The Kangal dog is an ancient breed of livestock guardian dog bred over centuries to protect the flocks of shepherds in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Kangal is an intelligent, noble and hardy breed more than capable of fulfilling its job as a guardian. The Kangal and the other livestock guardian breeds of Turkey are the foundation breeds for the American Anatolian Shepherd. Contrary to the term “shepherd,” Kangals and Anatolians are not herding dogs, but strictly guardians that take their jobs very seriously.
Other breeds of LGDs include the Great Pyrenees, the Maremma Sheepdog, the Kuvasz, the Komondor, and the Akbash. Starting with our 2011 puppy, Misty Acres’ Rüya Meleği, we plan to breed Kangal dogs of the highest quality with the potential for success both in breeding and showing as well as their centuries-old job of guarding livestock, whether that includes goats, sheep, horses, cattle, chickens, or even children and smaller pets. Kangals are not for everyone, so we carefully screen all who are interested in purchasing a puppy from our breeding program.
For those that do well with this wondrous breed, we are more than happy to educate you further and support you in your future adventures with your dog. For more information as to whether a Kangal is right for you, please visit the Kangal Dog Club of America
Quite how the modern population of large guardian dogs in Anatolia developed is a matter for conjecture and has formed the basis of at least one research project (reported by Professor Karadag of Van University at the First International Symposium of the Kangal Dog in 2003). The proximity of Asiatic Turkey to the ancient territories of Babylon, Assyria and Mesopotamia has led researcher to look for links to these ancient civilizations, from which a great deal of archaeological material survives. Among the remains are sculptures depicting dogs that bear some resemblance to the Kangals of modern-day Turkey, for example, those accompanying the hunting-parties of the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal (668–627 BCE).
A large, powerful breed of ‘Indian Hound’ is described in the writings of Herodotus (485–425 BCE) as being kept by the Babylonians. It seems likely that there is some common ground between the Turkish dogs and those from adjacent countries of the Middle East. However, given the lack of evidence in modern-day Syria and Iraq of any cousins resembling the Kangal Dog, current thinking tends to favour the theory that the forebears of the Kangal Dog migrated from central Asia.
Over the centuries Turkey has been occupied or invaded by various civilizations, each of which it can be surmised will have introduced its own domestic animals into the melting-pot. In the eleventh century Turkic tribes fleeing from Genghis Khan swept into Anatolia, bringing with them their sheep and, presumably, the means of guarding them. Dogs of similar type to the Turkish shepherd dogs can be found in rural communities along this route today. Linguistic connections have been made between the present-day name Kangal and some of these early clans.
The earliest reliable account we have of shepherd dogs being bred selectively comes from the seventeenth-century writer and historian Evliya Çelebi. In his Seyahatname (Book of Travels) he describes the ceremonial parades of the Janissaries, an elite Ottoman force, in which guarding-dogs were displayed in full regalia by their keepers. The shepherds who formed part of this parade:
"… lead in double or triple chains large dogs, the size of asses, and as fierce as lions, from the shores of Africa, the names of which are Palo, Matchko, Alabash, Salbash, Turaman, Karaman, Komran, Sarhan, An, Zerkeh, Wejan, Yartan, Wardiha, Geldiha, Karabash, Alabarish, and Boreh. These dogs are covered with rich cloths, silver collars, and neck-rings, and a circle of iron points round the neck. Some of them are clad all in armour. They assail not only wolves, which enter the stables and folds, but would even attack dragons and rush into fire. The shepherds watch with great care the purity of the breed. They give for a leap from such a dog one sheep and for a samsun or shepherd’s dog of the true breed, five hundred sheep. These dogs are descended from the shepherd’s dog which went into the cave in company with the Seven Sleepers. They chase the eagle in the air, the crocodile in the rivers, and are an excellent breed of well-trained dogs."
The Kangal Dog is a large, powerful, heavy-boned dog, whose size and proportions have developed naturally as a result of its continued use in Turkey as a guardian against predators. The head is large and moderately wide with drop ears. A properly proportioned Kangal Dog is slightly longer (measured from prosternum to point of buttocks) than tall (measured from the withers to the ground), and length of the front leg (measured from point of elbow to the ground) should equal slightly more than one-half of the dog's height. The tail, which is typically curled, completes the distinctive silhouette. The Kangal Dog has a double coat that is moderately short and quite dense. The Kangal Dog has a black mask and black velvety ears that contrast with a whole body color which may range from light dun to gray. Honorable scars or other evidences of injury resulting from working in the field are not to be penalized.
Characteristics The typical Kangal Dog is first and foremost a stock guardian dog and possesses a temperament typical of such dogs-alert, territorial, and defensive of the domestic animals or the human family to which it has bonded. The Kangal Dog has 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. Kangal Dogs prefer to intimidate predators but will take a physical stand and even attack if necessary. Kangal Dogs have an instinctive wariness of strange dogs but are not typically belligerent toward people. They are somewhat reserved with strangers but loyal and affectionate with family.