There are several stories about how the Kangal shepherd came to be. One myth says that it is a cross of a lion and a tiger from the Assyrian and Babylonian periods. Another theory states that it was given as a gift to the Ottoman Sultan, and when the dog was taken into the castle, it attacked and killed the Sultan's lion. With the Sultan's curiosity and respect won, he kept this ferocious dog and took him on an attack against Turkey. Upon reaching Kangal Deliktas near Sivas, the dog wandered off and was not found again. This is the dog (as the story goes) that became the father of the Kangal breed in Turkey. Thus, its actual origins continue to remain a mystery.
The breed standards for this breed differ for each kennel club. The Cynology Federation of Turkey (KIF) quotes its height between 26 to 30 inches (65 to 80 cm). The United Kennel Club (UKC) breed standards specify that the height for males should be between 29 to 32 inches (74 to 81 cm) and for females should be 28 to 31 inches (71 to 79 cm). It does not provide any specifications for weight. The New Zealand Kennel Club specifies height guidelines for males to be between 30 to 32 inches (75 to 82 cm) and for females to be between 28 to 31 inches (71 to 79 cm). Its weight guidelines for males are between 110 to 140 pounds (50 to 63 kg) and females between 90 to 130 pounds (40 to 60 kg). In the united states, the UKC breed standards specify the height for males to be between 30 to 32 inches (76 to 81 cm) and for females to be between 28 to 30 inches (71 to 76 cm). The weight specifications are between 110 to 145 pounds (50 to 65 kg) for males and between 90 to 120 pounds (40 to 54 kg) for females.
This breed has a double coat. The under-layer provides protection against the fierce winter and the harsh summer sun, whereas the top layer repels water and snow. It is short and dense. The coat is normally pale-fawn or black and tan. It may have white markings. These are not accepted by the KIF, but are by other kennel clubs. The coat is black on the face, muzzle, and ears. It should not be brindled, spotted, or broken. Ears are dropped.
This breed has regularly been confused with the Anatolian shepherd due to its similar appearance. However, these are two very different breeds. The Anatolian shepherd is found all over Turkey, whereas the Kangal shepherd is not.
This breed is calm and controlled. It is quite independent and may be aloof towards people it doesn't know. However, if socialized from an early age, it is very good with children and generally accepting of strangers. It is very alert and sensitive to what is going on around it, and makes for a good guard dog and watchdog. It is an excellent breed for guarding livestock, which is what it was originally used for. Due to this dog's independent nature, training becomes a bit difficult. Thus, this breed is good for people who have some experience with dogs.
Health and Maintenance
The modern breed is just like its ancestors. Its bloodlines are pure because of the fact that the Kangal region is isolated. Thus, this breed hardly suffers from any health problems. The average lifespan of this breed is 12 to 15 years. The coat needs brushing in the shedding season, which is twice a year. Although the coat is not very long, this dog tends to be a seasonally heavy shedder.
This dog is more suitable for homes that have yards. It is relatively inactive indoors, but is not a suitable dog to live in an apartment. It needs daily walks or jogs, and some mental stimulation as well, otherwise it will get bored and difficult for you to handle. You will also need to socialize your dog with outsiders occasionally. Thus, it needs a bit of an active life.
The Kangal shepherd is an excellent guard dog, with its protective instincts and loyal nature. That combined with its loving disposition makes it an excellent family pet.