By Erick Conard, October 2020
Breed Standard for the Anatolian Shepherd
(approved June 1995 / Effective June 1996 ).
This nine word section simply states:
Color - All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable.
"All color patterns and markings" being equally acceptable was such a serious issue for the ASDCA membership that in the early 2000's I received a call from the ASDCA president. He had read a comment I made regarding pinto coloration and thought I disagreed with that thought! (I didn't, of course. He had not understood my genetic explanation of pinto. At the time, I had several pinto Anatolians, dogs I loved and valued for their excellent working ability!) He was so passionate about the concept that all color patterns and marking were equally acceptable that I couldn't get a word in for about 45 minutes.
This ASDCA President wanted me to understand that it was and had always been ASDCA policy that all color patterns and markings were equally acceptable without deviation! This idea was and has been a longstanding tenet of the ASDCA and the significance of this tenet is clearly seen because under the color section of the Anatolian Standard the only comment is "All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable."
Of course, he had no argument from me. I completely agreed with him. Anatolian color is completely irrelevent in a working breed developed over thousands of years to serve the strictly utilitarian function of guarding livestock from serious predators!
What is relevent, however, is superior working ability (guarding sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment), a basic requirement for all Anatolians being considered for breeding.
I personally believe it is irresponsible for an Anatolian breeder to breed two Anatolians when neither dog has been tested for working ability! Testing for working ability requires that the Anatolian lives 24/7 with sheep and/or goats in a predator rich enviornment and takes a great deal of time, energy, and dedication to the breed on the part of all responsible Anatolian breeders.
Recently I acquired my password to the ASDCA website. Looking at the "Members Only" section, I discovered the meeting minutes and decided to check them out and see what our elected board members and officers had been doing.
I was shocked when I read the following:
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE ASDCA
JUNE 4, 2017 8PM EST
AGENDA plus Minutes
Black and Tan registration – Motion made by Carol – Seconded by Jan to deny AKC registration of individual dog under the black and tan color. Discussion held about intent of the founding fathers, past practice of not having any in the past and further discussions. Letter to be formulated explaining our stance and sent to AKC and informing registrant a process to continue by submitting more information on the dog to the ASDCA Ayes: Albert, Carol, Diana, Jan, Laura, Perry, Paula, Ej Nays: None – Motion Carried
Why did these eight ASDCA members take this negative attitude toward one of the basic tenents of the ASDCA? "All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable." And worse yet, to me, they quietly made this basic change to a position held by the ASDCA since its founding without consulting the ASDCA membership, as if the members thoughts and ideas were valueless to them! How disturbing! I greatly love Anatolians and the ASDCA and its role in Anatolian breed preservation. So when I see what appears to be a complete lack of concern for the valuable input of the general membership when serious changes to the Anatolian Standard are being considered by the board, I cringe. I am especially disturbed when major decisions affecting all Anatolians appear to have been made in secret. I believe that this and other authoritarian actions by the board and officers without seeking advice and input from the general membership have resulted in the recent decrease in ASDCA membership!
Diamond Acres Bear
Born in 2008 and an AKC Registered Anatolian
A beautiful example of a PROVEN WORKING ANATOLIAN!
SUPERIOR WORKING ABILITY IS THE ESSENCE OF THE BREED!
Conformation is only a very small part of the COMPLETE ANATOLIAN!!!
And COLOR has always been IRRELEVANT!!!
Diamond Acres Bear
Born in 2008 and an AKC Registered Anatolian
The black color results from a black tipped hair rather than a solid black hair!
Even dog coat color geneticists are are uncertain regarding the exact genetics required to produced this color. Is it Ay (Agouti locus) with extensive black tipping? If our board members are willing to make snap decisions without club input regarding a standard in existence since the club began, I'm thinking we placed the wrong people on this 2017 board! Snap decisions and personal prejudice in a board member is not what I am looking for.
I'd much rather have had them change the Anatolian Standard to require a greater emphasis placed on working ability in breeding Anatolians!
I am bringing this information to light for review by the general membership because I love the ASDCA and believe it has a vital and important role in Anatolian breed preservation. That's why I have been a member of ASDCA since 1985 - I have always seen how important the decisions of the ASDCA are in proper breed preservation. However, I do not always love or approve of the actions taken by some individual members in the ASDCA, including some of our officers and board members, and this decision regarding color is one of those actions.
Our ASDCA officers and representatives should never feel they are immune to a response from the general membership regarding any of their actions and decisions. Their decisions are not made in a vacuum and we in the general membership DO have our own thoughts regarding their decisions and the effect those decisions have on our wonderful and amazing Anatolians. The ASDCA is not the private club of the board and officers and they cannot behave as if it is. They must begin caring about the thoughts and ideas of the general membership. I believe this action regarding the change in the color section of the Anatolian Standard by these ASDCA club officials in June, 2017, was ill-informed and against a basic precept of the ASDCA!
What thought processes motivated these 2017 ASDCA board members and officers, with no input or discussion from the membership, to take a longstanding and basic tenent of the ASDCA (that "All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable.") and change that basic tenent (a philosophy of the ASDCA since it's founding) after only a short discussion among ONLY eight members of the ASDCA!!!! Clearly there was no thought of including the general membership in this discussion!
The ASDCA membership has decreased greatly in recent years. One idea I've heard often is that the ASDCA is run by a clique who have no interest in the thoughts and ideas of the members. Some say that the only use for members is for them to pay their dues. Generally, the people I've heard from also say this controlling clique isn't interested in the working aspect of the breed. Looking through the Anatolian Times, it appears to me that there is a great deal of truth in this thought!
If you'd like to see an article submitted to the Anatolian Times Editor and REJECTED, written by a working breeder (me) who has produced many AKC Champions and so is familiar with AKC dog shows and AKC judging, check out
"Judging the Judge: How to Spot AKC Judges Who Shouldn't Judge Anatolians"
Many ASDCA club members believe the club should place a greater emphasis on working ability. The above article was written from a working Anatolian breeder's viewpoint regarding the dangerous selections being made by AKC judges.... dangerous because some judges have tended to select for traits that are antagonistic to excellent Anatolian working ability. Since the AKC is supposed to help breeders select superior examples of the breed, it is vital that judges who are ill-informed or uncaring about correct Anatolian temperament, behavior and demeanor necessary for breed preservation receive corrective education.
It is shocking to me that an ASDCA club official appears more worried about the feelings of ill-educated judges than correct breed preservation.
Over the years many ASDCA officers and board members have been incredibly frustrating for me to work with since my primary focus is breed preservation, which requires that all breeding Anatolians have proven, excellent working ability. Many other club members have shared with me frustrations similar to mine. My experience is that while I see a great deal of lip service regarding the working Anatolian, not a lot of actual work is being done to ensure proper breed preservation by the ASDCA officers and board members. (There seems to be no limit to the time and energy they are willing to spend on all things show related, however.)
Another example I've seen that seems to demonstrate the low esteem for the general ASDCA membership by the "controlling clique" of the ASDCA is that until this year (2020) we had not had a general election of the membership since 2012. We are required to have elections every two years, but rather than working to involve a greater number of members in the club, the people in charge of the ASDCA appear to have just appointed their friends to board memberships and officer positions.
I know very little about these eight ASDCA officers and board members who, by themselves without club membership input, voted to change a basic tenet of the club - "All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable.". Which of these eight individuals have a strong enough genetic background to make this major change to our longstanding breed standard regarding color without seeking any input from the general membership? What's next? Shall we secretly, without membership discussion, eliminate brindle because a club officer or board member doesn't like that color? And for a while pinto was really disliked. Should we include that color for elimination without consulting the general membership? I know... let's just have the board and officers secretly call all of our Anatolians Kangals and only allow Fawn with black mask and no white to be registered! That way we can be absorbed into the Kangal registration and our club can be secretly disbanded. (And if you believe I actually mean this you are incredibly ignorant!!!)
CONCLUSION: This arrogant, ignorant, ill-informed, and "secret" change to the coat color requirement for Anatolians, made by eight board members and officers without consulting the general membership, MUST be overturned immediately!
All official standards for Anatolian Shepherd dogs accept all colors.
All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable.
Colour: All colours acceptable.
All colors are acceptable.
All colours acceptable.
...and so on
Despite the fact that all Anatolian colors are and have been equally acceptable for many decades, people avoided importing brindles. But when brindles began to be imported, brindles not only became acceptable, but desirable. Until recently, people avoided importing black and black-and-tan Anatolians for reasons similar to the failure to import brindles.
In addition, since black and black-and-tan are the least dominant of the Agouti series, therefore recessive to the more common Anatolian colors, they are not seen as often, so not as readily associated with Anatolians. Even when you don't see them, these colors can be carried for many generations before being expressed. Not seeing the colors doesn't mean the colors are not in the gene pool. They are. Natalka Czartoryska's collection pictorially documented the presence of these colors in native Turkish guardian dogs many decades ago.
Color preference is a personal choice. However, some poorly informed individuals are unaware that black and black-and-tan exists in the genetics of native working Anatolians in various dominant and recessive forms. When individuals allow their personal choices and preferences to overrule the breed standard, they are endangering both the genepool and historical accuracy.
AKC dog registration forms don't have a place to select either black or black-and-tan as a body color, but as the knowledge of the breed and its genetics increased, I was hopeful that the incomplete color section in the AKC dog registration forms would be corrected. In the early 2000's I even offered to work with ASDCA to update the AKC color section of the registration form to provide complete and genetically correct color designations on the form. Rather than accept my offer, the ASDCA board offered the job to a great person but one who had absolutely no in-depth understanding of dog coat color genetics. Therefore, nothing was done and the problem has lingered an additional twenty years.
If someone says no black and no black-and-tan Anatolians have ever been registered, know that that statement is incorrect and made in ignorance. I personally know they have been registered at least as long ago as twenty years. Since the form incorrectly lacked a color designation for black or black-and-tan, the owner generally registered these dogs as fawn, since they are all a part of the Agouti Series. The Agouti Locus has the following potential alleles: Ay-fawn, AW-wolf, at-black-and-tan, and ab-black. All of these alleles are present in Anatolian genetics.
For decades, breeders with tanpoint pups have been forced to register their dogs inaccurately, using other colors that are listed on the registration forms. Since the colors listed on AKC's registration form make no genetic sense, the color information AKC has compiled all this time is scientifically and genetically useless. According to AKC, the responsibility for generating AKC's color section in their Anatolian registration form lies with the ASDCA. Our board and officers have failed to perform this function for decades, even after I provided a heads-up regarding the problem in the early 2000's. A good understanding of canine color genetics is needed throughout the club membership -- board members, officers, and the general membership.
No club official should ever be allowed to make decisions regarding Anatolian coat color without having proven knowledge and clear understanding of dog coat color genetics. The board and officer's decision in 2017 to eliminate black-and-tan from Anatolian registration is a perfect example of a decision made by individuals with little understanding of dog coat color genetics in general and native Turkish livestock guardian genetics specifically.
Albert, Carol, Diana, Jan, Laura, Perry, Paula, EJ
ASDCA officers and board members who voted in 2017 to eliminate black-and-tan from Anatolian registration.
Five minutes on the internet would have helped them understand how incorrect, even ignorant, that decision was!!!