This ancient flock-guarding breed comes from central Turkey where it protected flocks of sheep and goats from wolves, bears and jackals. The Kangal is likely related to early mastiff-type dogs.
Known for strength, speed and courage, these heavy-boned dogs are massive and powerful. The head is large and moderately wide with drop ears. They are slightly longer than tall and generally possess a curled tail. Kangals stand 28 to 32 inches (72 to 86 cm) and weigh 90 to 145 pounds (41 to 66 kg), depending on the sex. Additionally, they have a black facial mask and black velvety ears that contrast with their entire body color, which ranges from light brownish-gray to darker gray.
This breed has a short, double coat that requires little attention, just a good brushing every few months. The coat, when it sheds twice a year, sheds heavily.
Kangals bark and they also roar, especially when they hear noises at night. They are considered alert and territorial dogs. They may irritate, even scare, one’s neighbors!
Because of its guardian dog heritage, a Kangal is a strong defender of the animals under its care as well as the humans it lives with, and is quite protective of its people and property. Therefore this breed is not recommended for apartment life. In fact, a Kangal should have a large, enclosed yard with a very tall fence because it likes to chase things, and it has a tendency to climb fences and wander. A Kangal is prone to attack stray dogs as well, and it can also be aggressive toward humans it doesn’t know. If a large yard is not available for exercise, a long, daily walk on a leash is absolutely necessary.
A Kangal can also be a digger, and it may dig holes in the yard. This working breed requires plenty of mental and physical stimulation and does best with a job, like herding or guarding flocks. At the very least, sufficient attention from its special person, including lots of activity, is needed. A bored Kangal easily becomes a destructive Kangal.
The first Kangals to arrive in America came in 1985. This is a very rare breed outside Turkey because export of Kangal dogs is essentially forbidden by the country’s government. The breed is considered the national dog of Turkey. Some people consider all Turkish shepherd dogs to be one breed, the Anatolian Shepherd, a breed once used as a war dog as well as a flock guardian. However, many others view true Turkish Kangal dogs as a separate breed.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize the Kangal dog, but a Kangal Dog Club of America exists. The breed is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC); the UKC recognized the breed in 1998 as part of the Guardian Dog Group.
This robust, working breed is loyal and mostly gentle towards its special person or family and provides protection to its charges, be that person, property or livestock. The Kangal is an independent thinker, and therefore, somewhat stubborn, yet it is sociable and trainable if done at an early age. Kangals generally live 12 to 15 years.