Jackson is a mix between an Akbash and a Great Pyrenees (Pyr), both of which are Live Stock Guardian (LGD) breeds. Jackson is 32” tall at the shoulder, 40" tall at the top of his head, 52"+ long not including the tail, and weighs around 165 pounds. Jackson looks just like a Pyr, but he is a bit longer Pyrs. He also has a shorter and more coarse coat than a Pyr. As Jackson continued to grow, he looked more and more like a Pyr, but when we saw him next to a full blooded Great Pyrenees, we could still spot many differences. Most often people ask if he is a white or albino Newfoundland and while all white Newfs do not exist, his body shape and length do strongly resemble that of a Newf. Jackson's long and relatively lean body and long legs make him an excellent hiking and backpacking partner. Jackson is able to traverse even the most advanced trails and mountains with ease. He often wears a backpack and carries gear through mud, snow, and ice; he gracefully navigates through any obstacles we come across. Often, Jackson even helps me up or down difficult terrain; we joke that he must be part mountain goat. In addition to his companionship while hiking, Jackson is also in helps me out tremendously by limiting the weight in gear that I must carry. Due to physical limitations, I could not hike or backpack in the durations that we do without his help. He has come a long way from a lonely dog wondering the Ozark Mountains and I simply do not know what I would do without him. If you see me, chances are that Jackson will be by my side too!
After seeing Jackson's size, people often ask about his temperament and while I could probably write a short book attempting to explain Jackson's disposition, I will simply leave it at this: Jackson is the most gentle creature I have ever come in contact with. He is a big teddy bear of a dog that wants nothing more than to be loved and scratched and told what a good boy he is. Jackson loves all people and all animals big and small. Jackson has immense strength and power, his breed makeup is capable of pulling over a thousand pounds and according to Animal Planet, has a bite force almost 30% greater than a lion, yet, he plays with our cats more gently than any person could attempt. They say no one is perfect and that may be true, but I could not imagine a more perfect creature than Jackson.
What is an Akbash?
So, you’ve never heard of an Akbash? Don’t worry, neither had I, and neither have most people. According to www.akbashdogs.net, (which mirrors what a few other knowledgeable people have told me):
“The Akbash Dog is an elegant rare breed from Western Turkey. The name stems from the Turkish word "akbas" meaning "white head". Akbash Dogs were developed over 3000 years ago to fend off wolves and bears which threatened flocks of sheep and goats. Any dog not strong enough, cunning enough, or aware enough of its surroundings did not survive in this harsh environment. The Akbash Dog combines the grace and elegance of a greyhound with the power of the mastiff. They are tall, athletic dogs which can spring into action with amazing speed but are usually seen sleeping with or in sight of their flock. Akbash Dogs are not for everyone. They are independent, self-thinking dogs that have no genetic memory of looking towards man for direction. A flock guardian pitted against predators must be able to assess any given situation on its own and act appropriately, or else the dogs’ survival may be at risk. Many say they are cat-like in personality and certainly not a breed to cater to our every whim. As trained and socialized companions they are intelligent, loyal, affectionate, clean, and generally non-destructive in the house. Strong maternal instincts allow them to bond with and protect their human and animal flock; thus you may expect a properly trained and well-socialized Akbash Dog to be fond of and gentle towards infants and young children, while remaining suspicious of non-introduced strangers, particularly on its own territory.”
Jackson’s History Part 1:
Jackson was born on December 24th, 2007; he was the result of a breeding agreement between two sheep ranchers in the Ozark Mountains who wanted to produce a litter of flock guardians from their respective career working Great Pyrenees, but little did they know that they didn’t have two Great Pyrenees (more on this later). Unfortunately, Jackson’s mother gave birth over the holidays and apparently wandered off unnoticed by either of the families.
As far as we know, his mother went off into Ozark National Park in Missouri and had her puppies in the cold of winter without any human intervention. As a result of the weather and lack of shelter most of the puppies died soon after birth. Jackson and his mother were apparently outside dogs that were left to roam the ranchers land as well as the Ozark National Forest. The dogs both worked on instinct alone, without training or physical boundaries; this lead to them getting into trouble with the National Park Service for treeing at least one bear within the park, as well as destroying landscaping. As a result of these "issues", Jackson’s owner shot Jackson’s mother for being a pest who was too difficult to train. Jackson, who was approximately one year of age, was now left to roam alone and eventually got into trouble as well. At about 16 months of age, it was decided that Jackson would be shot. However, luckily for Jackson, this time the rancher’s wife called a Great Pyrenees rescue to see if they wanted him. This small rescue based in Ava, MO and run by a woman named Carolyn and her husband was Jackson’s stay of execution and eventual way to me. Carolyn raced to get Jackson (who then had no name) before the owners changed their mind and on the way out of town stopped at the local vet to retrieve his medical records.
Jackson’s History Part 2:
At 16 months of age, Jackson (who at this time had a different name given to him by the rescue) was an official resident of the Bear Creek Equine Sanctuary. Up until this point little was known about Jackson, other than he was a Great Pyrenees who had a rough start. However, as the rescue group took a good look at Jackson, they realized that he did not look like a normal Great Pyrenees. Jackson had the head of a Pyr, but his fur was shorter and his body was slim and long; he was more agile with longer legs and a wolf like body, unlike the traditional boxy and stoutly built Pyr. Although, it's quite common in these areas for experienced breeders of working guardian dogs to carefully cross LGD breeds in order to obtain specific working traits, which are referred to as "Mountain Mutts", Jackson just didnt seem to fit any breed standard or commonly used mix. After quite a bit of research and answers from the live stock guardian experts, the rescue realized that Jackson might not be a Pyr at all, but perhaps an Akbash. Eventually, as The rescue continued to study him and consulted with some LGD experts who seemed to agree that while his body, tail, disposition, and instincts were all Akbash, he definitely had a great big Pyr head. It's hard to tell what percentage of Akbash and Pyr Jackson is and since there is not genetic testing available (and I don’t particularly care), we will probably never know.
Jackson had a wonderful temperament from the beginning and although he was raised as a flock guardian, the rescue deemed that he was young enough to be adopted as a family pet instead of a working dog. While, he was not officially house trained, not used to living in doors, and hadn’t had any meaningful human interaction most of his life, he had no temperament issues and seemed too happy around people. After several weeks, the rescue decided that he was ready to be adopted out once he got a good bill of health from the vet. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), the vet found a fatty benign tumor on Jackson’s left shoulder. While this tumor was not dangerous, the rescue decided that it had to be removed prior to adoption. This should have been a simple procedure, but on the first or second night after the surgery, Jackson ripped out his stitches and the wound had to heal naturally over several months, as it could not be re-stitched. After five months, Jackson had completely healed and was now finally ready to be adopted.
How Jackson Came into My Life:
A long time ago, I fell in love with the fluffy white dog called the Greay Pyrenees, but after repeatedly reading information about how aloof they were and how their natural tendency was to run away (which in retrospect was not accurate), I decided that as beautiful as the breed was, it just wasn't right for me. More recently I had discovered the Newfoundland breed, which seemed like the perfect dog for me and a breed that I will always love. After I decided that I wanted a Newf, I spent several years researching the breed and searching for the right breeder. After talking with dozens and visiting at least 7 or 8 breeders, I had finally selected the breeder that seemed to be a perfect fit. However, after over a years wait and several failed pregnancies, I was again in limbo. In September of 2009, I started checking Pet Finder weekly for Newfoundlands or Newf mixes that needed a good home, but found very little. One day on a whim I decided to search for Great Pyrenees and a large number of Pyrs were in the search results. I searched every listing one by one, but I either just wasn’t interested, or the dog just didn’t seem to be a good fit for me. One day during my semi-normal Pyr and Newf search I saw a big white unusual looking Pyr mix and clicked on the picture. When I saw a larger picture of Jackson, his beautiful white coat and unusually graceful appearance faded into the background, and his eyes seemed to tell his whole story. His eyes were strong and sorrowful, they had a tired but hopeful look, not jaded, or sullen, but wise beyond his years; a look that shown he was too stubborn and full of hope to give up on himself or anyone else. I knew immediately that he needed saving and I was just the person to do it.
I contacted the rescue on September 12th and by September 17th we both knew that it was going to be a good fit. We arranged transport from Missouri to Pennsylvania and made Sure Jackson had all the health certifications needed for interstate travel. I drove about 2.5 hours south to pick Jackson up at a truck stop outside of Harrisburg, PA at 3:30 AM in the morning on September 25th and we had an instant bond the moment we met. I knew I had found a great dog and I think he knew that he finally found a good home. The rest as they say is history!
Find out more about Jackson’s rescue organization, how we transported him, and Pet Finder on the links page.