Breed Standard


INTRODUCTION - The physical and temperamental attributes of the Akbash Dog (pronounced Ah-k-bah-sh) reflect both mastiff and gazehound origins. They have the size, power and protective nature of the former; the long legs, fleet appearance and keen eyesight of the latter. Unlike many recognized western breeds, there is a decided phenotypic variation expressed by the modern gene pool; yet the breed is distinct and identifiable. Great care should be taken that the breed standard not be used to develop any extreme. The Akbash Dog is the result of centuries of natural selection as a guardian of livestock. In addition to its numerous physical attributes and stable temperament, the breed displays an exceptionally well developed maternal instinct. Maternal instinct is demonstrated by sensitivity and submissiveness to livestock, nurturing of young animals and fierce protectiveness when those animals are threatened. The qualities that have enabled the Akbash Dog to excel as livestock guardian should be uppermost in the minds of all who select breeding stock and affect the future health and survival of this breed.

GENERAL APPEARANCE - The all white Akbash Dog is a large and ancient guard dog breed from Turkey. The body is muscular, long-legged and slightly longer than tall. They are capable of running at great speed, have stamina, and a gazelle-like grace. In addition, Akbash Dogs have acute senses of sight and hearing. Males and females can look strikingly different; males grow faster and larger and take longer to mature, whereas females are more refined in appearance.

TEMPERAMENT - The Akbash Dog is completely dedicated and devoted to its owners and any animals in its charge. These dogs possess intelligence and courage, making them natural guardians. Their independent nature allows them to respond swiftly and without guidance in an emergency. Their loyalty and protective instinct make them ideal home and estate guardians in addition to their more traditional role of guarding livestock. There is no difference in guarding ability between the male and female.

Due to their strong maternal instinct, Akbash Dogs begin to bond to other living creatures at a very early age. They have been known to form strong attachments to sheep, goats, cattle, horses and other livestock; to poultry or exotic birds; to deer, alpacas, llamas and other animals; to people. Once bonded, even without specialized training, the dogs will not hesitate to come to the rescue of their charges if they think they are in danger, even at the risk of their own lives. Protected animals often show great trust and loyalty to their canine guardians - sheep allow the dogs to sniff and clean their newborn lambs; often they will flock behind their guardian when threatened. This symbiotic relationship, practised for centuries in the Old World, is just recently being demonstrated and understood in the New World.

Temperaments to be avoided include cowardliness and inappropriate aggression. A timid or cowardly dog tucks its tail, cringes, shrinks away or trembles when approached by a stranger or startled. Dogs should be able to discern between neutral and unfriendly strangers; they should never attack non-threatening people away from their territory. On their own turf, territorial aggression against intruders is normal, especially when their owners are not present. They may also be belligerent toward strange dogs on or off their home property. Handlers are always responsible for controlling the ir Akbash Dogs in public. The typical Akbash Dog does not have a high activity level and is not overly playful as an adult. Such individuals exist, but they should not be used as breeding stock, since the development of such traits would be contradictory to the breed's attributes as a livestock guardian.

HEIGHT AND WEIGHT - Mature dogs generally measure 28 to 31 inches (71 to 79 cm) at the withers; females 27 to 29 inches (69 to 74 cm). Weight should be in proportion to size and bone structure, and results in proper symmetry and balance. Mature dogs in trim condition weigh 90 to 130 pounds (41 to 59 Kg); females weigh from 75 to 100 pounds (34 to 45 Kg). Any significant deviation from the above measurements is considered a fault.

COLOR - Coat color is all over white. Light biscuit on the ears or on the ridge line, or coloration in the undercoat is acceptable. Defined spotting or a large amount of coloration is considered a fault when the color is biscuit. Any other color in the outer coat is a disqualification. The skin is usually pigmented in a piebald pattern. A large degree of pigmentation is considered desirable.

HEAD - Males have more massive heads than females. The head seen from above forms a blunt wedge, broad across the skull. It is slightly rounded as seen from the front and in profile. A narrow skull, or a round, domed skull are considered faults. The muzzle has great strength at the base, is barely chiseled under the eyes and should be slightly less than half the total length of the head. The top of the muzzle should have some breadth with a slight to moderately defined stop. No discernible stop or an extreme stop are considered faults. The muzzle tapers to a broad nose with wide-open nostrils. Tight flews barely cover the lower teeth. Powerful jaws, without fleshy cheeks, end in strong underjaws. A snipy muzzle with shallow underjaw is a fault. A scissor bite is preferred, but a level bite is acceptable. A distinct over or under bite is a disqualification. Dark pigmentation should be present on the eyelids, nose and mouth. Black is preferred but dark brown is acceptable. Complete dark pigmentation is preferred to any missing color on eyelids, nose and mouth. Absence of pigmentation to a sizable degree on any of these areas is considered a fault. Complete absence is a disqualification. During cold weather the nose and lips may lighten; this is considered normal.

EARS - Set high, V-shaped, tips slightly rounded, flat to the skull, carried pendant. When pulled forward, the tips of the ears should cover the eyes. When the dog is alert, the ears are raised and brought forward. Imported Turkish dogs may have cropped ears.

EYES - Almond shaped eyes are set well apart and distinctly oblique. Eye color varies from light golden brown to very dark brown. Yellow eyes are considered a fault, blue eyes a disqualification. Eye lids should be tight enough to prevent sagging.

NECK - A strong muscular neck, medium in length, arches at the crest. Most dogs have at least a slight ruff of longer hair, beginning under the ears on the back of the jaws and extending along the neck and chest to the front of the shoulders. There may be a slight to moderate dewlap, although minimal dewlap is preferred.

BODY - A long chest extends in depth to the elbows. Ribs are well-sprung but not rounded. The back appears long, is straight up to the loin where it arches slightly. The croup is well- muscled and slopes down to a low set tail. The loin and croup appear narrow relative to the size of the dog. The long brisket forms an underline parallel with the ground. The underline rises to a belly with long flanks and a slight to moderate tuck up. When the dog stands relaxed or in an awkward position the back may sag between the shoulders and the croup. This should not be confused with a swayed back which is a serious fault, as is a roached back.

FOREQUARTERS - Shoulders are muscular and well angulated. The upper arm and shoulder are approximately equal in length and form a distinct angle. The straight forearm is longer than the combined length of the shoulder and upper arm. This makes the front pasterns appear short. The strong front pasterns slope slightly when viewed from the side. Front legs are set moderately well apart, elbows close to the sides, allowing for a moderately wide chest. The front legs and feet stand parallel with each other and perpendicular to the ground. Overly long front pasterns, collapsed or weak pasterns, pasterns and feet that turn in or out noticeably when standing and moving, are all considered serious faults.

HINDQUARTERS - Hindquarters are long and powerful, with the musculature and angulation to balance that of the forequarters. The long hind legs contribute to the graceful arch of the loins and to the speed and agility of the breed. Stifles are moderately bent, hocks well defined, and rear pasterns are vertical, and parallel to each other when standing. Cowhocks, under and over angulation are all faults. Rear dew claws may be absent, single or double. Front and rear dew claws may be removed.

FEET - Strong, large, well arched toes. Nails blunt and either gray, brown or white. Pads thick, hard, elastic and normally dark.

TAIL - Long, reaching to the hocks. Carried low with slight curl when relaxed, never tucked between the legs. While moving, the tail is usually carried up over the back, the height depends on the degree of excitement and confidence. Tails may have a hook at the end, a moderate to tight curl, or a double curl. The tail may be slightly to heavily feathered in proportion to the coat length of the dog. Imported Turkish dogs may have docked tails.

MOVEMENT - The Akbash Dog moves with boldness and confidence, taking long strides. There is an elastic, springy nature to the gait. Feet and legs move along a line central to the body, single tracking at higher speeds. Fluid movement contributes to stamina during sustained exercise. The dogs are also capable of great speed. Sound feet, legs and joints are essential to good movement. Restricted, choppy, or other poor movement such as paddling or crabbing is a fault.

COAT - A double coat is formed by coarse guard hairs and a fine undercoat. Thickness of the undercoat will vary with the climate and exposure of the dog to the weather. Coats are shed seasonally. There are two varieties of coat length; both are equally acceptable.

LONG COAT - The outer coat grows quite long and may vary from straight to slightly wavy. The hair should never be curled or matted. Short smooth hair covers the head, ears, paws, front of the forearms up to the elbow, and on the lower hind legs. Most long haired dogs have a moderate to fairly prominent ruff. The back of the forelegs, thighs, and the entire tail are feathered. Most of the long coat is lost during hot weather.

MEDIUM COAT - The outer coat is medium in length and usually lies flat, giving the dog a sleek, racy appearance. In some specimens the coat is bushier, but still shorter than the long coat. Actual length of guard hair varies between individuals. There may be a light to moderate ruff which is generally larger on males. They may have little to moderate feathering on the legs, thighs and tail.


  • Lack of any pigmentation on the nose, eyes and lips.
  • Defined spotting or marked coloration of outer coat.
  • Blue eyes.
  • Severe cowhocks, turned out feet and pasterns or other serious structural defects.
  • Pronounced overshot or undershot bite.
  • Swayed or roached back.
  • Cowardliness.
  • Inappropriate aggression.
  • Restricted movement.