Pupdate — Bear the Akbash “Little Big Dog”

A couple of weeks ago I took Bear down to the co-op store to meet a friend who’s lived here a long time (came from here). Bear has nice manners and my friend likes dogs. She looked at Bear and said, “I don’t think she’s a Great Pyrenees at all. I think she’s an Akbash.”

I’d never heard of this “Akbash” of which she spoke.

“A lot of ranchers use them to guard their sheep out here.”

“A lot?” I wondered. That couldn’t be many. There are 40k people in the San Luis Valley and 10k live in Alamosa and 4k live here and 2k in Del Norte and there are other towns, though not as big. And not all the people living on the land are ranchers; most are farmers. Still, there are a lot of dog breeds out here that I have almost never seen in my life, though the most common is the Australian cattledog.

“Yeah, here, look.” She’d found Akbash on her phone and they looked a lot more like Bear than Bear looks like a Great Pyrenees. They are longer, taller and leaner than Pyrs; often have spots on their ears and different places on their body and they can have blue eyes. Their fur is not as thick and fluffy as a Pyr, more often it is silky and not as long.


She’s doing great, still. She’s the star of obedience training, and she’s the youngest “student.” She likes doing what I ask her to (she likes me) and we’ve been practicing this stuff since she came. I’m also around her most of the time, and I realize how much a difference that makes in training a puppy. She’s very responsive and very affectionate. She sits and is getting to “sit stay.” She does “down” and is learning “down stay.” She heels more or less well if Dusty walks with us, otherwise, she gets too captivated by the “news” all along the way. I’m now working with her on respecting my space and accepting “intrusive” touches like me checking her teeth, rolling her around and messing with her feet. I can just imagine her as a 100 pound dog who doesn’t let the vet touch her — a nightmare! She’s getting it. She no longer gets emotionally devastated if I say, “Bad dog!” so I can see she’s more secure. Dusty and she have had a few mild spats but it’s Dusty telling her what’s up and not to come up on him from behind. Dusty does not know how to play, and that’s been hard on Bear to understand. She loves all people she meets and doesn’t jump on them. She especially loves little kids who are generally fascinated by her. She weighs 45 pounds and is as tall as a full grown Aussie. (Mindy, to be precise.)

I’m so glad I got her. She’s a wonderful “little big dog.” Given her nature and the nature of the breed, I’m also glad I’ve had several snow dogs over the years and am used to dealing with an independent dog who believes she has a job to do.

Here’s a photo of a full grown Akbash. I took it from http://www.dogbreedinfo.com — this dog is a male and his name is…Bear. Oh well!


Here’s an Akbash at work. Not a bad job, standing around in a field under the open sky!


If you’re interested in the breed, here’s good information.

18 thoughts on “Pupdate — Bear the Akbash “Little Big Dog”

    • Thank you! No, definitely not a lap dog. I’ve never let her even try to get in my lap. Maybe if I’m sitting on the ground, but that’s it. She’s learned those manners very well — she tests me from time to time (jumped up on the guest bed — bad Bear; tried to take the sofa from Mindy — “Whatever,” said Mindy so Bear got down). She’s a great dog.

  1. Head is quite a bit different from the Pyranees, but if that’s what Bear looks like, I agree she’s an Akbash. As is the similarity in names. Ive never heard od a G.P. being called Bear, but it fits the big guy. And she’ll grow into it. Akbash. Now that’s another dog breed I’ll have to learn about, and I’m a cat person. Wail!

    • Cat’s are cool. I wish I could have one. Bear loves them — there’s a kitten at the vet and Bear went up to meet her and then rolled on her back so the kitten wouldn’t be afraid. The kitten was still afraid. It’s so interesting to watch her instinctive reactions to things.

  2. Want ever Bear’s breed, she is the dog for you. I think she is beautiful. If she is Grt. Pry. or a mix of Grt. Pyr she will have dew claws on her hind feet. The dew claws are very evident on my pyr and Border collie mix. Sally, my mixed breed, is a tall and long dog that is pretty darn smart and has been easy to train to do simple commands.

      • It’s considered a fault and disqualifies them from shows and fancy breeding — I guess because there’s a universal bias against blue-eyed dogs (except in huskies). Lots of people out here immediately assume a blue-eyed dog is deaf. That was the first question my friend asked me. “Can she hear? Most blue-eyed dogs are deaf.”

      • When I was “little” I remember my mother saying that odd eyed cats were deaf but that is not the case either. False information has a way of running amok and never seems to go away.

      • So true. I’ve known people who believe all blue-eyed dogs are blind, too, just because there is a genetic mutation in Australian shepherds that if two merles mate, they have a strong chance that their blue-eyed offspring will be blind, but even that’s not certain.

    • They have a lot in common with the Pyr. I think the big difference might be in familiarity and a longer time as a “known” breed in this country. Reading about the two breeds the biggest difference I’ve found is in height, eye colors and shape, their attitude toward other dogs in their house and, it seems, the Akbash is just a little less domesticated but Bear loves everyone and has only shown anxiety over the “people” who belong to her yesterday when my friend walked Dusty. Bear did NOT like that at all. Dusty is HERS. I love her instincts. They’re so interesting in comparison to other dogs I’ve known.

  3. Actually, after a bit of reading, the personality sounds really similar to the other Big White Dogs I’ve met through the years, all of whom were guard/working dogs, though some of them would also herd (but it was not their primary job). Interesting. Another moving snow drift.

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