13 Awesome Facts About the New Kangal Dog Breed (NOT the Anatolian)

Kangal dog walking in the mountains

Most of the Shepherd dogs that you will read about are herding dogs. This means they like to keep the flock together as a main task. The Kangal dog breed is a slight different type of dog. He likes to mix and look over the sheep rather than herd them.

Having a big dog among your sheep may seem like a problem, but you don’t have sheep, do you? In case you do, send us pictures!

Even better if you have many farm animals!

Anyway, I digress.

The Kangal is an amazing dog for protection. He was bred specifically for that and you would be astonished at how successful he is at his job.

Success rate, according to some, is more than 105%. Don’t fact check me on this one!

He has a rare appearance in the United States and the rest of the world. So, that is probably why you are reading this.

You have come across someone walking his Kangal and you wondered “who is that beautiful, large good boy there? I never seen one like him.”

Your curiosity got the best of you (thank God you are not a cat, are you?). And so you asked his owner.

Their answer is simple: a good ol’ Anatolian dog.

You took note and decided to look for more about the dog.

You found a little difficulty comparing the dog you saw to what the articles about the Anatolian dogs were saying.

You realized they may be called a different name: Kangal dogs. So, here you are trying to learn the most you can about this dog breed.

If that is the case, or even it is not, you are still going to learn a lot about the Kangal in the rest of this article.

But before we can go long, we need to set one thing straight.

1 - Kangal Dogs Are NOT Anatolian Dogs!

It is true that, until very recently, most kennel clubs considered the two dog breeds similar. Indeed, there are plenty of similarities between the two breeds, but that does not mean they are one and the same.

While most of the world would easily call these dogs Anatolian, the Turkish Kennel Club (KIF) has officially created a separate breed standard for the Kangals.

The KFI wishes to establish a new breed to differentiate between the two dogs, and what a hard task that is!

However, with the newly published (as of June 2018) FCI Kangal breed standards, we now officially have two separate breeds.

Most of the article below will rely on the breed standards specified by the FCI, with a minor reliance on what many dog owners and breeders have to say about this specific dog breed.

Click here to check the breed’s standards here.

I will try to sift through the many information available to make sure their comments are specifically about the Kangal breed and not about the Anatolian dogs.

With that in mind, let us jump in and learn as much as we can about the Kangal dog breed!

2 - He Mostly Likely Originated from Turkey

kangal dog portrait picture

This is a good boy guarding his herd.

There is always a question that arises when we look at dog breeds. We try to find where they come from originally.

Unfortunately, the documented history rarely includes the specific descriptions of the dog breeds that tribes use. And with a breed such as the Kangal, the history of the breed is even more confusing.

Most of what you will find about this dog breed will certainly link them to Anatolian dogs and not specific to themselves.

In fact, many historians and dog experts disagree on the exact origin of the dog breed. According to the FCI, the breed name, Kangal, seems to come from the town of Kangal off Sivas in Turkey, where the breed attracted worldwide attention with exceptionally high-quality and uniform specimens.

The strongest argument for why Kangal dogs were Turkish dogs is that they look similar to the sheep mostly known in that area: Akkaraman Sheep.

Therefore, we can assume that the Kangal dog breed originated in Eastern Turkey and was transported to Central Asia as they grew in Popularity.

3 - Kangals Are Live(stock) Guardians

You probably thought that all dogs that hang around sheep are herding dogs. Well, this dog is definitely not great for that job, although he may unintentionally do it.

The Kangal belongs to the Molosser dog breeds. They include other dogs such as American Bulldogs, American Mastiffs, and the Rottweilers.

It is clear that this type of dogs are often large breeds with a strong build and tough muscles. They are usually terrifying for strangers as no one willingly approaches a Rottie. Still, the Kangal has a sweeter face, but just as strong a body as any of them.

His most important job includes protecting livestock with everything he’s got. There are stories that Kangals have defended farmer’s sheep against wolf and big cats wandering around. Some South African nations are reportedly exporting many Kangals for this exact reason. They are wonderful guardians.

Other wild animals think twice when they hear a loud bark signaling the flock to get behind the Kangal dog. And with a strong body and angry teeth, most wild animals give up and move on.

Those who don’t find themselves face-to-face with a fearless dog willing to take the battle to the next level. At this point, wolves realize it is not worth the trouble.

4 - Family Protector Of High Standards

There is a strong chance that you do not own any livestock that is worth protecting against wolves. But you will be pleased to know that the Kangal considers his owner’s home and property a livestock worth protecting against invaders.

Many property owners understand how awesome the Kangal is at keeping thieves away. He uses the same technique he would use with wild animals. Loud barks; shiny, sharp teeth, any bad intentions someone may have quickly fade away.

If you want your family to have a gentle dog at home who loves playing with them and protects them when necessary, then the Kangal is probably the right dog for you.

Although he may be big in size, his heart is even bigger.

WARNING: The following video has a cuteness level beyond human capabilities. Watch this video of cute Kangal puppies with your own risk.

5 - He Requires Seriousness During Training Sessions

Large dogs require a slightly more seriousness in their training as they may tend to tease your alpha status. The Kangal will usually start silly and playful, but soon get serious about the training.

He is a playful dog after all.

You should try to have a 2 hour training sessions daily as the dog is growing up. The sooner you start trying this big puppy, the better he will behave in the future.

This also goes for socialization. The Kangals are known to less friendly with strangers, both human and non-human. It is a good practice to let them know that not every stranger is a danger.

While it is not possible to completely defeat the dog’s urge to protect, you could tame down his instincts to only appear when the stimuli is stronger than usual.

With enough walks in the park with other friendly dogs and meeting a few people daily, the Kangal learns not to show his teeth to every stranger. He won’t lay down for them either. He keeps a healthy amount of skepticism and alertness.

You never know.

6 - Kangals Are Not Good for Apartment Living

The Kangal is large dog, so living in the apartment is not the best lifestyle for him. He loves to have enough space to stretch his legs and make a few runs here and there.

His ancestors have been used to live in the farms and covering larger ground keeping the flock safe.

If you have a large yard, your Kangal will probably spend most of his time there. Being confined in a small space is not what the Kangal appreciates, and we wouldn’t recommend to have such a big dog in an apartment.

Even if you could take him out daily for exercises in the park, he would still be inactive inside the house. Or at least, you wouldn’t want him to move too much inside of fear of unintentionally breaking everything.

We also recommend a good fence to signal the limits of your property. The Kangal is known to wander around and “securing the area from any threats”, especially at night.

If you are looking for apartment dogs, this is a good list of dog breeds you may not know are great for you.

7 - Overall Temperament: Protective but Loving & Playful

Livestock guardian dogs tend to be protective and get physical when needed. The Kangal is the same as any of those dogs, with the exception that he is likely the most people-oriented of them all.

Once you established your status in the pack, the Kangal will respect your leadership and acts accordingly. He won’t cause any trouble to your family and will be happy to protect them.

However, he does not trust stranger dogs or humans that much. He is likely to get alert once he smells someone coming in. It could be either excitement for someone he likes, or preparing to be more aggressive if the visitor is not a friendly one.

Other than his protective nature, the Kangal is a great dog to have at home.

an adult kangal dog standing in the garden

A fully grown Kangal can be pretty large!

8 - Kangals Are a Large Dog Breed

The appearance of the Kangal dog breed is probably what sets them apart from the other guardian dogs. More specifically, the black mask on their nuzzle, a similar feature that they share with some of the sheep they used to and still protect.

According to the FCI official standards, the Kangals are “large, upstanding, powerfully built, livestock guarding dog with dark mask.... Its constitution is robust. Compact body is covered with thick and medium length of hair. Body is of rectangular shape.“

The male Kangal stands at between 27 and 30 inches tall at the withers and weighs between 100 and 130 pounds.

The female Kangal is slightly smaller, standing between 25 and 28 inches tall at the withers and weighing between 88 and 110 pounds.

The FCI specifies that the Kangal’s body must be one color (except for the black mask), and it can be from fawn to wolf sable with as minimum white color on the body as possible.

9 - Moderate Level of Difficulty in Grooming

The Kangal has a double coat. He has 3 to 7 cm thick and harsh guard coat, and a dense undercoat. Depending on where you live, your dog’s coat length and thickness will vary.

However, the Kangal remains a heavy shedder when the shedding seasons come along. You could do with a daily or weekly brush in the normal days.

You will also need to keep him clean with a regular bath every 2 or 3 months depending on how dirty he gets. Be careful not to use human shampoo as it may hurt his skin. We have a great article on how to bathe your dog here.

Other grooming needs include brushing his teeth, cleaning his ears, and clipping his nails. Consider these bonding exercises with your dogs. The more comfortable he is with you handling him to do it, the closer you are together.

10 - Gentle With Kids and Small Pets

Just like any other dog breed, the Kangal requires socialization from an early age to realize his size. Being a large dog, he may forget about it when playing with smaller beings.

Still, the Kangal plays gently around the house and will have fun with your kids all the time. He will let them be annoying to great extents and will only reciprocate with love and kisses.

Home pets are okay, too. As long as it is clear to him that your other dog or cat is part of the family and not an intruder, he will play with them accordingly.

All in all, the Kangal will be a great family companion and entertainer as well as a family protector.

cute puppy kangal dog breed

He is small now but will grow to be extra-large!

Credit: Kate Kranzler (Izgi) / CC BY-NC-SA

11 - He Requires High-Protein Diets

We emphasis here on the quality of the food you should feed your dog. Just like you shouldn’t eat unhealthy food, the same goes for your dog.

The Kangals are large dogs with a lot of energy to burn every day. Therefore, you would need a dog food specifically made for large dogs with high energy. You should look for food that is high in protein and other important nutritious elements. Here is what to look for in a high-quality dog food.

You should include a few vegetables and fruits as treat to diversify your dog’s diet. The important thing is that he has 2 to 3 meals a day, and he exercises for enough time.

Feeding your dog unchecked food can cause digestive allergies and other stomach problems that are known to shorten your dog’s lifespan.

12 - Happy, Healthy, Long Life

The Kangals are a relatively healthy breed with no major health issues. Like all dogs, they may deal with some minor issues as they get old, such as benign tumors, entropion and hip dysplasia.

As long as the breeding process is standard and in healthy conditions, your dog should be healthy and have a good life.

The lifespan of the Kangal dog breed is between 12 to 15 years, with a few owners reporting that their senior dogs are up to 17 years old.

13 - Adopting or Getting a New Puppy

We always suggest looking for adoption when it comes to getting a dog. Mostly, because there are many dogs out there looking to give love to the first family that treats them well.

When you adopt an adult dog, you don’t have to worry about how his temperament will turn up as he shows it very clearly to you. You can decide whether the dog is a good fit to your family or not based on his actual character.

But if you insist on finding a new puppy, then you should keep in mind that there are many puppy mill breeders out there. Be careful not to buy one off of them.

Always ask the right questions and demand to see the parents’ health paper and even spend some time with the parents. Your dog is mostly likely to take after his parents, so you should meet them as well.



The Kangal dog breed is a large dog with an even larger heart that will shower all of your family members with love and appreciation.

They are pretty rare to find in America. Still, there are a chance you may come across one in a popular dog park.

The Kangal is loving and playful, which instantly makes him a good boy.

Let us know in the comments below what you think of the Kangal dog breed.

About the Author Sam Cummings

Hey world! Sam here! I am a writer and a blogger, with keen interest in pets, dogs especially. Writing about those creatures make time melt like an ice cube in a desert! Dogs are just unbelievably amazing!

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