it a Mustang. There are basic traits, and compromise deteriorates these authentic qualities.

“Doberman pinschers and Rottweilers bred in North America tend to be somewhat calmer and less likely to initiate aggressive action than are dogs of the same breeds that have been bred in Europe. This seems to be the result of a deliberate attempt on the part of North American breeders to tone down the breeds a bit, whereas European breeders seem to prize and select for what is sometimes called “temperamental fire,” which is willingness to display aggressive tendencies” (S. Coren, 1995).

“Eliminating aggression would be a foolish as well as an unachievable goal – it’s built deeply into us. The evolutionary process has worked to achieve the right level of aggression– not too much, not too little – and the right inhibitors and disinhibitors” (Sagan, 1992).

It should not be forgotten that ASDs were used not only for hunting lions, bears, wild boars, and wolves, but they were also used in wars as war dogs by the ancient people of Anatolia. The dogs’ aggressive qualities and their basic shepherding skills were converted into battlefield behavior. ASD’s aggression is a protection-oriented one, and this tendency could occasionally become preemptive protection.


The learning and problem solving abilities of ASDs indicate their adaptive intelligence. They are very good at storing learned information and solutions. They are good at choosing a specific action or path in order to perform a task. They can also identify and remember the relevant information for further application, and when necessary, they can retrieve it efficiently, converting the information and applying it to different situations. ASDs do not have a significant obedience or working intelligence because they are independent and relatively self-sufficient like wolves.

ASDs are less domestic than the rest of the domestic dogs, but the social attachment component of their personality makes ASDs useful to man. As was mentioned before, attachment may be developed toward a man or a flock during the critical period of attachment. Missing the critical attachment period might mean losing the dog as a shepherd dog in general. Nevertheless, some ASDs introduced to sheep when they are over a year old take the job without hesitation, which shows good hard-wiring of the guarding traits.

Attachment has an evolutionary component and it aids in survival. It is the special emotional relationship that involves an exchange of comfort, care, and pleasure. Attachment or bonding takes place, 1) because dogs desire to be near the subjects they are attached to, 2) they stay near those subjects because they are comfortable, familiar, and safe, 3) the subject of the attachment works as a security base, 4) in case of separation from the bonded subject, anxiety distress sets in and the dog yearns for the attached subject and in turn protects the object or subject of emotional pleasure. Dogs lacking emotional intelligence cannot bond with sheep or man because they have no interest in maintaining proximity. Therefore, the emotional intelligence of an ASD is made up of an ability and capacity to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of itself, of others, and of groups. What makes them so sensitive is this particular component of their mind.

Territoriality is the fundamental motive behind the ASD’s defense aggression. This is the instinctive part of their intelligence. It might also be interpreted as part of their temperament.

ASDs possess innate common sense. Because of this characteristic, a flock that is composed of hundreds of sheep or goats can be left under the protection of an ASD in the absence of a shepherd for long periods of time. Despite their common sense, ASDs do not always follow directions. Since they are not always obedient, they are not trainable like a GSD is. However, this does not mean that ASDs are stupid dogs. On the contrary, it shows that ASDs can learn things independently of being taught, if the information is useful. These dogs instinctively implement solutions to problems they encounter. The ASD is similar to the wolf in this regard. Wolves are more intelligent than dogs. They have well-organized hunting skills based on distribution of labor. Their olfactory and visual skills are coupled with observation, decision-making skills, physical strength, and killing abilities. For the ASD, solving problems instantly without the help of human beings leads to the development of their creativity and intellectual skills, especially their reputation for trickery, which is similar to the wolf.

Some contributions that intelligence adds to the ASD are: the ASD’s ability to detect strange sheep among hundreds of sheep, observing and watching out for its flock, being able to perceive the changing situations, and the ability to face a wolf attack physically and psychologically. In order to actualize all these aspects of intelligence, the ASD must possess the qualities which enable it to compete with the wolf at various levels.

Some ASDs are so attached to their sheep that there are accounts of ASDs going to a village as far away as thirty miles and bringing the flock back to their village. This means they somehow can smell the flock’s location and can bring back only the sheep that are part of their flock. This also means they can probably identify their own sheep by their odor. In some cases, when the flock is sold to a particular place and the dogs travel to that location with the flock, that means they can travel back to the same place to collect their flock. This requires a good memory and tracking system, in addition to cleverness that enables them to sneak and filter out their sheep.

There are accounts about dogs traveling over one hundred miles to find their previous owners, after they were given to new owners. We do not know exactly how they manage this “way back” process, but what we do know is that they are intelligent, persistent, and aggressive dogs that can make a journey back to their native land by themselves. A dog that does not have those qualities will either get lost or killed by the other village dogs long before it reaches its village. In March of 1990, while I was hiking, I got lost in the mountains of eastern Izmir. After I reached the summit of one mountain, I decided not to camp overnight because the snow was melting and it was very cold. I could not find my way out and so I had to stay overnight in a valley. The next day I still could not find my way back after eight hours, and it looked like I had to stay another night with no food. I started following my Kizilyaka (red-coat) Kangal named Hirs without any hope. He led me back to a village about twenty miles away. He chose a path that I was not familiar with, and the path took us to the village that was at the southern part of the mountain instead of the northern part where we had started. This incident does not show the intelligence part of the dog directly, but these abilities of taking over and making decisions are indirectly related to intelligence. I think the roaming tendencies of ASDs must be related to their independent path-finding abilities.

Chapter 11

How to Determine the Standards of Anatolians

ASDs are not show-dogs. The reader should understand that when they become show dogs one could no longer call them ASDs. One cannot keep one strain as show dogs and another as working dogs and refer to them as ASDs. It is a matter of balance. It is an all or none situation. In order to understand the true meaning of the ASDs, it is critical to appreciate, where they originally live, how they are handled and under what kind of circumstances they finally become ASDs. No one should stand forward and declare that ASDs are what he wants them to be. They are what they are. No one can change them on paper, with a group of so called experts. They come from deep ancient traditions of Anatolia and Central Asia. Individuals or organizations are not above traditions and practices.

One can keep a high standard of breeding ASDs, if he has an understanding of basic physiological and psychological health, experience with animals, and respect for nature, and most importantly the rationale behind the traditions. Measuring the skulls is one of the responsibilities of taxonomists. When a breeder does this seriously, he becomes a technician. ASDs were not developed by technicians, but by shepherds, who had and still have a different philosophy of life than taxonomists. Shepherds do not measure; they accept nature as it is. This philosophy is also reflected in their traditional way of life, the songs they sing together, the handcraft they produce and the way they express their feelings.

The best ASDs are the ones which are on duty because they are dogs of function. Limits, based on ideal principles cannot define ASDs. The shepherd is the one who does shepherding. A shepherd ASD is superior to the dogs which have only shepherd lines. Guarding a territory or a person is part of their responsibility, although guarding a flock is their primary task. Form is secondary to function. Performance and function determines the form. You might think that there is a contradiction here. The majority of the shepherd dogs constitute the concept of “shepherd”. The dogs that do not comply with the standards do not negate the concept as long as they come from rural areas, serve as shepherd dogs and do not show hints of other breeds.

The ASDs in the cities do not go through traditional and natural selection processes. When the breeding process is organized by man, it must be a realistic simulation of traditional settings, if it is still hard to do that under the given circumstances, then man made selection comes into the scene. The dogs, which are chosen to breed must have some essential qualifications. They must have a tendency of readiness to defend their territory, must be alert, must have a mind that’s ready to challenge. Anyone should feel the agility and strength in they possess. It is a must to have a skeleton, which has no defect, in terms of performing all bodily activities without suffering. The body must be muscular and indicate the capability of producing an explosive momentum. Self-confident, brave but not vicious dogs must be preferred. White nails, pale color or blue eyes, red nose can be only personal choices to disqualify. The pigmentation does not constitute threat to the well being of ASDs. Blue-eyed ASDs are rarely found. In 1996, DVM Cafer Tepeli spoke to me about a blue-eyed Akit, under his care, with no defects. Cowardliness, laziness, viciousness, stupidity, and lack of basic reasoning ability are burdens, to be avoided. Dogs with a Pointer like tail, a head narrow across the skull, weak and thin neck, small and long paws are potentially unsuitable characteristics for shepherd dogs. Going only by the body structure or trying to have larger heads only, or blacker masks will bring several problems. Altering the skeleton will bring joint problems. It would be worthwhile to study the joint problems in GSDs by comparing today’s dogs with those of the 1940. I believe they possessed shorter bodies than are found today. Back then GSDs had higher hips. I saw some GSDs in Romania and Turkey that were very wolflike with long legs, shorter ears and easy strides. The more natural the dogs are the fewer skeletal problems they have. The GSDs I mentioned above did not deviate from the original because they did not go through a selection strictly based on body type.

Although I mentioned some essential characteristics about ASDs, describing them on paper and going by narrow personal preferences and creating new standards is closing eyes to the reality. I believe based on archeological findings ASDs have been around for at least 5000 years or more. During this period of time ASDs were raised by people and the natural conditions of Anatolia and Central Asia. There were no theoretical breeding, but practical selection comes from workability under the given conditions. There is no reason to concern at this time that ASDs are endangered in terms of purity. If there are still pure-bred ASDs in Anatolia, one must explain how this pure line in different parts of the country could have been kept in spite of the negative effects of unconscious, low level, uncontrolled natural selection, providing there is anything like pure-bred!

All the shepherd dogs in Anatolia are more or less related to each other. They have not encountered any intentional isolation by man. They have exchanged blood continuously with every subsequent migration. The mountains in coastal Turkey are all interconnected. The mountains in the inland form a chain of mountains in several regions. The male ASDs can cover about 50km sq especially during the cold months and when the females are in heat. There is nothing to stop them from wandering, mating and returning to their village. This is another way of actively spreading their genes. It goes without saying that there are differences from one region to another based on the climate, local economy and personal preferences of shepherds, but interaction continues anyway. When the economic policies of government changes continuously, some decisions made by the government affect some local economies, or a forest protection law passes which mostly is not friendly with sheep and especially goat herding. In addition to climate changes due to forest fires, or tourism also is a lure to the shepherds to abandon shepherding. The flocks are sold to other people in other regions and dogs follow the flocks, and close interaction arises with two adjacent or unrelated regions. Lots of factors contribute to the development and improvement of ASDs. They are not products of systematic, tight breeding programmes.

Supervised breeding brings principles, and descriptions along with it. The dogs, which do not deserve to pass their genes to the next generation, do weaken the strain. Perhaps after fifty generations, one can witness dogs that are shepherd dogs outside, and lap dogs inside, and numerous mules among them.

Europe and in the North America, the attitude when the artificial expectations about dogs are not met, a new standard is created. Starting selective breeding methods are started by excluding the dogs that are not met the new standards. ASDs were not created in a laboratory. The most dominant males of the village have the right to pass their genes to the next generation. This is the last step of the natural breeding process of ASDs in the traditional settings. The steps prior to this were mentioned in the mating section.

Breeding or reproduction in the case of ASDs is a matter of perception of life and culture. The Roman-Anglo-Saxon mentality wants to control everything. For example in the USA there is term “wild-life management”. I can understand that one can try to manage almost everything, but when one uses the word “wild”, he should exercise caution when using that word, because wild is not something manageable, and it is not supposed to be managed; once it is managed it is already domesticated or bastardized. This mentality places the dogs that are not manageable under the category of “low qualities”.

The trouble with the future of the ASDs in Turkey is not the inability or incapability of breeding pure-bred animals but the combined effects of the fluctuation of the presence of sheep and goat flocks, the decline of animal raising because of the detrimental effects of related government policies, the combined effects of academic, official and economical unwillingness to grasp the importance of protecting the existent grazing lands and natural forests of Turkey (not the artificial pine plantations called “forests”) has led to their disappearance and erosion along with the policies of European agricultural policies on Turkey.

As long as traditional semi-nomadic life and a reach wild life exist, wolves will exist and ASDs will continue to their long developmental journey towards excellence.

Using dogs from different regions with relatively different forms every other five or six generations in order to strengthen the blood is acceptable. The offspring can be directed to their original line in the future generations, which in fact happens all the time at different frequencies. This happens in the mountains without any regulation, and however it happens, in the best way possible. A Yoruk dog would not change its primary characteristics with 1/5 of Kangal blood, neither a Caucasian would lose its characteristics with 1/5 of Yoruk blood. This temporary introductory method can be used in the cities when the candidates of a mate are not good enough. Because the dogs in the cities are not in their natural breeding situation. Besides, the main idea here is having strong, healthy, and useful dogs, not pure-bredand weak, defective individuals. Creating sharp distinctions among ASDs can bring not only extremely separate groups, but also makes the mutual support of the existing groups in terms of blood relationship impossible. Here all the ASDs in Anatolia are the parts of the whole; they are part of the natural system; interdependence and the interaction of ASDs form their specific structures. When a system is dissected into isolated parts, the system is not a system any more. It naturally fails.

Another point should be kept in mind that, even though ASDs from different regions exhibit different forms that do not exhibit behavior that are exactly alike, considering the time, extension and their basic functions, they are not distantly related to each other. They are much like the people of Anatolia. Of course all dogs are related to one another, dogs also are related to wolves, but in the case of ASDs the differences are of degree and not kind.

Since shepherding is in decline and traditional production styles are being mechanized by the introduction of industry, it is crucial to find new assignments for ASDs. The partial relocation of ASDs in the cities is mainly for guarding purposes for it is easy to assign this responsibility to them considering they are natural born guardians. A dog trainer I spoke with in the USA believes that ASDs need more strict training compared to other breeds, which is true, but for what purposes is the question. The same trainer told me that German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Dobermanns are more aggressive in Europe, because of their heredity, and by the same token, ASDs will be more docile in the next decade because of selective breeding. The trainer calls this “progress”, I call it “regression”, because it is a return to a less advanced state, it is a deterioration in relation to the original purposes of keeping and raising ASDs. It is subtracting some certain qualities that are the basic stones of this structure. Docility is not an addition; it is a reduction of the whole. Docility is like lacking pigments.

Chapter 15

Indispensability of Function and Selection

Cows are bred for milk, sheep for wool, goats for hair, and chickens for eggs. Cotton is planted for its cotton; and the horse is raised for its speed. A teacher is to teach. It is not the color of the cow, or its hair, or its horn type that has any impact on its milk performance. The same is valid for the goat; the quantity of the horns is unimportant. A teacher is evaluated not according to his height or weight, but his knowledge and ability to teach. It is the wool color for sheep, the micron size, and the length of the wool that are important, since the sheep is bred for its wool.

Since the shepherd dogs are not bred for their meat, milk, wool, eggs, or teaching skills, none of these qualities are of primary importance for them. What is expected from the shepherd dog is its ability to protect the flock and the house. It is the same all over Anatolia. As long as the dog is successful at guarding, its structure is not important, because the first reason for which it is kept is its function as a guard. The climate, geography, and purpose have determined the breed standards of sheep, cattle, and chickens. The dog is the last link of the chain here. The first link is the main purpose. Consequently, this dog is known as “sheep dog” or “shepherd dog” in Anatolia.

These dogs show variation according to the regions, but the main selection criteria for these dogs is greater in importance than the main selection criteria for sheep. The dog’s value is determined by only one selection criteria: guarding ability. The dog’s size is determined by the limits of this requirement. There are two requirements for chickens: meat and eggs. There are four requirements for sheep: meat, milk, hides, and wool. This makes sheep more specialized and varied. Historically, the tallow from the sheep’s tail was another required product. Had this been added to the requirements, the total would be five.

The carthorse is different than the racehorse. The former is powerful, and the latter is either fast at short distances or has greater stamina at long distances. The lowland, highland, and mountain horses are different at adapting to the land and the climate. Highland horses cannot walk in the rocky mountains.

Donkeys are similar to ASDs in that they also have limited selection criteria. The donkey is expected to carry a midsize load under any condition and circumstance; the shepherd dog is expected to protect the flock in any situation. There are two basic donkey types or breeds in Anatolia. It is interesting to consider the color range in these animals, which is not part of the main selection criteria. Of the two basic donkey types or breeds in Anatolia, colors range from all shades of gray to black, and pinto donkeys do not exist. Dogs genetically bear more variety in terms of color and size, as do horses and sheep.

When the main function required of the dog becomes secondary in importance for breeding, the functional quality of the dog deteriorates. The dog’s existence becomes no more important than its appearance, or something to be touched or petted. Entering into this new phase by declaring, “we love them” is amazing because it implies not caring about the function but only about wanting to love them.

“Çoban Köpeği” is a correct name when you consider the above and take the function as a must without ruling out the presence of a certain structure. The reason can best be explained using an example. When people buy meat, they ask whether it is beef or lamb, but they do not ask whether it is Anatolian Black or Holstein, because when the limited consumption rate of meat is given a thought, the breed does not have anything to do with the quality of the beef, since the demand is simply meat. The demand becomes diversified when production increases and prices fall. In the same way, the shepherd would not say, “The dog protects well, but its tail is not curly enough.” He considers the physical appearance and selects accordingly only when all his dogs perform in the same way.

The cultural perspective on this subject presents something else. The Anatolian sheep dogs’ land had been under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for 600 years. Ottomans classified the people under their rule not according to their races but according to their beliefs. Nevertheless, people from a minority belief system could climb the ladders of government and become ministers or mayors based on their skills. After 1453, the government was primarily made up of Armenians, Greeks, Albaninas, Jews, Arabs, and Kurds. The Turks were not in government. They were employed as soldiers only. The Safevi government in Iran was more Turkish than the Ottoman government. Skills and education were important under the condition of coming from a certain class with politically-generated exceptions.

The Turks’ approach to the ASDs was similar to their concept of the political system. Although names and descriptions had been created for colors and breeds, the “employee” had been kept employed as long as he worked properly. When Ottomans were not so sensitive about the composition of their people, why should they be for the dogs, which were far from being as important as horses?

The English word “pet” means an animal to be petted. When the word “pet” replaced “domestic animal,” then mild temperament, appearance, color, hair type, and size became important elements of the pets. These “pet” requirements were not historically sought in the animals raised for eating, running, or protecting. The fact that these “pet” qualities are being sought after in the ASDs is alarming.

In summary: A dog that does not protect and lacks reasonability cannot be a sheep dog. Therefore, it does not deserve the name.

August 15, 2004

Chapter 18

Rooting for a Team or for Kangal

Some of the subject matter covered below is not directly related to the main issue, but it will help indirectly to better understand the events and beliefs. The roots are being investigated here, not because of an interest about the origins, but for the purpose of bringing some issues into the light and to end the exaggeration and myths. We will proceed as the questions come.

When was the name “Kangal” heard for the first time in relation to a dog? According to the records of Selcuk University in Konya, Turkey, it was heard in the early 1970s.

When was the Kangal dog first bred at Gemlik Military Kennels? At about the same time, the 1970s, but under a different name: Coban Kopegi or Karabas.

The founder of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America (ASDCA), Mr. Ballard, and the founder of the American Kangal Shepherd Dog Club, Mr. Nelson, were involved in this issue at about the same time. Afterwards, Turkish universities showed an interest in the subject. It should be confessed that the shepherd dog issue was brought to the public’s attention mainly by Americans. At that time, Ballard called the Anatolian dogs “Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.” Nelson used “Kangal,” “Akbas,” and “Kars” as the names for three regional groups.

The name “Kangal” was first heard in Turkey long after the breeding and training programs started in Gemlik, in the early 1980s. None of the breeds existed before as breeds until they were discovered in the 1970-80s. In actuality, there was no discovery, because nothing was hidden or unknown. What had been done was pointing and naming. When all the above dogs’ names were not known as breed names in Anatolia, they were taught to Turks via television with the new descriptions.

Akbas was present but not as a breed. Akbas, Akit, Akkus were all local names given to the same type and color of shepherd dogs. The Kangal dog was present in Kangal as a famous shepherd dog from Kangal, but not as a Kangal breed. All of Turkey jumped into these new names and descriptions, along with the media, people lacking the skill of just evaluation, and academicians lacking research drives. Afterward, national feelings were stirred and slogans were said aloud with plenty of excitement, like, “The Kangal is ours; we will not let anyone steal it.” In fact, the Kangal had not been lost; therefore it could not have been stolen. The public mind became mixed up when reaction became the primary form of activity instead of production. Some of the nationalist groups took a very chauvinistic attitude and rushed into questioning one of the two American groups saying, “How could you dare call our Kangal an Anatolian Shepherd Dog?” as if the Kangal name was part of the Turkish constitution and Turkish history and therefore a national dog name. They forgot that the name had been chosen and given by Nelson, and they turned against the other name and embraced the name “Kangal” automatically. When the shepherd dogs were encountered by Ballard for the first time in 1970, there was no name other than Coban Kopegi/Çoban Iti in 1970. (Shepherd Dog; “It” means dog, in original Turkish). Most likely, when he asked how these dogs were named, he received a response like “Coban Kopegi” from most of the Turks around him.

Where were these dogs from? They were from Anatolia. There were two possible names that could be given to these dogs, “Turkish” or “Anatolian.” The former indicates a race or a nation, and the latter indicates the geography and time period. Ballard made his choice for the second one. If another name would have been presented to him, I suppose he could have taken the other proposed name. Yet neither of the two American clubs could be morally forced to use a name dictated by the Turks, because the aforementioned clubs belong to the Americans and the option of the name is their choice. Meanwhile, no serious Turkish kennel club had existed until 2002. Instead of blaming Americans and especially ASDCA, judging and executing ourselves (Turks) would have been the correct deed.

Let’s line up some questions in relation to the above information:

Why has the Kangal had to wait until the 1970s, or more accurately until 1983, so that it could collect fame nationally and internationally? Have Turks lacked the expert people and institutions which could indicate the presence of this dog?

Mr. and Mrs. Nelson first brought the Kangal, as a breed, to America in 1983. This has been mentioned in the international dog literature (Kangal Dog, 2004). Why has the name “Kangal” not been seen earlier in the international sources?

After the above brief update, I could explain to you the main reason I wrote this article. It is the worry that the two made-up breeds would, in the long run, damage the local varieties of shepherd dogs in the entire region of Anatolia. This article has no intention of questioning the value and importance of the white Yoruk shepherd dogs (Akbas) nor does it intend to despise the already accepted qualities of the Kangal dog. All the regional dogs are valuable on their own terms and in their original environments.

Without entering into more details, taking a look at the conditions in Anatolia during the near and ancient times would facilitate comprehension of the matter.

Are the dogs mentioned Turkish dogs? If the people who have lived together for 1000 years are considered Turkish, then the dogs are Turkish too. From an absolute perspective, it is unimportant where these dogs came from. With the same perspective, it is relatively unimportant whether these dogs are Turkish, Kurdish, or Iranian. The truth is that it would not be realistic to transfer these dogs to another nation at this point. It is sufficient at the present that these dogs have been living in this land. How would it feel and what would happen if we decide to imagine their pasts as old as 10,000 years instead of 1,000? Our opinions about them change and the chronological period that they belong to expands; yet their real being will not be affected by our speculations on paper.

How meaningful is the possibility of their 10,000-year-old ancient past? We need to know where the sheep husbandry started if we accept the argument that they were originally sheep dogs. The assumption of their being battlefield dogs should be taken into account as a possibility and investigated also, because shepherding and wrestling go side-by-side in the Molossian-type dogs; furthermore wrestling dominates shepherding in the Dachmarda dogs of Tajikistan. The origination of sheep herding in Turkmenistan 10,000 years ago is somewhat irrelevant. Since our subject is Anatolia, it is safer to start with Anatolia. We will have to get into Central Asia later in order to make comparisons.

First, we need to see the association between Anatolia and Mesopotamia if we want to understand the argument announcing that the Kangal originated with the civilizations in Mesopotamia. This warning reminds us that southeast Anatolia is part of Mesopotamia. The political borders have always fluctuated in the past. The human races, and the animal and plant species, are not restricted to political borders. Migration is a natural outcome of war. Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire and the geographical connection of these two units does not disappear today because of the newly formed countries. As of today (12/15/2006), Iraq practically does not exist. The same situation demonstrates itself with northeast Anatolia being part of the Caucasians.

How do we know that Sumerians had lived in Iraq? Recently, new theories have been developed that they possibly came from the north. Furthermore, an alphabet similar to theirs has been discovered in Transylvanian Hungary. These writings are at least 1,000 years old, older than the ones in Mesopotamia. Their sagas explain that they came from cold and dark lands. They are Nordic and fair skinned (Hamori, 2004). How about the times when Iraq, Iran, and Anatolia were under the rule of Persians, Macedonians, Babylonians, and Ottomans? Have we forgotten that Anatolia had been invaded by Arabs? Are we too decisive to limit our history to the Republic of Turkey only? Do we include the Ottoman Empire, or after including the Ottomans will we say, “Pretend the rest did not exist.”? We have to decide whether we are going to approach this history from an ideological perspective or from the perspective of anthropology, sociology, archeology, technology, or linguistics.

So where and when did the Hittites live? The Hittite Empire was located right in the heart of Anatolia, and its borders exceeded today’s southeast Anatolia. When the Hittites came, there were other nations living in areas like Ankara and Corum; they had flocks of small ruminants, and their entire production was not based on agriculture. Cave lions roamed Anatolia as they do India today, with a decimated population. Those people had to have shepherd dogs in order to protect their herds against not only the wolf but also against the lion and leopard.

Wheat, barley, and sheep were domesticated in 9000 BC. The oldest human settlements in which wheat was cultivated, and sheep and goat husbandry practiced, were in 7000 BC in Çatalhöyük and in Palestine-Carmo.

The Hittites settled in northern-central Anatolia in 1900 BC. They conquered the entire Cappadocia high plains in 1800 BC, and they ended the Hammurabi rule in 1600 BC. In 1500 BC, the Assyrians who lived in Syria and in southeast Anatolia were taken over by the Hurrians. Assurbanipal II moved the old Assyrian capital to Kalah, and he expanded his empire as far as Iran and Caucasia. Persian Cyrus conquered Babylon in 500 BC (USF, 2004). Following this, there were several other empires and peoples in these regions before the Seljuks, Ottomans, and other central Asian tribes took over. Wars, trade, and migrations took place among these people continuously.

We know that the Hittites kept sheep flocks in 1900 BC. The majority of the bone remnants of the animals found in Çatalhöyük were sheep and goats, and their ratio fluctuated between 6/1 and 11/1. One of the tracks found, belonged to a dog that had five nails (Çatalhöyük, 1996)! Lahar was the livestock goddess and Enten was the shepherd god in the Sumerian mythology that goes back as far as 3800 BC. Multiplying the number of sheep was King Dumuzi’s responsibility (Siren, 2000).

The fifth nail can also be seen in regular dogs as well as in the shepherd dogs, but the frequency of this trait is higher among the shepherd dogs. The reason behind this can be discussed separately.

The presence of sheep flocks belonging to the Hittites in the 1900’s BC, and dogs with five nails including dewclaws, justifies us in making an assumption even without seeing any pictures, that this dog with five nails could be a shepherd dog. The sheep flocks had to be protected, and this condition strengthens the possibility that this dog was a shepherd dog.

Is it plausible that the Hittites immigrated to Anatolia from Central Asia and brought these dogs along with them? Both assumptions could be validated, but if the key question is whether the Hittites had these dogs when they lived in Anatolia, then the answer could be “yes.” The dogs we see in the ancient illustrations are usually wheel-tailed, large-headed, thick-jawed, and lion-some. They are sometimes portrayed as tied with chains, being walked by a man, or as chasing prey with spiky collars on their necks. Assyrian Mastiffs being walked by servants are observed on the relics in 1200 BC. Similar dogs with uncropped ears and large heads are portrayed as hunting dogs chasing wild horses (Mery, 1970).

Meds and Persians had ruled Persia between 1500 BC and 300 BC until Alexander of Macedonia conquered it. During this time period, Anatolia was under his rule. In 3000 BC, long before Alexander took Anatolia and forced the borders of Turkmenistan, nomadic horsemen from Central Asia who spoke the Indo-European language, came to Persia. These people were the Skits, Medes, and Persians.

Among these people, the Skits especially lived a semi-nomadic life on the north face of the Zagros Mountains. Seljuk Turks from Horasan became active in the Baghdad area in 1055 AD. The time difference between when Seljuk Turks showed up on the borders of Anatolia and when the Hittites raised sheep herds is 3000 years (Library of Congress Country Studies, 1987). Seljuk Turks were Oguz Turks and Oguz tribes brought their values and methods to Anatolia. Small ruminants and dogs were part of what they brought. I call their dogs “Yoruk Shepherds Dogs.” How do I know what they looked like? The explanation will come in the following pages. The above is not a thorough history of this vast subject matter.

Now let’s put forth a series of features and assertions about the Kangal dog. The Kangal comes with a black mask, short hair, a wheel tail, is usually fawn, has a square muzzle, and has the guarding instinct. Perhaps no one would disagree with the above description. We could clarify the issue by posing more questions:

1) Is it true that the Kangal is a variation and/or subtype of the wolf, which has its origin in Central Asia and is adapted to the freezing cold? First, it is not plausible to derive the Kangal from the wolf just by looking at its color. In recent years there are theories that state that the wolf may not be the direct ancestor of the Mastiff and Molos-type dogs (Mosczcinsky & Edbladh, 1995). Second, the explanation of the functionality of the Karabas (black mask) could be that it protects the eyes from very strong sunlight, which does not indicate that the weather is necessarily hot. The higher in the mountains, the stronger is the sunlight. The sunlight combined with the snow could cause snow blindness. For these reasons we could say that the Karabas feature of the Kangal demonstrates itself in practice. It does not mean that you should use this logic as a basis to claim that the Kangal is not adapted to the cold.

2) If the Kangal is adapted to the cold climate, then why is it not encountered in Agri, Erzurum, Kars, and Kyrgyzistan? If it is not, then why do some Kangal experts claim that it needs to be acclimatized to the low lands and sea levels?

3) Why does the Morkaraman (purple/red/black Karaman sheep breed) from eastern Turkey become the Akkaraman (white Karaman) in central Anatolia?

4) If the Kangal could be adapted to warmer places like Izmir and Adana, then why did Oguz Turks not adapt them to the warmer regions 1000 years ago?

5) Why have ak-Kangals (white Kangals) not been brought from the frozen steppes with Akkaraman sheep? Why are the Siberian sledge dogs not black-masked and why are several self-whites observed?

6) If it is assumed that the Kangal came from Turkmenistan, then why are the Alabays that are under the protection of the Turkmen government not Kangals and pintos and broader-bodied dogs?

7) If the Karabas trait is not a trait that is frequently observed in Turkistan, then where does it originate?

8) If the same traditions had been brought into Anatolia, then we would have seen tail cropping in addition to ear cropping in Anatolia. Why has one tradition been carried forward but not the other, or if both of them had been brought in then why has one of them disappeared?

9) How can it be explained that the Kangal is seen especially on the eastern side of Sivas, in southeastern Anatolia, in Rezaiye and Kermansah in Iran under the name Kanjal or Kancal, and in some parts of Iraq? (Bear in mind that political borders are nonexistent for the purpose of this investigation.)

10) Would Iraqis and Iranians they be uncaringly adopting the Turkish values? Or, are their cultural values more similar to ours than we think? There must be an explanation for why Turkish singers are listened to in Azerbaijan, Iran, and Iraq. Kangal is called Kanjal in Dagistan Azerbaijan. Kanjal is just like Kangal and it can also be seen in red coats (Iran zoo, 2003).

Whether the Kangal has been developed by the nomads or by the sedentary agriculturalists is another question. It will be beneficial to stay away from easy explanations and to check out the possibilities. For this latter process, the production methods and the drawings and statues from different time periods in different regions would constitute some records to investigate.

Can we still see the Kangal and its variations with the nomadic Middle-Eastern, inner Asian, and Anatolian people? Black-masked dogs do not frequently or exclusively accompany Anatolian Yoruks, Iranian Bakhtiari or Kasgais, Mongols, or Kazhak nomads. Naturally, if the Kangal came from these populations or is a product or byproduct of the nomadic life style, then should we not see the remnants of it in these populations? When we look at the presence of the dog through the sheep populations, we see that Morkaramans are still present in eastern Anatolia in places like Erzurum, Erzincan, Kars, Van, and Bitlis. Their color varies between shades of red to purple, as well as full black. They make up about 20% of the sheep in Anatolia.

Daglic sheep are from the Aegean region. Their color is like Akkaraman and they have a black head. Akkaraman are everywhere in central Anatolia, including Eskisehir and Kutahya (northeast Aegean), and make up about 40% of all the Anatolian sheep. Ivese/ Ogese /Awassi is a southeastern sheep endemic to Mesopotamia (Soysal, 2004). Their common characteristic is having an “S” type big tail.

Morkaraman are the sheep for very cold lands, but for some reason they do not live in Sivas where the cold-resistant Kangal dog lives. As it might be noticed, some of the questions are also answers. Let’s try to prepare more detailed answers to questions, adding questions as they arise. Then we will enter into the Akbas issue and return to the Kangal.

11) As suggested by some authors, could Akbas have descended from the white Arctic Wolf and been brought to Anatolia from the frozen steppes of western Siberia? The White Wolf is a variety of the Gray Wolf, and the main differences between them are their size and color. If it were likely that the White Wolf had been domesticated into Akbas by the Siberian nomads, we would have seen the leftovers there today. Yet, only reindeer shepherding is being practiced there today. For that region and its climate are not well suited for sheep or goat husbandry. So, it is without foundation to consider that Akbas had been developed there. If there were a basis, it should be explained via climate change and migrations. Explaining the situation with migrations will not help, since air transportation was not practiced back then. Furthermore, the Akbas should have left some sample populations behind, except in Iran. As we have seen, using formal logic, like taking the colors as given, is not effective. The scientific explanation for the existence of the white color in Akbas cannot be explained via the White Wolf, but it can be explained by the expressions of genes. The best explanation of the white color is the one which has received scientific approval, which is the “extreme white spotting” explanation. At this point, it is necessary to study the natural conditions in Iran.

It would be wrong to conclude that the Akbas’ adaptation to warm weather was accomplished in Iran, because Iran is one of the few mountainous places on earth, in that the Zagros Mountains exceed 9000 ft (3000 m). There are at least five peaks that exceed 12,000 ft (4000 m) in Iran. The elevation falls to 4500 ft (1500 m) in southeast Iran. The Elbruz Mountains in the Caspian region are narrow but high. The volcanic Damavand Mountain reaches 16,800 ft (5600 m). The inner highlands in the inner region of Iran are an average of 2700 ft (900 m), and several mountains in this region climb up to 9000 ft (3000 m). There are only two lowlands in Iran: Kuzistan in the southeast and the Caspian flatland in the north. Almost the entire Kuzistan area is covered with marshes, and it is not suited to small ruminant husbandry; larger ruminants like water buffalo are preferred. The summers are hot and humid in Kuzistan. The average summer temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade), with an annual rainfall of 39 inches (1000 mm). The Caspian lowlands receive about 20 inches (500 mm) of rain annually. In general, Iran has a dry climate with about 10 inches (250 mm) of rainfall annually. It would not be sensible to stubbornly develop Akbas in the Kuzistan region.

Likewise, in spite of the fact that the Arabian climate is dry and the Bedevis are nomads, horse and camel husbandry have been developed in Arabia. On the other hand, in addition to horse-raising, partial camel husbandry and extensive sheep shepherding is popular in Turkistan and Iran. The Kasgai Turks, whose population reaches 250,000 in the Zagros region, are sheep and goat shepherds. They spend the summers in the Zagros Mountains, over 8202 ft (2500 m) in elevation. The Kasgays were first forced into sedentary living habits in 1939. When Sah Riza was exiled in 1941, they returned to their pastoral lives for a short time. Then they were pressured by the Iranian government to settle down into the sedentary lifestyle again until 1986. Persians were active shepherds when they were part of the Parni tribe in 247 BC, and when small ruminant shepherding was not exclusively a Turkic lifestyle (Library of Congress Country Studies, 1987).

At the present time, Kasgays and Bahtiyaris guard their herds with multi-colored shepherd dogs. Multi-colored dogs are observed in the Afyon region in western Anatolia. Keeping multi-colored dogs shows the perceptions of both Iranian Kasgays and Anatolian Yoruks. Since there is no direct link between color and breed, it does not necessarily lead to a cause-effect relationship; even if there were one, it would be a lazy solution to interpret color variation as a sign of cross breeding.

It is not appropriate to imagine whether they are crossbreeds or not, because if there were a crossbreeding, either we would not be able to tell when it started, or we would not have a device to measure it. More importantly, it is wiser to take what we have as it is, instead of going back 1000 to 3000 years. The Doberman was a crossbred dog about one hundred years ago. The GSD was not considered a breed before 1900. Staying away from the explanations based on breed descriptions will clear and broaden our perspective. The ones who insist on the presence of crossbreeding should start working out the Anatolian people’s genetic make-up. Finding information and clues about how Anatolian Shepherds or Yoruk Dogs are pure or mixed is as impossible as figuring out the genetic make-up of the Anatolians as a people.

13) Moreover, if Akbas is adapted to a warm climate, then why do we observe Kaba (long wooly-coated) as frequently as we see Kirik (short-coated) Akbas, but we do not observe the same in the Kangal group? It is a pretty frequent trait, Kaba-coats, in the Yoruk dogs, and this has no connection to color. Any color can come with a Kaba coat. The Bolu Yoruks are especially Kaba dogs. The areas where Kirik Akbas are encountered in western Anatolia also contain Kirik karabas and alas (pintos). If the short coat/Kirik has been passed to these dogs from the Kangal, then we would see a uniform color distribution in the general population. The Kaba coat goes with a colder climate, in general, but the opposite is not true. Only working out the logic on this issue will be adequate to verify this fact.

Similarly, the color variations ranging from black to white are observed in the Caucasian dogs of eastern Anatolia, as well as in the dogs in the higher parts of southeast Anatolia. The main difference between these two regions is in the length of hair; short-haired dogs are more common in southeastern Anatolia. The dogs from Karacadag Mountain in Diyarbakir remind one of the Caucasian dogs with Kaba coats and multi-colored hair.

In short, the argument of Akbas being acclimated to warmer climates is not a valid one. The climate in Ankara, Afyon, and Eskisehir is very similar to Sivas and Kayseri. What could have happened is that perhaps some tribes preferred some colors against the others.

14) If the Akbas is so well-adapted to warmer climates and is mainly present in western Anatolia, then what would be the reason behind trying to adapt the Kangal to western Turkey? Why are local dogs not the focus and not appreciated? Tire, Seferihisar, and Karaburun are the areas in Izmir where one can still find good specimens of Yoruk dogs, whether white, pinto (fawn or black spotted), or fawn dogs, which are already acclimated to the region. In addition to this, the Akbas Yoruk dog has been found to be the most successful dog for shepherding in the USA (Coppinger, 1995). The logic is not clear for defending the contradictory position that the Kangal is adapted to freezing cold climates and yet is working hard to adapt to hot climates! Now we are back to the Kangal.

Is it somehow possible that the Kangal is the product of an agricultural life instead of a nomadic life? Or could it be that it is a product of people who migrated to Anatolia long before Christ and who developed civilizations? Is it painful to accept that the Kangals that have more Mastiff traits than a regular shepherd dog are the original Kangals, as Turhan Kangal stated; therefore most dogs declared as Kangal dogs are really not Kangals? Is it possible that shepherding was not part of the job description of the original Kangal and that instead it was a battle dog, as well as a home and depot protector? Naturally a shepherd dog must be very fast. Being very powerful is not sufficient. The agility decreases as the weight increases. Shepherds would confirm this. It is known that dogs which wrestle very well, cannot speed lightly on the rocky surface; they end up with bleeding pads. There is a belief that the Kangal’s large pad facilitates walking on the snow. This sounds reasonable in the first analysis; however, the large pads do not serve a purpose for the simple reason that winter shepherding is almost absent.

According to general agreement, the Kangal has a thicker bone structure than Akbas. Could that be the reason why Akbas was found to be more successful than the Kangal in the USA? Although the color of a dog is not directly related to sheep guarding, if a Kangal works as a sheep guard, why does it not come in white coats more frequently than fawn coats? It is not reasonable to relate this to the color of the steppes, because the yellow steppes exist in both Iran and in Central Asia. The yellow/fawn color observed in ASDs is a form of the Gray Wolf’s faded version; the reduction in the number of black hairs pushes the yellows forward. The yellow and the red hairs are considered the same colors according to color genetics in canines. The density of the pigments explains the difference.

Not all the European sheep-guarding dogs are white, but most of them are white. It is argued that Turkish and Iranian Akbas are white dogs as a breed. Could it be questioned that European shepherd people are as good as the Turkish ones? Under the circumstances is it possible that the original Kangal was employed mainly as a battle dog, wrestling, killing the cornered prey, and protecting the grain depots, and when the original tasks became limited, then it started protecting flocks, further on exchanging blood with the original shepherd dogs and attaining various skull types? Is that why Turhan Kangal classified Kangal under three main types: Original, Wolf Killer and the Crossbred? (Unfortunately, I was only able to read Mr. Kangal’s work from an indirect source by Dogan Kartay.)

Well, if Kangal’s primary job was not sheep guarding, then how did it originate in Central Anatolia? The first hypothesis: When the Turkic Kangli tribe arrived in Sivas, there were already original Kangals in Kangal, and they started interbreeding with the Central Asian Yoruk-type dogs. Some native shepherds kept their original Kangal stock for different reasons and needs. That is why, although their numbers have decreased in recent years with the influence of Kangalmania, long-coated, wolfish, pinto dogs can still be observed in the Sivas region. Akbas is believed to have originated in Eskisehir where sheep herding is a traditional production. Would this be related to the fact that mixing took place in Sivas?

The second hypothesis: In relation to the first hypothesis, the Kangal is related to the production ways of the people present before the appearance of the Turks. How far can we go back in history? We can go back to the Hittites first, then the Sumerians. Who were these people? What did they do? Where did they come from? What happened to the offspring of these people after their civilizations disappeared? This question was answered in the beginning: they were mixed up with the newcomers. Their animals crossbred with each other and were improved in some cases. Now we have returned back to where we started.

The various above-mentioned uses of the Kangal are in addition to Kangals being used in bear and boar hunting, plus its large body made it a successful part of the dog wrestling events. It should also be mentioned here that dog wrestling rules and goals in Anatolia were and are at the current time different than they were and are in Europe.

Let’s go back to the Yoruk Shepherd Dogs, which are considered to be mixed. First of all, can anyone in his right mind say that there is a pure Anatolian breed? There are bloods in Anatolia, not pure breeds. This statement is valid both for the Kangal and Akbas categories. Why? The answer is on the first page of this chapter: the purity of breeds, created later in their lifetime according to foreign-club-made standards, is questionable because these dogs have never been bred so that they can be preserved “pure.” According to a certain mentality, all the Anatolian breeds are mixed except for Kangal. I suspect that the purity of the Kangal could be proven. The state of being not mixed up is applying the European cultural mindset of “purebred” to Turkish dogs. This is simply a good intention and nothing more.

Although Afyon and its environs are one of the major Yoruk settlements, and consequently are one of the most concentrated regions where sheep and goats are shepherded, the Kangal originated and has been persistently bred in the Sivas region. As the eye wanders from Kangals to other dogs, it is claimed that one sees lesser quality dogs! Why are the dogs in Afyon and its environs a mixture of Akbas and Kangal? The need to track the root at one defined center is only centralism.

Is Sivas the only isolated place in Anatolia to develop a dog like the Kangal? If not, and if it came from Central Asia, why should it not exist in places like Eskisehir, Afyon, Tunceli, and so many other sheep and goat shepherding areas?

Was there no native breed of dog in Kangal before the Kangli tribe arrived? We know of the presence of Yoruk-type dogs in Sivas, with long hair and wolfish heads. What does that mean? Could it mean that the Kangal was in the Sivas area long before Yoruks arrived? Were there no native people here before the Kangli tribe? Did the native Kangal people lack the skill of breeding shepherd dogs? Can we claim that sheep and goat shepherding did not exist before the arrival of Turks? We have seen in the previous pages that we cannot make this claim. Feta and Kasseri cheeses have been made since Aristo in 5 BC. These cheeses have been traditionally produced from sheep and goat milk. Were the shepherds before Turks defenseless against the predators when they tended and shepherded their herds? Shepherding, or pastoralism, is similar in Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. The shepherds are semi-pastoralists. The herds are kept in the lowlands in winter and are driven to the highlands in spring. The sheep graze more or less like Karaman sheep. Could we say that Spanish, Bask, and Italian shepherds learned shepherding from Turks? If so why did they not get Kangalized?

Why are white shepherd dogs more widespread in Europe? The first quick answer, the color of the sheep, is not the answer. If that were the case, the Kangal could have shepherded the yellow sheep! The fifth question above must be investigated here. I will repeat by altering the expression: the Kangal has the wrong color, according to this approach. It should have been black-masked and white-coated. Unfortunately, the white Kangals, Akyakas, do not have black masks. As I mentioned much earlier in the first half of the book, arguments contradictory to each other can be defended with plenty of proofs against each other. Let’s leave this subject here and move to the others that needed to be mentioned earlier.

White dogs like Great Pyrenees of Spain and France, Maremma of Italy, Tatra of Poland, and Kuvasz of Hungary, can be seen in Greece and Bulgaria. Black and white Karakacan dogs are also found in Bulgaria. It is true that long, gray-coated, black-masked Sharplanetz of Romania, and Kangal-like yet Mastiff-looking Spanish shepherd dogs heavier than Kangals and with double dew claws, exist. Nevertheless, these dogs did not become as popular as the white breeds.

Asserting that the Sharplanetz finds its origins in the Kangal by pointing to the common black mask feature is not satisfactory. The Sharplanetz is smaller than the Kangal, and it is possible that it traveled to Romania from Anatolia, but this could only be explained by relating it to Yoruk dogs. A possible second explanation is that it was taken to Romania by the nomadic Central Asian Turkic tribes. The mountain sheep of Romania is a variation of Karakul sheep of Central Asia. The Mongol and the Hun raids in Europe could be considered as a means for the Sharplanetz’s travel to Romania. Reducing the roots into one single origin is an easy way of formulating the answers. Although it is generally believed that man evolved in Africa, there are other theories that could question its validity. If the Romanian dog is not receiving its origins from Mongols and Huns, then it could have received it from Bolu Yoruks. The Bolu Yoruk dogs are almost always long-coated with gray coats and black masks. The main difference is their size, and it is possible that they shrank in Romania or that the official records show them as smaller dogs. It is possible to alter the size of a breed in about ten generations. The reason I am suggesting the Yoruk roots for Sharplanetz is the Ottomans’ relocation policy of sending Turkmen and Yoruks to the Balkans. I am not necessarily trying to reduce all the shepherd dog breeds and Sharplanetz into Turkish dogs.

Why do we enter the phase of imitation and dive into the Akbas definition just because there are white European breeds? The question on the second page of this chapter was “Have Turks lacked the expert people and institutions which could indicate the presence of this dog?” The answer is, “Yes, we lacked them.” Do we have them now? If the answers to the following questions are ready, it is possible that we have them. Why does the Kangal have special features and traits specific to Sivas? Why do dogs from other regions not have these characteristics? Have Turkish scientists gone through the trouble to find out the relationship between Gammal and Kangal? Do they intend to go to Kermansah and do comparative research studies now or in the near future? If they intend to do so, will they be basing their studies on genotype or phenotype? Or, will they repeat their memorized lines? When has the genetic map of Kangal been laid out with all the details? In addition to that, do they have findings in hand about the size, color, hair structure, and temperament? If they have these, when will they publish them? Have they studied why the white color in the shepherd dogs is distributed differently in different regions? Do they have anything to add to the genetic scientist Roy Robinson’s 1989 article, “Coat Color Inheritance in ASDs”? Or, are they waiting for another genetic scientist Willis’ contribution to the subject in order to say the last word? We expect to see pioneer studies being done by the Turkish scientists in this field.

Erasing the native diversity by accepting the presence of two breeds proposed and developed by international persons is a very irresponsible attitude. We started seeing the same process that worked against the native cattle in favor of Holsteins. The solution is not adopting centralized regulations but is integrating the regional people into the local organizations for activities and progress, first with their direct contribution, second with the participation of scientists, and last with the government, because these dogs have not been developed in parliament or in the central towns.

The stage that these dogs reached, the stage that we admire and respect, has been established by continuous fluidity, diversity, and merciless selection. On the other hand, the creation of the “standard,” and other decisions on a piece of paper, will soon Europeanize and destroy these dogs.

Checking the situation and the conditions of the English Mastiff, Great Pyrenees, and even the ASDs in Europe and in the USA, will suffice to understand the trends. After the shepherd dogs that went to the USA from Europe were bastardized in about ten generations, American LGD (Livestock Guard Dog) fans turned their faces toward ASDs. Since the selection method of Turkey has not been applied in the USA and in Europe, the phase has started whereby there is a decline in the frequency of potentially suitable puppies for shepherding. The reason for importing GSDs from Germany to America is the same: selection. Unfortunately, the qualities of these dogs have been reduced by the interference of the government in Turkey, and the imported kennel breeding philosophy has been bastardizing the new generations. This breeding technique is labeled as scientific! Shepherd dog breeding is not like cattle breeding. Several people in Turkey are looking for qualities like a larger head, larger chest, and heavier body, in addition to selecting certain colors against the others. It looks like the dog farms are leading the newly developing trends. The temperament lost its importance, and the looks became the most important feature of the dogs. Now the dogs are described by their size and height. Neither courage nor responsibility, not even the intelligence nor endurance of the dogs, is tested. These people could save time by acquiring Mastiffs. Pay attention to the standards of breeding in the Ukraine, Russia, and Turkmenistan. Except for shepherding, if not for the illegal wrestling events, these dogs would never be tested. They at least are tested for three traits during the wrestling matches: power, endurance, and courage.

It is time to make choices. The dogs are either bred like models to walk on stage, or bred for guarding as a business. A real shepherd dog should be ready to defend its possessions and itself at any time and anywhere. What a man feels for a dog that does not inspire respect in him is pity. If the past generations were built on pity, do you think the dogs we own and admire could have lasted to the present?

It seems that the days are numbered for us to go to Iran and Afghanistan for higher quality dog expeditions. I am leaving more detailed solutions for another chapter and am content with the current analyses for the time being.

As a result, although the Kangal could have migrated to Anatolia from an unknown place at times unremembered, the most ancient records about it have found the dog in southeast Anatolia and it is presently believed to be in Sivas as an Anatolian dog.

It is possible that Akbas could have been brought from Europe, however it is also possible that they could have been brought into Anatolia by Oguz Turks. Being able to encounter the Akit/white dog in Iran, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzistan would allow us to assert that the Anatolian white dog is a mixture of white dogs before and after the Turks. Nevertheless, the most convincing approach is that it is the white variety of Yoruk dogs. White color is a genetic trait that can be seen in almost all dog breeds. Yoruk dogs are a whole unit made of white, black, fawn, and pinto, that can be seen anywhere in Anatolia, including Sivas.

This statement does not mean that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog as a name can be adopted; the more proper name to welcome Anatolian Shepherd Dogs (plural) is a name that considers all the varieties. Plural naming does not mean that all the shepherd dogs of Anatolia are being cooked in the same pot for a tastier soup. Proper naming includes recognizing the differences and the traits that have not been paid attention to before. At this point, it is now time to name the dogs either by adding the functionality dimension into the name, or to name according to the regions (not city names) that the dogs originate from. It is too late to change the name Kangal, at this point. However, it is not that late to correct the mistake done with Akbas and to recognize that it is one of the color variations of the Yoruk dogs. This would end the discrimination against the Yoruk dogs with other colors.

January 30, 2004

Chapter 19

The White of Akbaş

Has it ever been wondered why Akbas are not gray or black, but white? They were accepted the way they were described. Is there any possibility of some gray Akbas? Of course there is a possibility, because “Akbas” is simply a name given to the dogs which have white coats. It is not the name of a breed. Akbas is a white-colored Yoruk dog. Any color of Yoruk dog can be encountered because the shepherds’ priority in breeding has always been the functionality, not the color.

We know that there are white dogs working as shepherds for some flocks in Konya, Afyon, Eskisehir, Denizli, and Diyarbakir. Both black-masked dogs and white-colored dogs, along with pinto ones that some people call “strays,” continue their shepherding effectively without taking part in the related debates, since flock guarding has nothing to do with coat color. Generally, it is not easily noticed that Akbas is a derivation of pinto, and pinto is a derivation of gray or fawn dogs.

Who decided that Akbas dogs were to be white?

This decision was made in the USA, and some individuals and institutions that had authorized themselves in Turkey went along with this decision. Even changing the name from “Akbas” to “Eskisehir” cannot correct the mistake, because as it was stated above, Akbas is only a Yoruk shepherd dog that has a white coat color.

What would one say about the Ankara cat? Is it really from Ankara? If so, could it be seen on the streets of Ankara? Is it really white? Are there any black ones?

The truth is that not only do blacks exist, but there are also brindle and orange ones. In the days of deciding to breed these cats, they had to be white, as the period of time required. According to a gossip, Ataturk mentioned the white ones and the Ankara zoo commenced breeding exclusively the whites. The prominent cat clubs in the USA accepted the presence of the other colors.

The Ankara rabbit is known as a white rabbit in Turkey. However, both black and gray ones exist as well. In Turkey, they are commercially bred in Isparta and Kayseri. They are also bred in Germany, the UK, France, and the USA. In addition to the white color of the Ankara goat, there are black, gray, liver, and pinto-colored ones. They are bred in Australia and the USA, but they are disregarded in Turkey.

All right, then why is there an abundance of colors?

If the above-mentioned animals that we used to know as exclusively white have various colors, then why are the other colors absent in Akbas, or if we may correctly express it, white Yoruk dogs? Naturally they exist, because the absence of color variations is against the science of genetics. It would be necessary to direct the question to the related Turkish scientists regarding why they have not released any kind of explanation about this subject.

In biology there is a concept called biological diversity, and it is actual. Once one starts organizing large gene pools according to certain colors or desired qualities, smaller pools are created, leading to an increase in the pollution rate of these smaller pools, which then results in a situation bringing weak and diseased individuals along with it. Although the logic behind squatting and lowering the variation level of genes is unclear, the only explanation behind this tendency would be about politics or personal interest.

It would be very easy for an expert geneticist to create a new shepherd dog called “Kapkara” (meaning jet black). It would not be racism; it would be “raw racism.” However, an endeavor like this will have no functional outcome, and it will be historically unverifiable as well. Certainly there are black shepherd dogs, just like the whites and agoutis, but not in an isolated area that is hard to access.

The main or base color in dogs, and especially in the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, is wolf gray. Wolf color, which is agouti, includes white, black, and yellow. More specifically, the perfect blend of these colors is called agouti. For this reason, it is natural to see various colors in the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, since they are as natural as they can be. Although it might be inferred in connection to this information that some subspecies were created by positive selection for some colors, in actuality, it is division based on colors. This has nothing whatsoever to do with breed description or creation.

Today, there is a trend in bringing the working sable GSDs back to the shows, the same working sables that have been excluded for such a long time in Germany. Although the long-haired GSDs cannot participate in the shows, the ones which have undercoats are allowed as breeding stock.

Dalmatian puppies with orange spots instead of black ones can be born from purebred parents or long-coated GSD puppies can be born from smooth-coated purebred parents.

The same situation can be observed in purebred Mastiffs in terms of length of hair or white spots. It will be amazing to see these traits’ regression, considering that they were believed to have been eliminated a long time ago. The reason for the come-back of these traits is that they were always there, they just were not expressing themselves.

The above explanations do not mean that Anatolian dogs are without variation and thus are exact copies of each other. The dogs from one region are related to the dogs from other regions in Anatolia, and each region has dogs with certain characteristics. In this connection, the name “Anatolian Shepherd Dog” would not be accepting the presence of all the other bloods. There are people in Turkey now that they accept the name “Anatolian Shepherd Dog” as a general form but not as a breed.

Although ASDCA recognizes all the dogs with long and short hair, except blacks, there is no indication that it recognizes Caucasian Shepherd Dogs in Anatolia, which by definition must be taken as Anatolians as well. Even if ASDCA recognizes them, considering inner Anatolia’s dogs as being the same as Caucasian ones would be the same thing as saying that Karayaka sheep from the Karadeniz region are the same as Kivircik sheep from the Marmara region.

Just as the sheep have their own formational and color-related variations among them, so do the Anatolian dogs. What should not be disregarded here are the criteria and methods of breeding these two different animals. The breeding among dogs takes place in a freer and natural way compared to the breeding of sheep. While a bitch can get pregnant from several dogs, in sheep breeding, a ram is introduced into the ewes and breeding is more controlled compared to dogs. Having this kind of control enables the breeders to define the color and the structure. That is why the color and structural variation can be more frequently witnessed among dogs. The Kangal and Akbas clubs’ insistence on the black mask or white body as determining qualities are limiting and are an artificial criterion.

The dogs from Van and Erzurum are related to the ones from Nigde or Maras, however, the latter are different than the former. So then are they different breeds? The strength and the nice thing about Anatolian dogs is that, surprisingly, they have not gone through the process of being a breed. The confusing thing for Europeans and Americans is that these dogs are not different breeds, because breeds do not exist in Anatolia as it is understood in Europe, and they have not been created. These dogs are different strains, and these different strains should be preserved by keeping their differences, but not by isolation with walls like strict breed descriptions. They should follow their routes as they came.

What this means is, as there are Morkaraman, Akkaraman, Daglic, Karayaka, Kivircik, Ivese, and etc. sheep, there are also dogs endemic to their regions. The differences should not be eliminated but supported, and the blood exchange among the subgroups must be allowed without distorting the main characteristics.

Imitating European or American breeding methods will bring no gains for Turks, but being an imitation will cause erosion of the old rooted values, and besides, history brings several proofs that this attitude will only bring losses.

Before using reason and accepting the Akbas’ presence as a separate breed, its differences with the Akyaka Kangal have to be thoroughly examined. Before concluding whether or not Akbas is a white variety of Yoruk dogs, and whether they are originating from northwest Anatolia or are especially found in that area, one must take into account the following statement from Kamuran Gurun’s book, “Armenian Report:” “Hrozny who is an Hittitologist and an archeologist writes that ‘Phrygians, Traks, Misiens and other Balkan people including Armenians migrated to Asia Minor and put an end to the Hittite empire because of the pressure applied by Illyrians in about 1200 BC.’” What this means is that Anatolia is a land of migrations and those migrations did not always take place from east to west. The Akbas dog could have been brought to Anatolia from the west, because there are white examples in the west. The ones brought from the west could have mixed with the ones from the east, but these conclusions could be history-related speculations. Naturally, concluding, “therefore all white dogs were brought from Europe” would be easy. What I am trying to do here is review all the possibilities. As Kartay mentioned, we can see Bozyaka (fawn) Kangal puppies from Karayaka (brindle) Kangal parents, and Akyaka (white) Kangal puppies from Bozyaka parents, and what we have today are Akits (white dogs) with different color dogs in the Eskisehir and Afyon regions, and the people who traditionally have been breeding them are Yoruks or Turkmen.

Another point that needs to be added here is in regard to the claim which asserts that Akbas dogs have sight hound characteristics. It is absurd to claim that Yoruk dogs somehow resemble sight hounds, which Tazi may run in any Anatolian’s blood, although we could say that they are not as thick-boned as Kangals. It is very possible to encounter some white Yoruk dogs with pretty broad structures and thick bones. The common denominator of the so-called Akbas dogs, which are registered with Akbas clubs in the USA and Canada, is their white color. They have both long and short coats. Some of them exhibit Mastiff-like traits, like the Akyaka Kangal, while others have a very slender structure. It looks like all the dogs collected from Turkey have been described and named on a table in the USA. It reminds one of the way the map of Africa was drawn during WWI and WWII. Some descriptions have been made without considering the traditional and methodological boundaries. While labeling white dogs from the Eskisehir and Afyon region as “Akbas,” how would and should the white dogs from Corum be labeled? How would the white dogs, which can be seen with Mugla (Western Taurus Mountains) and Aladaglar (Central Taurus Mountains) Yoruks be categorized? There are white dogs of Siirt (Eastern Taurus Mountains), which can run 40 mph (65 km) (measured by Veterinarian Gurkan from Ankara University in 1987). Will the fate of these dogs be left to American experts, while their asserted standards are spread all over Turkey with the help of Turkish and international experts, or will the Turks put a stop to their fanatical tendencies and then review the facts and data in a calm manner? It should be mentioned one more time that Akits (white dogs), whether they are in Eskisehir or Kutahya or Aladaglar, are seen together with the other colored dogs, and in this case, there is not a relationship between the color and purity or breed difference from a scientific perspective.

The new naming and descriptions must be done without regarding the present ones in the USA and the UK, but only by considering the conditions of Anatolia, using the findings and data related to region, climate, and function, because it is apparent that it is absurd for Turks to evaluate their values in relation to the West. When a mentality like “the product is from Turkey and the label is an international one” or “the product is from the Turk and the label is international” is pursued, the product will be Americanized or globalized in the long run. One of the reasons we like these dogs is their being Turkic in the first place, otherwise Americans would have been content with their Great Pyrenees.

February 18, 2004