Ilker Ünlü

Following the onset of the internet becoming widely available in Turkey in 1995 and 1996, Ilker Unlu’s name began to pop up on the Turkish search engines as he was the first to build a website in Turkish dedicated to a dog breed: his Bull Terrier, Ares. Ares’ Website even appeared in Hurriyet, one of the leading newspaper in Turkey. Ilker went on to build another informative website on bull and terrier breeds due to the fact that their reputation seemed to be ruined by the overzealous press in the 90s. Many still remembers this website as a breath of fresh air today as the whole world was on a witch hunt back then.  

96 was also a turning point for Ilker in a sense where he saw a picture of an Akbas Dog in a book published by Selcuk University. Before that, he had already been drawn to the white livestock protection dogs of Southern and Eastern Europe and even joined the Pyrenean Mountain Dog Club of England. He also had a Pyrenean mix along with his bull terrier at the time.

The late 90s were also the years when he found himself in an unexpected battle between the Akbas and Kangal Dogs and the Anatolian Shepherd Dog breeders outside Turkey. The former recognised different breeds from Turkey while the latter claimed that all livestock protection dogs from Turkey were the one and same breed. Hence, they lumped them all together, negating the existence of the Turkish breeds like Akbas and Kangal and stubbornly ignoring the voice of the Turkish people. 

Trying to fight off any claims with hard evidence collected from the areas where these dogs were widely used, Ilker joined forces with the foreign and Turkish enthusiasts and made many visits to the villages first off Sivas for Kangal dogs in the early 2000s and later Eskisehir for Akbas Dogs in mid 2000s.

When the Federation of Cynology and Dog Breeds aka KIF (Turkish Kennel Club) was established in 2006, he also established the Akbas Dog Club  (AKAD)  in 2007 with his friends and joined KIF to start an official programme to preserve the breed. Completing 5 years of analysis on the breed’s population, AKAD published the breed standard in 2016.

Ilker also has given speeches on the Turkish breeds on numerous occasions due to his extensive research:

  • 1st and 3rd Kangal Dog Symposium in Kangal, Sivas, Turkey in 2001 and 2004
  • 1st and 2nd Akbas Dog Symposium in Sivrihisar, Eskisehir, Turkey in 2008 and 2009
  • Akbas Garthering organised by Akbash Dogs International (ADI) in Helena, Montana, America in 2011
  • National Dog Breeds’ Workshop organised by Istanbul University in Istanbul, Turkey in 2011

Various breed seminars under AKAD