Breed Comparisons

Anatolian Shepherd vs. American Pitbull Terrier: Breed Differences & Similarities

Considering the Anatolian Shepherd and the American Pitbull Terrier for your next farm dog or family companion dog? These two breeds are different but share some compelling similarities. Find out what you can expect when you adopt either breed.

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Last Updated: November 30, 2022 | 9 min read

Anatolian Shepherd vs American Pitbull Terrier

The Anatolian Shepherd and the American Pitbull Terrier (APBT) are very different in most things but they do have some minor similarities between them. However, if you are trying to choose between the two breeds then their vast amount of differences should make this decision all the easier for you!

The Anatolian Shepherd is an independent fellow who doesn’t require much human interaction, he will quite happily enjoy his own company being outside in his yard with a long, but gentle, walk or two a day. If it’s a flock guardian that you are after, then this guy is one of the best, if not the best! Be warned, he is strong-willed and requires a strong master to lead him.

Not to be confused with an American Bulldog, the APBT is a sociable pup that craves human interaction and he does not do well without it! But in return, he will provide hours of entertainment for you and your whole family. This pocket rocket requires intense activities to keep his mind occupied, but overall, he is an easy-going pup who is a pleasure to have around.

Breed Comparison

Anatolian Shepherd

  • Height 28-32 Inches
  • Weight 80-150 Pounds
  • Temperament Independent, Loyal, Reserved
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 11-13 Years
  • Price $1,000 and Up

Pitbull Terrier

  • Height 17-21 Inches
  • Weight 30-65 Pounds
  • Tempermament Affectionate, Energetic, Loyal
  • Energy High
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 12-16 Years
  • Price $800 and Up

Breed History

Understanding a dog’s past often forms a better understanding of their needs in the present. This is definitely true of these two guys.

Anatolian Shepherd

Shepherd Dog in the Mountains
The Anatolian Shepherd was built hardily and is known for its rugged tenacity.

The Anatolian Shepherd, also classified as a Kangal dog by the AKC in the US, is an ancient breed originating from the Asian precinct of Turkey, who was bred as a flock guardian. This area is known for its unbearably hot and dry summers followed by sub-zero snowy winters, all of which the Anatolian can handle.

The Anatolian Shepherd first came to America in the 1930s, but his popularity took off as a ranch dog in the 1970s when Lieutenant Robert Ballard brought a pair of Anatolians back from Turkey and bred his first litter to work on his farm.

They excelled at protecting flocks of sheep from Wolves by intimidating them, rather than fighting. Ever since the Endangered Species Act which protects Wolves began, they have remained the chosen canine for ranch employment.

They have also proven helpful in the Namibia Cheetah conservation efforts for the same reasons. His fierce intimidation methods negate the need to kill predators.

The Anatolian Shepherd was also crossed with an English Mastiff to make the American Mastiff. They were introduced into that breed to create a tighter lip line than the regular English Mastiff.

American Pitbull Terrier

Brindle Dog Playing
Despite its fighting history, the Pitbull is now known as a lovable, family companion.

The APBT’s forefathers were purpose-bred fighting dogs from England, crossed between Bulldogs and Terriers. When this sport was outlawed in England in 1835 immigrants took him to America where they continued to fight him. It was in America that the APBT was born; by breeding the biggest and the best fighting dogs to create the most powerful fighter of them all.

This history is the very reason that the APBT has a bad reputation that he has. Since this sport was banned the APBT is now bred as herders and companionship canines. The APBT is called, by some, the original Pitbull.

He is one of four breeds that fall under the umbrella term ‘Pitbull’; the others are American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Bully, all of whom differ slightly.  They are often confused with other dogs like the Dogo Argentino.

The APBT has been crossed over with several other breeds, some purposefully and some just by chance.  Some of these mixed breeds include the pit/boxer mix, the husky/pit crossbreed, and even a pit crossed with a mastiff.


Fawn Dogs Standing Outdoors
Anatolian Shepherds are much larger than Pitbulls, some reaching up to 32 inches in height.

The Anatolian Shepherd is a large-sized dog, who stands up to 32 inches tall, and weighs up to 150 pounds. He comes in eight different colors, however, the main recognized color is fawn with black markings. His black markings are normally placed around his snout and ears.

His coat comes in either two lengths, medium or medium-long, and is rough to the touch. Because of his fur and his weight, he does not look particularly muscular. His tail is long and generally hangs down, however, when he is alert his tail will stand erect and curl just like a pinwheel.

The APBT is very different in his appearance. He is a medium-sized dog, and stands much shorter at up to 21 inches, and weighs much less at 65 pounds, which is a significant 43% less body mass. He is much leaner, and as such his muscles are very prominent.

He comes in a vast array of colors, much more than the Anatolian, and he can have a different color nose and eyes in addition. His coat is very short which is stiff to the touch and is also very shiny. Sometimes his ears are cropped to be in keeping with his traditional days; however, they can also be left as the natural drop ear.


Happy Dogs Smiling at the Camera
The Anatolian Shepherd and the APBT’s temperaments are quite different.

Anatolian Shepherds aren’t particularly known for their affection, but the affection he does possess will be mainly directed at the one who he views as his master and other adults in his immediate family.

Further to this, as he doesn’t see small animals, including small children, as part of the pack he isn’t particularly welcoming of them if he accepts them at all. For this reason, they are said to not be the best pet for families with young children or other animals, or you should raise them alongside one another.

The APBT, however, is a super sociable canine who craves companionship and has plenty of affection for every member of the pack and strangers alike. For this reason, the APBT is said to be a terrible guard dog, whereas the Anatolian, as a natural protector makes a great guard dog. The APBT is particularly gentle and protective of the children in his family, and this is why he is referred to as the ‘nanny dog’.

The Anatolian Shepherd is very independent and can guard a flock of sheep without any human instruction. This is totally the opposite of the Pitbull, who prefers to be in human company and would not cope well without constant human interaction.


Dogs Running an Agility Course
Sixty minutes of daily exercise is recommended for both breeds to stay healthy.

The Anatolian Shepherd needs around 60 minutes of exercise a day, this can consist of long-distance walking as he does not require much if any, intense exercise. The Anatolian would appreciate a large yard to wander due to his background of roaming the open wilderness.

It is important that you have an enclosed yard, with a very strong and high fence, as this chap is known to jump walls with ease, and he’ll wander off into the sunset in search of a flock to guard! For this reason, it is also important to keep him on a leash at all times.

The APBT also needs 60 minutes of exercise a day, however, he will need slightly more intense exercise; walking him for one hour a day will simply not do for this dude! Interactive games such as frisbee, tug-of-war not only physically tire him out, but also offers him the mental stimulation he needs.


Dogs Sitting in a Field
Both breeds are similar when it comes to training: eager to please and very smart.

Both breeds are intelligent dogs that are eager to please their master, and as such, they will both enjoy being trained.  They both need early socialization and consistent training. Socialization is important so that the pup understands that other humans, animals, and any unfamiliar situations aren’t to be feared. This way they grow up to be well-mannered and well-balanced pups.

Of course, if you read dog forums online, the experiences of Anatolian dog owners vary, and in fact, many say that their Anatolians are quite sociable and accepting of other animals and humans. This really is dependent on how well you socialize and train them.

This conflicting view is also reflected in many forums, some suggesting that APBT’s are violent, but if you read parent forums then you’ll quickly come to realize that they are one of the softest breeds around. Again, it all comes down to how you raise them.

What is different, however, is that the Anatolian Shepherd is not for the novice dog owner. Unless he is socialized exceptionally from a young age it is said that he is unlikely to accept any other household pets. If he is not socialized with humans outside of the family unit then it is possible that he could become reclusive, and even aggressive, with other humans. He needs a strong-willed master that will not back down, and obedience training is key.


Handsome Dogs Looking at the Camera
Overall, the Anatolian Shepherd and the APBT are healthy dogs without too many major concerns.

The Anatolian Shepherd is estimated to live between the ages of 11 to 13 years, whereas the APBT lives slightly longer at 12 to 16 years.

They are both known to suffer from Hip Dysplasia, and they are both required to be tested for this by their respective National Breed Club. Hip Dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint, which can lead to crippling arthritis.

The APBT’s other main health concern that he is tested for is Cerebellar Abiotrophy. This is where the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination is damaged, and therefore he struggles with his mobility. It is also known to affect his cognitive ability.

The Anatolian is also susceptible to Ankyloglossia, which is also known as ‘Tongue Tie.’ This will be obvious in the pup as soon as he is born, as he will struggle with suckling and swallowing, and his tongue will form the shape of a ‘W’ and be attached to the roof of his mouth. This can be corrected successfully with surgery.

The Anatolian is also sensitive to anesthesia, so be sure to remind the Veterinarian of this if you have to take him for medical attention – the vet will most likely know, but as the Anatolian is not a common breed it is better to be safe than sorry.


Dogs With Their Tongues Out
Though they differ in size, both breeds should eat about three cups of kibble each day.

Both of these guys are similar in that they both require roughly the same amount of food per day; the Anatolian requires three cups of food a day, and the APBT requires 2 ½ cups of food a day. The Anatolian is much larger than the APBT, but the APBT has a much faster metabolism.

Neither of these guys is particularly vulnerable to obesity, but nonetheless, be sure not to overdo it with the snacks. They will both do well on a high-quality kibble, to keep them in tip-top condition.


Dogs Posing for the Camera
The Anatolian Shepherd requires more brushing and bathing than the Pitbull because of his longer, thicker fur.

The Anatolian Shepherd requires much more grooming than the APBT because the APBT is very easy to look after when it comes to grooming! The APBT will only need a brush once a week to keep his coat looking shiny and healthy and remove any dead hair that he may have.

On the other hand, the Anatolian, because he has longer and rougher fur, must be brushed at least three times a week to stop his fur from matting and becoming unmanageable. He also sheds heavily twice a year, and during the shedding months, it would be beneficial for both him and your household to brush him every day.

Similarly, however, both of these guys will only require a bath once every two to three months. If they get dirty, either playing or guarding flocks, then you should bathe him when required. Just be sure not to do this more than every six weeks or you’ll risk damaging their natural coat oils!


Cute Puppy Dogs Sitting
The Anatolian Shepherd is the more expensive of the two breeds due to the limited supply.

The Anatolian Shepherd is more expensive than the APBT. You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for a pup from a reputable breeder whereas the APBT will cost between $800 and $1,000.

If you are looking for a working Anatolian and would prefer that he is bred from a sought-after bloodline, then you can expect to pay up to $4,000. Equally, if you are after an APBT from a particular bloodline or looking for certain coloring then you can also expect to pay more.

Final Thoughts

Overall, both of these guys are almost entirely different on paper. The Anatolian is an independent guy who enjoys counting sheep, literally speaking! Whereas the APBT is a sociable fun-loving pup who enjoys playing interactive games with his family.

Both of these pooches have found themselves on various dangerous or banned breed lists, and so if you do want one of these pups check out your local laws to see what this means for you. Don’t be put off by these stereotypes though, as many experienced owners have commented on how untrue they are in various online forums as discussed above.

Of course, be sure to do your research to see if these guys suit you and your lifestyle. Invest in the time to train them both, especially the Anatolian; otherwise, he will decide to be his own master.  However, if you train them both well, you’ll have many years of quality canine companionship ahead!

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  1. The Anatolian Shepherd is a mix breed dog that may contain Kangal Dog. The Kangal Dog is a Purebred Kangal. The Anatolian Shepherd is NOT a Kangal Dog. You can ask the Turkish government, but there is a breed standard for the Kangal and the Anatolian Shepherd does not fit the standard. The Anatolian Shepherd has a range of coat colors, sizes, and coat length. The Kangal Dog is fawn, or grey with a black mask and satin black ears. The Anatolian Shepherd is NOT a Kangal Dog and this article is false.

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