Anatolian World

Willis Article

p12 OUR DOGS November 21 1986


- a rebuttal of the KC statement

HITHERTO I have kept a total press silence in respect of the Anatolian situation since I had become involved with it at KC level. I therefore remained silent when my name was banded about in the press and a series of derogatory allegations made about me. However, now that the KC have issued their press statement as published in the canine press I do not intend to remain silent.

The first time I ever got involved in this breed was in the 1970’s when I was invited to go to London to talk about HD and other genetic aspects to a group which either was then or has since become the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club. I gave my talk and had little or no further contact.

by Dr M. B. Willis

A few years ago the KC had meetings with the Anatolian Karabash Club and the then unregistered Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club. I was not present, Dr. Roy Robinson, the geneticist, was there on behalf of the ASDC. The end result of that meeting was a decision to split the breed into a fawn/black masked type to be called Karabash and a white type to be called Akbash.

Dr. Robinson spoke against this suggestion pointing out various flaws in the theory but he was obviously ignored. Soon afterwards I became involved because I was approached by a veterinary surgeon expressing doubts about the KC’s action. I shared those doubts and I approached the KC.


I had meetings with several of those KC officials involved in making the decision to split following a meeting at Crufts with Mr. MacDougall. As a result of my advice the decision to split was rescinded and a meeting was held with both clubs at the KC at which I made public my reasons for advising the KC the way that I had. The meeting was not very successful with the two clubs in obvious conflict, nevertheless the KC stuck to its guns and decided that the breed was to be called the Anatolian Shepherd Dog and that all colours were to be acceptable but that the basic type as outlined in interim standards was to remain.

I have supported the ASDC solely for the reason that I believe their case to be a just one. By the same token I did write a very critical letter to that club in respect of their HD rules which I thought, and still think, to be excessive. A copy of that letter was handed to the KC secretary.

As a member of the Breed Standards Sub Committee I was involved in standard discussions as were all members of that committee. Through most of those discussions the colour clause stated that all colours were acceptable and the coat clause was altered to permit long and short coated versions.

In more recent meetings a compromise clause was put forward which allowed all colours but expressed a preference for a fawn with a black mask. I went along with that clause in the belief that as a compromise clause it would be sent to both clubs for approval. I know that discussions of an informal nature were held with the AKDC but no such discussions were held with the ASDC.


I believe that when the ASDC saw the changes they sought a meeting with the KC but did not get one. Eventually the threat of a legal injunction on the breed standard publication brought a meeting with Mr. Sinnatt and others. It was the club’s wish that I be present but the KC objected though again Dr. Robinson was present. The ASDC left empty handed and the resultant statement has been published by the KC.

I will state quite categorically that the phrase; "all colours acceptable but it is desirable that they be whole colours cream to fawn with a black mask and ears" is not a phrase agreed by the Breed Standards Sub Committee. That clause has been added since the standard left the sub committee and the sub committee cannot be held responsible for it. The last time I saw the standard it read; "all colours acceptable but fawn with black mask preferred". It said nothing about whole colours.

The KC having made a decision to split the breed on unsound evidence, stuck to its guns after rescinding that decision even to the point of facing litigation which it was not losing….since which time it seems to have reverted back to almost the original position. We now have a situation in which parti-coloured dogs are clearly disadvantaged by the standard and long coated dogs are obviously faulty. By the same token the KC have seemingly decided that the breed is of Mastiff type, which cannot possibly be true. I have not been party to recent KC discussions but I am certain that genetic advice has been ignored. Both Dr. Roy Robinson and myself were agreed on the steps to be taken and Dr. Gill from Liverpool University, having been consulted by the AKDC, contacted me by phone and he, too, was agreed!

The KC statement talks about hoping the breed will be properly established and speaks of peace. I too would like to see peace in this breed, I personally wish I had never heard of it….but I still believe that justice must be done and seen to be done. The ASDC can rightly claim that it has not been properly consulted and it can further claim that a lot of dogs bred in the past few years along the lines suggested by the standard seen by both clubs still not be penalized by the changes.


The term karabash means black head and though it has been coined for this breed, it has no relationship to the Turkish name of the breed. Karabash is no more a translation of the Turkish name than Alsation is a translation of German Shepherd Dog (Deutsche Schaferhunde). The name was coined by early importers and it stuck until the KC decided, quite rightly, that Anatolian Shepherd Dog was a better term. Surprisingly the AKDC has been allowed to keep karabash in its name despite verbal promises that it would be removed.

The breed is or was a sheep-guarding dog, it is not a herding dog in the sense that a GSD, Border Collie, Kelpie, OES and the like were or are herding dogs. The Annotation’s role was essentially to guard sheep and to that extent the term Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a misnomer. It would have been more accurate to term it the Anatolian Shepherd’s Dog. It is, of course, quite erroneous for the KC to start introducing terms like Mastiff. Most Mastiff breeds were war dogs, in their original form and they have certainly been developed as attack/guard dogs in their original form. The Anatolian was a guard dog maintained with the sheep to protect them from predators in much the same way that large (often white) breeds have been developed in Europe, particularly as one moves eastwards towards regions where predators like the wolf survived. No such breeds survived in England because predators died out long ago. References to Mastiff breeds are in error, and the KC is wrong to introduce them into the standard in any form whether direct or veiled.


A major bone of contention between the ASDC and the AKDC has been in connection with colour. The AKDC has argued that the breed is always fawn with a black mask. The ASDC has argued the breed can be any colour from white through parti-colour to all shades of fawn. This was the original sticking point and it is note that all the genetical advice sought has tended to favour the view that any colour is feasible.




1 - 2 -3 - 4 - 5 - 6



Copyright, All Rights Reserved