The Kangal Shepherd – Your Ultimate Breed Information Guide 

Owning a Kangal Shepherd is perhaps as close as you’ll get to owning an exotic dog outside of a wolf dog hybrid here in the United States. In fact, in some states and regions, it’s even illegal to own a Kangal Shepherd.

This isn’t due to the Kangal’s temperamental traits or massive size, but more to do with maintaining the breed’s quality.

That’s right, those who stand behind the origin of this breed take this dog very seriously. And it’s no wonder, once you learn more about this majestic and intelligent purebred. And this is the place to do just that.

Today, we are covering everything you should know about the Kangal Shepherd. Let’s get started.

The Kangal Shepherd Vs. The Anatolian Shepherd

Pic 1 a Kangal dog in grass close up
Kangal Shepherds are not the same as Anatolian Shepherds.

The Kangal Shepherd is often confused for the Anatolian Shepherd. In fact, some people even think the two are one in the same. The truth is, while the Anatoloian Shepherd and the Kangal Shepherd are related (and they were at one point considered the same breed) they are actually considered two different breeds with different origins, backgrounds and working purposes.

You can tell the difference between a Kangal and an Anatolian Shepherd mostly by coat color and type. Kangal Shepherds come in only one coat color and type, while Anatolian Shepherds can have several different colors and coat lengths.

Obviously, today’s article is devoted to the Kangal Shepherd, and that’s what we’ll focus on from here on out. So, let’s do a quick overview of the Kangal Shepherd dog and what you can expect to learn in today’s article.

Origin: Sivas, Turkey

Group: Stock Guardian Group

Trainability: High

Energy Level: Moderate to High

Exercise Requirements: Moderate

Temperament: Calm, Alert, Self-Controlled, Independant, Protective

Shedding Level: Moderate

Grooming Needs: Moderate

An Overview of the Kangal Shepherd:

The Kangal Shepherd is a well-bred, big-boned guarding dog bred for the sole purpose of protecting livestock in Turkey. They are massive in size and imposing to boot, but the breed is also renowned for their incredible self-control and patience.

These gentle giants are wonderful with people and children and are eager to please, easy to train, and friendly. They require routine exercise, training and socialization, and are best suited for experienced dog owners.

The Kangal Shepherd – An Incredible History

Pic 2 a painting of a shepherd
Kangal Shepherds are ancient guard dogs who spent time with nobility.

When it comes to guardian dogs, there is perhaps no better than the incredible, formidable, and massive Kangal Shepherd. A devoted guard dog for Turkish farmers for thousands of years, the Kangal Shepherd is a mix between early Mastiff breeds designed specifically to go head to head with dangerous predators like wolves, mountain lions and bears.

Massive in size and in spirit, the Kangal Shepherd is famous for his independent nature and trainability. He is an excellent example of refined breeding, especially considering that Turkish breeders are so protective over this breed that they have banned transfer of Kangal dogs overseas in many regions.

For this reason, Kangal Shepherds, especially those still living in Turkey, are some of the most refined and sought after guardian dogs in the world. Their natural breeding stock has made the breed the perfect combination of brains, beauty and braun.

Kangal Shepherds were built for one job, and that job is to guard their property and loved ones. Unlike many other breeds, Kangal Shepherds will attack predators when they sense danger without orders from their owners.

However, they have incredible self-control. Kangal Shepherds only kill when necessary, and in fact have been credited along with their Anatolian counterparts with revitalizing the Cheetah population in Africa so farmers no longer have to kill them to protect their livestock.

Due to their incredible temperament and talent for guarding, It comes as no surprise then that the Kangal Shepherd is known as the national dog of Turkey.

To this very day the Kangal Shepherd is regarded as an incomparable guarding dog for livestock and families, but he also makes for a one-of-a-kind companion dog for the right owner.

And while the Kangal Shepherd is not yet recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club, he is recognized by the clubs listed below:

  • The United Kennel Club (UKC)
  • American Canine Association (ACA)
  • American Canine Registry (ACR)
  • Kangal Dog Club of America (KDCA)
  • National Kennel Club (NKC)
  • American Pet Registry, Inc (APRI)
  • Continental Kennel Club (CKC)
  • Dog Registry of America Inc (DRA)

The Legalities of Owning A Kangal Breed in the United States

Pic 3 two Kangal Shepherds
Kangal Shepherds are actually banned in some regions of the United States.

If you want to get your hands on a Kangal Shepherd, it’s best you do plenty of research first. This is a breed that is fiercely protected by breeders, so much so that Turkish authorities have banned some exports of the breed in an effort to guard their pedigree.

Sadly, this effort was needed as irresponsible breeders began attempting to replicate the breed quickly, especially as the Kangal Shepherd grew in popularity. This resulted in dogs with less than quality characteristics, temperamental issues, and health problems.

That said, while Kangal Shepherds are rare in the United States they are not unheard of. Kangal Shepherds are also not illegal to own throughout America, though in some regions and cities the laws can vary.

Before you invest in a Kangal Shepherd or set your sights on trying to pinpoint a breeder, it’s best to do some research. Make sure you know the laws in your area and that it is legal for you to raise and own a Kangal Shepherd dog.

Breed Standard and Appearance of A Kangal Shepherd

Pic 4 a Kangal Shepherd In grass
These dogs are large, focused working breeds who enjoy having a job to do.

Due to the fierce protection of the Kangal Shepherd’s pedigree, it’s important to understand what the proper breed standard is for this dog. This is especially true if you are looking to get your hands on a Kangal Shepherd through an American breeder.

We have listed the breed standard for a mature Kangal Shepherd (a Kangal Shepherd two years or older) below.

Kangal Shepherd Height: 28 – 32 Inches

Kangal Shepherd Weight: 90 and 145 Pounds

Kangal Shepherd Coat Color: grey, fawn sable, dun, and light golden

Kangal Shepherd Coat Type: Short, double-coated, shedding

Hypoallergenic Coat: No

Overview of The Kangal Shepherd’s Appearance:

The Kangal Shepherd is clearly derived from Mastiff dogs, and this is evident in the large, boxy head and muzzle, as well as his size. Once mature, the Kangal Shepherd has a golden coat with a darker muzzle and ears.

His eyes are large and brown, with the skin around his face falling loosely. This gives the Kangal Shepherd a sweet-natured and somewhat dopey appearance, but their sheer size will quickly sway anyone or anything from causing trouble around them.

A massive dog with big bones, the Kangal Shepherd stands with a proportionally muscular body, curled tail and floppy ears.

Exercising, Training and Socialization Requirements

Pic 5 a Kangal Shepherd on a walk
Exercise is important for these independent working dogs.

The Kangal Shepherd is unlike any other dog breed. As such, he has some special needs when it comes to training, exercise and socialization.

Before deciding if a Kangal Shepherd is right for you, it’s important to consider what it will take to raise a happy, healthy Kangal Shepherd as a companion dog.

Exercise

Bred as an independent guard dog, the Kangal Shepherd is happiest when he has a job to do. That said, his job is usually patrolling his territory and keeping it safe from wild intruders, which isn’t usually necessary here in the urban regions of the United States.

Luckily, Kangal Shepherds can transition nicely to companionship life, so long as their exercise needs are met. These massive dogs don’t require too much extensive exercise every day, but they do need routine walks and free time outside to roam.

A good 45 minutes to an hour of a walk each day should keep your Kangal Shepherd feeling his best, while outside playtime will help him feel more at home.

A backyard is a must for a Kangal Shepherd owner, though a backyard should not be a substitute for proper or routine exercise. No matter how many acres you have, it’s important you get out and actively get your Kangal Shepherd moving.

Training

Training is important for all dogs, but it is especially important for dogs with guardian tendencies like the Kangal Shepherd. The good news is that these purebred dogs are highly trainable and are not known to be aggressive unless provoked or unless they sense danger.

Even then, the Kangal Shepherd has a great sense of self control when approaching an enemy.

Still, training is vital and should begin at an early age with your Kangal Shepherd. These dogs are eager to please and become very bonded with their family, and as such they are highly trainable.

Kangal Shepherds will respond to confident leaders in the home and owners who are repetitive, predictable, and consistent.

It’s best to keep training light and to use positive reinforcement with a Kangal Shepherd, as negative reinforcement is rarely effective or necessary. It’s also a good idea to begin leash training with your Kangal Shepherd early, as these dogs are strong and can be prone to pulling on leash.

When leash training your Kangal Shepherd, it’s a good idea to have the right equipment. One of the items we like best for walking large breed dogs with a tendency to pull is the PetSafe Easy Walk Harness.

Easy Walk Front Clip Harness

This harness comes with a front clip that is designed to redirect pulling dogs, making walking much easier and more pleasant for both you and your Kangal Shepherd. It also reduces the amount of pressure put on your Kangal Shepherd’s throat and trachea, and reduces their natural urge to pull by making walking feel more natural.

Socialization

Properly socializing your Kangal Shepherd is the best way to ensure he grows up happy, healthy and well-mannered. Kangal Shepherds are naturally gentle with their family members and children, but should be well-socialized around strangers and other animals.

It’s important to note that, while Kangal Shepherds can get along well with other, larger dogs, they may not be too fond of smaller animals like cats, small dogs, rodents, etc.

In order to properly socialize a Kangal Shepherd, make sure you introduce him to many new people, places and things, and to try and keep these experiences positive. You might even consider having your Kangal Shepherd undergo puppy classes or work with a behaviorist to help ensure your Kangal Shepherd is as well-rounded as possible as he matures.

Top 5 Characteristic Traits of A Kangal Shepherd – What You Should Know About Temperament

Pic 6 a Kangal looking to the side
Training and socialising a Kangal Shepherd is important to ensure they are happy, healthy and well rounded.

Most experts agree that the Kangal Shepherd is a devoted, gentle and affectionate companion. That said, we can’t ignore that this dog is designed as a guarding dog and can have territorial or guardian instincts if not properly trained or socialized.

That said, it’s also well-known that Kangal dogs are self-controlled and mild-mannered, attacking only when clearly threatened and only injuring if necessary. Still, the temperament of this dog should be carefully considered before you decide if a Kangal Shepherd is right for you.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the top 5 personality traits the Kangal Shepherd is famous for.

1 – Independance

Though the Kangal Shepherd is a people-friendly dog, they also do fine left to their own devices. They are not entirely needy and are not going to be the snuggly lap dog who follows you around like a shadow.

Instead, Kangals enjoy being observers. They can watch over their loved ones without feeling the need to partake in activities and if you’re gone, that’s fine too. These dogs will enjoy being left to themselves now and then to look after the house.

Of course, while this is a nice trait, it can have its downfalls. Very independent dogs can become stubborn if not trained at an early age and many owners may find that they are leaving their Kangal Shepherds more often than they should simply because they can.

Just because a Kangal doesn’t mind being on his own doesn’t mean he should be left alone often. Kangal Shepherds are indoor dogs who do best with owners who have time to commit to them each day.

2 – Intelligence

These brainy breeds are naturally smart and catch on quickly. This can be both a blessing and a curse, especially if your Kangal Shepherd is a bit mischievous. Some Kangal Shepherds have been known to outwit their owners, with many figuring out how to get out of rooms or even their backyard.

It’s important to make sure you keep an eye on your Kangal Shepherd and keep that active mind busy so it’s not left to wander into mischief.

Intelligent dogs like the Kagnal Shepherd can also be more prone to anxiety, depression and destructive behaviors if they become bored. Consider investing in puzzle toys to help keep your Knagal Shepherd happy and mentally sound.

3 – Family Oriented

Kangal Shepherds love hard. Although they are independent and easy-going, they will still like being an important member of a tight-knit family. They are also one-family dogs, so if you do invest in a Kangal Shepherd, do so for life.

These dogs are highly devoted and loyal, and they will protect you with everything they have inside of them.

4 – Strength

Not only are Kangal Shepherds known for their muscular strength and stamina, but they also have the most powerful bite force of all breeds. In fact, their jaw strength has been estimated to be around 743 PSI (pressure per square inch).

This came in handy when these dogs were going up against wolves, bears and cougars. That said, they are also dependable and reliable. They are notable for their self-control and patience, especially with children.

5 – Protective Instincts

Guarding instincts are going to come naturally to a Kangal Shepherd, and while this can be a good trait, it can also be dangerous if it is not harnessed correctly. This is one of the reasons socialization is so important for the breed, and it’s also important to monitor young children around your Kangal Shepherd to ensure everyone is getting along safely and happily.

Grooming A Kangal Shepherd – The Dos and Don’ts

Pic 7 dog grooming brush and shampoo
The Kangal Shepherd is a double-coated dog breed who requires routine grooming.

The grooming needs of a Kangal Shepherd are relatively moderate, which is great news because these dogs are so big. However, Kangal Shepherds can be heavy shedders. They shed year-round and most excessively during shedding season, which is in spring and fall.

During this time, Kagnal Shepherds should be brushed once a day to remove any loose hair and reduce chances of doggy odor and matting.

Otherwise, your Kangal Shepherd should be brushed once every couple of days, with a deshedding tool and undercoat rake, like the Malsipree Undercoat Rake below.

MalsiPree Undercoat Rake

This brush is specifically designed for double-coated dogs like the Kangal Shepherd and will help reduce mats and tangles by removing loose hair caught in your dog’s plush undercoat. Routine brushing with an undercoat rake can also help reduce excessive shedding and will help keep your furniture and clothing fur-free.

This brush also works as a dematting comb as well, and helps to detangle the longer hair on your Kengal Shepherd’s chest, belly, and under his arms and legs.

Speaking of the undercoat, the Kangal Shepherd is a double-coated dog breed with a dense, weather resistant coat. If you live in a warmer climate, it may be tempting to shave your Kangal Shepherd’s coat to help him stay cool, but this is a mistake.

Refrain from shaving a double coated dog, as doing so can make them more susceptible to sunburn and heatstroke.

Along with routine brushing, we also suggest bathing your Kangal Shepherd once every few months with a dog-safe shampoo and conditioner. Brush your Kangal Shepherd’s teeth once a day using a safe toothpaste, and make sure you clean your Kangal dog’s ears and trim his nails routinely.

Lifespan and Health Issues of A Kangal Shepherd Breed

Pic 8 a Happy Kangal with his tongue out
Due to careful breeding standards, the Kangal Shepherd is a healthy and long-lived breed.

Most of us know that very large dog breeds are relatively short-lived, but this actually isn’t true when it comes to the Kangal Shepherd. In fact, Kangal Shepherds have a nice, long lifespan of around 12-15 years.

They are also pretty healthy dogs, with only a short list of health issues a potential owner should be aware of.

The Most Common Health Issues For A Kangal Shepherd Include:

How Diet Impacts The Health Of A Kangal Shepherd

You can help combate some of the above health issues by ensuring your Kangal Shepherd is on a quality dog food specified for his age, weight and activity level.

Large breed dogs like the Kangal Shepherd do best with a dog food that is at least 30% real animal protein. The rest of his food should be a combination of fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.

You have the option of feeding your Kangal Shepherd dry food, wet food, or raw food. You may also consider making homemade dog food for your Kangal Shepherd.

Experts recommend feeding your Kangal Shepherd smaller meals at least three times a day. You can also invest in puzzle feeders to help combat Bloat in your Kangal Shepherd.

One of our favorite puzzle feeders is the Outward Hound Puzzle Feeder listed below.

Outward Hound Puzzle Feeder

This puzzle feeder is specially designed for large-breed dogs who are more susceptible to Bloat, like the Kangal Shepherd.

Bloat can come on suddenly and is caused when air fills the intestine, causing the intestines and stomach to flip. It is often caused from eating too quickly or eating immediately after play or exercise.

A puzzle feeder like the Outward Hound Feeder helps slow your Kangal Shepherd down while he eats, reducing the amount of air he swallows during mealtimes.

Is The Kangal Shepherd Right For You?

Pic 9 a Kangal Shepherd puppy getting its picture taken
Like all dogs, there are pros and cons to raising a Kangal Shepherd.

The Kangal Shepherd is an eye-stopping dog with a unique and infectious temperament, but that doesn’t mean he is the right dog for everyone. Are you wondering if the Kangal Shepherd is the right dog for you?

Before you invest in a Kangal Shepherd, it’s important to ask yourself some questions. One of the most important things to consider is your home and lifestyle.

Do you have the space and time to properly raise, train, and exercise a Kangal Shepherd? Remember, these dogs will do best in homes with large, securely fenced backyards and with owners who are around and dedicated to training and socialization.

Kangal Shepherds will also require routine brushing and care, and their diets can be rather specific. Because they are very large breed dogs who are also long-lived, Kangal Shepherds will likely be a bit costlier to care for in the long-run.

Last, remember that the Kangal Shepherd is a bred guard dog. Without the proper training, socialization, and consistent exercise and care, this is a breed that can be prone to serious and potentially even dangerous behavioral issues.

Tips On Raising A Happy and Healthy Kangal Shepherd

Pic 10 a Kangal Walking
It’s important to maintain the breed standard of a Kangal Shepherd, so ensure you go through reputable sources when looking for one to call your own.

Have you decided that a Kangal Shepherd dog is right for you? If so, it’s important to make sure you go through reputable sources when looking for a Kangal Shepherd breeder.

On average, a Kangal Shepherd puppy costs between $800 to $1,300, but this price will vary depending on the breeder you go through and the quality of your Kagnal Shepherd’s parent breeds.

That said, be super careful not to cut corners, especially with a breed like the Kangal Shepherd. Remember, this is a dog who has been highly guarded by his creators, and it’s very important to protect the breed standard not only for your own good and your future dog’s health, but for the overall well-being of the Kangal Shepherd breed.

Go through reputable, qualified Kangal Shepherd breeders who have a history with the breed and understand the importance of responsible breeding practices. Keep in mind that reputable breeders will be able to offer you certificates of health proving their Kangal shepherd puppies have been health creened, and you may even be able to meet the Kagnal Shepherd parents to get a better idea of what your puppy will grow up to behave like.

If you prefer to rescue a Kangal Shepherd dog through a local shelter, take your time and find a shelter you trust. You can find a few recommended by the Kangal Dog Club of America, but before you decide which shelter to go to, we suggest doing plenty of research.

Remember, a Kangal Shepherd and an Anatolian Shepherd are two different breeds, and it is going to be much easier to find an Anatlolian Shepherd rescue, so don’t get the two confused.

We hope this has been a helpful guide on the Kangal Shepherd and that you now have a better idea as to if this breed would be the right addition to your home or family.

Let us know what you think! Are you going to invest in a Kangal Shepherd dog? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading!

Kangal Shepherd 1 Kengal Shepherd 2