The Lion Dog of Anatolia, aka the Kangal, is prized for its guard dog status in Turkey. Quickly growing in popularity across the UK, we’re going to take a look into this wolf-fighting breed!
Kangal Shepherd Breed Standards:
Kennel Club Member?: Yes
Kangal Shepherd Lifespan: 10-13 years
Kangal Shepherd Exercise: More than 2 hours per day
Height: Male 29-32 inches Female 28-31 inches
Weight: Male 50-66 kilograms Female 41-54 kilograms
The Turkish Kangal dog has recently been recognised by the Kennel Club. It was previously classed as an Anatolian Shepherd dog. Kangals are slightly bigger and faster than their cousins. These livestock guardians aren’t yet recognised as a separate breed by the American Kennel Club.
Kangal Shepherd dogs are used to living nomadic lifestyles. They’re an interesting breed native to Turkey and are slowly growing in popularity here in the UK. There is a handful of accredited Turkish Kangal breeders registered with the Kennel Club.
Check out the pros and cons of the Turkish Kangal dog breed below:
- Independent, can be left alone
- Great guard and watchdog
- Drafting dog, used for pulling carts
- Highly intelligent
- Heavy drooler
- Not suitable for first-time owners
- High exercise needs
- Sheds all year round, not hypoallergenic
- Prone to weight gain
The Kangal Shepherd Dog is a large-giant breed with a muscular body and curly tail. The breed is double-coated with a thick undercoat and water-resistant upper layer. Coat colours are found in Sable, Cream, Dun and Fawn accompanied by a black mask and ears.
Kangals are gentle, calm, friendly, alert, independent, and loyal. Over the years, they’ve grown popular as family companions. Intelligent but also stubborn these dogs are suited to experienced handlers.
This breed will typically form a close relationship with the leader of its household. They’ll be devoted, affectionate and deeply loyal members of the family. These powerful dogs won’t be shy or aggressive if well-socialized.
When it comes to strangers, this breed is aloof. They’re prized watchdogs in their native land and will happily defend their territory from any threat. This watchdog is always on the alert, nobody can get past him! Kangals will always give warnings before attacking.
Turkish Kangals are child-friendly and make excellent family pets. Due to their large size, Kangals are better suited to homes with older children. Despite its size, this breed is energetic and will make a great playmate for kids.
On occasion, this breed may be aggressive towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex. They can live with other dogs. Cats are welcomed provided they’ve grown up together. Some well-socialized Kangals won’t perceive small barking dogs as threats.
The Turkish Kangal dog originates from Kangal in the Turkish Sivas province. Unlike other Shepherd dogs, this breed guards the livestock as opposed to herding it. They’re closely related to the Anatolian Shepherd dog only recently being recognised as an independent breed.
This canine is used to guard and defend livestock from predators. They’d often work in pairs coming up against foxes, wolves, and bears. Kangals would alert sheep by erecting their tail and ears. The sheep respond by positioning themselves behind the dog.
In 1967, the first litter of Anatolian Shepherd puppies were registered in the UK. In 1970 two dogs, Eleif and Atak were imported from Kangal, Turkey by Mr Lloyd. These dogs were described as being more ‘superior’ than those he previously imported.
He decided to call them Kangal Dogs. In 2012, Kangals officially received their own recognition from the Anatolian Shepherd by the Kennel Club. This allowed the breed to compete in Crufts and the Westminster Kennel Club dog show by 2013.
In Turkey, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is no longer recognised as a breed. By 2018, the FCI published the Kangal Dog breed standards as a replacement to the Anatolian’s.
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Exercise & Grooming
Kangals are demanding on the exercise front! Owners will need to dedicate more than two hours a day. Some of this should include vigorous exercise. This breed enjoys long walks and is also a good swimmer!
Owners should be careful not to overexercise Kangal puppies. It’s damaging to their joints thus increasing the risk of hip dysplasia. Split exercise into half hour sessions across the day until their growth plates are fully formed.
Mental stimulation is incredibly important for this intelligent working breed. Boredom will lead to destructive behaviour and these jaws can quickly damage any home! Allow them to explore their surroundings, play some interactive games and hide things like treats for them to find!
Kangals shed all year round but heaviest during the spring and autumn. During these seasons its best to brush the Kangal daily. Their coats are short but thick and are better suited to a slicker brush and comb.
Wash this breed every 6-8 weeks. Due to its thick coat, they’re best blowdried as opposed to airdried, otherwise they’ll just pick up debris. Ensure the coat is thoroughly washed down to the skin. Long ears are prone to infection so clean them weekly. Trim nails fortnightly.
Check out the breed-related health conditions of the Kangal Shepherd dog below:
Hip Dysplasia: An orthopedic condition caused by the abnormal development of the hip joint. Pain, swelling, and inflammation will be experienced followed by arthritis.
Entropion: The eyelid folds towards the eye causing the lashes to rub against the cornea. It’ll cause scarring, ulcers, pain, and infection.
Lipomas: Fat cells beneath the skin form into fatty lumps or tumours. Although benign, they can cause discomfort and irritation. Multiple lumps are often seen.
Kangal Shepherd Dog Training
Turkish Kangals are intelligent, independent and stubborn. They’re not for the faint-hearted and require strong, firm leadership. Whilst they can deal with harsher forms of training no dog should ever be physically reprimanded.
Positive reinforcement is the best form of training. Rewarding and praising a dog when they’ve got something correct is the best way for them to remember. Kangals only need ten minute training sessions as they’ll probably get bored soon after!
Owners must be assertive. Every dog is individually different so alter training methods accordingly. This breed is a guard dog by instinct and won’t need extra training in this field. They’ll pick up on commands quickly and can be easy to train in the right hands.
Socialization is highly important for this breed. Enrol the Kangal puppy into group training classes where they can meet other dogs and humans whilst learning commands. Socialize them throughout their lives. They won’t get along with every dog but can learn to tolerate them!
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Kangal Shepherd Interesting Facts
- In Nambia, over 300 Kangal Shepherds have been given to farmers to prevent livestock attacks by Cheetahs. The Cheetah Conservation Fund has worked since 1994 to prevent the killings of Cheetahs. This strategy has been so successful it’s now been expanded to Kenya.
- Kangals need to find a way to reduce their temperatures during the hot summer months in Turkey. They do this by digging a hole in the ground which they’ll lay in to keep cool.
- This breed is often given a spikey collar. It’s used as a form of defence from predators that may attack.
- In Croydon, London, Dannielle Morgan was viciously attacked by a loose Kangal. The dog’s owners stood by as the attack took place. These powerful dogs can cause serious damage in the wrong hands! Luckily two workmen were able to save the teenager. They described her entire body moving as the dog bit into her skin and shook her! No arrests were made.
- In Germany, Raskon the Kangal was shot 8 times after it killed a 72 year old woman by ripping her throat out. The 13 stone dog then guarded her body. Owner Erika Schmidt had previously tried to sell the dog as she couldn’t control him. He had escaped when she was out and viciously attacked the pensioner. Her other two dogs, one of which was a Kangal, were also shot when police entered her property. These dogs should only ever be owned by experienced handlers.
- Other incidents in the UK include Mia the Kangal from the prestigious Whittingehame Estate. She attacked a Reteriever and Terrier after being allowed to roam the communal grounds alone by owner Kevin Martin. Another incident involved Buddy the Kangal. He injured a member of the public in a Buckinghamshire Village. Owner Denise Cox was fined and must follow restrictions placed on her dog. If he is out of control again Buddy will be put down.