A Kangal Dog show champion.
Sivas Kangal Köpeği
|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 6 (Utility)
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
|Still primarily found in Turkey, with some
enthusiasts in Europe and North America.
The Kangal Dog is the national
of Turkey. This
large dog (which can often grow as large as 140 pounds (64 kg)) was originally
used as a
Livestock guardian dog, but has been increasing in popularity as a
It is of an early
mastiff type with a solid tan or grey coat, and should always have a black
mask on its face; indeed, another name for the breed is Karabash or
The breed is often referred to as a
but it does not herd its charges. Instead, it is designed to live with the flock
and act as a
livestock guardian dog. This trait has given it growing popularity as a
guardian for families as well, as it watches members of its flock with extreme
The Kangal was combined with the
to create the
Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
The Kangal Dog is a large, heavily boned dog with long legs and a
appearance. The head is large and moderately wide, with drop ears that may or
may not be cropped, set on a strong, slightly arched neck. The body should be
muscular, not fat, with strong forelegs, a deep chest, and a sickle or curled
tail carried high. The overall appearance should be of proportions slightly
longer in body than in legs.
Because the working characteristics of the breed are paramount, the
UKC standard also notes that field scars from working, such as may be gained
from briars or
are not to be penalized.
Males should weigh 110-145 lbs, with a height of 30-32 inches at the
while females should weigh 90-120 lbs, with a height of 28-30 inches.
Colour and Coat
The colour and coat are perhaps the most obviously distictive aspects that
separate the Kangal from the similar Akbash and Anatolian. The coat must be
short and dense, not long or feathery, and of a fawn, dun, or grey appearance
with a black facial mask and ears. White at certain points (chest, chin, toes)
may or may not be allowed, depending on the standard. Some dark Kangal also have
black paws and a dark chest. Most importantly, the coat should not be broken or
The Kangal dog's validity as a separate breed is a matter of controversy,
Anatolian Shepherd Dog breeders and Kangal dog breeders. Kangal dog breeders
feel that the standard they have laid out for the breed most truly reflects the
working dogs of the Kangal region, and that the Anatolian is merely a Çoban
Köpegi or generic sheepdog of uncertain breeding. They also point to
the large increase of fawn Karabash dogs as a tacit admission by Anatolian
breeders of the correctness of the Kangal position of being the original type.
Anatolian breeders state that the variation in colours in the Anatolian
reflect the true diversity of the Turkish sheepdog, and that Kangal breeders
ignore examples of spotted or brindle Kangals in the field, claiming they're not
actually Kangals. Some Anatolian breeders accuse Kangal breeders of actively
culling unsuitable coloured dogs that come from purebred Kangals.
Generally, the arguments are whether Turkish dogs really are so breed
specific, and if the splits placed on them by groups are arbitrary, or if the
breeds are distinct and bred to be distinct in Turkey, therefore any mixing of
bloodlines would be muddying the
waters. It is unlikely that the arguments will be settled soon, even with the
increased use of genetic fingerprinting in the tracing of breeds. Suffice to
say, both groups consider their dogs true Turkish
livestock guardian dogs.
The ideal Kangal dog should be calm, controlled, independant, and protective.
Aloof towards strangers, but never shy or vicious. A well-trained Kangal is
sensitive and alert to changing situations, handling them with intelligence.
They make good guardians of livestock and children, but they may not be suited
for all homes, as the stubborn intelligence of the Kangal makes for a difficult
Unfortunately, some people assume that guardian dog or watch dog
means attack dog, and will train this large and hard-to-control dog to be
aggressive towards humans. Very rarely, some people also use Kangals in dog
fights. Kangal dogs and Kangal crosses are occasionally owned by persons hoping
to get a macho animal.
This has led to the restriction and banning of Kangals in most parts of
Germany. Kangal owners feel unfairly singled out, and point out that aggression
towards predators, especially with such an intelligent dog as the Kangal, does
not equal aggression towards humans. It is notable that some famous German guard
dog breeds, such as the
German Shepherd, are not restricted.
The Kangal in Turkey
One of the national treasures of Turkey, the Kangal dog is part of a group of
dog breeds specific to the country. Each is considered an important example
of the cultural character of its region. To protect and conserve the genetic
purity of the Kangal Dog, the
of Turkey has established several state-sponsored breeding centers.
In its home region of
Kangal, in the
Sivas region of
the Kangal Dog is still primarily used as a livestock guardian, and prize
animals compete annually in the Kangal Sheep Dog and Sheep festival.
In its duties as a national symbol, Kangal dogs often have jobs as guardians
of state buildings, or as gifts in international friendship to other heads of
state. There was also a brief fad of owning Kangals by more well-off city
Istanbul, but it has quickly died down as the 140 lb (64 kg) dogs are not
well-suited for city living.
The Kangal internationally
Originally, the Kangal, along with the
imported into Europe and the United States primarily as the foundation for the
Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Curious enthusiasts of that and other Turkish dog
breeds discovered that the general look of the Anatolian didn't always reflect
the look of the dogs from various regions of Turkey. Several, such as David and
Judy Nelson in the
United States, decided to breed to the regional types of Çoban Köpegi
rather than for Anatolian.
For 30 years, there has been a small but growing interest in the Kangal dog,
and as such, the
United States and
kennel clubs that recognise the breed. In the
there are also enthusiast groups, though Kangal ownership has been restricted
severely in Germany, where they are considered a dangerous breed.
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