Kangal or Sivas kangal dogs are known by other names including Kangal Kopegi and karabas or black heads. The Turkish word kangal is pronounced as ‘Kahn-gull’. These are working dogs trained to guard livestock but are extremely child-friendly and people oriented. Let us find out more about Kangal dogs, including their lifespan, fun facts, temperament traits and everything else you need to know about raising this gorgeous dog breed.
Fun facts about the Sivas Kangal
- Kangal dogs originated in the small region of Kangal of the Sivas province in Turkey. This area is highly isolated and cut off due to mountains and as a result, Kangals have maintained their pureblood lines and haven’t been crossed with any other dog breeds.
- Because of their stark similarities with the Anatolian Shepherds, many people refer to Anatolian shepherd dogs as Kangal dogs. In reality, the two are very different breeds. Another breed called the aksaray malaklisi dog is also very similar to both the Kangal and Anatolian shepherd. However, this breed has originated in the Aksaray region of Turkey.
- As both Kangals and Anatolian shepherds are outstanding livestock guarding dogs, the Cheetah Conservation Fund has also started to include kangal dog breed in their Livestock Guarding Dog program since 2008. Since then, kangals have successfully saved livestock herds from cheetahs and other African predators.
- Kangal dogs may have existed as early as the 14th century based on literature from that era that refers to ‘great yellow dogs with black faces’. They were preferred by the agas, the powerful rulers in the region.
- Today, Kangals are bred in Germany, Holland and France as well as many countries in East Europe. They are a recognized breed in Turkey and South Africa and, as mentioned above, are even working with cheetah conservation groups in Namibia.
- In Turkey, they are recognized as the National Dog of Turkey and even celebrated at the annual Kangal dog festival. These dogs have even been featured on Turkish stamps.
- Kangal dogs are large, heavy boned dogs with males measuring up to 32 inches and 145lbs and females between 90 and 120 lbs. Kangal bite force is supposed to be the heaviest and sharpest of all breeds measuring over 740 psi! It is no wonder that in a fight between Kangal dog vs wolf; the kangal can easily win!
- They resemble the mastiff in coloring and come in light sandy grey or golden coloring. Their double coat is good at handling all kinds of weather extremes in summers and winters.
- Sivas kangal dogs have a black mask entirely covering the muzzle extending over the top of the head and also over the pendant ears. Their black curled tail often has a black spot in the middle.
Kangal vs. wolf
Kangal dogs are known for fierce battles with predators. They can easily take on wolves; so powerful is their bite. Kangals have even fended off attacks from brown bears, feral dogs, mountain cats, foxes, jackals and boars.
Are these dogs available in the USA?
The official website of the Kangal dog club of America can help you find breeders of this wonderful dog. Be sure to talk to many owners of Kangals in order to know if this is the right pet for you. While many people who own Kangals are mainly keeping them as household pets and companions, these are working dogs. So you need to set aside time for them to ensure having a mutually beneficial relationship. The price of these dogs can be anywhere in the range of $1000-$2500. Note that ethical, reputed breeders might have long wait lists and high demand for a puppy. So be prepared to wait for several weeks/months or even a year to get your pet home.
Temperament, personality and working traits
Kangals are extremely loyal dogs, protective towards their families and also very territorial. They will bark at the slightest disturbance. Kangals also tend to be dog aggressive. However, they get along well with children, provided you provide them with early obedience training and socialization. These are highly reactive dogs. They are independent and moderate energy. When faced with a predator, they start off with a growl, followed by loud barks. If that doesn’t work, they can even roar! Owing to these traits, Kangals are wonderful as livestock guard dogs, farm dogs and even as family watch dogs. In Turkey, these dogs are usually made to sleep outside with the sheep or livestock. They are expected to be gentle with kids and neighbors. Puppies are quickly trained by shepherds as well as adult kangals to take on livestock duties.
Exercise and training needs
This large mastiff type dog is a working dog that needs plenty of exercise and activity to keep him mentally stimulated. Exercise your pet twice a day and include plenty of climbing, walking and running. Do not make young puppies jump or climb as it can strain their developing joints. Kangals must be trained from an early age else they can indulge in unwanted behavior. They have inherent guarding skills so they might try to herd smaller animals or attack ‘perceived predators’. Therefore, early socialization and obedience training is crucial for these dogs. Enroll your pet in obedience school or work with a canine behaviorist or trainer to ensure that your pet learns to understand and obey you. Consistent, patient, gentle and reward based training works best for this breed. Their independent streak can make training slightly difficult.
Your Kangal should get used to grooming from an early age. If he is anything like the Anatolian Shepherd, he will love to lie on his back as you groom him. He will not need any specialized grooming tools; you should be able to find everything you need at the local pet shop. Brush and comb your pet regularly. This dog sheds heavily twice a year so use a grooming rake to remove the dead hair in the undercoat.
Kangals are healthy dogs that can live up to 13-15 years. Common health concerns in the breed are hip dysplasia, skin problems and diabetes and arthritis. Good breeders are working to develop lines with fewer issues. So always get your puppy from a reputed breeder. Good food, adequate exercise and regular vet checkups can keep your Kangal healthy and happy for years to come.