Kangal Shepherd Dog

Written by: Jamie
Updated: March 22, 2021

Want to know more about Turkey’s National Dog, the Kangal? Then take a look at the guide below to learn all about this amazing breed!

kangal shepherd dog standing on a meadow

Height: Males 29-32 inches, females 28-31 inches
Weight: Males 50-65 kilos, females 41–50 kilos
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club

Positives and Negatives

Check out the pros and cons of the Kangal Shepherd Dog below:


  • Excellent guard and watchdog
  • Can be used for drafting and pulling carts
  • Independent, can be left alone
  • Loyal and affectionate to family, gentle with children


  • Not suitable for apartment living
  • Prone to weight gain
  • Not ideal for first-time owners
  • Drools a lot

kangal shepherd dog lying on grass


The Kangal Shepherd Dog is a powerful breed that is used to protect livestock from the most vicious of predators. Some organisations have registered this breed by its other name, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

This dog is highly popular in its native Turkey and is classed as a national treasure.

The Kangal is classed as a large breed. Their robust build allows them to work in any weather all throughout the year.

Naturally, their head is big and is accompanied by a dark muzzle and a noticeably curly tail. The KIF (Kinologi Federation) currently has different breed standards than those seen in different parts of the world.

Kangals are often pictured wearing spikey collars leading many to ask the question why?

Well it’s not just a fashion statement! These spikes are designed to protect the dogs from predators such as Wolves (their most common rival).

In the UK, the Kangal isn’t very common, but their popularity has certainly been on the increase. The Kangal’s ability to aggressively protect is perfectly matched to their gentleness around livestock and children.

For this reason, more families are looking to the Kangal as a perfect family pet.

kangal shepherd dog standing on grass


The Kangal, also known as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog originates from the Anatolian town of Kangal in Turkey. These canines are used as flock guardians, not herders.

This ancient breed is an early type Mastiff and has been listed as the National Dog of Turkey.

Kangals are thought to be the descendent of the Mastiff’s depicted in Ancient Assyrian art. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are linked to the Aga of Kangal a large family of landowners that used this breed to protect their livestock.

These dogs would come up against predators such as the Wolves, Jackals, Bears, and even raccoons!

In Africa, specifically Kenya and Nambia, this dog will protect their flocks from Cheetahs! The dogs unknowingly save the Cheetah as farmers no longer have to kill the predators.

Kangals are the key to preserving some of Africa’s biggest cats! The Cheetah Conservation Fund is an organization that has given over 500 Kangals to farmers.

kangal shepherd dog close up face

In the 1960s Robert Ballard a US Navy Lieutenant, obtained two Kangals named Peki and Zorba from Ankara. They were brought back to the United States where they bred producing the first-ever litter born in the US.

Turkey has prohibited the exportation of the Kangal, in order to keep the bloodline as pure as possible.

The UK would also import the first Kangal into the country during the 1960s, yet popularity is still low.

Over the last two decades, interest amongst dog enthusiasts is slowly rising. Finally, in 2012 the Kennel Club officially registered the’ Turkish Kangal Dog’.


The Turkish Kangal has a well-balanced temperament. They can be aggressive and vicious when needed, but can also be calm and gentle around children and other animals.

These canines were born to protect and would even die trying to defend their family! It just goes to show how deeply loyal this breed is.

tired kangal shepherd dog

Naturally, the Kangal will be territorial, which is why they are better suited to country lifestyles as opposed to the city. Like many other Mastiffs, this breed takes longer to mature.

They also have a strong impulse to roam so always keep their territory secure!

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Are Kangal Shepherd Dogs Good with Strangers?

No, as a guard dog the Kangal does not trust strangers. They will instinctively warn trespassers away with a bark. Most of the time the appearance of the Kangal is more than enough to scare intruders away!

If this doesn’t work the Kangal will in most circumstances, attack.

Given the right socialization, visitors will be welcomed into the home provided the owner has given permission,

Are Kangal Shepherd Dogs Good with Children?

Yes, this breed is prized for its gentle and calm temperament around children. They make excellent family pets and whilst their size could accidentally injure a child, they aren’t boisterous in the home.

These natural protectors will make sure any child is safe within their household!

Are Kangal Shepherd Dogs Ok with Other Dogs?

No, this breed can be aggressive towards other dogs. Despite their ability as a flock guardian, the Anatolian Shepherd dog is still dominant towards other canines.

They are best raised to live with other dogs from puppyhood. Kangals can happily live alongside cats.


The Kangal dog should receive more than two hours of exercise each day! Mental stimulation is also important as their boredom will lead to destructive behaviors.

These dogs like to have their time off-leash in big open spaces, which is fine, provided the dog has good recall.

Kangals love being outside and like to patrol their territory. For this reason, an apartment would not be suitable for this breed. They need access to at least a large garden.

As the Anatolian Shepherd weighs less than other Mastiffs they can reach high speeds of up to 30mph!

kangal shepherd dog with collar standing

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Check out the breed-related health conditions of the Kangal Shepherd Dog below:

  • Hip Dysplasia- A common congenital health issue, commonly affecting large breed dogs. Poor hip development causes the joints to rub and grind against each other. This will lead to arthritis.
  • Entropion- A deformity of the eye causing the eyelid to roll inwards. The lashes begin to scratch the surface of the eye causing pain, ulcers, and possible vision interference.
  • Lipomas- Lumps/tumors that grow via the fat cells underneath the skin. These will become larger over time which may cause the affected dog some discomfort.
  • Elbow Dysplasia- Symptoms of swelling and pain can appear between 5-18 months of age. Arthritis will eventually occur. Limping or stiffness can be seen in affected dogs.

Intelligence & Training

The Kurdish Kangal is a powerful dog and will need a strong, determined owner to provide leadership. These canines can be dominant so you must establish your position as leader of the pack before anything else.

Respect is incredibly important. Once you have gained this dog’s trust and respect, training will become much easier.

Kangals are relatively easy to train for an experienced owner. They instinctively take to their working life outdoors, so house training should be the primary focus.

Obedience training is a struggle! Kangals are headstrong and independent. Some owners may benefit from a professional trainer when it comes to obedience.

kangal shepherd dog looking at the grass

Kangals generally start to mature around the age of two. During this period they will push the boundaries. An owner must be consistent, correcting any display of bad behavior each time.

This dog can deal with harsher training techniques but nothing physical or abusive as this can be detrimental to the dog.

Socialization is important, especially if this breed is being brought up in a family environment. Group puppy classes are a great way to meet new people and canines.

This dog is large and can be dangerous if they haven’t received the socialization and training they require.

Kangals will attack if they feel threatened but before launching into defense they will bark first. An owner should instantly take heed to this warning.

Although this dog makes an excellent protector, some feel their temperament isn’t good for personal protection training.

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Kangals have a short double coat that is rather dense on the outer layer. They should be brushed twice a week apart from Autumn and Spring when they will need to be brushed daily.

Metal grooming rakes are best to use on the Kangals coat.

This canine will need a bath every 6-8 weeks. Avoid frequent washing as this can strip the natural oils from the fur. Kangals can be both air and blow-dried but do introduce this to them from puppyhood.

kangal shepherd dog gasping

Grooming is a bonding experience both owner and dog can enjoy.

Teeth will need to be brushed at least three times a week. It is important to keep on top of dental hygiene as gum disease commonly affects all breeds of dogs. Vets recommend brushing is done daily.

Nails should be filed or trimmed every 8 weeks. This must be kept on top of as the nails are fairly thick and overgrowth will cause discomfort.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at Jamie@woofbarkgrowl.co.uk or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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