Anatolian shepherd dog
(Kangal dog, Kangal Köpeği, Sivas Kangal Köpeği)
The Kangal Dog is the national dog breed of Turkey. This large dog -which can often grow as large as 140 pounds (64 kg) - was originally used as a Livestock guradian dog, but has been increasing in popularity as a guard dog. It is of an early mastiff type with a solid, pale tan or sabled coat, and with a black mask; indeed, another name for the breed is Karabash or black head.
The breed is often referred to as a sheep dog, but it does not herd its charges. Instead, it is developed to live with the flock and act as a livestock guardian dog, fending off wolves and jackals. The Kangal Dog's protectiveness and gentleness with small children and animals has led to its growing popularity as a guardian for families as well, as it watches members of its flock with extreme devotion.
The Kangal Dog is a large and impressive dog, mastiff-like but with a more athletic structure. The Kangal Dog exhibits the strength, speed, and courage to intercept and confront threats to the flocks of sheep and goats that it guards both in Turkey and the New World. The head is large and moderately wide, with drop ears that may or may not be cropped, set on a strong, slightly arched neck. The body should be muscular, not fat, with strong shoulders, a deep chest, and a sickle or curled tail carried high when alert. The overall appearance should be of proportions slightly longer in body than in height.
Height at maturity is typically 30 to 32 inches for males and 28 to 30 inches for females. A fit male Kangal Dog should weigh between 110 and 145 pounds. Females in good condition weigh between 90 and 120 pounds. Some dogs are even larger, and are not penalized according to the UKC standard as long as the dog is structurally balanced. However, extreme size and bulk, excess flew development, and other exaggerated features are not desirable for this working dog breed.
Color and Coat
The color and coat are perhaps the most visible traits that distinguish the Kangal from the Akbash and Anatolian. The coat must be short and dense, not long or feathery, and of a pale fawn or tan color with varying amounts of sable guard hairs. All Kangal Dogs have a black facial mask, and black or shaded ears. White at certain points (chest, chin, toes) may or may not be allowed, depending on the standard. Some heavily sabled Kangals also have darker legs and chests. Most importantly, the coat should not be broken, brindled, or spotted.Split-Lump Controversy
Inside Turkey, the Kangal Dog's breed status and value are unquestioned; it is an object of pride even for urban Turks, and has been declared a National Cultural and Historic Treasure by the Turkish government. Outside Turkey, the Kangal dog's status as a separate breed is disclaimed by fanciers of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Anatolian breeders point out that Turkish sheepdogs, collectively, come in a variety of colors and coat lengths, and claim that all of these dogs constitute a single breed that subsumes the regionally-developed Kangal Dogs and Akbash dogs. However, Kangal and Akbash defenders point out that these breeds were developed in historically isolated regions where sheep herding was most intensive, and became distinct from the generic sheepdogs scattered elsewhere in the country. There are no breeders of "Anatolian shepherds" in Turkey; nor is the generic çoban köpegi considered to be a breed. Nowadays it is possible to find karabash-colored dogs being bred throughout Turkey; some are Kangals, many are crossbreeds. It is undeniable that crossbreeding and mongrelization are increasing as Turkey continues to urbanize, and this has led to increased local efforts to preserve the indigenous Kangal and Akbash Dog breeds.
Kangal dog breeders feel that the standard they have laid out for the breed reflects the working dogs of the Kangal region, and feel that mixing Kangal Dogs with other Turkish dogs undermines the preservation of the breed, as well as introducing unwanted temperament traits. They also point to the apparent preference for Kangal breeding stock, and "Karabash" color, by Anatolian breeders in recent years as a tacit admission of the value of the Kangal breed.
In general, the controversy about breed status comes from outside Turkey; Turks remain steadfastly committed to their national breed, and are perplexed by the claims by western canine groups that Kangal Dogs are "the same" as all other "çoban köpegi" in Turkey.
Generally, the arguments seem to boil down to whether the Turkish villagers, university researchers, and government are valid in their description and assessment of their native dog breeds, or whether western dog clubs should be the arbiter of what is and is not a breed in Turkey. Fortunately for the Kangal supporters, increased internet access and education in Turkey has led to a strong movement there to preserve the native breeds, and to establish recognition for Kangal and Akbash dogs with international registries such as the FCI. It is likely that the arguments will be settled by the Turks themselves, along with compelling evidence that is emerging from DNA studies in Turkey and Finland. Suffice to say, both groups consider their dogs true Turkish livestock guardian dogs.
The ideal Kangal dog should be calm, controlled, independent, and 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 is sensitive and alert to changing situations, responding to threats with judicious warnings and courageous action if necessary. They make good 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.
The Kangal in Turkey
It is commonly assumed in Turkey that the Kangal dog accompanied Oghuz Turks as working dogs on their long journey from Central Asia to Anatolia. The existence of what might be considered Kangal-type mastiff shepherd dogs in Khorasan, Samarkand and most of Turkmenistan lends credence to this claim. Nomadic Turkic tribes might have used these dogs to bring their livestock with them as they migrated from the steppes and further into Eurasia.
Kangal dogs may also have been introduced by the original Celtic settlers of Galatia who settled in Ancyra or "Anchor" in Celtic (Ankara - modern capitol of Republic of Turkey) in third century BC. The name is assumed to be originated from the Celtic word "kan-gal" which means "the dog of the Galatians".
A contemporary national treasure in Turkey, the Kangal dog is one of over 30 livestock guardian breeds from various countries in Europe and Asia. Each is considered an important part of the culture and history of its region. To protect and conserve the genetic purity of the Kangal Dog, the government of Turkey has established several state-sponsored breeding centers.
In its home district of Kangal, in Sivas province of Turkey, the Kangal Dog is still primarily used as a livestock guardian and is highly prized. As the sheep industry continues to decline in eastern Turkey, purebred Kangals of the classic type are becoming increasingly prized, and sell for high prices. Many animals are brought from the villages to compete for prizes during the annual Kangal Festival.
Nowadays, Kangal Dogs often have jobs as military sentries, guardians of state buildings, or as gifts of international friendship to heads of state. There was also a brief fad of owning Kangals by more well-off city dwellers in Istanbul, but it has quickly died down as the 140 lb (64 kg) dogs are not well-suited for city living.
The Kangal Internationally
Kangal Dogs were exported to Britain over 40 years ago and bred under the name "Karabash Dog." In the US, the first purebred breeding programs for Kangal Dogs began in the early 1980s. The Kangal Dog is recognized by the United Kennel Club in the US, and by the national kennel clubs of South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Many Kangal Dogs are being bred in Germany as well, mostly by immigrant Turkish workers. Some are registered as Anatolians, that being the only registration option open to them in Germany; most are unregistered. The Turkish Kennel Club is currently petitioning the FCI for recognition of both the Kangal Dog and the Akbash Dog.