Using the Anatolian Standard as a Guide to the Discussion
By Erick Conard, Lucky Hit Ranch, September, 2021
Many Anatolian breeders seem to falsely believe that the ideal breeding Anatolian's structure, demeanor, and temperament is best seen in Anatolians winning at Dog Shows. However, we all know that Dog Shows do not select for superior working ability! Superior Anatolian structure, demeanor, and temperament was developed over thousands of years under harsh and severe conditions to select Anatolians best suited to guard sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment throughout Turkey. As stated in the Anatolian Standard, "Developed through a set of very demanding circumstances for a purely utilitarian purpose; he is a working guard dog without equal, with a unique ability to protect livestock." I believe that true working settings still reveal the Anatolians with superior structure and, more importantly, test for "a unique ability to protect livestock!"
Therefore, Anatolians capable of winning ribbons at dog shows but who are physically and/or mentally unable to successfully guard sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment clearly lack vital traits required in breeding Anatolians and should NOT be bred. Working ability can only be evaluated and proven in dogs raised in a correct working environment (i.e. with sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment).
Ultimately, Breeders and their breeding decisions either ruin the breed or preserve the breed. To preserve Anatolian Shepherds as they were developed in Turkey, Anatolian breeders must value the working aspect of the breed as the single most important aspect of the breed. In this breed, nothing trumps working ability, the essence of the breed!!!
When selecting our breeding Anatolians, the first criteria to look for is proven superior working ability. Those without superior working ability should never be considered for breeding. Then, from those Anatolians selected for their proven superior working ability, we can move on and begin evaluating our potential breeding Anatolians for superior conformation! If someone can spend the time, work, and money to drag their Anatolians all over the country to dog shows, they should certainly be willing to spend the time, work, and money to prove that their breeding Anatolians have superior working ability, the single most significant trait required for all Anatolians!
Two Essential Physical Features Vital for Correct Movement:
1. Correct Front Assembly
2. Correct Rear Assembly
CORRECT FRONT ASSEMBLY
The dog's front limbs bear around 60-65% of the dog’s body weight when standing. In addition to carrying body weight, a dog's front limbs function as shock absorbers when stopping, jumping, and moving downhill, and when whirling, twisting, and landing during fights with serious predators. Frequently, the shoulder slam is an Anatolian's initial fighting technique in confronting invading canines. Approaching at an angle, the Anatolian hits the canine with its chest/shoulder, rolling the invader over. As the Anatolian flys across and above the canine, the Anatolian reaches down, grabs the invader by the throat, and holds on. This flips the Anatolian's body around and generally ends all fight in the invading canine without injury to the Anatolian.
When the Anatolian is fighting off predators, especially when using this technique, huge amounts of stress are placed on the front assembly, which (unlike humans) doesn't include a collar bone to provide support for the shoulder girdle. A dog's shoulder assembly is only attached by muscles, tendons and ligaments. This makes the shoulder assembly more susceptible to stress and injury with repetitive activities. Shoulder muscles must be strong, powerful, and well built for an Anatolian to be able to handle the excessive loads being distributed throughout the shoulder, elbow, and feet joints and to also provide support to adjacent tissues.
Since Anatolians require a strong front end in order to perform their guardian function and to reduce their risk of injury, it is vital that breeders pay special attention to the front assembly when selecting their breeding Anatolians! Narrow fronts are highly detrimental to a successful shoulder slam! Breeding for traits that are currently, but improperly, winning in the show ring is contrary to breed preservation. Correct breed preservation requires serious and studied consideration of your breeding Anatolians for the correct front Assembly and for all other traits required to increase the Anatolian's chance of survival against serious predators!
Anatolians have evolved over thousands of years to perform as livestock guardians. Their structure has been developed through survival of the fittest to perform these guardian activities. What is correct structure for an Anatolian can be incorrect in other breeds developed to perform other very different tasks. For instance, a greyhound selected for generations to run at speed might have a straighter front assembly (straighter front legs) and what would be called over-angulated rear assembly (hind legs) compared to what is required in Anatolians and other guardian breeds. The structure allowing a Greyhound to run so efficiently allows them to have a larger stride and more speed, but it decreases their ability to make sharp turns, an ability required in livestock guardians when fighting serious livestock predators. Since Anatolians require both speed and agility, and the ability to make lightening sharp turns off their rear, correct structure for superior racing greyhounds is detrimental for superior working guardian Anatolians!
The most desireable structure for the Front End Assembly is a 45 degree angle between an imaginary horizontal line and the angle of layback of the shoulder (scapula) with a corresponding 45 degree angle of the upper arm (humerus). In addition, an imaginary vertical line dropping from the highest point of the shoulder should drop down to land just behind the dog's front pad. (see the drawing above)
To determine the correct angles, the front feet should be placed underneath the Anatolian's shoulders and their hocks should be placed perpendicular to the ground. Also, the Anatolian should be standing on a flat surface and viewed straight from the side at the level of the withers. Deviations from this position will distort the angles.
To determine if the upper arm (humerus) is a correct length, measure the distance from the top of the shoulder blade to the point of the shoulder. Then measure the distance from the point of the shoulder along the upper arm to the point of the elbow. These two distances should be equal and lay back at a 45 degree angle, both 45 degrees off the horizontal. The upper arm (humerus) should be long enough to place the lower leg (front leg) well back from the shoulder joint, allowing for greater angulation at the junction of the upper arm and shoulder. Having a short upper arm (humerus), which results in a front assembly that is too straight, is currently a common structural flaw seen in many Anatolian's! Also frequently seen are Anatolians with upper arms that have insufficient layback.
Advantages of excellent shoulder lay back
Faster ground speed and better turns
Decrease in joint injuries
Decrease in shoulder, elbow and back injuries
Increase in flexibility, allowing for better "nose-to-ground" ability
Increase in muscle attachment allowing greater muscle bulk
Disadvantage of a straight shoulder
Decrease in reach and stride length
Reduction in the area for muscle attachment when the humerus is shorter
Reduction in stability and muscular development
Increase in the concussive force and damage to the forelimbs
CORRECT REAR ASSEMBLY (i.e. HINDQUARTERS)
An Anatolian's hind end is the propulsion mechanism to propel their bodies forward. When leaping or jumping, the Anatolian pushes off using his rear. Any weakness in the rear assembly will greatly reduce the Anatolian's ability to effectively protect his livestock against predators. Rear end weakness might also result in your dog's death.
Alteration in the conformation (i.e. the shape of the structure) of the Anatolian rear assembly affects all of the angles in the rear assembly. An easy way to picture the degree of angulation in the rear is to identify two locations: 1.) the lower end of the of pelvis (called the ischial tuberosity) and 2.) the hock (when it is placed perpendicular to the ground). Once identified, draw two seperate lines, one from the ischial tuberosity to the ground; then draw the second line up through the hock. This gives you two parallel lines. The distance between these two lines helps picture the amount of angulation your dog has. The greater the distance between these two lines the greater the angulation in the hind end. The closer these two lines are the less angulation your dog has.
Different breeds have different structural standards because different breeds were developed to perform different tasks. Anatolians have less rear angulation than Greyhounds because the Anatolian requires less angulation to successfully perform it's livestock guardian duties. Anatolian breeders must stop extending their dogs' angulation just because it looks pretty. Just as rear angulation that is too straight is detrimental to Anatolian performance, so is rear angulation that is too extreme. Don't breed Anatolians with rear angulation too extreme to correctly perform the physical tasks and maneuvers Anatolians require to protect their livestock against predators!
There is a danger in extending Anatolian rear angulation past what is correct for their livestock guardian duties. Greater angulation is associated with a longer tibia length, which can lead to a straighter stifle (knee). A straighter stifle hinders jumping ability (a must for an Anatolian leaping and whirling when fighting serious predators). A straighter stifle also predisposes the Anatolian to possible ligament tears (e.g. cranial crucial ligament, known as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans).
Anatolian breeders can decrease their line's functionality by over-extending their dogs' rear angulation. For some breeds, major changes to the rear angulation have occurred. While beautifully extended rears might be pleasing to the eye, an unwanted side effect is that they decreased that breed's functionally. Excessive rear angulation can lead to a high incidence of hip dysplasia and lumbosacral disease. And in working Anatolians, excessive rear angulation can greatly reduce the dog's agility and twisting speed when fighting off predators! Surely no one wants that!
Overangulation in the rear wastes energy and reduces the Anatolian's efficiency of movement The Anatolian that is overangulated in the rear crabs or paces. Rear overangulation also creates extra rear and/or front (hackney) movement to keep the Anatolian from overrunning his own front feet. Rear under-angulation, the opposite problem, limits propulsion essential for efficient movement, climbing ability, and power when fighting. This is why a breeder must breed for the correct angulation in both front and rear!
Advantages of increased angulation in the rear
Faster ground speed
Disadvantages of increased angulation in the rear
Harder to turn sharply
Slower lying and getting up
Hyper extension injuries
Summation for front and rear angulation
Both the front and rear assemblies must be in balance with each other to achieve excellent coordination of movement, better agility and maneuverability, and a reduction in the Anatolian's chances for injury.
FRONT AND REAR PAWS (FEET)
The Anatolian, like all livestock guardian breeds, should have tight, cat-like feet, which maximize endurance and minimize injury. As stated in the Anatolian Standard, "The feet are strong and compact with well-arched toes, oval in shape."
While the hare foot (useful in achieving a bit more speed) is acceptable in Anatolians, the cat foot is far more appropriate, since the cat foot helps with the twisting and turning required in close fighting. The cat foot also provides greater stability across rough terrain! I expect my Anatolians to chase off the predators only a short distance and then quickly return to their charges in case another predator is sneaking in from the rear. Therefore, the Anatolian's fighting ability, requiring the cat foot, is more important than the Anatolian's ability to run fast in a straight line, which is only slightly improved with the hare foot!
Each requirement found in the Anatolian Standard originates from the vital qualities necessary in superior working livestock guardians. Dedicated Anatolian breeders adhere to these physical and mental requirements. The best way to determine if an Anatolian is rugged, powerful, and possesses great endurance and agility is to raise Anatolians with sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment. Watching your Anatolians interact with your sheep and/or goats helps you understand and evaluate their ability as a livestock guardian. NO ANATOLIAN SHOULD BE CONSIDERED BREEDING QUALITY WITHOUT PROVING THAT HE/SHE IS A "WORKING GUARD DOG WITHOUT EQUAL, WITH A UNIQUE ABILITY TO PROTECT LIVESTOCK," As stated in the first paragraph of the ANATOLIAN STANDARD!!!
All responsible breeders will fulfill this Anatolian Standard requirement through serious testing and selection of all their Anatolian breeding stock for their ability as a"working guard dogs without equal, with a unique ability to protect livestock!" I personally view breeders who fail to perform this most important test as puppy mill breeders. No matter how much health testing breeders do on their dogs or how many show wins breeders achieve, all of these things are useless if breeders haven't tested for the breed's essence, a unique ability to protect livestock.
That means that SHOW-ONLY BREEDERS (breeders who show Anatolians but do not test their Anatolians for actual working ability with sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment) ARE NOT ADHERING TO THE ANATOLIAN STANDARD!!!! I've found that when breeders want to talk at length about the health testing they do (a good thing) but don't want to discuss the working environment they use to test their dogs for superior working ability, they may not be testing their dogs for working ability at all, and superior working ability is the single most important trait to breed for when breeding Anatolians! "Breeders" (puppy mills?) who breed Anatolians untested for superior working ability contribute to the degredation of the breed! Please don't add to the degradation of the breed by purchasing pups from these irresponsible Anatolian breeders who not only fail to test for working ability but also don't even value working ability enough to breed their unproven working Anatolians to one who has truly proven working ability!
"Appears bold, but calm, unless challenged." It is important to look for Anatolians that are calm when no threats are perceived. However, in the face of a threat, they must not only appear bold, they must BE BOLD! When challenged, Anatolians must respond to that challenge. Anatolians who fail to respond powerfully to all threats lack the critical internal strength required in a superior livestock guardian! Many show-only breeders, whose Anatolians aren't required to face serious predators, do not have the experiences with their Anatolians to understand how vital internal strength is in a livestock guardian dog. It's far more difficult to show an Anatolian possessing great internal strength, so many show-only breeders select the sweeter pups. These sweeter pups tend to be less effective against serious and powerful predators, reducing their effectiveness as livestock guardians!
Reserve out of its territory is acceptable. For working Anatolians, it is not only acceptable, it is necessary! As a breeder, I look for what I call "off-territory shut down." Since I require great internal strength in my dogs to stand firm to serious predators, I need them to possess off-territory shut down, which means that when they are off territory they dial-back their on-territory responses but will still protect me if I am threatened. And they are far more open and accepting of strangers than when on-territory. I consider this to be an important and necessary trait when making my breeding selections!
SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE
The most important structural statement in this section is "General balance is more important than absolute size." Breeding for size hurts the breed! A well balanced Anatolian has far greater agility and speed to use for close-in fighting than a huge hulking monster-dog. Speed during close-in fighting and agility are both vitally important traits in the working Anatolian and help an Anatolian stay alive and uninjuried when confronting invasive predators! The size range in the Anatolian Standard produces Anatolians with the best balance between power and agility! However, it is disappointing when a breeder with a 150 pound male or a 120 pound female wants to breed for greater size. Larger and larger Anatolians means Anatolians with less and less agility!!! IT IS IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN THE BALANCE BETWEEN SIZE AND AGILITY!
Structurally, it is important that Anatolians have almond shaped eyes. This shape is useful in protecting the eyes from severe sunshine found both in a desert situation (with the intense sun both shining down and reflecting off the desert sand) and in locations with extensive snow cover (which also intensifies the suns damaging rays). For this reason, no matter how beautiful they look, round eyes are absolutly unacceptable in Anatolians!
It is important that the Anatolian's eyes must be "without sag or looseness of haw." The "haw" is third eyelid, also called the “nictitating membrane.” They keep a dog's eyes lubricated and protected. They are located at the corner of the eyes in most breeds. When the eyelid sags and/or the haw is loose, blowing wind can more easily allow blown dirt, manure, and other detritus into the Anatolian's eyes, where it creates varying degrees of eye infection, reducing the Anatolian's functionability. No trait can be allowed in Anatolians that reduce their ability to protect sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment!
Regarding ears, since most Turkish guardians had their ears cut off to protect them from being torn during fights with predators, I place ears at the very bottom of of traits I look for in breeding Anatolians. However, I detest the large, hound-like ears seen in some Anatolians. Since the Turkish people cut off the ears to reduce their size, it seems like Anatolian breeders need to honor that concept by NOT breeding for ears any larger than described in the Anatolian Standard ("... measuring about four inches at the base to six inches in length. The tip should be just long enough to reach the outside corner of the eyelid.") Any larger is just too large!!!
. " ... neither dog nor bitch would have a snipey head or muzzle. This requirement has a working structural basis since a larger, blockier head and muzzle provides greater biting power and strength than a snipey, smaller head and muzzle. However, if you must select between better head shape or better working ability, always chose the Anatolian with superior working ability!
"Flews are normally dry but pronounced enough to contribute to "squaring" the overall muzzle appearance." Flews are an Anatolian's upper lips, or the canine equivalent. When the flews are "floppy," the dog generally drools, which is irritating to both humans and livestock. Sagging lips (loose mouth skin) make drooling worse, so it is important when breeding Anatolians to always favor Anatolians with tight dry lips.
NECK, TOPLINE, BODY
Neck ... with more skin and fur than elsewhere on the body, forming a protective ruff. For some reason, the protective ruff has almost been lost in Anatolians, especially in the show Anatolians. Why these show-only breeders and judges don't understand how vitally important this "protective ruff" is to the working Anatolian I'll never understand. Even my own line, since I've bred into some major show lines, have a greatly reduced ruff, and this reduction really bothers me!
My first Anatolian's ruff was almost four inches long. It lay flat on his body so you only saw it's true extent when he went into warning mode. When upset, he made it stand straight out from his body! Quite impressive! It not only helped protect him if a predator tried to grab his neck, it also immediately made him look more massive, powerful, and threatening. His protective ruff wasn't just limited to his neck; it extended along the top of his back in a six inch wide swath of four inch long fur to his tail. This back hair also stood straight up, making him appear taller. With his neck and back hair standing stiff, he had a wild and threatening look about him, which I'm certain helped him drive off dangerous predators!
To better understand an Anatolian's topline one must first understand the Anatolian's spine. A dog's spine consists of five regions: cervical (seven vertebrae), thoracic (thirteen vertebrae), lumbar (seven vertebrae), sacral (three vertebrae), and caudal vertebrae, which can vary in number based on the dog breed.
The topline begins at the withers, which dips down to the relatively level back (which covers a mere hand span to the loin). Then the topline makes a slight arch over the loin (the loin has the muscles that facilitate the double suspension gallop and other leaping and twisting functions). Some individuals have incorrectly assumed that the entire topline should be relatively level; a relatively level topline is incorrect in Anatolians. It is important to note that dogs in excellent condition generally have a more developed rise over the loin than those not as fit. After the rise in the loin, the croup drops off at an angle. So in reality, the Anatolian spine looks like a "lazy-s" as it curves across the Anatolian's topline.
An Anatolian with correct spinal structure must have an arched loin (not roached). The arched loin allows for greater spinal flexibility, which is critical in Anatolians who must twist, turn, and leap to avoid damage or death when encountering agile predators.
The length, shape and curvature of the spinal vertebrae together with the muscles that support the loin area create a characteristic "lazy-s" topline, including the Anatolian's characteristic arch over the loin. As described by the renowned AKC Judge, Judge Richard Beauchamp, the Anatolian's "'lazy-s' topline is a very gentle curve that flows downward behind the withers then arches slightly up over the loin area." The topline then slopes slightly downward at the croup. All of these curves and slopes are absolutly necessary in the correct working Anatolian in order to achieve the greatest chance of success during life-threatening combant with predators!
As stated above, the topline is the line formed by the withers, back loin and croup (i.e. the area from the base of the neck to the base of the tail). A good topline, one that doesn't bounce when the dog is trotting, helps identify balanced angulation between the front and rear assembly. A bouncing topline indicates that there is an issue with the dog's structure. A steady topline that literally makes the dog appear to be floating around the ring indicates excellent structure. Dogs with "floating" movement and a correct topline are the dogs most likely to have the correct structure with correct reach and drive.
There are no sharp angles or abrupt stops in the Anatolian topline, which curves smoothly along the Anatolian's "lazy-s" spinal structure. The Anatolian topline must NEVER BE STRAIGHT, like the straight toplines seen in many show dogs. A straight topline reduces an Anatolian's flexability and agility, traits vital when fighting predators close-in. Judges (and breeders) who prefer Anatolians with straight toplines need additional structural-related breed education.
Since the Anatolian is slightly longer than tall and possesses the "lazy-s" topline's slightly arched loin, they are able to fold mid-air while changing directions and to jump upwards as high as six feet from a complete standstill, as my Anatolian, CHAMPION Birinci's YAHSI of LUCKY HIT, frequently did. This "lazy-s" Anatolian spinal structure in conjunction with a distinct tuck up at the loin also allows Anatolians to complete other amazing mid-air twisting leaps that are absolutly necessary in protective combat with powerful, fast, and agile predators. Anatolians without the correct Anatolian spinal structure (i.e. flat-backed Anatolians) lack sufficient speed and agility to leap, twist, and turn compared to Anatolians with the "lazy-s" spine.
I never place too much faith in show titles when considering structure. Proven working ability in the pasture with serious predators, not titles, demonstrate an Anatolians ability to withstand the enormous wear and tear on an Anatolian's body the pasture fosters. By observing my Anatolians in a true working setting (with serious predators), my understanding of correct Anatolian structure, including the Anatolian's "lazy-s" topline, is expanded!
About the tail
As a working Anatolian breeder, I look for what actually works, not some ideal tail carriage obtained from a stamp drawn by an artist who probably wasn't ever around Turkish livestock guardians. So for me, the important things I look for in the Anatolian tail is a tail that can stand up high and yet curve forward enough that the sheep and/or goats can easily see the curve.
I know the Turkish stamp shows a tail that makes a perfect circle, and this is fine as long as the tail is long. But once the tip of the tail touches the Anatolian's back, it should curl no more! I've seen Anatolians with tails that curl around tightly, like a pig. The tightly curled tail doesn't stand up very high because a tight curl reduces its overall height. Sheep and goats clustered behind a dog with a tightly curled tail in the middle of a dark night hounded by hungry predators can't easily see the dog's tightly curled tail. And the kids and lambs are too short to see it at all. When it can't be seen it can't perform it's function.
The correct Anatolian tail should stick up like a protective beacon. Livestock must be able to easily see both the tail and its curve forward. Somehow, sheep and goats know that the safest place is directly behind the Anatolian. They also know that when directly behind the dog, the curve disappears behind the upright tail.
Of course, the Anatolian must hold their tails in the correct position to convey the proper protective information to their charges. Anatolians must change their tail position as the predator situation changes to convey correct protective information to their charges! These positions range from high, straight up (and curled forward) with rapid back and forth "tail-wagging" (high danger) to relaxed, almost to the ground, with a slight curl on the end (all is well).
Long or short, the Anatolian coat needs to shed stickers and burrs. Coats that are soft and silky enough to allow stickers/burrs to cling are coats that need to be eliminated from breeding Anatolians.
A trait specified for Anatolians, longer and thicker hair at the neck creating a distinctive mane, is important for additional protection during fights. However, it seems that both judges and show people have decided this trait isn't necessary and seem to ignore the fact that it is in the standard. What a shame!
Another triat that seems to be ignored is "a thick undercoat is common to all." One time I showed a beautifully built working Anatolian with an extremely thick undercoat who was in her shedding cycle. One judge chastized me for bringing that dog to the show and complained about the shedding. I'd groomed the dog for hours, including the hour before entering the ring, yet the hair kept flying off! This judge said she was insulted that I'd brought the dog to her for examination. A thick undercoat is necessary to protect Anatolians in the pasture 24/7 from all types of inclement weather. I wondered if this insulted judge's experiences with Anatolians was limited to Anatolians living on the couch in heating and air conditioning? Even then, if they have a correct coat, they should have a thick enough undercoat to exhibit heavy shedding at times! A judge I could respect would have said, "What an amazingly thick undercoat this dog has! Thick undercoats are so vital to this breed!"
Judges who dislike Anatolian traits required to perform their guardian duties should stop judging Anatolians! And they have certainly gone too far when they pay more attention to Anatolian grooming than they do to temperament and structure! Anatolians should never be considered just pets and companions. Anatolians were "Developed through a set of very demanding circumstances for a purely utilitarian purpose; he is a working guard dog without equal, with a unique ability to protect livestock." Only by honoring that part of the Anatolian Standard can a judge be qualified to judge Anatolians!
Nothing could be clearer! All color patterns and markings are equally acceptable.
Remember, "NO GOOD DOG IS A BAD COLOR!" When you are talking about Anatolians, a "good" dog is always an Anatolian with superior working ability guarding sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment! Color is irrelevant!
The above description seems to be refering to the trot. However, dogs have the following gaits: walk, amble, pace, trot, rotary canter, transverse canter, rotary gallop, and transverse gallop. Since the Anatolian Standard, under "GAIT," seems to be solely focused on the trot, my comments will also focus on the trot.
Each of the above statements describe elements of an excellent trotting gait. However, what I look for, in a nutshell, is a dog who trots across the pasture and appears to be floating. The smoother and more "floating" the motion, the better the trot and the more ideal the structure of that dog!
The above section does an excellent job of breaking down each separate element of the Anatolian trot and is a useful guide when analyzing an Anatolian's movement. Another way to view the trot is that the trotting dog uses alternating legs, creating triangles. The front left and right rear legs move together, then the front right and left rear legs move together. Ideally, the trot is a smooth, floating stride with the dog lifting the front pad of one side immediately before the rear pad of that same side lands almost exactly in the front pads' footprint.
So much of the temperament section of the Anatolian Standard is amazingly correct. You can tell, however, that the last sentence of this section was written by show people. The last statement says "Overhandling would be discouraged." People focused on the working aspect of the breed would never think that a "handling" requirement would be included in the Anatolian Standard! It would seem to me that the comments "Highly territorial, he is a natural guard." and "Reserved around strangers and off its territory." tells it all! But maybe not enough for AKC judges, many of whom do not seem to understand correct Anatolian breed character! (And why are these people who don't understand correct Anatolian breed character allowed to judge Anatolians?)
I wish AKC judges, who are supposed to have excellent knowledge of the breeds they judge, understood Anatolian temperament well enough to understand and appreciate this section of the Anatolian Standard. Sadly, many judges still approach Anatolians too aggressively, and worse, then punish the dog for a correct Anatolian response! That's an excellent way for a breed to be ruined through AKC judging, especially if breeders shift from correct Anatolian temperament to the incorrect softer, sweeter, show dog temperament some judges, apparently ignorant of Anatolian breed character, seem to love so well!!!
Maybe a better last sentence to this section would be, "Correct livestock guardian temperament and demeanor will always be rewarded when being judged! Improper livestock guardian temperament and demeanor would be discouraged!" Of course, that would require Anatolian judges to understand what proper livestock guardian temperament and demeanor is, to know how it would be expressed in the ring, and to know how to act around Anatolians with correct livestock guardian temperament and demeanor! Since their judging selections help guide in the selection of future breeding Anatolians, is that too much to ask?
Blue eyes... They come from more than one source. In association with the merle gene blue eyes can indicate a potential for blindness and/or deafness. However, I have never heard of an Anatolian with the merle gene. Other reasons a dog has blue eyes may mean nothing negative. Blue eyes don't necessarily mean your dog will eventually go blind, deaf, or have any other genetic defects. Variation in pigmentation of the iris occurs for varying reasons and doesn't necessarily indicate health problems.
In some dog breeds, blue eyes can indicate possible vision defects without necessarily indicating that the blue-eyed dog will eventually go blind. Siberian Huskies and other breeds routinely have blue eyes without problems. Problems with blue eyes most often result due to the presence of a double merle gene. When such problems occur, they are referred to as merle ocular dysgenesis or MOD.
Embark researched blue eyes in dogs. They indicate that "Two genes that influence the “Merle” (M-locus) and “Piebald” (S-locus) coat color traits were already known to predict when a dog is more likely to have blue eyes." They also indicate that "even after taking those two genes into account, some cases of blue eyes remain unexplained. For example, some dog breeds, like Siberian Huskies and tri-colored Australian Shepherds, occasionally have blue eyes which can not be explained by M-locus or S-locus."
The genome near the ALX4 gene was discovered to influence development of blue eyes and an allele, or genetic variant, of this same gene also is associated with the presence of hindlimb dewclaws in Great Pyrenees!
While Albino dogs are more likely to have blue or light amber eyes rather than pink or red, albino dogs are quite rare.
Erect ears... Flop ears on Anatolians help sheep and/or goats immediately tell the difference between their guardians and their prick eared predators.
Of course, sheep and/or goats don't really need to check an animal's ears to identify a predator... The demeanor and behavior of predators is all that sheep and/or goats need to see to realize they are predators! That's why you should never breed an Anatolian that sheep and/or goats react to as if the Anatolian is a predator! The ability to move through the flock in a calming, non-predatory way is a basic requirement in all working livestock guardians. But if you have failed to test your Anatolians for working ability as a part of your routine selection process, how will you know whether or not your Anatolians have even this basic level of working ability? And if you don't know if this basic talent is present or not, perhaps you should NOT BREED your Anatolian, no matter how many show wins the dog has. After all, the essence of the breed is being a superior working livestock guardian. Only proving the dog can beautifully trot around a ring in front of a judge isn't good enough to consider the dog a breeding prospect. An Anatolian breeding prospect must have proven superior working ability!!!!
Overshot, undershot, or wry bite... These might affect a dog's ability to grab and hold a predator, so are valid disqualifications.