Breed Type: Flock Guardians
Country of Origin: Turkey
Size:  Large
Also known as: Karabash, Turkish Kangal Dog, Sivas-Kangal Dog
Males Height: 77-86 cm Weight: 50-70 kg
Females: Height: 72-77 cm Weight:  41-54 kg
Exercise Requirements: High
Care Requirements: Low
Lifespan: 12-15 Years
Best Suited as: Livestock Guardian / Family Pet

If you need a dog to guard your flock, you have chosen wisely in the Kangal Dog. The Kangal can also be kept as a pet although they are not the best fit for everyone.

The Kangal Dog is a powerful dog with a heavy bone structure and muscular build. Their heads are proportionately large with a deep muzzle, large black nose and medium set eyes. Their eye colour ranges from amber to dark brown. Their ears are triangular in shape and rounded at the tips. While the rest of their head is generally a light colour, the Kangal Dog is easily distinguished by the black mask the covers it’s muzzle and matching black ears. The Kangal Dogs dense but short double coat ranges in colour from a light dun or pale dull gold to a steel grey. Some Kangals may have white markings on their chest, feet and chin.

A properly proportioned Kangal Dog is slightly longer than tall and has a curled tail with a black tip.

The Kangal is your ultimate watchdog – alert, territorial and loyal to its owners, it is always ready to serve and protect. He has the courage, strength and speed to intimidate those who are threatening his master and the ability to attack. Not surprising, a Kangal is wary of strangers but with proper socialization can learn to be less defensive and very loving towards his family.

In a dog pack, a Kangal’s instinct is to become the top dog. A strong individual in the family must emerge as a leader in order for the Kangal to step back as a leader and become a loyal follower. It is then that the Kangal can also be trained to know his proper place in the pack as a whole – all humans in the pack are above him. In training him, it is most important to clearly define boundaries and rules.

The Kangal Dog gets its name from the Kangal District of Sivas Province in Turkey where it is thought to have originated from. While it is unknown when the first one came into being, most believe that it is an ancient dog related to the earliest mastiffs shown in Assyrian art. What is known is that they were used early on to guard flocks of sheep and other livestock both by landowners and villagers. Kangals were effective in guarding against all types of prey, including very large prey such as bears, wolf and jackal. Due to its relative isolation in the Turkish region, it was free of crossbreeding for a number of centuries.

The Turks take great pride in the Kangal Dog today, claiming it as its national dog. It has appeared on postage stamps and coins there. To protect and conserve the genetic purity of the Kangal Dog, the Turkish government has established several state-sponsored breeding centres and currently tracks every dog chartered. Pedigrees are recorded, and certificates of origin are issued to owners of genuine Kangal Dogs. Turkey has banned the exportation of Kangals to non-Turkish nationals.

In its home district in the Sivas Province, Kangal Dogs are still prized, livestock guardians.  In their homeland, Kangals are considered the only dogs capable of killing wolves. As the demand for Kangals decreases in its guarding role, purebreds are becoming increasingly prized. Today, many animals are brought from the villages to compete for prizes during the annual Kangal Festival and they sell for high prices.

Before the exportation of Kangals was made illegal in Turkey, several were exported to other countries were breeding programs were established. The first English Kangal litter was born in 1967. Americans David and Judith Nelson, who studied dogs while they were residing in Turkey, imported their first Kangal Dog to the United States in 1985. This dog and other imports provided the foundation for the Kangal Dog in the United States. The Kangal Dog Club of America continues to advocate for fewer restrictions to import the breed into the United States. Imported dogs are considered to be extremely valuable for their potential contribution to the genetic pool in the United States. The Kangal Dog was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998 and other national kennel clubs of South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia exist today.

Care and Grooming
The Kangal Dog requires little grooming for most of the year. During shedding season, their coats need slightly more attention and should be brushed once a week.

Like any large pet, expect that you will be buying larger quantities of food for your Kangal. You will also need a larger budget for medical care because and everything costs more in larger quantities, especially heartworm and flea preventatives.

The Kangal Dog is a very healthy breed with very little known common health problems. The only minor issues that have been reported are dermatologic, musculoskeletal and lipomas.

Suitability as a Pet
If you are looking for a highly alert, large watchdog, with a loud bark, the Kangal Dog might be right for you. In order to be a good candidate for owning this breed, you need a large yard with a high fence, lots of energy, and the time and willingness to commit to training and socializing your new pet.

Being a guard dog, the Kangal sometimes gets a bad reputation for being aggressive towards humans. Unless your pet is trained to attack people, they will not hurt people. When they are well socialized and trained, they can be loving, affectionate pets that are good with children and other dogs. They tend to be much more “people-oriented” than most other livestock guardian breeds.

Your Kangal Dog will need a daily walk or jog. This breed also appreciates mental stimulation and if you live in a rural area, they will excel at patrolling your property and protecting livestock.  If bored, you might find that your Kangal Dog, who likes to dig, may have dug tunnels under your fence.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.