Black Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

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

Black is documented to occur in Anatolians.

In all its variations, black is a relatively rare color in coban kopegi for several reasons.

I'll discuss the genetics of black in these dogs in more detail at another time; however, you must understand there are two main loci in our breed, which control black as seen in the dogs pictured below.

  • On the K locus, you find dominant black and also a sort of 'stuttering' mutation of dominant black--called brindle.
    These forms of black can be avoided absolutely in a foundation genepool, simply by just choosing not to import dogs that exhibit this type of black in their coats.

    For many decades
    , people avoided importing brindles, and until very recently, have avoided importing any black dogs. While these choices are understandably personal, others may be misinformed and unaware that black exists in the genetics of native working Anatolians in various dominant and recessive forms. These choices have resulted in the breed standard being overruled with personal beliefs or preferences, which are prejudicial to the genepool and historical accuracy.
  • The other type of black is recessive black. Recessive blacks are on the A locus. There are two main varieties of recessive black in the agouti locus. Tanpoint (marked like a Rottweiller with tan accents) and recessive black, where the dog is an allover black.
    Recessive blacks can sneak up on you after generations of 'pure breeding' fawn dogs. That's the nature of recessives; you don't know which dogs carry them until that sub-population begins to increase so there is more chance of recessives pairing up. For example, this can happen in Labrador Retrievers. In Anatolians, some tanpoints have begun to appear.

To see a current problem with ASDCA's implementation of the breed standard, go here.

Çoban Köpegi, the Anatolian Shepherd's Dog, has been historically bred and culturally selected for its livestock protection working ability for millennia. It is a type of dog entirely defined by its success at work. The shepherd's dog is a landrace, and there are still many areas of Turkey where the concept of pedigree breeding makes little sense. The shepherd's dog must prove its worth, or it isn't kept.

One place to get a good read on the humble concept of the landrace is from a 1927 reference in Ottoman Turkish and a 1936 reference in modern Turkish is here.
Additionally, the late Dee Brown (famous for Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), wrote a chapter in "When the Century was Young", about a situation involving a Turkish gift of sheepdogs from Turkey to the USA.
A Turkish ambassador had overheard that the US government was studying sheepdogs to find the best of them. The Ambassador then said that the Turks had the BEST sheepdog world. This was just before WWII. The dogs shipped to the USA for the sheepdog project were described as large, gray, wolfish dogs with bushy tails. You can read the story here.

Now some pictures!

Below I have shared some photos of dogs from my collection with various types of black color being expressed; the A locus and K locus are featured here.

Some of the photographs are from Natalka Czartoryska's collection, and some of the photos are from Guvener Isik's collection. They have been watermarked to denote the collection from which they came.

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Natalka Czartoryska advised decades ago, that when importing these dogs to go directly to shepherds and see the dogs at work. Remote villages are the best sources, because the dogs are on the proving grounds for their ability to do the work that they are given. She went to remote villages where roads were sometimes nonexistant, and she photographed many dogs and jotted down notes. All of the photos on this page are color pictures although some may be dark because of the time of the day; some pictures have been water damaged because of flooding which occurred where her collection was stored. The negatives can be damaged during storage and vibrancy of color can be lost. I thank Peter Wells, Ann Grove, and Caroline White for their assistance in the past decades in helping me with Natalka's collection. More of her photos and style of taking notes can be seen also on, in her journals.

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Green grayish background and black dog in the foreground.

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This enlargement shows four dogs in a sepia tone. Three are crop-earred pintos and one is all black with white toes.
The dogs have presented a barrier between the herd and the photographer.

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Light brindle.

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A fawn with a dark brindle.

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A female import to Britain gave birth during the lengthy quarantine to tanpoint puppy. Both parents were working stock.

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Black headed brindle.

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A light brindle.

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A lot of water damage on this one. A dark brindle, shorter coat.

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A shorter coated light brindle

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This dog has such mysterious color. It isn't likely, but could possibly be a pinto creeping tan (see third dog on that page) due to the tannish eye pips over the eyes, large amount of tan on face, but the tanpoint isn't typical due to the large dark splotches on top creamier splotches on the hindquarters. Heavily shaded sable might work but the patches don't look like a an over the back blanket or 'saddle' as does in this dog at this site. These markings are mysterious. There is not a better quality photo of this one that I know of. This could be a blend of several competing genetic patterns.

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Pinto with a light brindle face. The body could be heavily 'saddle' marked.

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Very darkly marked dog. Hard to tell if it is brindle, but may possibly be a near black color called seal. Most Anatolians have the paling factor on their bodies, so reddish coats tend to be tan to pale yellow. In this case, the dog does not have the paling factor that makes many fawns look creamy or dirty nearly grayish.

Some breeders prefer the paling factor on the body coat yellows and are prejudicial to deeply colored coats. Deep red and fiery red colors of body coat lack this paling factor which is called 'chinchilla' in old texts. Chinchilla has been thought to be on the C locus (chinchilla = cch). The gene that causes it has not yet been identified so I don't really have a name for that gene.

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Water damage again. Very dark face and legs, but due to shed condition of the coat, cannot tell what color the dog is. Possibly black, maybe seal? (the coat color, molecular component of seal has not yet been found) 

The following photos are from Guvener Isik's collection.

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This dog is work stock and is related to some imports.

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Enlargement shows two dogs. A black one and a fawn.

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Same dog, different positions. Crop-earred working dog.

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Dark brindle from Cal region

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Working stock puppy. Ears recently cropped.

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Black coban kopegi with some fawns
Working black dog with fellow working dogs of fawn color.

Black coban kopegi headshot

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Black puppy with a dark brindle and light brindle puppies.  An older brindle is in another pen at the top.

Black coban kopegi
Black coban kopegi

Pinto: white and black coban kopegi
Black and white pinto coban kopegi.

Black coban kopegi
Black coban kopegi.

Dark brindle
Dark Brindle.

The photos on this page cover several decades; a record of dogs with coats that carry some form of black color or pattern in their coat.

Lack of knowledge is not as bad a problem as is using ignorance to trump knowledge gained from direct study of the working dogs in their working environments.

The agouti locus features expression of individual hairs that have a banded appearance; hair which changes color from yellow/reds to black (in any order) along its length.
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Banded hair: This is the appearance of parted hair from the top of a fawn Anatolian's shoulder. You can see alternating bands of yellowish and black on individual hairs.
Many black appearing coban kopegi have areas of banded hairs in their coats (if the observer is able to examine the hairs) or if not seen closeup, sometimes these dogs have regions in the flanks or other areas, showing yellowish hairs. Since we do not know their breeding, we can't draw conclusions about the type of black they have.

I've tried to follow pedigrees of imports and stories of the importers for the past few decades. I hope that some of what I have can be helpful in protecting this magnificent landrace.

All the best,