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English Mastiff vs. Anatolian Shepherd: Breed Differences & Similarities

Considering the Anatolian Shepherd and the English Mastiff for your next canine companion? These two breeds are quite different but share some striking similarities. Find out what you can expect before welcoming either breed into your home.

Kelly Wilson

Last Updated: March 29, 2021 | 9 min read

English Mastiff vs. Anatolian Shepherd

Thinking of adopting a dog and considering the English Mastiff vs. Anatolian Shepherd? Both these breeds have their size and other characteristics in common, but some traits make them entirely different. While both of these giants can make excellent family pets for the right owners, they can present problems for owners that aren’t prepared.

Both of these pups are similar in size. They are also equally difficult to train, but for different reasons. Neither breed is going to generally be a good fit for first-time dog owners, especially those with small children due to their size.

So what makes these pups similar, but also very different from one another? Read on to explore a brief history of both dog breeds, as well as finding out if either one could be a perfect match for your lifestyle. Let’s jump in!

Breed Comparison

English Mastiff

  • Height 27-32 Inches
  • Weight 130-220 Pounds
  • Temperament Docile, Protective, Loyal
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 6-10 Years
  • Price $1,200 - $4,500

Anatolian Shepherd

  • Height 27-29 Inches
  • Weight 80-150 Pounds
  • Temperament Protective, Stubborn, Loyal
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 11-13 Years
  • Price $1,000 and Up

Breed History

Both of these breeds are considered working dogs. Considering their size, you could say that their job is security. These breeds have been around for over several centuries, and they both have exciting yet different stories about their breeds’ cultivation.

English Mastiff

Fawn Dog With Black Mask Standing
This massive breed was once bred to fight in Roman arenas but today they are known for their docile nature.

The English Mastiff is also known only as a Mastiff. This breed is one of the most ancient breeds of dog. Its ancestor, the Molossus, became known over 5000 years ago. 

Julius Caesar was impressed by the Mastiffs he saw in the invasion of Britain in 55 BC. He brought some back to Rome to battle wild beasts and gladiators in arenas. In its current form, the breed is a far cry from the ferocious war dogs of the past and is known more for being a gentle giant.

Mastiffs are known to be to the dog what the lion is to the cat. This saying gives you an idea of the nobility of this breed. This breed is not known for its aggression but does have a reputation for being a courageous animal.

Anatolian Shepherd

Two Dogs Sitting and Looking at Camera
The breed is built hardily and known for its rugged tenacity.

The Anatolian Shepherd is also known as just the Anatolian and is native to Turkey. This is where the breed became a shepherd’s companion and guardian of the livestock. This breed was fashioned with specific traits so the dog has a similar size and color as the farm animals they are protecting so predators wouldn’t detect them among the herd.

More recently, since 1994, the breed has been helping in promoting Cheetah conservation in Namibia. Namibia’s Cheetah Conservation Fund began a program promoting ranchers using Anatolians to protect their flock so they don’t have to kill the cheetahs.

Appearance

Dogs Standing Outside on a Sunny Day
Though both breeds are large dogs, the Mastiff is bigger and more stout.

While both of these breeds have their large size in common, the Mastiff is the larger of the two, where males can weigh up to 220 pounds. The Guinness Book of Records states Zorba, the English Mastiff, holds the record as the largest dog, weighing 343 pounds! He stood 37 inches at the shoulder. Both breeds come in a brindle coloring as well as a variety of other colors.

The size of the Mastiff can range from 130 to 220 pounds. Their height can be anywhere from 27 to 32 inches at the shoulder. The Mastiff’s outer coat is short and straight with a dense, shorter undercoat. The coloring of these dogs varies, including brindle, apricot, and fawn. Mastiffs with brindle coloring have an apricot or fawn background color with dark stripes. Most Mastiffs have short hair. It is possible for them to produce a longer coat, although it’s quite rare.

As an adult, the Anatolian Shepherd can range in weight from 80 to 150 pounds. Its average height is anywhere between 27 inches to 29 inches at the shoulder. Their coat comes in a variety of colors, which include pinto, white, and brindle. The most common color is fawn with a black mask. Their fur is short, with a thick undercoat that protects against colder climates. They are commonly thought to look a little like a wolf when it comes to their size and appearance.

Temperament

Close Up Images of Two Dogs Outside
Both breeds make defensive guardians and wonderful companions.

If you’re looking for a protector, both breeds have a protective tendency. They take protecting their family seriously and are loyal companions. If possible, you want to meet the parents of either breed’s puppies to get an idea of your future pup’s temperament. You can’t go wrong when choosing either one of these breeds.

Despite their intimidating looks, Mastiffs are known for their good-natured docility. They will protect their family. You only have to worry about dealing with flatulence and loud snoring. They also love being around their pack, and they don’t like to be alone, so you don’t want to leave this dog tied up in the yard for extended periods; they may rebel with destructive behavior.

The Anatolian Shepherd has a reputation for being stubborn. A trained, well-socialized Anatolian will be a friend and guardian of the flock with its protective and possessive tendencies. These dogs are known for their astonishing agility and speed. These traits enable them to chase down a predator with great effectiveness.

Exercise

Dogs Running Outside
With average exercise needs, both breeds require daily walking or playing.

These breeds require daily exercise to maintain their health and keep them from using their energy destructively. Neither of these breeds is high-energy, but there is the potential for weight-related health issues if they do not get sufficient exercise because of their size. You want to keep an eye out for weight gain with these breeds and make adjustments as necessary to keep these dogs healthy.

Mastiffs need daily exercise. These dogs are quite comfortable indoors being lap dogs, so you have to be mindful of their lazy tendency and keep them active to avoid weight gain. Be warned that you don’t want to go for too long a walk with these dogs since they’re known to lazily plop down where they are when they are overheated or tired. With a dog that size, you don’t want to have to carry a dog back home from a long walk!

Anatolians also have average exercise needs. While this means you can leave the dog outside for exercise, you will want to make sure the yard has a strong, tall fence with a locked gate to keep the animal safe and secure. You will need to stimulate your puppy and keep them busy so that they don’t become destructive.

It’s worth noting that both dogs are large, and can be rather destructive when it comes to exercise time with dog toys. You’ll want to invest in several larger dog toys that can take the abuse of a giant breed canine. Smaller toys won’t cut it, even if they are considered heavy duty.

Training

Fawn Dogs Sitting Outside
Both breeds can be very stubborn, and very difficult to train.

Training is a must for all dogs. Because of their size, both dog breeds require dedicated training. The training should start at the puppy stage and remain consistent throughout the dog’s life. Dogs of any size should go through obedience and socialization training, and these dogs are no exception.

The Mastiff requires obedience training and early socialization. Trainers find that this breed does best with instruction when done with positive reinforcement, including hugs and praise. Making eye contact with English Mastiffs is essential, especially when training as they communicate with their eyes. Mastiffs can be stubborn. Some people mistake this for lack of intelligence. Most mastiffs are actually quite intelligent, they just choose when to listen, and when not to.

Due to their reputation for being a stubborn breed, the Anatolian Shepherd requires firm, consistent training from someone who has experience handling dogs. Stern training is essential because of the breed’s size. According to the American Kennel Club, the breed should not receive protection or guard dog training. It’s safe to assume its reputation for stubbornness makes this breed unpredictable for these types of training.

Health

Senior Dogs With Gray Faces Laying Outside
Mastiffs have shorter lifespans at 7-10 years, while Anatolians can live up to 13 years.

Neither of these breeds has concerns that are particular to their species. They are susceptible to ailments that are common among all breeds. Some of them can result in death, most of them are treatable with intervention from a veterinarian.

The conditions listed below are typical for the species, but many dogs of these breeds live healthy lives without any concerns. Both breeds have a similar lifespan, with Anatolians averaging 11-13 years and Mastiffs living 6-10 years.

The Mastiffs are susceptible to hip dysplasia, as it is common in many dog breeds, particularly in larger dogs. This breed is vulnerable to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which can eventually lead to blindness. Seizures caused by epilepsy or trauma are also a concern. Mastiffs can also suffer from Cystinuria, which causes kidney or bladder stones to develop. Bone cancer and Gastric Torsion are also concerns for the Mastiff.

The Anatolian is also known to suffer from dysplasia in their hips and elbows. Hip dysplasia can progress to arthritis and, in some cases, lameness. The Demodex mite causes demodectic mange, and while there is a treatment for the mite, it can have adverse effects on DNA, so spay or neuter as is recommended for any dog with this illness. Hypothyroidism is another common issue for this breed, and it comes with many side effects. Entropion, the inward rolling of the eyelid, is something to look out for in Anatolian puppies.

Nutrition

Hungry Dogs With Their Tongues Out
Since both breeds are rather large, they can both be very expensive to feed.

Just as humans, a dog’s diet is vital to maintaining a healthy life. Neither dog breed is a high-energy dog that requires a lot of exercise, so you have to be mindful of the quality of the food you give them and the quantity. You don’t want to overfeed your dog and run the risk of having an overweight dog and the health problems that come with carrying too much weight.

The recommended feeding for an English Mastiff is twice a day. An adult’s portion size is 6-8 cups of high-quality food per day, broken up into two daily servings. Mastiffs are prone to skeletal disorders if they don’t receive the right ratio of calcium to phosphorus. The recommended ratio is 1.2:1.

The Anatolian should be fed high-quality dog food, be it store-bought kibble or home-made, with vet supervision and approval will help them live a long and healthy life. Treats are a great training aid, but you want to make sure that they are given in moderation to avoid weight gain.

Grooming

Happy Fawn Dogs With Black Smiling Faces
These breeds are fairly low-maintenance when it comes to their grooming needs, though they both shed quite a bit.

These breeds are short-hair dogs, so there’s no need for trips to the groomers for a haircut. However, short hair with thick undercoats means lots of shedding! While frequent baths aren’t listed, we’ve left that to your discretion as you may have a dog that’s more adventurous and messy than most. In addition to stepping up the brushing during specific times of the year, there are some other grooming considerations for these two dog breeds.

English Mastiffs should get brushed weekly with a rubber glove. You’ll need to change the frequency to daily brushings during the shedding seasons of spring and fall. Mastiffs should also get used to getting brushed and examined while they are still puppies so that there are no issues with the vet or groomer as they grow up and get bigger. Getting their nails trimmed should also be a part of the grooming process with which they become familiar.

The Anatolian Shepherd requires minimal regular brushing. During shedding season, they will need to be brushed and combed to get rid of the dead hair every few days. Considered a clean dog, these dogs can have a bath 3-4 times a year. It would be best if you trimmed the dog’s nails once or twice a month. Veterinarians also recommend checking and cleaning the teeth and ears regularly.

Puppy Prices

Cute Puppy Dogs in a Field of Red and Yellow Flowers
Anatolian puppies tend to be the more affordable of the two breeds when purchasing from a breeder.

You can find a puppy in either breed for similar prices. Of course, breeders get to determine their costs, and often the bloodline of the puppies has a lot to do with the fees. If you want a dog coming from award-winning origins, you’ll have to expect to pay for that. It’s essential when looking for a dog that you find a registered breeder and has a good reputation, including testing and screening for genetic disorders.

You can find Anatolian Shepherds ranging in price from $1,000 to $1,500 and up. An English Mastiff’s cost is higher, with prices starting at $1200 and going up as high as $4500.

It’s important to note that a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean a better dog. If you’re planning to breed or show the dog, you should expect to pay a higher price than you would if you want a companion.

Final Thoughts

There you have a brief overview of two very impressive, giant breed dogs. They both have a unique history, and their stature demands that they get noticed. Due to their size and stubborn natures, both dog breeds require committed training to ensure that they are on their best behavior and understand their role in the family. Regardless of what breed you choose, you’re sure to have a loyal protector for you and your family during your time together!

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