Kangal Breed Characteristics & Traits

The Kangal is one of the 10 largest dog breeds in the world and is already very impressive because of its body. With his powerful build, thick woolly coat, and black face mask, he is a very formidable dog with excellent herding and watchdog qualities.

History & Origin of the Kangal

Anyone who has ever been to Turkey as a tourist and made a trip to the Anatolian nomadic families has certainly already seen the Kangal. However, the nomads call him Karabaş, which roughly means “blackhead”. For the FCI, the Kangal does not exist as an independent breed to this day. It only recognizes the Anatolian Shepherd Dog breed or Çoban Köpeği in Turkish, of which there are three distinct breeds, the Kangal type, the Akbaş type in Turkish “white head” and the Kars Dog. All three are quite different from the outside and also occur in different areas of Turkey.

The national Turkish breeding association KIF has therefore recognized the Kangal as an independent breed and is making great efforts to achieve international recognition, which has not existed to this day. Basically, there is already a consensus today that the Kangal is genetically and in its characteristics clearly different from the Akbaş, the white livestock guardian dog from Anatolia, and the Kars dog, and the combination of these dogs breeds into the Anatolian shepherd dog is scientifically wrong. There has been a Turkish breed standard since the middle of the 20th century, according to which the Kangal is bred. Its name comes from the small town of Kangal in the Turkish province of Sivas. The local landowner family of the same name is considered to be the founder of the breeding of purebred Kangals. In 1965, the first animals were brought to Great Britain and then spread to much of Europe and the USA.

Numbers, Data, Facts

  • Country of origin: Turkey
  • Life expectancy:
  • Weight males: 50-66 kg
  • Bitch weight: 41 – 54 kg
  • Males: 77-86 cm
  • Females: 72-77 cm


If you want to understand the nature of the Anatolian shepherd dogs and thus also of the Kangal, then you have to know how these animals have been kept for thousands of years and how they still live in their homeland today. They followed the nomads and their herds of sheep and goats, protecting them from wild animals and robbers. They were never family dogs, they lived outdoors all year round and were largely on their own and quite independent of people. At most, their owners would throw them something to eat, and they hardly found any affection or further attention. They were kept to work and completed their tasks independently, without education or guidance. If a wild animal, another dog, or a stranger attacked the herd, the dog protected them with courage, strength, and also with hardness. Despite this, the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were never the beasts they are sometimes portrayed as.

On the contrary, only animals with intelligence, a high stimulus threshold, and great adaptability could do the heavy work as herd protectors at all. Aggressive and malicious animals could not be used and were eliminated by the shepherds. Since the middle of the last century, the Kangal has also been seen somewhat differently in Turkey. Today it is almost a national symbol representing courage and bravery. The dog is even depicted on a Turkish postage stamp, can be seen in many pictures, and is known as a mascot. The Kangal is also used as a service dog by the army and police in its homeland. For many owners, for all Europeans and Americans but also for German-Turkish migrants, the mighty Kangal is also a status symbol and is intended to express the dominance and strength of its owner.

Classification, breed standard & breed standard

  • Group 2: Pinschers and Schnauzers – Molossoids – Swiss Mountain Dogs
  • Section 2: Molossoids
  • 2.2 Mountain Dogs
  • Without work test

The Character & Essence of the Kangal

It is the same with the Kangal as with many other dog breeds. The living conditions he had to cope with shaped his character over a long period of time and formed a very independent, difficult to steer but a courageous dog that shows strong protective instincts and defends his possessions. But at the same time, he is a very intelligent and adaptable sensitive dog. The growing popularity of the dog breed and its idiosyncratic nature repeatedly leads to people buying such a dog that are not suitable for keeping it. So many Kangal end up in animal shelters, a very sad development. In addition, animals of the breed have been classified as “presumably dangerous” in some German federal states. The Kangal nature is not at all dangerous with consistent training, species-appropriate husbandry, and sufficient employment, but rather it is a very loving, friendly, and frugal family dog ​​for people who do it justice.

Dealing with family & children

By nature, the Kangal is people-friendly, peaceful, fond of children, and tolerant. He will not harm people unless he feels compelled to do so. After all, his ancestors lived freely in human settlements and there were constant encounters with playing children. No one would tolerate a dog in their village or nomadic settlement that growled or even bit people. That would have been his immediate end. The Kangal is even more affectionate towards members of its human pack. However, because of his size and strength, he is not a cuddly dog. He is already quite boisterous and can simply knock down a child and even an adult when romping around. The Kangal is also often not interested in many games that other dogs love very much. For example, why keep chasing after a stick or ball? He prefers to divide his powers until he really needs them.

In dealing with strangers

The Kangal is also generally friendly but reserved towards strangers. But you shouldn’t touch him and you shouldn’t enter his kingdom in the absence of the owner or another “pack member”. If they accept the visitor, the Kangal will too. Because the Kangal is a good watchman, it also barks frequently and loudly when someone passes by its property. Therefore, rural property is ideal for Kangal husbandry. However, one must also take into account that for this dog, its territory does not end at the respective fence, but extends as far as it can see. And that’s very far. A high and stable fence is not a luxury when you have a Kangal as a housemate. Almost all herd guard dogs also have another quirk, including the Kangal. They are very fond of digging, making burrows and actual burrows for themselves, and they also undermine fences to really “control” their entire territory.

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