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Kangal Dog

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Kangal Dog is an ancient purebred from Turkey traditionally used as a guardian of the flocks. It would protect them from jackals, wolves, bears and such. It was not a herding dog, it was just their guardian. It is a large to giant sized breed that comes from the Kangal district which is in a Turkish province called Sivas and it has a life span of 12 to 15 years. It is also known as the Karabash and the Turkish Kangal Dog.

Kangal Dog at a Glance
Name Kangal Dog
Other names Karabash, Turkish Kangal Dog
Nicknames Kangal
Origin Turkey
Average size Large to giant
Average weight 90 to 145 pounds
Average height 28 to 32 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Moderately short and dense double coat
Hypoallergenic No
Color Fawn or tan in color with a black mask and black shading on ears
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Very good
Tolerance to cold Good
Shedding Heavy, seasonal – expect some hair around the home, and during seasonal times expect large clumps of it
Drooling Above average to frequent especially when drinking
Obesity Average – measure its food and make sure it gets enough exercise
Grooming/brushing Average – brush twice a week usually then daily during seasonal shedding
Barking Occasional – some barking but should not be constant
Exercise needs Fairly high – an active breed that requires active owners
Trainability Moderate – experience would help
Friendliness Good to very good with socialization
Good first dog No – requires experienced owner
Good family pet Very good with early socialization and training
Good with children Very good with early socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with early socialization
Good with other pets Good with socialization but may see them as prey
Good with strangers Good but wary and protective so requires early socialization and training
Good apartment dog No – needs space and a yard or ideally some land
Handles alone time well Average – can handle some time alone but not extended periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues to be aware of include eye problems and hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $400 a year for a decent quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $255 a year for toys, license, basic training and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1140 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,800
Rescue organizations Kangal Rescue, KARAS Rescue, also check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported “

The Kangal Dog’s Beginnings

The Kangal Dog’s origins are under some debate but the generally believed idea is that they descend from several mastiff type dogs. They come from the Kangal District of the Sivas Province in Turkey and were used to guard flocks of sheep and goat for hundreds and even thousands of years from predators and thieves. It has been especially linked to chieftains and landholders, the Aga of Kangal, but common people more often have also bred and kept the dogs.

There is also some debate about whether it really is a separate breed from the Anatolian Shepherd though in general it is agreed it is. Thanks to its geographical isolation the Kangal Dog did not suffer from a lot of cross breeding and was able to develop naturally. It is believed the name derives from where it comes from and also from the Turkic tribe called the Kankalis, also called Kangars, Kangils, Kengers and Kanglis. These were the original settlers and builders of the town of Kangal.

New Lease on Life

There are a lot of Turks that see this dog as the national breed of Turkey. There are breeding kennels today run by academic institutions and the Turkish government and it has been featured on coins and Turkish stamps. Mention of the breed does not appear in European and North American writings until the late 20th century. David and Judith Nelson had been living in Turkey and studying the dogs and then brought a Kangal to the US in 1985. That dog and further imports became the foundation of the Kangal Dog stock in the US.

The Kennel Club in the UK recognized it in 2012 and it is also recognized by several other major kennel clubs including the UKC in the US but is still in the process with the AKC. It is worth pointing out that in Germany breeders are registering their Kangal Dogs as Anatolians as that is the only option there, and in Australia its recognition as being separate from the Anatolian has been discontinued.

The Dog You See Today

The Kangal Dog is a large to giant sized dog weighing 90 to 145 pounds and standing 28 to 32 inches tall. It is a powerful and heavy boned dog developed to be a strong and intimidating guardian but it is actually not as heavy as many other Mastiff breeds. It tends to be a little longer than it is tall making it rectangular shaped and its tail is curled. It has a very large head with drop ears that are somewhat wide. The coat is double and offers it protection from the heat and the cold. It is short and dense and the outer coat is weather proof too. It has a black mask and black ears and the rest of the body can be grey, tan or fawn colored. Some white markings can happen on the toes, chest and chin. Its ears are often cropped in Turkey where that practice is still allowed but in places like the UK where it has been banned this no longer takes place.

The Inner Kangal Dog

Temperament

The Kangal Dog is an independent and protective dog best suited to owners with experience. It should be well socialized and trained, and in the right home can be calm, friendly and loyal. It is alert and will let you know if someone is trying to break in. Its protective instincts means it will also act to protect and defend you and its home. Its socialization is important is it is aloof ans wary around strangers. With visiting friends though it should be social and a well raised Kangal should never be aggressive without cause or shy. It is a sensitive breed so should be treated fairly. This dog is brave and sensible, and it is fairly intelligent too. It needs firm handling as this means it can be stubborn and strong willed. It can be left alone for short periods, it comes from a background of being left on guard duty after all, but it prfers not to be left alone for very long periods.

Living with a Kangal Dog

What will training look like?

This breed is smart but can be very stubborn and independent and that can make training harder. It is best with experienced owners who know how to deal with such dogs without resorting to physical punishments or harsh scoldings as being sensitive it does not respond well to such methods. Start training and socialization from a young age and be consistent and firm about it, but fair and positive too. Introduce it to different people, places, situations, sounds and animals so it learns appropriate responses. Make it clear you are the pack leader but be prepared for it to be a hard dog to teach at times, it will test you. Use positive training methods offering it encouragement, praise and use motivators like treats and rewards.

How active is the Kangal Dog?

Kangals need a fair amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation too so are best with owners who are active also. It is not a breed suited to apartment living, it needs space and a large yard or even if in a rural setting some land. This breed is more agile than most Mastiffs and can actually reach up to 30 miles an hour when running. Being a working dog too it needs a job to do to keep it busy and happy. It will need a couple of walks a day at least and some safe time off leash to roam.

Caring for the Kangal Dog

Grooming needs

The coat sheds a moderate amount normally so needs a couple of brushes a week but then sheds a heavy amount during seasonal times, so there will be daily brushing to do. This also means hair around the home will need vacuuming to keep up with them. Use a firm bristled brush when brushing and bathe just when it really needs one. There is no need to do it too often as that damages the natural oils in its skin. This is also the case with using shampoos not specifically designed for dogs.

It does drool so there will be some clean up there. You should brush its teeth at least twice a week to keep those healthy, use a dog toothpaste and toothbrush. Its ears should be checked once a week for signs of infection and given a clean using a damp cloth or dog ear cleanser. Its nails if they are not worn down with outside activity should be clipped when needed. Take care not to cut the lower part of the nail as it will hurt the dog and cause a lot of bleeding.

Feeding Time

How much it will need to eat will depend on what you feed it, its size, age, its metabolism and its level of activity. The amount will likely be 5 to 9 cups of a good quality or better dry dog food. Feed it in at least two meals to avoid problems with Bloat.

How is the Kangal Dog with children and other animals?

In general the Kangal Dog is good with children when socialized and raised with them. In good hands it is gentle, calm and happy to snuggle or play. Its size does mean toddlers can take a tumble so supervision is needed with young ones. Make it clear to the children how to touch them in a kind and safe way. It is protective of them and will see them as part of its flock and can form very close attachments. When it comes to other dogs and other pets socialization is important too.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Kangal Dog has a life span of 12 to 15 years and is fairly healthy but some issues can include cancer, eye problems and hip dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

When taking in dog attacks on people over the last 35 years in Canada and the US the Kangal Dog has not been found to be involved in any incidents. It is not a common dog there though so the chances of it being mentioned in such statistics are lower. It is essential to remember that its size alone can lead to accidents occurring but this is not an aggressive breed. However it is very protective and dedicated so will act if it perceives a threat. Make sure it is well socialized, trained, fed, exercised and raised so that there are less likely to be problems.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Kangal Dog puppy when talking about pet level quality, from a decent breeder, is going to cost around $1800. For show quality dogs you are going to be paying several thousand from a top breeder. Use reputable breeders though and avoid places like puppy mills, breeders with bad reputations or backyard breeders. If you like the idea of giving a dog a new forever home you could check out local shelters and rescues. These will only cost $50 to $400 to adopt but there are more adults needing homes than puppies and more mixed dogs than purebreds.

Then there are initial medical costs such as things like micro chipping, blood tests to check in its health, vaccinations, a physical exam, deworming and spaying or neutering. These will come to about $290. You will also need things like a collar and leash, some miscellaneous items and a crate for it too and that will be another $200.

Then there are ongoing costs of dog ownership. Training, miscellaneous items, license and toys are going to cost about $255 a year. Feeding such a large dog will be more costly than most. Expect to spend around $400 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Dog insurance and basic health care like flea and tick prevention, vaccinations and check ups will be around $485 a year. This gives an annual estimated cost of $1140 as a starting figure.

Names

Looking for a Kangal Dog Name? Let select one from our list!

The Kangal Dog is an old dog with many years of working and being a great guardian. It needs owners who are happy to be active, are prepared for its size and have experience with strong willed dogs. It is a great companion with the right raising and can be a dedicated and loyal protector. There will loose hair to deal with and other things that come with larger dogs like gas and drool!


Featured Image Credit: Marry Kolesnik, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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