Foundation breeders of pure Turkish Kangal Dogs since 1980


The Kangal Dog: Conformation

© T. Taylor


The Kangal Dog is very much a "mastiff" in the original sense of the word. Early sources describe a mastiff as a dog of massive size having proportionally large bone, a thick neck, a broad, fairly short muzzle, drop ears, and a stop. A stop is a break or step down from the skull to the muzzle -- a forehead, as it were. That description aptly fits the Kangal Dog and is found in the breed standard.

A distinguishing part of Kangal Dog conformation is the head, with its rather small, dark eyes, broad skull, wide muzzle, and powerful jaws. The bite is level or scissors. The lips as well as the eye rims are black. The ears are usually shaded with black, medium-sized, pendant, and carried flat to the skull.

The Kangal Dog is almost square in proportion, having a straight, strong back and a short, fairly level croup or rump. Its tail is long, but high-set and with a curl in it. It is a powerfully built dog, deep and broad in the chest. The hindquarters are powerful, but not as heavy as the forequarters. The hind legs tend to be moderately straight. When the dog moves the tail is invariably curled over the back, and the gait is relaxed. Some dogs may tend to pace, which is acceptable.

Much of the power of the Kangal Dog lies in the fact that its natural body proportions have not been exaggerated as have many "westernized" breeds. In its native Turkey, the powerful Kangal Dog has been bred for centuries with function dictating form.


While today the word mastiff brings to mind the slick-coated British Mastiff, the original mastiff, even in England, was rough-coated as described by Chaucer in The Knight's Tale. The Kangal Dog has a thick, dense double coat which may be slightly longer--but only very slightly-- on the ruff (neck and shoulders). The texture is surprisingly soft.

This Turkish bred dog shows the correct coat texture: uniformly short and very dense. In summer the undercoat will be shed creating a slightly less "carpet-like" appearance. It is this double coat which allows the Kangal Dog to withstand extremes of temperature. The short coat becomes much denser rather than longer in winter, providing protection from ice, sleet, and snow. It is not unusual to see Kangal Dogs curled up in the open pasture, oblivious to the sleet frozen to their coats. In summer heat, the undercoat is shed, leaving a soft, fairly short coat to protect the dog from the sun.

Its black mask is a distinguishing breed characteristic. It may cover only the muzzle, or it may extend over the eyes. The overall coat color is a dun or gold with varying degrees of black guard hairs and undercoat. Thus, the Kangal Dog can vary from light dun to steel gray in color. One unique feature is the tendency of even the lighter dun colored dogs to have a gray undercoat. The imported dog above is a good example of a dog with a very dark undercoat. As a result, his legs, stomach, and chest appear quite dark. This undercoat is the color and texture of gray cashmere. White socks or stockings are often seen, as is a white spot or "medallion" on the chest. The Kangal Dog is never spotted, brindle, or white in color. The tail and legs are never plumed or feathered.


Individuals within the breed vary from approximately 120 to 145 pounds for males, from 100 to 125 lbs. for females. The dogs are from 28-33 inches tall at the withers; the bitches, from 28-31 inches. Usually the males are larger and heavier than the females, but exceptionally large individuals of both sexes are seen.