The Kangal Dog is a kind of livestock guardian dog from Turkey. However, they can now be found in a wide range of other places. Kangal Dogs have a formidable reputation, which makes sense considering their intended role.
1. Comes From Sivas Province
There are a number of dog breeds that have a strong association with a country after they were created by crossbreeding different dog breeds from different parts of the country. The Kangal Dog isn’t one of these. Instead, it came from Turkey’s Sivas Province, which is situated in the eastern part of Central Anatolia. In fact, Kangal is the name of both a town and a district in said province.
2. Believed to Have Undergone Little Mixing in Pre-Modern Times
It was common for dogs to mix with one another in pre-modern times. However, the Kangal Dog is believed to have undergone little mixing when compared with other dog breeds from that part of the world, thus making it that much more distinct. Primarily, this is because of the isolation of its home region, meaning that there would have been fewer opportunities for its ancestors to mix with other dog breeds.
3. Often Seen As a National Dog of Sorts
Having said that, even though the Kangal Dog came from just a single part of Turkey, the dog breed is often seen as a national dog of sorts by the Turkish people. This can be seen in a number of things. For example, there are official Turkish institutions that treat the breeding of Kangal Dogs with extreme seriousness. Similarly, Kangal Dogs have shown up on both Turkish coins and Turkish stamps.
4. Might Be Related to the Molossus
The exact roots of the Kangal Dog are unknown. However, that hasn’t stopped people from speculating on the matter. For instance, the Kangal Dog is sometimes speculated to have been related to the Molossus, which was the stereotypical guard dog of the Greco-Roman world. This isn’t that far-fetched, if only because said dog breed was so widespread in the region. After all, ancient Anatolia was influenced a great deal by Greek culture, which is unsurprising considering the number of Greek settlements in the region.
5. Might Be Related to Assyrian Dogs
Speaking of which, some people have described a resemblance to dogs depicted on ancient Assyrian art. For those who are unfamiliar, Assyria was a Mesopotamian state that was around in both the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Sometimes, it is called the Assyrian Empire because it had a powerful empire in more than one period of its existence. In any case, Assyria’s status as an independent state came to a close centuries before the Common Era, though the Assyrian people are still around.
6. Might Be Related to Turkic Dogs
Moving on, the Kangal Dog might be related to Turkic dogs, which might sound obvious but will become more meaningful once explained. In short, a study has revealed that its closest relatives can be found in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tadjikistan. As such, it is possible that the Kangal Dog is related to Central Asian dogs brought by Turkic peoples. The Turkish people are the best-known of modern Turkic peoples. However, there are other modern Turkic peoples such as the Kazakhs and the Uzbeks.
7. Not Quite the Same As the Anatolian Shepherd Dog
People in the United States might be more familiar with the Kangal Dog as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. After all, that is the name under which these dogs are recognized by the American Kennel Club. However, it is important to note that the Kangal Dog isn’t quite the same as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. As the story goes, Americans have been bringing livestock guardian dogs from Turkey to the United States for quite a few decades. Unfortunately, they did so without much understanding of the differences that existed between the different kinds of regional livestock guardian dogs that can be found in the country. Thanks to that, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are their own thing.
8. Not the Akbash Dog
Kangal Dogs aren’t the same dog breed as Akbash Dogs. Both of them are regional livestock guardian dogs from Turkey. Moreover, there are places where both Kangal Dogs and Akbash Dogs saw use. Still, it is important to emphasize that the two are different dog breeds with different characteristics.
9. Looks a Lot Like the Anatolian Shepherd Dog
In the present time, it is normal for Kangal Dogs to look a lot like Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. Originally, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were created from a mix of regional livestock guardian dogs from Turkey, with Kangal Dogs and Akbash Dogs being some of the biggest contributors. Since the 1980s, American breeders have used more and more Kangal Dogs, with the result that Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have come to possess more and more of a resemblance to Kangal Dogs.
10. Apparently There Is Animosity Between American and Turkish Dog Breeders
Apparently, there is animosity between some American and Turkish dog breeders because of the issue of what is and isn’t a purebred dog. As far as the American side is concerned, the Turkish dog breeders are marketing dogs of dubious background as independent dog breeds in their own right. Meanwhile, the Turkish side sees Anatolian Shepherd Dogs as crossbred dogs rather than purebred dogs, meaning that these Turkish dog breeders don’t have a very high opinion of the claim that Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are the true dog of the Turkish shepherd. Due to this, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs aren’t recognized as purebred dogs in Turkey. In fact, they aren’t called by that name in that country at all but are instead sometimes called by a very generic name that means something along the lines of either “shepherd’s dog” or “livestock guardian dog.”
11. Recognized As the Turkish Kangal Dog in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the Kangal Dog was recognized as the Turkish Kangal Dog in October of 2012. It is interesting to note that the Kennel Club made it possible for dogs that were already registered as Anatolian Shepherd Dogs to be re-registered as Turkish Kangal Dogs provided that they met the eligibility requirements.
12. Not a Herding Dog
Kangal Dogs are sometimes called sheepdogs or shepherd dogs. This isn’t necessarily inaccurate. After all, they are used by Turkish shepherds for working with sheep as well as other livestock. However, the term can be somewhat misleading because those terms are associated with herding dogs. That is neither what Kangal Dogs do nor what Kangal Dogs are meant to do.
13. Livestock Guardian Dog
Instead, Kangal Dogs are livestock guardian dogs. As such, they live among livestock for the purpose of fending off potential predators, which are a serious concern for a wide range of peoples in a wide range of places. After all, livestock are valuable, meaning that even a single successful predator can do a great deal of damage to livestock owners. Interested individuals might be aware of other livestock guardian dogs. If so, they might have noticed that these dog breeds are consistently formidable-looking animals. Something that makes perfect sense considering what these animals are expected to do. Under ideal circumstances, livestock guardian dogs will be able to scare off potential predators. However, they are also expected to take on those potential predators if that proves to be necessary, which can be a rather dangerous task to say the least.
14. Expected to Take On Bears
To name an example, Kangal Dogs are expected to take on bears. Presumably, this refers to the Syrian brown bear, which is a subspecies of the brown bear that can be found in both the Middle East and the Caucasus. Historically speaking, these bears existed from Turkey to Turkmenistan. Nowadays, they have been eliminated from a number of regions where they once existed, though Turkey itself isn’t one of them. In any case, while Syrian brown bears are supposed to be on the smaller side of things for brown bears, they are still brown bears. For North Americans, it might be useful to remember that grizzly bears are brown bears, which are notorious for being much more dangerous than black bears.
15. Expected to Take On Wolves and Jackals
Of course, Kangal Dogs are also expected to take on other potential predators such as wolves and jackals. Presumably, this refers to grey wolves and golden jackals, both of which are extremely widespread species. In the case of grey wolves, they are native to both Eurasia and North America, with the result that they are often just called wolves rather than grey wolves for the sake of convenience. Meanwhile, golden jackals are native to Southeast Europe, Southwest Asia, South Asia, and even Southeast Asia.
16. Has Been Used to Fend Off Big Cats
Kangal Dogs have such a formidable reputation that they were exported to Africa for the purpose of protecting livestock from the local big cats. The initial project in Namibia was so successful that people started exporting Kangal Dogs to Kenya.
17. Has Been Beneficial for Big Cats
Curiously, this has been beneficial for big cats. Essentially, livestock owners tend to be less than enthused by predators posing a threat to their livestock. As such, they can be very proactive about eliminating these threats through the use of guns as well as other tools because their livelihoods are at stake. Something that has done a great deal of damage to big cat populations. The introduction of Kangal Dogs changed the calculations. Their effectiveness at fending off big cats means that livestock are at much less risk, meaning that livestock owners have much less incentive to eliminate big cats. Something that is extremely important because conservation efforts can’t succeed without the cooperation of local populations.
18. Are Capable of Working Together
It is interesting to note that Kangal Dogs are apparently capable of working together, which in turn, means that they are very much capable of getting along with one another. For example, younger Kangal Dogs apparently learn how to do their jobs by staying close to older Kangal Dogs that have already mastered their role. Similarly, Kangal Dogs will apparently coordinate with one another to keep their charges safe. This is true for pairs. Furthermore, this is true for entire teams, which see use for bigger flocks.
19. Can Get Along with Humans
Kangal Dogs can get along quite well with humans. Generally speaking, they are supposed to be on the reserved side of things when it comes to interacting with strangers. However, Kangal Dogs are also supposed to be both loyal and affectionate when it comes to their family members. As for other animals, they are as mentioned earlier, capable of working with one another. The nature of their job means that they are also capable of getting along with the livestock that they are supposed to protect.
20. Not Well-Suited for Apartment Living
These animals are not well-suited for apartment living. Kangal Dogs aren’t one of the extremely active dog breeds that can be found out there. However, they benefit from having a fair amount of space in which to roam. Be warned that Kangal Dogs should never be let off of their leash in public. Instead, they should only be let off of their leash in private spaces with secure perimeters. Besides this, Kangal Dogs are also poor choices for people with no previous dog ownership experience. Given their intended responsibilities, they are consistently intelligent and independent, which can be rather problematic when dog owners need to establish that they are the leaders rather than the followers of these animals. Theoretically, people can learn that kind of thing by doing. However, Kangal Dogs are a poor choice for that.