p12 OUR DOGS November 21 1986
THE ANATOLIAN AFFAIR
- 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 1970s 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 KCs 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decision to split was rescinded and a meeting was held with both clubs at the KC at which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
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 clubs 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
.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
.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
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
Annotations 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 Shepherds 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.
DR. M.B. WILLIS
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