The Akbash Dog is native to the plains and mountains of Western Turkey and is also known to be an ancient purebred that is related to other guardian breeds found around the Northern Mediterranean Basin such as the Komondor and Great Pyrenees. It is thought that over 3,000 years ago they were selectively bred to have a white coat in order to not be recognized by predators or thieves when guarding sheep. The breed name Akbash originates from the Turkish word akbas meaning "white head." Their exact origin is uncertain, but they are believed to have a unique combination of Mastiff and Gazehound characteristics from their ancestors. Around the 1970s, Akbash Dogs began to be imported into the United States. Eventually, the United States Department of Agriculture took an interest in the breed for their guardian abilities and used them in their predator control program.
Sturdy and capable of working outdoors in the varying conditions of Western Turkey, Akbash Dogs have a white, weather-resistant, double coat that comes in two equally acceptable lengths such as short-to-medium and long. In both coat types, the hair is shorter on the muzzle, ears, and paws. Although males are typically taller and heavier than females, they both have a large head, powerful jaws, and a moderately wide chest. Regardless of their large size, the Akbash has both agility and speed which attests to their ability to perform successfully as livestock or estate guardians. They have golden or dark brown almond-shaped eyes and V-shaped ears, but some dogs imported from Turkey may be seen with cropped ears. The breed has a long tail that is usually carried in a curl over the back when moving or excited.
In addition to their size, speed, and agility, Akbash Dogs are known to perform successfully as guardians due to their strength and courage to challenge large predators. Although they have a calm demeanor, these dogs tend to be aloof and suspicious towards strangers, but are not seen as aggressive or hostile and will respond to threats by barking or growling. The Akbash is an independent breed that is capable of correctly responding to changing circumstances without human direction. This independence and responsiveness often makes them fairly stubborn during obedience training and even so, is considered a great listener when a job is given. Early obedience training and proper socialization are important to have an Akbash companion who is tolerant of other dogs if they have not been raised with them. While not considered a highly active breed, these hard-working guardians still require daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. Typically not recommended as just a companion pet, this gentle giant, if properly socialized, can be calm with children, a great family addition, and also will make an equally great protector.