We received our first Kangal Dog, Yaman, from the Sivas region of Turkey, as a gift from a very good Turkish friend. That was in 1990. Since that time, travel to Turkey -- and to the Sivas region, the town of Kangal, and surrounding villages, in particular -- has provided us with the chance to visit a number of villages, private kennels, and even government facilities where this magnificent dog is bred exclusively.
Our first interest in the breed was because of its ability as a livestock guardian. The Kangal Dog shown here was, in fact, our first Kangal Dog. He was the beginning of our experience with the pure Turkish Kangal Dog.
Our interest in the Turkish guarding breeds was born of need. In 1985 we found ourselves in need of a livestock guarding dog to protect our livestock from coyotes and wandering dogs. We went through the list of livestock guarding breeds, deciding against those that suffered from the heat, tended to be sharp with people, or that were slow to mature and thus not always reliable when left alone with stock.
Then our veterinarian recommended that we investigate the Turkish Akbash Dog. We did so. We bought our first dog sight unseen. Over the twelve years we had her, we became friends with a number of Turkish people, some quite knowledgeable about their country's native breeds. Others were not so knowledgeable, but all were very proud of their choban kopegi, shepherd's dogs, particularly the breed known as the Kangal Dog from the province of Sivas and the town of Kangal.
In January of 1990 a Turkish friend returned from a visit home and brought with him Yaman, a year old Kangal Dog male from the Sivas region. Yaman came from a village and proved to us that the Kangal Dog was excellent with livestock -- less given to "posturing" and barking than the white livestock guarding breeds -- but serious in guarding "his" family -- two-legged or four!
We were struck by the conformation and disposition differences between the Kangal Dog and the Akbash Dog. We knew now that people who declared all Turkish shepherd's dogs to be one breed, the Anatolian Shepherd, were wrong. The Kangal Dog quickly proved to be a livestock guardian, but with a stronger tendency to attach to its human family and less of an inclination to bark. The mastiff influence was evident in both its physical and mental make-up.
Later while visiting us, Dr. Cafer Tepeli, a good friend and the founder of the kennel for Native Turkish Dog Breeds in Turkey, pointed out, in many ways Yaman typified the dog that he was hoping to continue breeding -- the "old style" Kangal Dog with his correctly proportioned skull, broad chest, correct plush coat, tightly curled tail carried high over his back, and his "kurt-chul" (wolf-killer) double dewclaws! We were fortunate to have begun with such an excellent example of the breed.
Because the export of pure Kangal Dogs from Turkey has been controlled and now is virtually forbidden, these dogs are as greatly valued outside of their own country as within its borders. Responsible breeders typically sell intact dogs only to people who have had some experience with the breed and who understand the dilemma of breeding a rare breed and the importance of maintaining the integrity of the breed -- in terms of health, disposition, and purity.
Kangal Dogs, though used as a livestock guardian in their native country, are seen only rarely facing the dangers inherent as a livestock guardian. However, we have placed Kangal Dogs in range and farm guarding situations, and the results have been gratifying. The Kangal Dog is as comfortable in the Bitteroot Mountain range bedded down with the flocks it protects from cougar and bear as it is lying on the rug at your feet. The key to successful ownership is understanding the needs and the abilities of this remarkable breed. They are intelligent dogs, devoted to their owners, gentle and protective of their charges, and fearless when a threat arises.
Turkmen Kangal Dogs are from 100% Turkish working lines with no addition of European (British, German, or French) bloodlines which sets them apart from most other North American bred Kangal Dogs. All of our dogs, including our 4 current unrelated Turkish imports, are registered with the United Kennel Club, which continues to maintain the high standards set by the Nelson's Kangal Dog Club of America. Turkmen Kangal Dogs are solid examples of correct breed type both in conformation and in disposition. While our dogs are brave enough to be livestock guardians facing the fiercest foes, some are in family/companion homes or working on small acreage farms. We are not a kennel and do not keep puppies available at all times; thus, reservations are recommended for those wishing to buy a Turkmen Kangal Dog.
Perhaps you are one of the luck ones -- perhaps a Turkmen Kangal Dog is the dog for you!