All About Turkey

Karabash Dog

Karabash, meaning "black head" in Turkish, also known as Anatolian Shepherd Dog, is an ancient breed native to Asia Minor. It is also known as the Turkish Guard Dog where he protects flocks and serves as a shepherd's companion. On the high Anatolian Plateau, where summers are hot and very dry and winters are cold, the Anatolian shepherd dogs live outside all year round. For centuries it was used as a combat dog in war and for hunting. It was particularly valued for the victorious battles it could fight with wolves. As a sheepdog, it was bothered by neither fatigue nor bad weather. Today it is still used as a sheep dog as well as a guard dog.

Karabash has been bred to fight wolves and even an attacking bear. In wolf country the shepherds have roughly four dogs to every thousand sheep, usually in the proportion of three males to one female. Their technique is to attack at high speed, at the last moment making a lightning swerve to avoid the wolf's teeth while at the same instant throwing the wolf down with a shoulder blow. Once the wolf is down the dog goes straight for the jugular vein in the animal's neck, or the tendons in the hind legs to incapacitate its foe. If the wolves attack in a pack, the female - lighter but faster - remains crouching while the male dogs try to disable a wolf, then like a flash she goes in for the kill. If the female is attacked by the wolves, the male dogs will defend her to the death.

During daylight thousands of sheep may be seen on the Turkish steppes, with apparently no dogs guarding them but they are there, dozing, and always with an ear and an eye open. When darkness falls the dogs take over, circling the sheep. At the same time, they hunt small game that they come across, as these dogs largely feed themselves with only supplementary scraps from the shepherd.

In 1975 the Karabash was suggested for military use. Until then the majority of dogs employed by the armed forces consisted of German shepherd dogs. The Karabas' characteristics as a guard were seen suitable and it was decided to use them. After twenty years of service changes in modern warfare required adaptation and the Karabash was dropped. New breeds intended to replace the Karabash needed to be more agile and fast, and have a keener sense of smell, for explosives, detecting in minefields and messenger work.

In 1998 the Turkish Government implemented a project to preserve the gene pool of the Anatolian Mastiff dog breed, by banning all exports (including to other provinces in Turkey), and requiring all owners to register their dogs. According to the report the Anatolian Mastiff are dangerously close to extinction due to the popularity of the animals with foreigners, who take the finest examples of the breed abroad. The remaining animals breeding with wild dogs further reduces the number of pure bred animals in Turkey.

Karabash is a large, noble and powerful livestock guardian. He is capable of great speed and endurance. The head is large, but in good proportion with the rest of the body. The triangular, pendant ears are often black and rather small with rounded tips. In Turkey, the ears are often cropped very short. The small, deep-set eyes range from gold to brown in color. The neck is thick and muscular. The chest reaches to the elbows. The back is short relative to leg length. The front legs are straight and set well apart. When the dog is alert, the high-set tail is carried curled over the back; otherwise, it hangs low with a slightly upward curl reaching the hocks. The short or rough double coat is generally fawn with a black mask. The outer coat is smooth and the length may vary greatly depending on the season and the dog's lineage - it is longer around the collar and tail.

Karabash is a very loyal, alert and possessive dog. It is intelligent and easy to train, calm, steadfast and brave, but not aggressive, is independent, very watchful, proud and self-assured. Karabash is possessive with respect to its property and will not allow anyone into the property if the owner is not there. This breed is patient and protective with children as well. The dog does not require any additional protection training, it already has very strong protection instincts. They will generally get along with other animals. Anatolian Shepherds guard, but do not herd, livestock. They often patrol the outer perimeter of their territory, then find a high place from which to watch over their charges. Karabash possess excellent senses of sight and hearing. They check their "protective zone" around the flock every few hours to be certain nothing threatening is brewing. If danger approaches, the dog will first bark a warning, then accelerate and raise the volume of the barking if the danger persists, signaling the sheep to crowd in behind him for protection. The dog will attempt to drive the danger away and will only attack as the last resort. In Turkey, the Anatolian Shepherds wear spiked collars to protect their throats in battles with predators.

Karabash is not recommended for apartment life, It is relatively inactive indoors. It needs a lot of exercise. Life Expectancy is about 12-15 years.

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