Learn about this even-tempered working dog breed. The Turkish Boz Shepherd is a giant livestock guardian and family protection dog who is great with children and other animals. Intelligent, aware, independent, loyal, devoted, and a perfect companion, this dog may be the perfect fit for you!
Turkish Boz Shepherd Temperament
The Turkish Boz Shepherd is a livestock guardian that has retained its primitive and instinctual intelligence, and innate guarding and protecting qualities, as a regional landrace variant; a distinguishing quality of the breed. He is loyal, gentle, and dedicated to his family and flock. As a livestock guardian, when he senses a true threat, he will defend and ensure the safety and survival of his family and flock with incredible power, strength, and intelligence. It is this DEFENSE NATURE that fundamentally motivates him to PROTECT.
An even-tempered dog, the Turkish Boz Shepherd readily accepts change and remains calm, assured, and actively observant in new environments; he is not easily startled, timid, or anxious. He is lower-energy and would suffice with a daily walk or romp in the park, although he is happiest with open pasture to guard. The Turkish Boz Shepherd learns quickly and once formally introduced to strangers or a new type of animal, he will accept the addition as part of his flock or family. While not necessarily allowing a family friend to enter the house without his family present, The Turkish Boz Shepherd will recognize and remember that this family friend is not a dangerous threat. Until alerted, he is nearly unnoticeable, quietly sitting or laying near his flock or in his favorite spot in the house, appearing more of a giant stuffed toy than predator or intruder control. Once danger is identified, however, the agility and speed of the Turkish Boz Shepherd, matched by his deep bark, massive size, and power, remind owners of the effectiveness for which they were bred. In the field, predators are eliminated; in the suburban household, unwelcome intruders must reconsider entry.
The Turkish Boz Shepherd will measure the level of threat or danger before acting, always in control, sound and stable, and mindful of the appropriate level of response necessitated by the given threat. He will typically only bark if there is valid reason, and only engage if the danger is imminent. He possesses the innate ability to identify the most vulnerable in a group, and provides the greatest amount of defense to protect those that are most vulnerable first, often running to the aid of small children and young animals even before that of a more familiar, yet stronger, family member. He is able to make measured, deliberate decisions that exhibit his keen level of intelligence and reasoning; a quality that must be witnessed firsthand to truly understand and believe. He is submissive to all family members, including children, and bonds to the family as a whole rather than solely one person.
The relationship between owner and dog must be a positive and loving, yet consistent and predictable, for the dog to grow and develop at its potential. His ability to reason and high level of intelligence creates a dog that is both a proud and independent thinker. It requires that the owner have tremendous consistency and a soft-hand when training, training from a young age. He has a stronger need to love and be loved by his family than many other breeds. This need to bond does not translate behaviorally as dependency or constantly requiring attention as it can in other breeds, but rather, he simply needs to be an integrated family member or flock protector. His behavior will reflect the owner's: if he is ignored, he too will ignore his owner; if he is given consistent love and affection, he will return it two-fold.
A Turkish Boz Shepherd will be emotionally crushed if treated harshly and this harsh treatment will never be forgotten, and only possibly forgiven. He is not necessarily strong-willed, but if he is patrolling his pasture or perimeter and is interrupted with a command to come inside, he very well may decide that he needs to finish his work first, rather than leave his boundaries unchecked. It is this type of behavior that makes the Turkish Boz Shepherd a fantastic livestock guardian, but may also frustrate owners desiring their dog to play fetch and learn tricks. The dog is very much capable of such things, but it is the dog who will decide whether or not he would like to do them. Living with a Boz Sheherd is better viewed as a relationship comparable to living with an intelligent friend or child. They are a companion in the truest sense of the word, needing both love and respect to flourish.
Please Visit Is the Boz Right for YOU page for a list of both positive and negative attributes of the Turkish Boz Shepherd. While he is the perfect fit for a multitude of environments and homes, like any dog or dog breed, he is by no means a perfect fit for EVERY environment and home. The TBBA is dedicated to the appropriate and ethical placement of all Boz Shepherd dogs.
The Boz Shepherd and Children
Instinctually a guardian and loving protector, the Boz Shepherd is very accepting and loving to children, forming a life-long bond and friendship that must be seen firsthand to fully comprehend. Very tolerant of boisterous play, loud commotion, and being roughly loved-on by children, the Boz Shepherd makes a wonderful family pet. Along with all giant breeds, however, until the dog reaches full maturity (three to five years old) he may not know where his feet are at all times, how slobbery his kisses may be, or how big he really is. A puppy is still a puppy, even when your Boz puppy happens to be the size of a full grown labrador retriever at 5 months old. Small children and babies should always be supervised around puppies and adolescent dogs, because as much as the children are still young and learning, the dogs are still young and learning, too. Giant breeds are no exception, and their giant size makes owner-awareness and common sense all that more important. The Turkish Boz Shepherd is extremely sensitive and is truly devastated if accidents do occur, but forethought is always the recommended course of action.
Historically, the Turkish Boz Shepherd has guarded livestock over a thousand-miles travel per year with the nomadic turksmen and their flocks. The dogs desire to stay with their flock and family, but in the modern world, containment is necessary to prevent them from exploring beyond their property line. A 52" tall fence, made of wire, wood, vinyl, or the like, that the dog may not easily pass through is ideal. If the dog can easily push the fence over or walk over the top of it, he will. For those owners who do not want to risk their Turkish Boz Shepherd testing the strength of their fences, or have dogs laying directly against the fence-line, a single electric wire run along the inside about 9" off the ground works very well. Wireless and underground containment boundary systems with battery operated collars are also very effective, so long as the dogs are trained on them correctly and collar batteries are checked regularly. Turkish Boz Shepherds are not known for climbing fences or digging beneath them to escape.
Owning a Boz in a Residential Neighborhood or Solely as a Family Pet
All livestock guardian dogs thrive in their native environment, with their flock and family, in the grass or dirt, keeping watch and checking boundaries. Although it is not their primary historical function, many livestock guardian breeds adapt quite well to residential living if accommodations are made to satisfy their instinctual needs; the Turkish Boz Shepherd is no exception. The Boz Shepherd is able to do quite well in a residential environment if he is provided a large backyard and daily walks or romps at the dog park for adequate exercise. He is not known to dig to escape or climb fences, but in a residential area, providing the dog with adequate space and activity to prevent boredom will further ensure this. The Turkish Boz Shepherd has tremendous endurance and is a fantastic hiking, running or jogging, bicycling, or outdoor companion. He needs, above all else, a close bond with his family and to be treated with love and respect. He must be a family member and interacted with as a close friend and companion to develop and grow as a well-adjusted dog.
This may be obvious to some, but still needs mentioning. The Turkish Boz Shepherd is a giant dog, weighing as much as a full-grown adult human and is as tall at the shoulders as the standard kitchen counter height. He takes up a lot of physical space, so narrow hallways, cramped quarters, and entryways are completely blocked when he decides to sit or lay in these areas. Being counter-height, he can not only reach food and items left on counters and tables, but can use his front legs to stand on them and then reach the top of refrigerators and shelving. In most cases, if you can reach it, your dog can reach it, too. Owners of giant dogs must make modifications to their routines and/or decorating style to accommodate for this. The TBBA recommends never allowing your dog to jump up in excitement with his front legs as a puppy to get attention, as when full-grown he will easily knock the owner, visitors, or younger children over accidentally. In the picture to the right, the dog has been trained to gently jump up only on command, or more commonly, is lifted at the shoulders to the standing position by the owner. A well-trained Turkish Boz Shepherd is a delight to have indoors, but a Boz without manners can be disastrous. The TBBA urges all Turkish Boz Shepherd owners living in residential areas to begin training their dog early, as Boz's are very intelligent, they learn quickly, they get physically large quickly, and it is always easier to teach a desired behavior earlier than try to un-teach an undesired behavior later.
When the Turkish Boz Shepherd barks it is most typically for a very good reason. However, his bark is very deep and will carry over great distances. Residential owners may choose to have their dog sleep indoors for the consideration of their neighbors if they are concerned with the potential issue.
Drooling and Shedding
The Turkish Boz Shepherd is considered a dry-mounth dog and is not known to drool. Some can be messy drinkers on occasion, however, if they decide to plunge their entire muzzle into the water bowl to get a drink, rather than lapping their water politely. Jowls and excessively droopy lips that contribute to drooling are outside the breed standard.
The Turkish Boz Shepherd is a giant, double-coated dog that sheds at least twice a year. Dogs living in more moderate climates without clear seasons will not as commonly grow as dense or thick of an undercoat during the winter, so there is consequently less shedding. These dogs are giant, so the shed fur is plentiful, and due to their height the hairs will be most everywhere. If brushed twice a week, it is easily controlled; if brushed daily, it is minimal.
Digging and Chewing
The Turkish Boz Shepherd will seek out shade and cooler areas in the heat of the summer, wherever those cooler areas may be. He prefers cool planter beds compared to a hotter deck, and if shade is not provided, he will make dugout in order to reach cooler soil. A dugout is usually only a few inches deep so that his belly is in direct contact with the cooler soil, but can be as extreme as the den photographed on the left. Owners can easily spare their plants, lawns, and hardscapes, however by providing their dog a kiddie-pool or trough to wade in, a shaded area out of direct sun, and/or air-conditioning indoors during the most extreme heat. The digging behaviors are typically only consistent with high temperatures during the summer as a means to cool themselves and are not commonly seen during any other seasons. Turkish Boz Shepherds are not considered "diggers" for the sake of digging holes or tunneling as some dogs do. It must be mentioned that some outdoor landscaping plants are highly toxic and potentially lethal to dogs. Please be aware of the plants in your landscaping to avoid potential issues. A list of toxic plants can be found under the Publications and Resources page.
While Turkish Boz Shepherds are not typically chewers, they do enjoy their toys and possessions. Provided with various dog toys and rawhides to provide activity and avoid boredom, the Turkish Boz Shepherd is content and nondestructive. All puppies, independent of breed, teethe; owners must have reasonable expectations that puppies must be taught which items are theirs to chew.
The Turkish Boz Shepherd is extremely intelligent and learns very quickly. With verbal correction and positive reinforcement, house training can be accomplished within a matter of days. The TBBA recommends establishing a routine of letting the puppy go outside after eating or drinking to urinate and defecate for earlier success in the house training process.
Despite their size, The Turkish Boz Shepherd does not eat as much as some may expect. The average adult male weighing 180lbs eats an average of 6-8 cups a day, less in hot weather - eating comparatively as much as a large breed dog that weighs substantially less. The Turkish Boz Shepherd has a very efficient metabolism and puppies do best on a large breed, slow growth puppy dog food, such as Eukenuba or NutroMax. Owners may supplement the diet with chicken, rice, eggs, and the like, but it is not necessary. As is true for all dogs, some foods are highly toxic and potentially lethal. Please refer to our Publications and Resources page for a list of such foods to keep your dog safe and healthy.
Interacting with Other Dogs and Family Friends
The Turkish Boz Shepherd's property is instinctually viewed by the dog as his territory and home. He will naturally feel compelled to guard his territory, and the protection level to which he does this will be determined by how the owner trains him to accept new people and changes within his territory. Formally introduced visitors are readily accepted by the Turkish Boz Shepherd, but unfamiliar strangers are viewed with suspicion and will be denied entry without reassurance from their owner.
Some Boz Shepherd owners prefer that their dog not allow any people outside the immediate family into the home without formal introduction, whereas other owners would prefer their dog be more accepting of family friends who visit regularly. The Boz's response and tolerance regarding acceptance of person's outside the immediate family will be guided by the owner's consistent training from the time he is brought home. Most importantly, the Turkish Boz Shepherd is an intelligent, perceptive dog that learns the expectations of the owner and adapts accordingly.
Outside the Turkish Boz Shepherd's territory, he behaves very differently toward complete strangers and other dogs. If socialized from a young age, he is aware that outside his territory he is "off duty" and is not overly dog aggressive and much more accepting of strangers, often allowing them to pet him and love on him in a way that wouldn't be imagined while at home without introduction. He will often reflect the comfort level of his owner, being very perceptive to accept most new situations with ease as long as the owner is also calm and assured. A nervous handler will create a nervousness in the dog; he will sense that the handler is uneasy and his instinctual protectiveness dominates.
IN RESPONSE TO CIRCULATING MISINFORMATION THAT INACCURATELY LABELS THE TURKISH BOZ SHEPHERD AS A HIGHLY AGGRESSIVE, FIGHTING DOG:
ALL of the Turkish Boz Shepherd dogs registered in the TBBA are family and working-oriented dogs only; we do not tolerate any persons or dogs with fighting intentions, engagement, or mentality. Fundamentally, Turkish Boz Shepherds do not exhibit the fighting mindset or behaviors that are associated with dog fighting; if they did they would be worthless as the working, effective LGDs that they are here in the United States. Any potential buyer or skeptic of the breed is encouraged to contact a TBBA Member or Registered Breeder in their local or nearest area so that he/she may interact with the dogs personally; only personal interaction will ultimately provide legitimacy to claims, both positive and negative. The TBBA maintains a current list of Turkish Boz Shepherd Breeders and Members that are open to contact for such purposes. See the Join the Family/Find a Puppy navigation tab for more information.
The TBBA strongly urges persons providing information to the public regarding the Turkish Boz Shepherd to gain firsthand experience with these majestic sweethearts, and to utilize the various resources provided by this Association and its Membership to better educate himself/herself of the true genetic history, function, and temperament of the breed. As a PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION, we strongly urge our Membership to conduct themselves in a professional manner and expect the same behavior from other Professional Organizations and Members that represent themselves as active members in the dog world.
"Our dogs, no matter the breed or affiliation, love us openly and show us compassion; we should all try to emulate that as breeders and supporters amongst each other." - the TBBA