The Kangal dog breed is a livestock guardian specialist.
Kangal dogs are originally from the Anatolia region of Turkey. They were bred to be livestock guardian dogs, protecting flocks of sheep and goats at night from wolves, jackals and bears. There is an important distinction between dogs that help a shepherd to herd animals, ie. move a flock from place to place, and dogs that protect the animals. These are livestock guardians, and they have to be big, strong, and ready to take on an attacker - but at the same time they must be non-aggressive towards their flock.
Kangal dogs are certainly big, standing 30 inches to 31 inches tall at the shoulder (withers). Male dogs can weigh up to 140lbs. They are named after the town of Kangal in Turkey.
This breed was developed to protect a flock of animals. This means that the dog must be able to recognize the animals it is protecting, and be gentle and calm around them. At the same time, the dog must be able to identify a threat, and be prepared to intimidate an intruder, followed by taking action of needed.
These requirements have resulted in the Kangal dog breed being calm, confident, and able to work on it's own at a distance from the shepherd. They will be a little reserved at first with people they do not know, but once they get to know a person, they will be welcomed warmly. The Kangal is especially good with children.
However, this breed is NOT recommended for inexperienced dog owners, because their independent nature can make them a little challenging. They can think for themselves, and will resist any training that doesn't make sense to them.
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Working Kangal dogs will work in pairs or in a team. They will place themselves at vantage points around the flock, and the 2, 3 or 4 dogs will watch the surroundings. If the weather is hot, they will dig into a hole where the earth is cooler to keep watch.
This breed is very perceptive of any changing conditions nearby. If it perceives a threat, it will stand and stare at the area, and then give a warning bark to the flock, which then closes into a small bunch.
The Kangal will then move into position between the flock or shepherd and the perceived threat. It's first line of defense is to intimidate the intruder. It will bark and bare its teeth, showing its size and strength.
If the intruder, particularly a wolf, gets closer, the Kangal will attack. Most will succeed in overcoming the attacker, especially if 2 dogs work together. Those Kangal dogs that excel in killing wolves are given a special name, and are preferred for breeding.
The modern-day domesticated Kangal retains many of these traits, and they may attack and kill any small animals that invade their space if they are strangers. It is very important to socialize your Kangal puppy when young, to get it used to other pets and animals in your area.
This breed originated in the Anatolia region of turkey, to protect flocks of sheep and goats. This is a relatively isolated area, and these dogs were bred from known and true parents. The result is a modern breed that is remarkably consistent in appearance and temperament. The Kangal is considered by many to be the national dog of Turkey.
Kangal dogs were introduced to the U.S. around 1985, and were recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998. In the United Kingdom, the Kennel club recognized the Kangal in 2013.
Since 1994 Kangal dogs have been used in Namibia and Kenya to deter Cheetahs from attacking livestock. There were 2 problems here; first, significant numbers of livestock were being lost to the Cheetahs. Second, farmers understandably regarded Cheetahs as enemies of their livelihood, and would shoot Cheetahs on sight.
After the introduction of the Kangal dogs, attacks on farm livestock fell dramatically, and as a result of the Cheetahs staying further away from farms, far fewer have been shot. This strategy has worked well in helping farmers to protect their animals, and has helped in the preservation of the Cheetah.
This is not an easy dog to train into a domestic situation. They were bred to be suspicious of strangers and unfamiliar animals, and to work alone or at a distance from the shepherd. This makes them instinctively protective of their human "family" (including the family cat) and distrustful of everything else.
This breeds needs early socialization as a puppy to get them used to their surroundings, visitors, strangers, odd smells and noises and sounds. While not naturally nervous or skittish, they really need to be regularly exposed to the world around them when young.
Basic training should start as soon as possible, and continue regularly and consistently in the first year of the dog's life. This training needs to be continued and reinforced over the next few years to make sure your Kangal is well-behaved, confident and not over-protective.
Height; 30 to 31 inches at the withers (Males)
28 to 30 inches at the withers (females)
Weight; 110lbs to 140lbs (males)
90lbs to 120lbs (females).
Pale gold to steel grey, with black muzzle and ears.
The Kangal has a double coat which is short. In winter the undercoat becomes thicker, but in summer most of the undercoat is shed, leaving a short, flat topcoat. It's important to brush your Kangal with a stiff brush or wire comb when summer weather arrives, to help remove the thick undercoat.
This breed is a good watch dog, as they were bred to watch and alert the shepherd and the flock if a threat came into their area. In a domestic situation, the Kangal will watch visitors to the house, and see that their owner and "family" accept the newcomer. It may be a little aloof at first, but tends to accept friendly visitors more quickly than some other guardian breeds.
The Kangal also makes a great guard dog. In its watchdog role it will check anyone (or anything) coming near the family home. It will bark loudly if it feels a threat, to alert the "family". If somebody tries to gain entry, they will quickly find the Kangal in their way. The dog will try to intimidate the would-be intruder at first - and most will be intimidated by the Kangal in full defense mode!
But if the intruder or attacker persists, the Kangal will probably attack with full force and power. Because of their strength and size, combined with breeding to take on wolves and bears, the dog will quickly overpower any unwanted guests.
The Kangal dog is basically a healthy breed, without many of the genetic problems of other breeds. There may be a few instances of hip and elbow dysplasia.
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