My Take on the Turkish Kangal

Kangals: The Turkish National dog

In a perhaps telling twist, one of the most ancient of breeds I work with may have the least to choose from by way of written history. A breed that’s purported to have been around for thousands of years, sitting as Turkey does at the geographical cross roads of the old world, that history might be quite busy and all but impossible to document anyway. Or perhaps, as a true land race breed, there is really very little that can be said with certainty; except the breed has been around almost as long as animal husbandry.

The Kangal vs Anatolian debate is agenda driven on all sides and frankly not very interesting to me. In a nutshell it seems that almost anything that came from turkey could get papers as an Anatolian, hence the wide range of phenotypes and temperaments available under that flag. I can assure you there are endless kangal-like dogs running the streets and countrysides of Turkey…. They are not all kangals.

The most valid point the kangal people have is that “Kangal” is the term the Turks themselves use, and more importantly, the term “Anatolian” is not. So while there is contention among Turks as to what exactly is or isn’t a “pure Kangal.” There is no such debate regards an “Anatolian”…. because the term has no meaning amongst Turks ! Except perhaps amongst westernized Turks, who sometimes use it as an umbrella term to speak to all Turkish dogs, of which there are some distinct groups like Akbash, and various semi-distinct groups like: aksaray malakli, "boz", Turkish mastiffs, but there is much mixing off all these, and in my opinion to call them all Kangal crosses is not unfair. The notion that there is some sort of order in Turkish dogs that created and maintains distinct groups is a fallacy, that became very clear to me in my time there traveling about looking at dogs.

The most valid question I’ve heard the Anatolian people pose to Kangal people is:

“ Why would a shepherd care what color his dog was if it did its job ?"

And I have to admit I’ve no answer for that. I’ve always found those in dogs that were particularly concerned with a dab of white here or black there, be it Kangal, Boerboel, or Dogo, were not the people truly interested in function.

The reality, as I see it, is that the definition of an "Anatolian” was much looser in many regards, then that which is currently applied to defining Kangals. So, as is obvious to the eye, many dogs called “Anatolians” probably are Kangals, but many are not. but since they have been given the same flag they can, have, and continue to be mixed.

But The Kangal “community” is in the death hold of horrible collection of control freaks, hypocrites, and mercenaries at the KDCA whom the UKC has punted the decision as to which imported dogs will be considered "kangals" and which won't.

And most of the people making that call at the KDCA breed kangals, so it's rather like asking them to issue shares of stock they own, the conflicts of interest are myriad and obvious, but registries often do punt that job to breed clubs.

It's a handful of "breeders" virtually none of which actually have predator issues, that have put a strangle hold on the breed in the states. A batch of mostly elderly women who could not be further from the men in Turkey who historically dealt in these dogs, in any, and every regard. The Kangal in America is largely in the hands of hobby, novelty, show, breeders.

Real Ranchers are not likely to pay the prices they ask, or humor the interrogations and conditions they impose on potential buyers. Which means the breed is very liable to be put on the fast track to selection pressure dementia.