Kangal Shepherd Dog Breed Information

Kangal Shepherd Dog Breed Information

The Turkish Kangal Shepherd Dog is a livestock guardian that has been around for thousands of years and originates from the mountains of Turkey. They are a fierce protector of their flock and protect sheep from bears, jackals and wolves in their native country of Turkey.

But they are also one of the most loving dogs with a solid temperament making them phenomenal with children and amazing family pets under the right circumstances.

They are beautiful dogs with amazing soft cream or fawn colored coats and a distinctive black mask around the face and ears. This allows them to blend in nicely with the flock they are protecting.

They are extremely fast and strong making them perfect for protecting flocks from any potential predators or threats. They are also excellent diggers and will often times dig themselves a hollow in the ground to cool off on a hot day. To this day the Kangal Shepherd Dog guards livestock as it has been for centuries.

Kangal Shepherd Dog Quick Stats:

  • Breed Popularity: Rare
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 Years
  • Group: Working Group
  • Height: Male 29″-32″ Female 28″-31″
  • Weight: Male and Female 90-130lbs
  • Temperament: Aloof, Brave, Calm, Independent, Protective

History of the Kangal Shepherd Dog:

Kangal Shepherd Dogs originally came from the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. They first came to the United Kingdom in 1965 as the Anatolian, or Karabash, dog. The name was eventually changed to the Anatolian Shepherd Dog in 1984 preceding imports of mixed breed Turkish dogs.

In the years to come, breeders of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog in the United Kingdom started to breed them with other mixes to get a preferred outcome. But some wished to keep them historically accurate and continued to breed them pure.

True Karabash dogs are currently registered as Turkish Kangal Dogs in the UK by the Turkish Kennel Club or KIF. Organizations in America, such as the FCI and AKC register the breed as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog only.

Early Historical Timeline:

  • 1963 – Mrs. Charmian Biernoff traveled to Turkey with her husband David and studied and researched the Kangal Shepherd Dog for two years recognizing the demand for the purebred dog.
  • 1965 – Dr. Steele, formally Mrs. Charmain Biernoff, attempted to register two Turkish Karabas. The KC was unable to use the name Karabas and instead the dogs were registered under the direct translation which is Anatolian Sheep Dog. The breed club was formed and a standard was set and published by the KC.
  • 1967 – The first litter of dogs was officially registered in the United Kingdom under Dr. Steel’s Konya affix. More dogs were imported and registered in the following years.
  • 1968 – Dr. Steele along with Messrs J. Lloyd and D. Lyth journied to Turkey. They obtained the appropriate papers and imported two dogs. CDr B. Ballard assisted them with the export process in Ankara.
  • 1970 – They traveled back to Turkey and imported Eleif & Atak from Sivas/Kangal. It was Mr. Lloyd’s belief that these dogs were higher quality than the previous two. He wrote down in his notes, that the dogs should be called Kangal Dog.

Kangal Shepherd Dog Breed Standards:

There are different breed standards depending on the organization, mainly the KIF Turkish or UK Breed Standard. The following breed standards are based on the UK Breed Standard.

General Appearance:

The Kangal Shepherd Dog is a big, strong and muscular dog with proportions that have a good balance. It has a solid and stately stance. It’s features include an imposing head that doesn’t have any exaggeration. The face has a black or dark colored mask that covers the muzzle and the ears are also black or dark in color.

The ears are medium in size and pendant shaped. The double coat is short and thick. It ranges in color from cream to fawn to gray. When the dog is alert, the tail curls over the back in the shape of a circle. It must be large, have good stamina and be fast. Males are masculine and females are feminine.


The active breed is a livestock guardian of sheep and guards it’s flock comparative to it’s herd. It is a hard worker and can tolerate drastically cold temperatures.


The breed is naturally non-aggressive but can be authoritative and territorial. It is confident, courageous, independent, intelligent, loyal, reliable but can sometimes be aloof with strangers.


The skull is big, broad and a little rounded. The area between the ears is flat when alert. There is a partial channel in the forehead with a modest stop. The ratio of the skull to the muzzle is 3:2. Adult males have wider heads than the females. The lips are marginally drooping which results in a facial profile that is square. The nose is big, black and wide with open nostrils and a muzzle that narrows towards the nose. The face has a signature dark mask that covers the muzzle and can go past the eyes.


The eyes are medium in size, triangle shaped and round at the edges. The eyelids are tight and don’t show any haw. They are golden to brown in color and coordinate with the color of the coat. Darker eyes are favorable. The rims of the eyes have a nice pigment.


The ears are medium in size and almond or oval shaped, set just below the top of the skull. They are drooping and extend flat to the cheeks. They raise higher when alert. The ears should be dark in color to correlate with the trademark dark mask.


The teeth are large and adequately placed with an impeccable, traditional and thorough scissor bite. Upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth and are set square to the jaw. A level bite or backward scissor bite are acceptable. The jaws are powerful and the lips are black.


The neck is marginally arched, strong, muscular and medium in length. It is quite thick and a minimal dewlap is acceptable.


The shoulders are muscular and angled. The forelegs are spaced fairly apart, straight and have strong bones. They are a nice length and have a ratio that equals fifty to fifty five percent of the total height of the dog. The pasterns are strong and have a slight angle when looked at from the side. The elbows are close to the side of the dog.


The chest is deep and comes to the elbows with the ribs being nicely sprung. Body is strong and powerful with muscles and never any fat. It is just a bit longer than the dog’s height at withers with the ratio being 10:9. The withers are somewhat prominent with a very minimal decline in the rear. They rise to substantial loins that have a minimal curve. The tuck up is medium.


The hindquarters are robust but not as heavy as the forequarters. There is a medium turn of stifle with strong, powerful hocks.


The feet are round to oval with toes that are nicely curved. The back feet are more extended than the front feet. Nails are black or gray. The pads are properly cushioned and durable. Some dogs have hind dewclaws.


The tail is long and reaches at a minimum to the dogs hock. It is placed rather high. The tail hair is a bit longer than the hair on the body and doesn’t have any feathering. It is low and minimally curved when the dog is relaxed. It is high and in a large curl over the back when the dog is alert particularly in male dogs. The tail should never drop to either side of the hip.


The gait is relaxed and level with an impression of inherent strength. It has minimal movement. The head, neck and body have a notably straight line which can give the impression of stalking in certain dogs. They have an excellent drive when looked at from the side. The faster they run, the more the legs concentrate in a center line with the possibility of a single track.


The coat is short, heavy and weatherproof with a thick coat underneath. It is flat and close to the skin but isn’t fluffy, curly or wavy. It is a tad bit longer and thicker around the neck, shoulders and tail. The ears, legs and tail have no feathering.


The Kangal Shepherd Dog is whole in color which can range from cream to fawn, to dun or steel gray. The face has a trademark black or dark mask along with the ears. A small measure of white present on the chest, chin or toes is allowed but not encouraged. A black or white color on the tip of the tail is acceptable but can’t be longer than 5cm. A dark pigmentation is favored. Brindle is not desired.

Breeders Code Of Ethics:

The Kangal Dog Club of America has written a “Breeders Code Of Ethics.” Here is a quick summary.

  1. Make sure the owner understands their responsibilities and how to take care of their animal.
  2. Do not breed a dog that has a breed disqualification.
  3. Don’t breed any dog with a poor temperament or history of biting, chasing, or injuring.
  4. Do not breed with other mixes.
  5. Certify that the dogs hips are certified.
  6. Carefully consider health and preserve the working Kangal type and temperament.
  7. Ensure that pedigree is submitted to the KDCA’s Health and Pedigree database.
  8. Provide information to the KDCA Health Committee regarding health problems based on genetics.
  9. Make sure any litters born prior to March 1st, 2011 will be DNA certified.
  10. Register all Kangal dog litters in the U.S. with the UKC.
  11. Supply all puppy buyers with written contracts specifying ownership and all pertinent information.
  12. Help new owners of puppies with any behavioral or training issues that may arise.

Caring For A Kangal Shepherd Dog:

The Kangal Shepherd Dog definitely has stamina and loves to wander looking for any possible intruders. They can roam around for ten miles a week and forty five minutes a day.


They are active dogs that definitely require adequate exercise to stay healthy and fit. However, they are not overly active and will get enough exercise on their own by simply roaming the property assuming it is sufficient in size.

They will require a large area to utilize their working dog traits. A big farm or plot of land is preferable. They will naturally stake out a high point of land to watch over their flock of livestock.


Minimal grooming is necessary due to their short, thick double coat. Brushing their coat five minutes a week should do the trick to avoid any unwanted matting.

They will shed their coat two times a year, once in the spring and once in the winter. Brush at the beginning of each season using a heavy brush, comb or deshedding tool. The tool will help to remove any loose hair that is trapped underneath their overcoat.

Their nails need trimming once a month. Brushing their teeth isn’t necessary.


The Kangal Shepherd Dog has a reputation for being extremely healthy. That being said, they can still be prone to Hip Dysplasia although the opportunity for this disease should be narrow depending on the breeder.

Biannual check ups should be given to reduce the risk of this common disease in larger dog breeds. A healthy diet and adequate exercise will help deter any unwanted medical issues.


The Kangal Shepherd Dog has a history of eating the scraps (locally known as “yal”) in the villages of Turkey which included left over bread, goat’s milk, water and yogurt.

They learned to adapt and survive on whatever they could find because of their history of surviving in the mountains. This however, isn’t the best diet nutritionally for this breed which eats less than you might imagine for such a large breed.

Feed them a high quality dog food with a good source of protein twice a day for their large muscular physique. Raw meat is good for them as well. The amount will of course depend on the size of dog but typically a dog will require thirty calories for each pound of body weight.


The Kangal Shepherd Dog is a different breed and doesn’t typically require conventional dog training aside from basic supervision.

Their independent nature is to protect their flock and guard their livestock. This is instinctual and requires no training. They are not your average pet and owning one will require a certain type of owner.

Typically the Kangal Shepherd Dog is trained in two areas to enhance their natural instincts. The first is training them to herd livestock and the second is training them to patrol the land for any possible intruders or predators.

The Kangal Shepherd Dog should never be trained to protect in the same manner as some of the other guard dog breeds such as German Shepherds. Zoetrope Kangals based in the UK had this to say:

Likewise, you should NEVER train a Kangal to defend and bite like you see in all other guarding breeds.

Is The Kangal Shepherd Dog A Good Family Dog?

The Kangal Shepherd Dog can in fact be a wonderful family dog under the right circumstances. Although they have garnered somewhat of a fierce reputation, they are big lovable dogs who have lived alongside humans in villages for thousands of years protecting families and children from any threats.

They have a calm and steady demeanor when lounging around the house or on the sofa but will spring into action at the sight of an intruder or stranger.

This dog will protect it’s family as its flock and can even stay indoors despite being bred to live an individual life outdoors.

How Much Does a Kangal Shepherd Dog Cost?

The Kangal Shepherd Dog can range in price from two to four thousand dollars in the U.S. This depends on the breeder and the quality of the breed.

How Do You Tell The Difference Between An Anatolian Shepherd And A True Kangal Shepherd Dog?

They are very similar in appearance but they are not the same breed. A true Turkish Kangal Shepherd Dog is purebred and an Anatolian Shepherd is a mixed breed. Check the breed standards listed earlier in the article for precise indications.

The Turkish Kangal Shepherd Dog has a tail that is more curly and eyes that are pulled back more.

5 Interesting Facts About The Kangal Shepherd Dog:

  1. The Kennel Club announced in October of 2012, that it will officially recognize the Kangal Shepherd Dog as a breed.
  2. Farmers use them in Namibia to protect the livestock from cheetah attacks which are common in Southern Africa. The dogs have contributed to an 80% decrease in losses of livestock.
  3. True purebred Turkish Kangal Shepherd Dogs are not the big giant dogs you see in Google images or on Youtube. The original working dog is still large but not gigantic.
  4. They can take out a wolf or most other predators when it comes to defending their flock.
  5. The name “Anatolian Shepherd” is not used in Turkey. The breed is often times given the Turkish name of “Coban Kopegi” which translates to “shepherd’s dog or “livestock guardian dog”.

Kangal Shepherd Dog In Closing:

The Kangal Shepherd Dog is an amazing livestock guardian with a rich history that dates back possibly thousands of years. They continue to astonish and amaze dog lovers all around the world.

They are big, strong, beautiful dogs who are extremely loving and loyal to their owners. Just make sure you know what you are getting into before purchasing one of these amazing animals. They are not your average family pet and their instinct to guard and protect must be satisfied to live a long a happy life doing what they were born to do.

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