Erick Conard's Lucky Hit Ranch
Anatolian Guardian Behavior
The Importance of Selecting Superior Working Ability in Anatolians

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The Importance of Selecting Superior Working Ability in Anatolians
by Erick Conard

Working ability originates from a combination of traits genetically instilled in each Anatolian. Traits for superior working ability will be enhanced or decreased depending on the genetic combination of working traits passed from the DNA of each dog's parents. Although the enviornment in which the pup is raised affects the development of working ability, it is my experience that dogs with the genetics for superior working ability tend to become excellent working livestock guardians dispite many factors in their environment that are negative to the development of working ability.

Those Anatolians without the genetics for superior working ability will struggle just to be an adequate guardian, even with excellent training, and some may never be successfully trained as livestock guardians at all. These working wash-outs might serve adequately as pets or companions. However, if too many of the genetic inhibitions and controls have been removed by a "breeder" unwilling or unable to test for superior working ability, the dog may not be able to serve in any fashion at all!

For thousands of years in Turkey, Anatolians were selected for their ability to protect sheep and/or goats in a predator rich enviornment. Through harsh and severe culling, traits that helped Anatolians in performing their guardian duties were enhanced while traits that hindered Anatolians in protecting their flocks were discarded. Turkish shepherds could not afford to feed dogs unable to correctly and sucessfully protect their flocks.

Working ability is the defining essence of the Anatolian Shepherd. As such, all responsible Anatolian Shepherd breeders will place superior working ability as their primary criteria when selecting their breeding Anatolians. Those who breed Anatolians without insuring that their breeding dogs posess superior working ability are damaging the essence of the this breed and over time their breeding lines will lose working ability.

Anatolians selected for show wins only who are not raised in a true working enviornment (with sheep and/or goats in a predator rich enviornment) are NOT excellent breeding prospects, in my opinion. Since these dogs have not been tested and observed over time for the many and complex behaviors required in a superior livestock guardian, the "breeder" of these untested dogs has no idea if the dogs they are breeding have excellent or poor working ability.

Many of the show judges have still not received sufficient education and ASDCA feedback to comprehend the crucial nature of behaviors and demeanor required in superior livestock guardians. Sadly, many show judges are unable to recognize and appreciate these necessary working behaviors and demeanor. (Is this because serious working Anatolian breeders with first hand knowledge of correct Anatolian working behaviors and demeanor have not been sought out by the ASDCA and utilized as judges education trainers?)

Worse yet, some show judges have expressed their total lack of concern for behaviors and demeanor required in superior working Anatolians, stating they favor the "generic show dog" behaviors and demeanor most likely leading to a Best in Show Win even when these behaviors are not correct for Anatolians!

Another problem I've seen are those "breeders" testing for excellent hips, thyroid, and conformation without bothering to test for their Anatolian's livestock guardian ability. While health testing provides useful information, it doesn't test for and/or evaluate the core aspect of the breed - working ability. I've noticed that many of the "breeders" most criticial of other's health testing programs are the same "breeders" NOT TESTING THEIR BREEDING ANATOLIANS FOR WORKING ABILITY. Perhaps these critical individuals should point their condemning finger at themselves for their failure to test their Anatolians for superior working ability since working ability is an indispensable part of an Anatolian's intrinsic nature!

I believe it is irresponsible to breed Anatolians from lines untested for working ability, no matter how many other tests the "breeder" has performed. While "breeders" who repeatedly breed their untested dogs focus on health testing and other easy selection criteria, THEY ARE NOT INVOLVED IN BREED PRESERVATION! Only those dedicated breeders willing to do the massive amount of work required to understand the complexity of behaviors and the level of working ability in their Anatolians can be considered BREED PRESERVATIONISTS! An understanding of an Anatolian's true level of working ability can only be made over time employing diligent and lengthy observation of an Anatolian in the pasture with sheep and/or goats living in a predator rich environment!

Lucky Hit Sonra DevaKiz Kaleci of CEDAR RISE (KIZI) WITH HER SPECIAL KID Lucky Hit Sonra DevaKiz Kaleci of CEDAR RISE (KIZI) WITH HER SPECIAL KID


I stepped outside and saw KIZI lying quietly about 10 feet from a young boer goat (this kid's mom). Seeing how intently KIZI was watching the goat, I walked over to see what she found so interesting. Two little legs were poking out!

Since KIZI had been raised as a home/companion guardian without livestock and hadn't seen a kid born, I was especially eager to learn how she would handle this new situation. Her behavior would help me understand the genetic influence that generations of carefully selected working Anatolians in her background had contributed to her working ability.

I calmly moved about 80 feet away, sat down, and observed KIZI's behavior. As a breeder, it is vital I understand the working ability of the pups I've produced and any dog I might breed.

In Anatolians, working ability must be a responsible breeder's primary consideration since working ability is the essence of the breed! When a "breeder" keeps their Anatolians in kennels removed from livestock and the Anatolian's protective ability against serious predators is untested, I consider that "breeder" an Anatolian puppy mill. Although useful and interesting in Anatolians tested for working ability, who cares how many medical tests a dog has or what show awards the dog has achieved if the dog's working ability is a total unknown. When a breeder doesn't consider working ability as their primary breeding criteria, they are not breeding for the essence of the breed!

KIZI remained lying on the ground throughout the entire process, totally focused on both the nanny and the kid as the kid was born and the fluids came out. After about an hour, after the kid had nursed and the placenta came out, the mom and kid moved off a bit. Only then did KIZI get up, investigate the kidding area, and clean up the fluids and afterbirth. She remained close the this kid for several weeks (but never interferring with the kid's bonding with her mom). You can see how much this kid loves KIZI. When this kid was small, as pictured here, KIZI loved being used as the kid's special jungle jim!!!


Guarding her flock of geese.

KIZI, from a Lucky Hit/ Cedar Rise co-bred litter, was raised as a home companion guardian for her first 1 1/2 years
without exposure and/or experience with livestock.

KIZI then came to Lucky Hit Ranch.

With KIZI'S genetically instilled superior working ability, she was able to adapt from a home companion guardian situation to be an amazing working guardian with geese and goats almost overnight.

Only when Anatolians are correctly bred for superior working ability will Anatolians remain a breed known for possessing superior working ability.

Serious and dedicated Anatolian breeders will ALWAYS test for superior working ability.

"Anatolian breeders" who breed their dogs without testing for superior working ability will eventually degrade the quality of their dogs ability to work!

Another consideration - if a "breeder" doesn't raise their Anatolians in a working setting, how helpful do you believe that "breeder" can be if a puppy buyer asks them for working guidance with a pup they sold?

To me, no matter what other qualities a "breeder" selects for (show wins, hips, thyroid, etc.), if a "breeder" fails to make WORKING ABILITY THE PRIMARY SELECTION CRITERIA IN ALL ANATOLIAN BREEDINGS, these so-called "breeders" are just dabblers and Anatolian puppy mills!!!!



I hope you found my ideas about WORKING Anatolian Shepherd Guardian Dogs interesting and useful. I strive to provide insight into the temperament and character of good working Anatolian Shepherd Guardians by sharing my thoughts regarding how to select the very best Anatolians. I believe in BREED PRESERVATION, which requires using superior working ability as the primary selection criteria!

If you are having working problems with your Anatolian, please feel free to contact me for assistance.


The most important factor when purchasing and raising an Anatolian to guard livestock is to select your pup from two proven and superior working Anatolians.

Good or bad working behaviors are inherited, just like good or bad hips, good or bad teeth, etc. Your pup has the greatest likelihood of having superior working ability if he/she comes from two superior and proven working parents. Before purchasing a pup you should visit the ranch and carefully observe the parents to verify that both sire and dam live and work 24/7 with sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment. Check out the parent's behaviors for excellent and desirable interactions with their sheep and/or goats. If you don't like the parent's behaviors you might not like the puppy's behaviors!

Breeders who tell you "all Anatolians have good working ability" are probably just trying to sell their pups, since there is a wide variation in working ability depending on the working genetics of the parents! My experience is that when a breeder has failed to focus on superior working ability as their top breeding requirement, it is possible that the pups they are producing may not have the high level of working ability that you require!

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