Kangal: Dog Breed History, Facts, Traits, And More

Do you live on a farm? Do you worry about your animals and hear coyotes barking in the distance? You’ve probably seen a large, tan-colored dog amongst a field of goats from another farmer and wondered what kind it was. It could be a Kangal. Let’s find out if this powerful breed is right for you.

Before adding a Kangal on to your farm, it is important to be aware that they could be on the list of dangerous dogs by your state or your local government. They are the most bite-force-oriented dogs in the world. The Kangal’s bite force has been measured at 743 PSI, or pounds per square inch, the strongest bite in the dog world. For comparison, the American Pit Bull’s bite force is 235 PSI, and a wolf/dog hybrid bites at 406 PSI. A Kangal can do serious damage if it bites.

Kangals require a job. While some farmers allow them into their homes, they are not allowed to be house pets. A Kangal, also known as a Livestock Guardian Dog (or LGD), is a type of shepherd. A Kangal who doesn’t have a job can develop annoying behaviors due to boredom, just like Anatolian Shepherds and Great Pyrenees. Kangals are more closely bonded to other LGD breeds than Kangals. They often stay on the perimeter and do not sleep with the rest of the herd. They are active and keep them happy by their high activity in patrolling fences and hunting down threats.

Kangal

Breed History

In order to understand the history of the Kangal, one must also understand the history of the Anatolian Shepherd. The Kangal, Turkish Boz and Anatolian Shepherd were created to protect sheep flocks from large predators like bears andwolves. They had to be gentle enough for newborn lambs and submissive enough that they would listen to the shepherd. But fierce and intelligent enough so they could position themselves between lamb and bear, making split-second decisions about their lives.

The progenitors of the breed were likely Molosser (Mastiff-type) dogs dating back to 600 B.C. The Kangal is lighter and more agile than the Mastiff. One theory about the origin of the Kangal is that they came to Anatolia (Turkey) in the 11th century with the migrating Turkic tribes from Asia.

There is debate about whether the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal are separate breeds. Some believe that the term “Anatolian Shepherd”, which is used to describe any Anatolian shepherd, is not distinct from the Kangal. At this point, the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognizes the Anatolian Shepherd, while the United Kennel Club (UKC) only recognizes the Kangal.

Temperament

Kangals are the result of centuries of breeding. Their sole purpose is protecting the species they share. They are willing to put themselves between predators and their flock. They will also show protective tendencies towards their children and place themselves in a position to protect them against any threat.

Kangals are not family pets. While they are attached to their owners, they also need to feel valued and respected. This intelligent and sensitive breed can overwhelm inexperienced owners. A Kangal can be raised by anyone. Shock collars can be used to provide remote correction, but they are likely to work in a mild environment. Kangals can be strong, but they can also be sensitive. They need a gentle trainer.

Kangals might be too tired to play in the daytime because they spend most of the night barking at the fence to keep predators away. These gentle giants love their children and are affectionate towards their families. These giants have a long period of adolescence. Dogs as young as two years old may display puppy behavior. Be aware that they can knock over small children with their exuberance.

Size and Appearance

The general height range is between 28 and 32 inches at the shoulder and between 90 and 145 pounds. Long-legged and deep-chested, the Kangal can move with surprising speed.

As the Kangal is only recognized by the UKC, we must look there for the breed standard. This Kangal breed standard shows what a great example should look like. While you might not be looking for a show dog, there are many aspects of conformation that affect health and long-term soundness. Working dogs spend a lot of time in the fields and need to be healthy. The Kangal’s gentle intelligence is reflected in its broad, rounded head and round, amber-colored eyes.

In Turkey, Kangals are often cultivated by shepherds to reduce the chance of serious injury in fights with predators. These giants give the impression of muscular athleticism. The Kangal’s unique characteristic is the way he carries his tail alert. While his tail is loosely curled when he’s at ease, it hangs loosely and has a soft curl, but he keeps it tightly curled on alert.

Coat and Colors

The Kangal’s double-coated body protects him against extreme heat and cold . In winter, the undercoat protects him from the cold by being dense and soft. His outer coat is designed for weather-shedding. The thick winter undercoat sheds heavily in warm weather to make a cooler, flatter coat for summer.

The Anatolian Shepherd breed is available in a wider variety of colors than the American version, including brindle.  In Turkey, however, the breed standard calls for the dog to have a solid color, either a light or dull tan or a steel gray, depending upon the amount of gray or black in his outer guard hairs. A black mask may be worn over the muzzle, or on the top of the head. Black ears are also permitted. Only tiny white markings are permitted. The tail tip is often black.

Living Conditions

While your Kangal is not as likely to escape or roam as the Great Pyrenees are, it should be securely fenced. Because of his height, he can climb out and use his digging skills to get under the fence. They are known to dig escape routes and lie in holes to cool themselves in hot weather.

As an LGD-breed, they thrive when there is a flock to protect them. Anatolians are known to guard goat or sheep herds in the US. You can train your dog as a guardian of poultry birds by introducing him to the environment early and allowing him to be trained well. Farmers must guide their LGDs, and work closely with them, when they are interacting with their livestock, especially when they give birth. While some farmers recommend that pups be placed in a pen with their herd to learn from their dams, others allow them to be born in the pasture.

Kangals generally can be trained to get along with any animals with whom they have been socialized. Any wild or unrelated domestic animal may be sent to the slaughterhouse. Your LGD should be able to work with other dogs on the farm. Don’t expect your Kangal’s Kangal to accept your neighbour’s dogs. They consider their herd’s space sacred and will protect it from intruders.

Training

In general Kangals or LGDs are independent individuals because they can act as guardians and not be able to direct their actions when it is too late and the predator strikes. Although most LGDs are independent, training them can be difficult.

Livestock Guardians must see their owner to be Alpha or the leader of the pack. They shouldn’t challenge the alpha or chase other LGDs from him. This is not resource guarding. Do not confuse their independence with stubbornness. If they are not rebuked harshly, they may withdraw. All LGDs should be socialized at a young age.

If you want your Kangal to protect a particular species, begin socializing with them early. LGDs are more comfortable with four-footed animals than poultry. So give your dog closer supervision and guidance. Your dog should be able to observe how you interact with other dogs if you live on a farm that has many visitors. Your actions will be a learning experience for Kangals.

Guide this gentle, sensitive and noble breed. Kangals tend to stray less than other LGDs. However, their large size can make it difficult to keep them safe and may even be fearful of others. Farmers have devised many devices to prevent their LGDs straying. However, a simple hot wire at the top or side of field fencing might be enough to protect your Kangal.

Health

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

Like many giant dog breeds, Kangals risk developing hip and elbow dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) tests all pups and adults. However, dysplasia can also occur from rapid growth in puppies. It is important to feed large-breed puppies with a diet that is designed for them. Joint dysplasia in the hips and elbows typically presents as lethargy, general stiffness, and signs of pain.

Nutrition

Puppies grow faster than adult dogs. You should follow the food chart for the brand of feed. However, choose puppy food specifically designed for large breeds. These formulas reduce the risk of developing musculoskeletal issues such as joint dysplasia, which can be linked to rapid growth.

As an adult, your pet may consume between three and four cups of food per day. However, a dog that is sick or injured may require more. Although many LGD owners supplement their working dog’s diet with scraps from processed carcasses, a kibble made for large breed dogs would be a good choice. Your veterinarian should be consulted if your dog is struggling to maintain their body weight.

*Free choice feeders can be placed in your pasture for your working dogs. However, if your dogs have goats, they may steal the food. If you have more than one dog, make sure they are all allowed to access the feeder. If your dog doesn’t clean up after each feeding, you don’t have to be concerned. He may not feel hungry as long as he is in good health. Mature kangals eat less that one would expect for a dog of his size.

Grooming

Their coats are sleek and resist water and weather. Check your dog daily if he travels over territory that contains cockleburrs or other vegetative hitchhikers. Because his fur is dense you might need to rub your hands on the skin to look for ticks. These pests are most likely to be found in the area between his ears and under his collar. Even if your dog isn’t a house dog, he will appreciate the attention.

Kangals shed heavily in spring , just like other double-coated dogs. A rake to remove the winter undercoat can speed up this process and make your dog feel more comfortable when it gets warmer. Many LGD breeds love to dig a hole to cool down in the summer. They may also enjoy sitting in a shaded corner of the pasture in the heat of the day in a kiddie pool.

Breeders and Puppy Costs

Importing Kangals from Turkey can be costly so it is worth looking for a local breeder . Although the AKC does not recognize the Kangal, there is an American Kangal group that adheres to the vision for the breed.

Buyers will find Anatolian Shepherds more readily available in the United States, and while cost varies regionally, an unregistered pup generally costs between $400 and $600. Experienced dogs will cost over $1,000, but eliminating predator losses quickly earns back this cost.

Rescues and Shelters

The Kangal is a rare breed, but Kangals, Kangal crosses, and Anatolian Shepherds do end up in rescue situations for various reasons. Dogs that have never lived with livestock will not be bonded to their breed. It could be dangerous to let it go with your livestock without supervision.

Be cautious of rescue dogs that are listed as Anatolian or Kangal crosses. Guardian dogs are often allowed to cross with herding dogs. The high prey drive and predatory instinct of herding dogs makes her pups ineligible for livestock guardians. However, they can still be used as general farm dogs.

As Family Pets

This breed is generally:

  • A giant dog geared towards farm life. Kangals should be exposed to livestock that they are protecting early.
  • Quiet or sleeping during the day from patrolling the perimeter all night.
  • An independent thinker who must see his owners as the Alpha.
  • Protective of the very young but deadly to what they deem a threat.
  • Loyal to their family and bonded stock.
  • Reserved with strangers but will bark as strangers approach.
  • Highly sensitive to harsh treatment. Kangals can be hurt by stern rebukes.
  • Needs a large, securely fenced (fence that cannot be climbed nor tunneled under) area.
  • More likely to bark at night when predators are active, which deters most predators but may annoy your neighbors.

Final Thoughts

It is not clear if Anatolian Shepherds or Kangals are one breed. You’ll see more Anatolian Shepherd livestock guardians in the United States. However, dedicated Kangal breeders are breeding exclusively from Kangal lines. Both breeds share the same characteristics. Both breeds are strong guardians of livestock, and farms. They are less barking than the Great Pyrenees, they guard the perimeter of the herd more than the rest of the herd and have a lighter fur which could be advantageous in the hot, humid Southeastern States.

Adding a Kangal to your farm can bring challenges but also great rewards. Double-check your fencing before bringing home your pup. Make sure your dog has access to the shelter from rain, wind, and sun that protects sheep and goats. Look for mentors in your local farming group if this is your first time working with an LGD breed. You can also find online resources that are specifically designed for working dogs if none are available. Although you may encounter conflicting information, you will benefit from the knowledge of hundreds of others with many years of experience. You can learn from their mistakes so that you don’t make them.

Remember, you are the Alpha between your Kangal and you. However, your Kangal will not tolerate any mistreatment. You will have a relationship that lasts a lifetime if you are patient and kind. The Kangal, a livestock guardian, was probably with shepherds who watched over their flocks at night.

Becky Roberts

Becky Roberts

One of Becky's favourite things to do every morning is to browse the top pet-related forums, looking for issues and questions that people have. She then shortlists the most common ones, and turns them into blog posts for Fuzzy Rescue. She's had over 4 cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, so she does know a thing or 2 about raising/training, and more importantly, loving them. She's the only one on our team that doesn't like coffee, but it seems to us she really doesn't need more energy :). We're very fortunate to have her on board as she does most of the heavy listing for the site, outputting an insane amount of content each month. Read More

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