THE KANGAL DOG: AN INTRODUCTION
Shown here with the cropped ears and the iron spiked collar of a valued livestock guard is the famed Kangal Dog of Turkey.
The Kangal Dog of Turkey is a breed renowned for its bravery and its devotion to its owners. With its distinctive black-masked fawn coloring, mastiff-like physique, gentle disposition, and its ability to bond strongly, this rare breed is a striking one that is beginning to get greater public attention.
The breed is treasured in Turkey, where it is bred on a purebred, pedigreed basis at several government and university facilities. In addition, there are private breeders, many of whom are villagers, throughout the Sivas-Kangal region. These men take great pride in breeding the "National Dog" of Turkey, a dog valued for its fearless devotion to the flocks (and the shepherds) it guards.
In January of 1998 the United Kennel Club announced its recognition of the Turkish Kangal Dog, a livestock guarding breed that has long been respected in Turkey yet little known outside that country. Shortly before the UKC recognition, the Australian National Kennel Control had likewise recognized the Kangal Dog and opened a studbook for the registration of pure Kangal Dogs. While the existence of the magnificent Kangal Dog and photos of classic examples of the breed were reported in English literature in 1983 and again in 1988 by David and Judy Nelson, the leading Western authorities on the indigenous breeds of Turkey and founders of the Kangal Dog Club of America, there has been little real understanding of the breed.
This situation has been due to several factors. The first is the breed's rarity outside of Turkey, for the breed is on a list of "endangered" native species whose export is strictly limited. That list also includes species such as the "Ankara" (angora) goat and the Van cat. Also, the information that exists has seldom been translated from the original Turkish. However, the greatest factor has probably been the reluctance of Western dog "fanciers" to travel to the relatively remote home region of the Kangal Dog in east central Turkey, an area whose residents are themselves sometimes victims of political terrorism.
While information concerning the Turkish Kangal Dog first appeared in the U.S. in 1983 in national publications such as the AKC Gazette, there continued to be confusion concerning the Turkish dog breeds. They were often "lumped" together as Anatolian Shepherds, an error which was pointed out by USDA biologists working with various livestock guarding breeds and observing not only conformation differences but also behavioral differences (Green and Woodruff, 1993) between breeds. However, in 1996 the International Symposium on the Turkish Shepherd Dogs held at Selçuk University in Konya, Turkey, and sponsored by the Veterinary School, did much to educate the public concerning the native breeds of Turkey.
The Kangal Dog was very nearly a victim of the ignorance and ethnocentricity that often accompanies foreign breeds that are imported and "developed" by Western dog fanciers, sometimes with little regard for the expertise of dog breeders in the native land and, in the case of the Kangal Dog, with virtually no regard for the fact that the Turkish government itself maintains kennels for the purpose of breeding Kangal Dogs. The Kangal Dog -- as it is exists in its homeland -- was first recognized, bred, and registered outside of Turkey by the Kangal Dog Club of America and its members.
The Kangal Dog breed and the efforts of the KDCA have now been acknowledged by the United Kennel Club of the U.S. The Kangal Dog is recognized and registered by the U.K.C., the second largest kennel club, an organization that emphasizes the "total dog" and that strives to help breeders maintain the working instincts of their dogs.
Krazy Goat Ranch, Texas
We have known Tamara and Mike Taylor for years because of the Akbash Dogs. Three years ago, we were in need of an older working dog on our 1500 acre ranch, and Tamara had an older female Kangal Dog available. She was a great looking dog and fit in with our Angora goats and fine wool sheep perfectly. A year later we added a female Kangal pup. Together the two of them work well with the goats, sheep, and cattle. Feral hogs, bobcat, an occasional cougar, and coyotes in every direction are a constant threat to livestock in this area. We lose very few animals with our “crew” of dogs at work 24/7.
We have now added a third “Turkmen” Kangal Dog from the Taylors to our farm. All three dogs are wonderful. They have wonderful conformation, good minds, and great instincts. Tamara has gone out of her way to make sure we were satisfied with our dogs and helped us with all of our questions.
The Serfoss family, Colorado
"We bought our first Kangal in 2009 because we needed a flock guarding dog. We've owned them ever since, and added more because of what great dogs they are, including great as family pets in the right circumstances. We love them. We purchased that first Kangal with Tamara, and every one since then. You won't find a person more knowledgeable about flock guardian dogs, bloodlines, Turkish imports, or anything related to these great dogs than Tamara. She is passionate about them, and every dog we've gotten from her has had an excellent temperament, excellent health, function and conformation, and they've excelled at their job. In fact, we recently purchased a male from her and he scored in the 90+ percentile on his PennHIP! It is so nice to not have to worry about some of the soundness and structure issues others seem to experience with Kangals from other breeders. Our land adjoins 10's of thousands of acres of forest and public land, filled with bears, mountain lions, and overrun with coyotes. I can't think of a better breed to have around than these Kangals in this environment. It is wonderful not having to worry about other pets or livestock disappearing during the night or while we're away. Tamara has been super to deal with, and I can't recommend her and her dogs highly enough!"
The Morgan Family, Texas
Last year I purchased an Alpine Buck from the Taylor’s, while at their farm I found my love for the Kangal dog. The Kangal’s appearance immediately drew me to them and right away I knew they were the breed for me. I watched the Kangal dogs and saw how well they watched over their herd. I saw how the Taylor’s managed and trained their dogs. From what I witnessed, I felt secure in my decision to go ahead and purchase a puppy from the Taylor’s.
I definitely made the right decision, my puppy was well adjusted to goats and transitioned into my herd quickly and without any problems. The Taylor’s have been very supportive and have been there to answer any questions whether it be about my dog or a goat. My dog Jessie has become a part of my family, she is highly energetic and a wonderful protector of my goats!