The ancestry of most Turkish Shepherd Dogs is believed to be rooted in the ancient mastiffs of Asia, namely the Alabai of Turkmenistan and the Gampr of Armenia, as well as old Persian and Greek sheepdogs introduced to the country at different times throughout history. While not necessarily a distinct breed, the Davar Iti is a name used to describe the group of working sheepdog breeds of Turkey, including the Kangal, the Yoruk Kopegi, the Akbash, the Karayaka and other varieties found across the country, including common crosses and street dogs employed as livestock guardians. Some even consider the Anatolian Mastiff and the Kars Dog to be a part of this greater Turkish Shepherd Dog population, while others also include the Kurdish Gammal and the popular western creation known as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Some fanciers claim that all of the above mentioned breeds are not really breeds at all, but simply regional types of the Turkish Shepherd Dog breed, which is most certainly incorrect. This theory is unfortunately often used to legitimize the claims made by the breeders and fanciers of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog that their creation is in fact a native Turkish breed, conveniently explaining the inconsistencies within the population as regional differences. The Turkish Shepherd Dog is the REAL Coban Kopegi of Turkey, but this is a name commonly used in the West as an exotic synonim for the Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
Apart from the standardized and distinct breeds found under the Turkish Shepherd Dog "umbrella", such as the Kangal and Akbash, there isn't really a clearly defined and set breed type for sheepdogs of Turkey. Depending on the individual dog's heritage, it can have the physical build of a Yoruk Dog and the colouring of the Kangal, or the coat length of a Kars Dog with the body of a Gammal and colour of an Akbash and so on. While varying in type, the Turkish sheepdogs are all bred for work, with the dogs' agility, courage and health as primary guidelines. And taking into consideration that a pure Kangal or an Akbash aren't as affordable as a common village dog, it isn't surprising that the Turkish Shepherd Dog is the most common worker in its homeland. Usually overlooked and under-appreciated by the majority of Kangal fanciers, the Davar Iti is a very capable protector of livestock and property, prized for its intelligence and drive by the peasants and herdsmen of Turkey. However, as there isn't a set type in terms of appearance, there is also a considerable lack of uniformity in personality traits within the entire population of these rugged sheepdogs. Some dogs are docile and friendly, some are aloof and suspicious, while others are quite vicious and difficult to handle. Those examples that fail to prove themselves as reliable herders and protectors are oftentimes assigned the role of a yard watchdog, usually left tied up their entire life. The dogs that aren't territorial or driven enough for that job are usually let loose in many villages to become common street dogs, collectively known under the name Sokak Kopegi. Matings between these street dogs and other breeds are common, sometimes resulting in good working dogs, which are often re-introduced into the bloodlines of Turkish Shepherds, creating an even greater variety within its population.
Regardless of type, the majority of Turkish Shepherd Dogs are muscular, lean and athletic, with fairly long legs and strongly-boned bodies. In general, the facial features are either lupoid or only slightly heavier, rarely belonging to the pure mastiff head-type as associated with the Kangal, although massive dogs can be seen on occasion. Some specimens have cropped ears and docked tails, but most dogs are left unaltered.
A wide range of coat types and colourings can be seen within the group, although there is a certain degree of uniformity associated with specific regions of the country, where the dogs are bred with some appearance expectations in mind, but only as a secondary requirement to character, courage and working ability. The height can vary significantly depending on the area, from dogs that are 25 inches tall to those specimens that exceed the height of 32 inches at the withers.
Also known as:
Davar Iti, Turkish Sheepdog, Turkish Coban Kopegi