Kangal Shepherd Dog

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Kangal Shepherd
Kangal front on.jpg
Height Dogs 70–80 cm (28–31 in)
Bitches 63–75 cm (25–30 in)
Weight Dogs 48–60 kg (106–132 lb)
Bitches 40–50 kg (88–110 lb)
Coat Thick, dense, usually short double coat, 3–7 cm (1.2–2.8 in) long
Colour Fawn to wolf sable with white or lighter chest and paws, and a black mask
Kennel club standards
KIF (Cynology Federation Of Turkey) standard
FCI standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Kangal Shepherd or Turkish Kangal Dog[1] is a historic breed of large livestock guardian dog native to Turkey.[2] Originally the breed served the people of Sivas, and the Kangal continues to be a popular dog breed in Turkey. According to official Kangal Shepherd Dog organisations in Turkey, the acceptable colours for Kangal are sable and fawn. Kangal shepherd dogs do not come in brindle or Black and Tan.

While the Kangal Shepherd Dog is often referred to as a sheep dog, it is not a herding dog, but rather a flock guardian that lives with the flock of sheep to actively fend off predators of all sizes and hunt them down. The Kangal shepherd is widely regarded as having the most powerful bite force of all domestic dogs.[3] Typically used as protection against wolves, bears, and jackals in its native Turkey,[4][5] the breed has been exported to African countries like Namibia and Kenya in more recent years[6][7] due to its intimidating size and capabilities as an effective guardian, where it successfully protects local herds from lions, cheetahs, and similar indigenous big cats, which has had the benefit of not only protecting livestock, but ensuring the continuity of endangered predators due to reduced cullings by local farmers.[8]


Kangal Shepherds.

The breed's name derives from the contemporary Central Anatolian town of Kangal in Turkey's Sivas Province.[9] The Kangal has been used by shepherds for protection against wolves and other predators for centuries.

A DNA study found that the dogs of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan are genetically closest to Kangal dogs, and the researchers propose that the breed may have been brought from Central Asia by the nomadic Turks.[10]

Anatolian Shepherd[edit]

Anatolian Shepherds are still used to guard livestock. This dog is guarding a goat herd in rural USA.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog is the name used in the United States to describe dogs descended from regional Turkish livestock guardian dogs, particularly the Kangal but also the Akbash, from the late 1960s.[11] In 1967 a US Navy Lieutenant who was stationed in Turkey, Robert Ballard, acquired two working livestock guardians Zorba and Peki, from breeders in the Ankara region, Zorba was a long-coated pinto-colored dog and Peki a short-coated buff-colored bitch.[11][12] In the late 1960s Ballard returned to the United States and took his dogs with him and in 1970 the pair bred their first litter, becoming the foundation stock of the breed in the United States. A breed club was quickly formed and further examples were imported from Turkey.[11] In developing the breed, the American enthusiasts acted without understanding of regional Turkish varieties of shepherd's dogs, with the result that the American dogs could be bred with various coat lengths, colors and color patterns whilst in Turkey the different breeds breed more true to a set coat type.[11] This was further exacerbated by most of these dogs being sourced in the intermediate zone between the main breeding centers of the Akbash and the Kangal, where examples of both types can be found.[11] Anatolian Shepherd is a mixed dog breed of all Turkish livestock guardian dogs.

In subsequent years animosity developed between American breeders, who insisted their dogs were the true Turkish shepherd's dog, and Turkish breeders who believed, and stated, they were an amalgam of various Turkish breeds.[11] Insults and counter-insults were exchanged with American breeders accusing the Turks of marketing dogs of dubious ancestry as independent breeds and the Turks stating the Americans were breeding crossbred dogs.[11] The name Anatolian Shepherd Dog is unknown in Turkey and the breed is sometimes described as having the Turkish name of Çoban Köpeği which means 'shepherd's dog', or livestock guardian dog.[11][13] Since the 1980s Americans have almost exclusively imported Kangals and the Anatolian has increasingly conformed to that breed type. Despite this pups of mixed appearance are still whelped and Turkish authorities still refuse to recognise Anatolians as a purebred Turkish breed.[11]


Turkey is the country of authority for Kangal standards. In the Kangal Shepherd Dog's homeland of Turkey, the only measurements desired are quoted by KIF as a height at the withers of 65 to 78 cm (25+12 to 30+12 in), with a 2-centimetre (1 in) tolerance either way. KIF is the reigning canine council affiliated with the international Fédération Cynologique Internationale, and the true owners of the Kangal Shepherd Dog breed.

The Kangal Shepherd Dog is not as heavy as some other Mastiff breeds, allowing it greater speed and agility than larger dogs. Kangal Shepherd Dogs can reach speeds of up to 56 km/h (35 mph).[14] 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.[14]

Cropping of the ears is done for several reasons including the cultural demonstration of ownership versus feral dogs, for appearance, and for protection – as long ears can be vulnerable in a physical confrontation with a predator. The cropping of ears is illegal in UK and EU.


The Kangal Shepherd Dog is calm, controlled, independent, powerful and very 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 Shepherd Dog is sensitive and alert to changing situations, responding to threats with judicious warnings and courageous action if necessary. They make great 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.

Protective behavior[edit]

Kangal Shepherd Dog on duty

A working Kangal Shepherd Dog 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 Shepherd Dog will stand with its tail and ears erect and give an alarm call, inciting the sheep to gather around it for protection. The Kangal Shepherd Dog'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 Shepherd Dog confronts the intruder. When faced with a wolf, the Kangal Shepherd Dog sometimes is successful in intimidating the enemy, but it will resort to a physical confrontation if the predator stands its ground.[14]

The Kangal Shepherd Dog internationally[edit]

In October 2012, The Kennel Club (UK) announced it would recognise the Kangal Shepherd Dog as a breed and classify it within the Pastoral Group. This allowed the breed to be exhibited at KC licensed events in the UK from July 2013.[15] In January 2013 an interim Breed standard for the breed was issued.[16][17]

On 25 June 2018, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) published the official Kangal Shepherd Dog breed standard to replace the previous Anatolian Shepherd Dog standard due to the breed not being recognised in Turkey.

Around 300 Kangal Shepherd Dogs have been given to farmers in Namibia since 1994 by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to help protect livestock from cheetah attacks, and the program has been extended to Kenya.[18] Since then, the number of cheetahs killed by farmers is calculated to have fallen from 19 per farmer annually to 2.4. Livestock losses have been cut significantly at more than 80% of the farms where the dogs have been adopted. The great majority of cheetahs that are still killed by farmers are killed after specific attacks on livestock. Previously, the cats were tracked and killed whenever they neared a farm.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Turkish Kangal Dog | Breeds A to Z | The Kennel Club". www.thekennelclub.org.uk. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  2. ^ Orhan., Yilmaz (2007). The Turkish kangal (karabash) shepherd dog : the national dog of Turkey. Impress Printing Co. ISBN 978-975-92133-7-4. OCLC 874356597.
  3. ^ Ellis, Jennifer Lynn; Thomason, Jeffrey; Kebreab, Ermias; Zubair, Kasim; France, James (March 2009). "Cranial dimensions and forces of biting in the domestic dog". Journal of Anatomy. 214 (3): 362–373. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7580.2008.01042.x. ISSN 0021-8782. PMC 2673787. PMID 19245503.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". www.ukcdogs.com. Archived from the original on 11 April 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "US researchers hope more assertive, foreign dog breeds can protect livestock from wolves and bears". Pri.org. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Guard dogs save Namibian cheetahs". BBC News. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  7. ^ Waldo (16 November 2013). "Namibia: Cheetah Fund Sends Kangal Dogs to Tanzania". Allafrica.com. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Kangal Dogs Save Cheetahs From Extinction In Africa". 20 April 2015. Archived from the original on 20 April 2015.
  9. ^ Wilson, R. T.; Yilmaz, O. (10 October 2013). "The domestic livestock resources of Turkey: Notes on rabbits and a review of the literature". Archives Animal Breeding. 56 (1): 18–27. doi:10.7482/0003-9438-56-003. ISSN 2363-9822.
  10. ^ Koban, Evren; Saraç, Çiğdem Gökçek; Açan, Sinan Can; Sovalainen, Peter; Togan, Inci (2009). "Genetic relationship between Kangal, Akbash and other dog populations". Discrete Applied Mathematics. 157 (10): 2335–2340. doi:10.1016/j.dam.2008.06.040. hdl:11511/28384.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Morris, Desmond (2001). Dogs: the ultimate dictionary of over 1,000 dog breeds. North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Publishing. pp. 393–396. ISBN 1-57076-219-8.
  12. ^ Wilcox, Bonnie; Walkowicz, Chris (1995). Atlas of dog breeds of the world. Neptune City, N.J.: TFH Publications. pp. 123–124.
  13. ^ Yilmaz, Orhan (2007). Turkish kangal (Karabash) shepherd dog. Ankara: Impress Printing Comp. pp. 11–12.
  14. ^ a b c "The Kangal Dog of Turkey". Retrieved 29 December 2010.
  15. ^ "KC to recognise the Turkish Kangal Dog". Dog World. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  16. ^ "Recognition of the Turkish Kangal dog". Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  17. ^ "Turkish Kangal Dog; proposed interim standard". The Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 23 April 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  18. ^ Smith, Lewis (26 December 2008). "How mans best friend is saving endangered big cat". The Times. London. Retrieved 16 June 2021.

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