Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Turkish Kangal
Average Cost to keep/care for a Turkish Kangal
The Turkish Kangal is a handsome dog and one that for centries has been highly prized by shepherds in their native Turkey where they are the country's national dog. They are impressive looking and loyal by nature which has seen these working dogs become a popular companion and family pet in many countries of the world. The breed is not as well-known as other breeds in the UK, but they are gaining a fan base thanks to their proud looks and their reliable, kind natures. However, anyone wishing to share their home with a Kangal would need to register their interest with breeders because very few puppies are bred in the UK every year.
The Turkish Kangal is an ancient breed and a dog that has always been highly prized my shepherds in their native Turkey for being excellent guarding dogs. There are some people who think the breed might be related to early mastiff-type breeds depicted in ancient Assyrian artwork. Kangals probably originated in the Kangal District of Sivas Province which is situated in Central Turkey which is how they got their name.
However, other people believe they were given their name from the breed's association with the Aga of Kangal family who were important rulers of the area at that time. Many of the dogs seen back in ancient times were bred by villagers who needed strong, robust and confident dogs that were capable of guarding livestock against the attacks of wolves, jackals and bears. Since most dogs were only found in remote regions of the land, the breed remained unspoilt and as such remained true to their origins.
Today, the Kangal is Turkey's national dog and pedigree lines are meticulously maintained. It was not until the eighties that the first Kangal Dog was imported to the States and the breed was only recognised by The Kennel Club in 2012. However, their numbers remain low in the UK and anyone wishing to share their home with one of these handsome, loyal dogs would need to register their interest with breeders and go on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so.
Height at the withers: Males 74 - 81 cm, Females 71 - 79 cm
Average weight: Males 50 - 65 kg, Females 41 - 50 kg
The Kangal is a large, well-balanced, robust dog that boasts having an impressive sized head with males being noticeably larger and heavier than their female counterparts. They have large, broad, slightly rounded skulls that are flat between a dog’s ears when they are excited or alert. They have a slight furrow and moderate stop with males having broader heads than females. They both have slightly pendulous lips which adds to the square look of their forefaces when seen in profile. Muzzles taper gently towards a dog’s nose which is black in colour and large. Kangals always have a darker face mask which is a characteristic of the breed.
They have almond to oval shaped, medium size eyes with tight lids that can be golden to brown in colour so they match a dog’s coat colour. Their ears are medium in size and triangular with rounded tips. A dog’s ears are set just below the top of their heads and hang down flat close to their cheeks. When alert, the Kangal holds their ears higher and they should be darker in colour than the rest of a dog’s coat so they match their face mask. They have strong jaws with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones and their lips are black.
A Kangal has a slightly arched, muscular and powerful neck that’s moderately long and thick with dogs having a slight dewlap which is permissible under their Kennel Club breed standard. They have powerful forequarters with well-muscled, sloping shoulders and strong front legs that are set well apart and which show a good amount of bone. They have strong bodies with deep chests and well sprung ribs. Their bodies are slightly longer than the height of a dog’s withers which are slightly prominent before it dips along a dog’s back and then rises to strong, gently arched loins. Kangals have a moderately tucked up belly.
They have powerful hindquarters that are slightly lighter than their forequarters. Back legs are powerful with well-muscled thighs and their feet can be rounded to oval in shape with well arched toes and firm, well-cushioned pads. Some dogs have dewclaws on their back legs. Their tails are long and set high with the hair being that bit longer than on the rest of a dog’s body, but with no feathering. Dogs carry their tails low when relaxed or resting, but higher when they are alert or excited although never over their backs.
When it comes to their coat, the Kangal boasts having a short, dense and extremely weather resistant, close lying coat that consists of a harsher top coat and a much softer and thicker undercoat. The hair on a dog’s neck, shoulders and tail is longer and that much thicker, but dogs do not have any feathering on their ears, legs or tails. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
Kangals can have a small amount of white on their chests, toes and chin. They can also have a black or white tip to their tails.
The Turkish Kangal has always been highly prized as a guarding dog in their native Turkey. However, more recently these handsome dogs have earned the reputation of being wonderful companions and family pets, thanks to their loyal and affectionate natures. They are not the best choice for novice dog owners because they need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with the particular needs of this type of large, intelligent guarding dog.
Kangals form strong bonds with their owners and become totally devoted to one person in a household which is typically the person who feeds them and who takes the most care of them. They tend to be wary and aloof around strangers and are always quick off the mark to let their owners know when there are people about which is why they have always been highly prized guard dog in their native Turkey. It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, relaxed mature dogs no matter where they are or who they meet. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated.
It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Kangal is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle and which is why they are not a good choice for novice dog owners.
The Turkish Kangal is a highly intelligent dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good. As such, their training has to begin early and it has to be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what's expected of them. They like to be kept busy and thrive in a more rural environment where they can roam around a secure back garden whenever they can.
The key to successfully training a Kangal is to make things as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions short which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored. With this said, Kangals are extremely smart dogs and boast having a strong, independent streak which can make training them a bit of a challenge for the uninitiated.
They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved.
Kangals thrive in a home environment and are known to be good around older children. However, they boast being quite protective of their families and as such care has to be taken when the kids have friends over to play. They are not the best choice for families with very young children and any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm. Younger children need to be taught when to leave a dog alone and how to behave around them.
Kangals are extremely territorial by nature and therefore they can be difficult around dogs they don't already know. Care also has to be taken when a Kangal is around cats and any smaller animals and pets. As such any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Turkish Kangal is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Kangal is known to be a healthy breed thanks to the fact they have been carefully bred. As such they are not known to suffer from the hereditary health issues that seem to affect many other breeds.
However being a large breed of dog, the Kangal will have a higher chance of developing hip and elbow dysplasia than many other smaller dogs, so it is recommended that any responsible breeder get their dogs tested for these conditions.
Turkish Kangals need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Turkish Kangals boast having short, double coats with a harsher outer coat and a softer, denser undercoat. However, they are low maintenance on the grooming front and only need a weekly brush to keep their coats and skin in good condition. They shed steadily throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when they tend to shed quite heavily and when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The Kangal is an energetic, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy and well-rounded. They need at least 1 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible in a safe environment. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Kangal would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in places where it is safe to let a dog off the lead. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, high-energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they would soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble. Because they have quite dense double coats, Kangals do feel the heat in the hotter summer months and as such should only be exercised when the sun is lower in the sky and the temperature is cooler to avoid them overheating.
Kangal puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious and painful problems later in their lives.
If you get a Kangal puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Turkish Kangal, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year and you would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Turkish in northern England would be £57.27 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £121.54 a month (quote as of Sept 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Kangal and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1600 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Turkish Kangal would be between £100 to £170 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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