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The Kangal

The Kangal

Kangal dog is the national dog breed for excellence in Turkey.  This large dog that can often reach up to 70 kilograms, was originally used as a livestock guardian dog, but has increased in popularity as a guard dog.

In its role as a national symbol of Turkey, the Kangal dogs are often used as sentinel dogs in state buildings, or as gifts to heads of state visiting Turkey.  There was also a brief fad or whim of possessing Kangal dogs among the wealthiest citizens of the city of Istanbul.

There are several rumors that revolve around it: the first is that the Kangal was the product of a lion and a tiger during the Assyrian and Babylonian period to provide protection against wild animals; also, they were used for large battles.  The second is that the first Kangal was given to Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Selim or Murat IV from an Indian Maharaja.  The specimen fought a lion in the palace and was victorious, so, the Sultan was amazed and very interested in the Kangal.  In short all the descendants of this specimen are from the Kangal Keliktas Sivas.

Evliya Celebi describes the Kangal as strong as a lion (in his writings of the seventeenth century).  It is believed that the dog was brought to Anatolia by the Ottomans and the shepherd kind species in Europe were derived from this species when the Ottomans invaded Europe.

The Turkish Kangal is a very old breed for protecting herds, and is bred in an extremely hostile environment, full of demands and with a very nutrient-poor food diet.  Thus, the result is a very resistant and rough specimen.  They become very long-lived, 12 to 14 years.  In Turkey, the Kangal is considered a very special dog and a national symbol; their image can be seen in statues, coins, stamps, etc.

The Kangal shall usually be found always protecting the herd and invariably very close to his pastor.  This makes the dog to have a very close relationship with people and other canine specimens members of the herd, protecting everything that is in their domains.  Its best quality is the dedication and efficiency to control predators.

In the absence of a herd for protection, the dog shall take care of the family and all its members in the same way, since they are individuals who really like human affection and will not hesitate to give his life in exchange for theirs.


• Weight: 50-70 kg in males, 40-55 kg in females.

• Size: 75 - 85 cm in males, 65-75 cm in females.

Every year in the month of July in Kangal, Sivas, the annual festival is celebrated which includes the Kangal Dog.  Hundreds of dogs are taken by their owners to be exhibited.  Most of them are working dogs used by local shepherds, others come from more distant regions used as livestock, villas or family guardians.  Hundreds of visitors from around the world converge on this small town to admire the best specimens of this breed.

The breed name is taken from the small town of Kangal, located southeast of the city of Sivas, central Turkey; it is in this area where the more typical and pure specimens of the breed are found.

Any traveler in summer will see on the main road from West to East across Turkey (ancient caravan route that runs through Ankara, Sivas and Erzurum with Georgia and Iran) countless sheep herds (several herds of 2,000 up to 5,000 heads) accompanied by their shepherds.  From Yozgat to Erzincan there is a distance of about 450 km (250 miles).

The ideal Kangal Dog is quiet, self-controlled, independent and protector.  He remains distant from unknown people and is never fazed or shows signs of weakness.  A well-trained Kangal is sensitive and highly aware of changing situations, facing them with intelligence and without rushing.