Erick Conard's Lucky Hit Ranch
Anatolian Guardian Behavior
Keeping Same Sex Intact Anatolians Together
Anatolians at Lucky Hit Ranch
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Keeping Same Sex Intact Anatolians Together
By Erick Conard
Lucky Hit Ranch
Although I have owned Anatolians since 1985, until recently I'd not considered
keeping two or more intact adult male Anatolians together. (I consider adult
males to be three or older.) Since I'm keeping two males from my 2001 litter,
one male from my 2002 litter, and a fourth male I purchased in 2002 from another
kennel, I've become very interested in this topic. I was advised by other
breeders and Anatolian friends that I would not be able to keep intact Anatolian
males together as adults. Not one person I spoke to felt it was possible. My
oldest two male are only two at the time of this writing, so I'm still in a
wait and see mode. However, knowing that intact males are kept together in
Turkey causes me to believe that there must some way to make it work.
After the third serious fight when the older males were only 8 to 9 months old, I
began to believe that I was not going to be able to keep my adult males
together. These fights were very serious and terrifying to observe.
After a certain level of intensity between the males was attained, I was completely
ignored until the dogs reached the end of their fight on their own - no matter what I
did to intervene. The third serious fight was the last actual fight they've
had. However, when the males fight all of my dogs tended to get involved!
I keep my dogs all together with the goat herd except when I have
to move them around to guard different groups of animals in different pastures.
Even when I move them around to separate pastures, I take all my dogs for a
daily "walk about" around the property perimeter. One exception is a female
Anatolian in heat. I never take a female in heat because it it just too
dangerous. If the males have been kept in separate pastures, they posture
and growl when I first get them together. Even the females do some posturing.
Expecting this behavior, I immediately discourage this interaction using my
"Back Off" command.
(See my article "Teaching the Back Off Command")
When they disengage, I say "Let's go," which they know as a command meaning we
are going to begin the "walk about." Only by being the ALPHA PACK LEADER am I
able to get them to disengage from each other. If I were not so strongly alpha
to my dogs, I believe I would be unsuccessful in keeping them apart.
In addition, I believe it helps me that
they remember how painful the fighting was. Remembering the pain (all their
fights ended without a clear cut winner and lots of injuries), they now are
more willing to solve the problem with posturing and my alpha command to back off.
In late 2002 and early 2003, my "walk about" was taken with a total of eleven
dogs - ten Anatolians and a West Highland White terrier: two adult males,
three adult females, three young males (under six months old), two young females,
and an adult intact Westie female. All my Anatolians tolerate my
Westie beautifully now, but they had to learn to tolerate her and do so because
of my alpha position. One of the young male Anatolians and
one of the young female Anatolians came from other breeders and are not genetically
related to my dogs. Even though they were brought in as pups, my dogs resented these
genetically unrelated pups and it took work to get them accepted.
My alpha female was especially resentful of the young genetically unrelated
female pup and I kept them separated for several weeks (except when I was
physically present) until I felt they were safe.
It has been even more difficult to get the females to tolerate each other
than it was the males. Like with the males, I'm still not certain I will
always be able to keep my females tolerating each other. My females' lack
of tolerance peaks when they come in heat. In heat, they become absolutely
vicious to the females with a lower position in the pack. As a further
complication, I've had a female be submissive until she was 14 months old and
then engage in a serious fight over something small, changing the pecking
Using the subtle
behavioral changes in my males when the females go into heat, I generally am
able to isolate the females on their first day in heat. I place the females
in heat in my steel stock trailer (my only escape proof location), which I
place in a pasture with no dogs. I believe that physical separation helps
eliminate male behavioral problems.
When I've moved my dogs through the pasture with the trailer, the female in
heat in the trailer focuses on the other females and lunges and bark/growls
with incredible ferocity! My females act far more deadly towards each other
than my males.
Although keeping intact males together is challenging, keeping intact females
together is far more challenging. In summary, I believe there is always an
element of danger in keeping intact Anatolians of the same sex together!
January 2008 Update on this topic....
Ultimately I found that the closer together in age and size intact working
Anatolian males are the less likely they can co-exist peacefully as equals.
When they are younger and close in size and strength, it is more difficult for
them to sort out which male is the dominant dog. Older working dogs seem less
interested in that kind of dominance and are more focused on what it takes to
keep the livestock they are protecting safe and secure. Until males of similar
size and age determine which dog is truly the dominant dog, they fight. I have,
however, had some success with older males being placed with much younger
males because the older male quickly and clearly demonstrates that it is
In addition, some lines produce dogs that are more insistent on being the boss
and refuse to be anything less. In those cases, after some serious fights
there is ultimately a clear cut winner and loser and the loser is required to
keep their distance and always be excessively submissive. I don't like what
this does to the personality of the losing dog, so when I see this situation
developing, I keep them in different pastures so each male can develop his full
personality without one of them being reduced by the more dominant male.
Anatolian males maintain a strict pack hierarchy similar to a wolf pack, it
seems to me. They can get along much of the time but when a female comes into
heat even males that have been friends get testy. Luckily, the males I have
all get along with females beautifully so I've never encountered a problem in
a male-female pair.
I have also worked with my females. I have managed to keep as many as five females
together in the same pasture. There are some disagreements with these five females
but they seem to be able to work out their problems without leaving too many holes
in each other. I also feed them together in a trough. However, I am always with
them when they eat and I punish any dog that growls over food by making that dog step
back from the trough for one minute. With this punishment they quickly learned
that growling was not a good way to get to eat!
I has two other females in the pasture with the five females but I had to
removed them because they were not able to get along with the other five females.
I now have them with a five year old and a ten year old female. They get along
with each other and the older females. So it seems that part of getting along
involves the personality of each dog involved!
I hope you found this information about WORKING Anatolian Shepherd
Guardian Dogs interesting and useful and gave you further insight into the
temperament of good working Anatolian Shepherd Guardians. If you are having
working problems with your dog, please feel free to contact me for assistance.
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