Information about the Kangal Dog
The Turkish Kangal Dog is regarded as the national breed of Turkey, originating from the Kangal district in Sivas Province. The Kangal, which weighs 100-165 lbs (45-80 kg) fully grown, was originally used as a livestock guardian dog. It is of an early mastiff type with a solid, pale tan or sabled coat, and with a black mask.
The breed is often referred to as a sheep dog, but distinction has to be made in regards to its function not as a herding dog, but as a flock guardian that lives with the flock to actively fend off wolves, bears and jackals. The Sivas Kangal Dog’s protectiveness, loyalty and gentleness with small children and animals has led to its growing popularity as a guardian for families as well, as it regards people as its “flock” and guards them with extreme devotion.
At maturity, at least two years old, Kangals measure at the withers, from 30-32 inches for males and 28-30 inches for females. A male Kangal Dog in good condition should weigh between 125 and 165 pounds. A female should weigh between 90 and 120 pounds. The Kangal Dog is not as heavy as some other mastiff breeds, allowing it greater speed and agility than larger dogs. Kangal dogs can reach speeds of up to 30 miles (50 km) per hour.
The under-layer provides insulation against both severe Anatolian winters and the fierce summer sun, while the outer-layer repels water and snow. This combination of coat allows it to regulate its core temperature more efficiently, while the coat is dense enough to repel rupture from wolf bites. The color and coat are perhaps the most visible traits that distinguish the Kangal from the Akbash and Anatolian. The coat must be short and dense, not long or feathery, and of a pale fawn or tan color with varying amounts of sable guard hairs. All Kangal Dogs have a black facial mask, and black or shaded ears. White at certain points (chest, chin, toes) may or may not be allowed, depending on the standard. Some heavily sabled Kangals also have darker legs and chests. Most importantly, the coat should not be broken, brindled, or spotted.
Cropping of the ears is done for appearance and for protection, as long ears can be vulnerable in a physical confrontation with a predator. It is also believed that cropping improves the dog’s hearing because sound can travel into ear easier.
The Kangal dog is calm, controlled, independent, and protective.
The ideal Kangal dogs should be calm, controlled, independent, and protective. They may be aloof towards strangers, but a well-socialized Kangal Dog is friendly with visitors and especially children. They must never be shy or vicious. A well-trained Kangal is sensitive and alert to changing situations, responding to threats with judicious warnings and courageous action if necessary. They make good guardians of livestock and humans alike, but they may not be suitable for inexperienced dog owners, as the independent intelligence of the Kangal makes for a difficult pupil. Due to their overwhelming strength, size and obedient temperament, Kangal dogs are now becoming popular in underground-illegal dog fights. In such circumstances, violent characteristics observed are brought out due to the dog’s treatment by its owner; in most cases, these are quite degrading.
The Kangal dog can be a good house dog if effectively trained from birth
A working Kangal on duty will station itself on a high vantage point overlooking its flock. On hot days, the dog will dig itself a hollow in the ground to keep cool. Novices learn by staying close to older dogs. The dogs will work in pairs or teams depending on the size of the flock, taking up positions around the sheep and changing their positions as needed. The intensity of their patrols around the sheep increases at nightfall.
When suspicious, a Kangal will stand with its tail and ears erect and give an alarm call, inciting the sheep to gather around it for protection. The Kangal’s first instinct is to place itself between the perceived threat and the sheep or master. Once the sheep are safely behind it, the Kangal confronts the intruder. When faced with a wolf, the Kangal sometimes is successful in intimidating the enemy, but it will resort to a physical confrontation if the predator stands its ground. Specialized wolf killers are known as “kurtçul kangal” in their homeland.
The earliest reliable account of Turkey shepherd dogs comes from Evliya Çelebi. In his Seyahatname (Book of Travels) he describes the ceremonial parades of the Janissaries, an elite Ottoman force, in which guarding-dogs were displayed in full regalia by their keepers.
Because Kangal name and breed has not been thoroughly defined and documented until recently, because of the slightly similar appearance and desire to capitalize on unique qualities of the breed, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs in general are sometimes labeled Kangals. Kangal is a distinct breed from Karabash, Akbash and the generic Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
In the US, the first purebred breeding programs for Kangal Dogs began in the early 1980s. The Kangal Dog is recognized by the United Kennel Club in the US, and by the national kennel clubs of South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Many Kangal Dogs are being bred in Germany as well, mostly by immigrant workers. Some are registered as Anatolians, that being the only registration option open to them in Germany; most are unregistered.