A Kangal Shepherd Dog is a massive breed that is not for everyone. It is considered a rare and priced treasure in its home country Turkey and due to its size, many people want to bring him home.
It is not your average pet dog and you will need to be more than a loving dog owner to control, train, and manage him. If you could not handle them then you can choose from several dog breeds that are relatively manageable in size and make great house animals.
These large and powerful dogs originated from Turkey and originally, they were used to guard and herd sheep and livestock, hence the name, Shepherd Dog. In many regions and clubs, they are believed to be the same as the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.
However, they are different from them and we will discuss the differences in the further sections of the blog.
Despite their intimidating size, these dogs are quite gentle and if you could control and engage them, both physically and mentally, they make excellent pets and emotional support animals. They are very loyal and would protect you with their lives.
And saying that having one of these gentle giants by your side, anyone would think twice before intruding on your property, would be an understatement.
Know more about these massive and gentle dogs in the blog.
Kangal Shepherd Dog - Breed Overview and Highlights
Kangal is an ancient and traditional breed that was bred to protect the livestock. They have come from the Sivas region of Turkey, which is an isolated Turkish district. Due to the remote geographical condition of Sivas, Kangal is an exceptionally pure breed.
The occasion of cross-breeding is very scarce and this makes the breed easy to identify.
The physical appearance of a Kangal is outlined by features like a large and medium wide head, floppy ears that lie close to the head, a dark muzzle like a black mask, and a curled tail. The tail is carried up and above its back.
These dogs have a very distinct appearance and given their size, they are easy to identify.
Kangals have double coats that are very dense and medium in length. These dogs are tan and they are purposely bred to be tan in color. Because of this, any white or brindle markings on the body or a fluffy coat are undesirable. But, white markings only on the chest and toes are acceptable.
Due to its massive and gigantic size, the dog looks dangerous and intimidating. The males of the breed could grow up to 85 cm in height and about 65 kgs in weight. The females are a bit smaller in size and weigh less also. These dogs are more in length than in height and even though they are huge in size, they are quite agile and energetic.
Surprisingly, these canines are quite gentle and they are very good with their human families. This is why they are also considered one of the most affectionate dog breeds that would be dangerous for the trespassers but a loyal guardian for the family.
They are very dependable and since they were bred for the purpose of protecting and guarding livestock, they are best suited for active dog owners. Their instinct is very strong and they could sense an intruder even from a mile away. They are very aggressive towards predators and intruders and could attack them without warning.
They are not recommended for inexperienced and new dog owners. In the role of a companion dog, they will be always alert and ready to protect the entire household. They need ample mental stimulation and physical exercise and boredom could lead to destructive behavior.
Highlights of the Kangal Dog Breed
- Kangal dogs were known as ‘Anatolian Lions’ and they are recognized with other names also; Kangal Shepherd, Kurdish Kangal, Turkish Kangal, and Kangal Çöban Köpeği.
- Sometimes they are referred to as the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs but they are different from them and are identified as separate dogs.
- Legends say that the first Kangal was bred from a lion, which explains the dog’s somewhat lion-like face and huge size.
- They are very adept at guarding the livestock and 2 to 3 Kangals could successfully protect the flock of sheep or cattle ranging between 150 and 250.
- These dogs were bred by shepherds and villagers who needed a strong and massive dog to protect their cattle from dangerous predators like wolves, bears, and even lions.
- The Cheetah Conservation Fund had given over 500 Kangals to the Turkish farmers to protect their livestock, which helped in preventing the big cats from extinction.
Kangal Shepherd Dog Origins - How did these Dogs Originate?
The Kangal Shepherd Dog is an old breed that originated in the 12th century, in Sivas, a remote region in Turkey. The dog is highly regarded by the Turkish people and they hold a special place in Turkish culture and society.
Many people also believe that Kangal is the national dog of Turkey as these dogs have appeared on the Turkish post stamps and coins also.
These dogs are successors of the early mastiff-type canines that include other dogs like Bullmastiff and American Mastiff also. They are believed to have appeared in ancient Assyrian art also. Something that makes Kangals special is that these canines are carefully and selectively bred to achieve certain kinds of looks, temperament, strength, size, and personality.
Since the area where these dogs originated has always been relatively isolated, this helped in keeping the breed 100% pure and uniform in structure, and other features. These dogs were greatly prized by the landlords of the Turkish regions.
But it was the farmers and villagers that utilized the dog’s natural instinct to guard their goats and sheep against dangerous animals like wolves, jackals, and bears.
Today, the Turkish government regulates the breed through various institutes and clubs that breed the dog carefully. There are two Kangal breeding centers in Sivas and to discourage and stop illegal and unethical crossbreeding of Kangals, the Turkish government has imposed a ban on the export of these dogs.
Before the ban, Kangals were exported to other places where breeding clubs were established for the breed. The breed appeared in the United Kingdom in 1965 while it came to the US in the year 1985. Later the Kangal Dog Association was formed in Australia in 1996.
The breed standard followed and accepted by the Australian National Kennel Council is adopted from the Turkish description of the breed that is declared and signed by Turhan Kangal, the foremost Kangal breeder of our time.
Kangal Shepherd Dog Temperament - Are Kangal Dogs Aggressive?
It is no surprise that the first impression of a Kangal dog is intimidating and dangerous. They are dangerous but, interestingly, there are two sides to their personality. Since they were specifically and carefully bred to guard the sheep and other livestock, they have extremely strong guarding capabilities.
This makes him fearless, territorial, defensive, and very alert. He is highly intelligent also and with his strength and innate protective nature, he makes one of the best guard dogs. Due to their high intelligence, they are very good at their job and they know when to attack and when to intimidate only.
The other side of these canines is very gentle, loving, tolerant, calm, and protective. They are very reliable and trustworthy and do their best to protect their family and everyone they consider to be part of their pack. The main reason behind his double personality is that he is bred this way.
The Turkish shepherds made sure that Kangals show aggression when needed only. This means that any aggressive behavior towards the family was utterly unacceptable. A well-raised and trained Kangal is fiercely loyal and devoted to his owner and will obey all the commands. Since their guarding abilities are innate, they will need no training for it.
They make great watchdogs and when trained the right way, they could control their natural urge to attack, which is an invaluable trait in an animal of his size.
These Turkish dogs are naturally independent and they develop it from the age of 2 years. Due to their intelligence, they can think and make decisions on their own. Due to this, you cannot train them with the traditional training methods.
Moreover, you will also have to establish yourself as the leader of the pack if you do not want a huge animal like him to assert himself as a leader.
Did you Know?
The Kangal dogs have the strongest bite force in the dog world. They can generate a force of whooping 743 psi, which is bone-crushingly strong. Only the Rottweiler comes closer with a bite force of 328 psi.
The best way to train him is to supervise his natural instincts and reward him for positive behavior. It is very important that you discourage negative behavior like biting and chewing in the puppies if you do not want a full-grown Kangal to bite you. They require early socialization to develop into well-behaved and well-rounded dogs.
Health Concerns - Common Diseases in a Kangal Shepherd Dog
Kangals are exceptionally healthy and long-living dogs, both of which are quite unusual for dogs of his size. Their average lifespan is 12 to 15 years, which is quite impressive for a dog of his size.
Still, they have a few health conditions that you should know before bringing one of these gentle giants home.
|It is a common bone defect in big and huge breeds like a Kangal. It is one of the few known congenital conditions in these dogs that affects the normal movement of the animal. In it, the hip joint does not fit properly with the hind leg and causes discomfort.
|Lipomas and Benign Tumors
|These are benign lumps that are made of fat cells and appear on the skin of the dog. Though harmless, if left untreated, they could grow into large lumps that could interfere with the dog’s normal movements.
|It is a hereditary condition in which the eyelid of the dog’s eye folds inwards and into his eye. In it, the eyelashes and hair rub against the eye and cause irritation. Some symptoms of the condition include excessive tearing, keeping the eye shut, and squinting.
Before you get your Kangal puppy, it is important that you ask the breeder for the parent dog’s health certificates. When getting one, make sure that you contact a breeder that has expertise in breeding working dogs, since Kangal is a special breed in many ways.
Ideal Living Conditions and Training for a Kangal Dog
Usually, they are very calm and happy but like all the other working breeds, they need a job to do. Originally, they were bred to guard and protect large flocks of sheep. With industrialization, the need for sheep and attacks from the dangerous animals minimized but the dog’s character stayed with it.
To keep him occupied and busy, it is better that you have a large fenced backyard where he could run and play to exhaust his excessive energy.
They need long daily walks and they make great jogging and running partners for active dog owners. Due to their size and personality, they do not make the right fit for apartment life and you should look for other breeds if you are looking for the best apartment dogs that are ideal for small space living. But a Kangal is nothing like this.
You must be very patient and tactical when training this huge and hugely intelligent breed. They do not respond well to obedience training and basic commands like other dogs and could be very hard to train. They are driven by instinct, and they can make their decisions themselves.
They need a headstrong, firm, and gentle handler that could have experience with strong and independent breeds like him. They need a lot of positive reinforcement, and you will have to make the training sessions with a dog whistle short and fun.
Moreover, sometimes they may not obey your commands, and it is not because they could not understand, but it is simply because they do not ‘WANT’ to listen to you.
They will not do well in obedience training and agility classes. The best way to train them is to allow them suitable freedom, encourage positive behavior, and discourage negative behavior.
Grooming and Recommended Dietary Needs
Since these dogs have short and dense coats, they are generally easy to groom. However, they are not hypoallergenic, and you will have to find hypoallergenic dog breeds if you have allergies. Get a de-shedding tool and metal comb to comb his hair.
They will need 5 minutes of combing every week, and unlike other dog breeds, they do not need teeth brushing. Instead, dental health could be managed with diet and dental chews.
For the food, being a giant breed, they need A LOT of food daily. On average, a fully grown Kangal dog will need at least 6 to 7 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day.
Besides, you can also administer a raw diet for better health. A raw diet should contain eggs, organic meat portions, bone, and some fruits and vegetables.
Some best dog food brands for a Kangal dog are given below.
- Eukanuba Adult Maintenance Dog Food
- Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food Healthy Mobility
- Croquettes Royal Canin
- Purina Pro Plan the best of all
You can find other canned and dry dog food options for your Kangal canine but whatever you choose, make sure that it is specially formulated for large breeds.
Kangal Shepherd Dog vs. Anatolian Shepherd vs. Caucasian Shepherd Dog
All three are large breeds and many people confuse the Anatolian and Kangal shepherd dogs. These two canines share striking similarities, which is why they are used interchangeably.
However, these two are separate breeds that differ in many ways and a trained breeder or dog enthusiast can identify these similarities. Below is a detailed comparison of all three breeds.
|Kangal Shepherd Dog
||Anatolian Shepherd Dog
||Caucasian Shepherd Dog
|Countries of Origin
||Armenia, Georgia, Russia
|Kangal Çoban Köpegi, Kangal Shepherd Dog
||Coban Kopegi, Karabash Dog, Kara Bas, Kangal Dog
||Caucasian Ovcharka, Caucasian Mountain Dog
|$600 - $800
||$500 - $600
||$1,500 - $2,500
|Male: 127.5 pounds
Female: 105 pounds
|Male: 125 pounds
Female: 110 pounds
|Male: 31 inches
Female: 29 inches
|Male: 29 inches
Female: 27 inches
|Coat and Colors
|Double and dense coat Gray, cream, & black colors
||Fine coat Biscuit, white, brindle, liver, blue, fawn, red colors
||Dense and thick double coatBlack, cream, gray, silver, white, yellow
The Kangal Shepherd Dog is a rare dog breed, and it is because it is illegal to export or import these dogs from Turkey. However, having one of these large dogs beside you means having a friend and fierce guardian for life.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Kangal dog dangerous?
Yes, and no. They are dangerous because of their menacing bite force of 743 psi. And no, they are not dangerous because they will not attack unpredictably. They use their strength for guarding only and will warn the intruder before attacking.
Is a Kangal a good family dog?
Yes, if you have a big fenced yard and you have what it takes to handle an animal of this size, a Kangal would make an excellent family dog. He may not be as playful and funny as other breeds, but he would be exceptionally good with kids and guard them with their life.
Are Kangal dogs legal in the US?
Yes, Kangal dogs are legal in the US but the laws may differ from state to state. Moreover, since the Turkish government has posed a ban on the export of these dogs, finding a legally sound Kangal puppy could be hard.
Even if you find one, it would be extremely costly. A single puppy could cost you anywhere between $2,000 to $4,000.
Will a Kangal attack an intruder?
At first no, a Kangal will not attack the intruder the moment he sets his eye on him. Instead, he will roar and bark to alert him but if this does not work, he will attack the intruder to protect his property, flock, and family.
Is Kangal the strongest dog in the world?
Based on their bite force, yes, it could be safely said that these dogs are among the strongest dogs in the world. Their bite force is 743 psi, which tells a lot about the dog’s strength.
Can a Kangal kill a wolf?
Yes, they are capable of killing a wolf and other deadly predators. They have a very strong bite force but they are slow to attack. Most of the time, their sight is enough to ward off the intruders.
Is Kangal easy to train?
Usually, the Kangal puppies are easy to house train when trained patiently and with a routine. The training must include crate training, basic commands, and other basic directions. Since these dogs are independent, the pups could teach themselves.
Do Kangals turn on their owners?
No, and a misconception spread due to online Kangal fighting videos in which these dogs are provoked to show aggressive behavior. In their natural state, these dogs are confident and calm.
Do Kangal dogs bark a lot?
Not only bark, but these dogs also roar. This is because these dogs are bred to be fierce protectors. They bark to warn the intruders, and they attack if needed.
How smart is a Kangal?
These dogs are quite intelligent, and they are bred to think and make decisions on their own. Due to this, training them could be challenging because they may not respond if they decide that the training is useless.
Is Kangal a Mastiff?
Kangal is a part of the early Mastiff dog breed family. It is a large physiqued dog with a characteristic black mask and curled tail.
How fast can a Kangal run?
Kangal can run at a speed of 35 mph. Its speed is considered its best feature when combined with its personality.