March 2, 2020 PetGuide
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Kangal Dog

  • Height: 28-32 inches
  • Weight: 90-145 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Group: UKC Guardian
  • Best Suited For: Homes with yards, families with older children, guard duty, farms/rural areas
  • Temperament: Calm, independent, protective, good with kids
  • Comparable Breeds: Mastiff, Anatolian Shepherd Dog

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The Kangal Dog is a large and powerful breed, often used in Turkey to guard livestock against predators. This dog is easily recognized by its massive head, dark muzzle, and curled tail which is carried up and over the back. When viewed from the side, the Kangal has a very distinctive silhouette. It’s no challenge to pick this dog out from a lineup, there aren’t any pups out there quite like it.

But don’t let the Kangal Dog’s imposing physique intimidate you. Appearances can be deceiving and this majestic breed is the true definition of a gentle giant. While they are alert and make ideal watchdogs or guard dogs, there’s not an ounce of aggressiveness or viciousness in the Kangal Dog. These fierce guardians have a peaceful nature and serene demeanor. When push comes to shove, they would rather block the intruder than actually attack them, like some other guard dog breeds. This isn’t a dog for anyone simply seeking protection. Nope, despite what you might think at first glance, the Kangal dog is more about love and protection than fear and intimidation. 

Owing to the fact that, despite its massive size, the Kangal Dog is actually very calm and gentle, this breed is a good choice for a family pet. Not only do these dogs get along well with children, but they also watch over them. However, It goes without saying that you should only get a Kangal Dog if you have a space for one. These dogs need a lot of space, and a house with a big, securely fenced yard is the ideal setting for them.

So, is The Kangal Dog the big burly boy that you need to bring home to your family? You’ve come to the right place to find out. Keep your eyes glued to this page and scroll away. We are about to reveal everything that there is to know about this beautiful breed. By the end, you’ll know whether or not you need one of these big boys in your life.

The Kangal Dog is a large and powerful breed, often used in Turkey to guard livestock against predators.

Though there is some debate regarding the details of this breed’s origins, the Kangal Dog is known to come from Turkey where it was used as an ancient flock-guarding breed. The Kangal is thought to have descended from various mastiff-type dogs such as those depicted in ancient Assyrian art. This breed gets its name from the Kangal District of Sivas Province in Turkey and this location is also likely where it originated. Throughout its history, the Kangal has been associated with the Aga of Kangal, a large family of landholders and chieftains that use the dogs to guard flocks against large predators such as bears, jackals and wolves. This breed’s history as protectors is legendary.

The first mention of the Kangal Dog in European literature during the late 1900s. In 1985, David and Judith Nelson brought their Kangal to the United States where it, along with other imports, served as the foundation stock for the Kangal Dog in the U.S. There continues to be some debate regarding whether the Kangal Dog is actually a separate breed from the Anatolian Shepherd, another Turkish breed. It is commonly accepted, however, that true Kangal Dogs are a separate breed from generic Turkish shepherd dogs. So, at least that statement carries no controversy.


Owing to the ongoing debate among canine experts if, in fact, there are enough differences between the Anatolian Shepherd Dog and the Kangal Dog for them to be separate breeds, there is some confusion about these dogs in the United States. The American Kennel Club recognizes Anatolian Shepherd, noting that this breed is “also known as the Kangal”. Their view of these remarkable dogs is they boast many qualities, most prominent being that they’re  “smart, devoted, responsive, and adaptable”.

Regardless of any pedigree certification, though, you can be certain that your Kangal puppy has admirable roots. The breed has quite a history, with some sources placing its origin as far back as 12th century (Something that perhaps the AKC should look into before making their rash decisions about the Kangal Dog). 

Given the fact that the Kangal is a very large breed of dog, it is important that you provide a diet formulated for large-breed dogs. Their size requires much more nutrient-dense kibble than most options, and greater amounts of it than would satisfy most dogs as well. Ideally, you would feed your Kangal Dog a diet based on high-quality dry dog food. There are plenty of premium brands that cater to giant dog breeds and have kibble blends that meet their needs. Also, you’ll need to make sure that the kibble you’re getting is age-appropriate for your pet. A growing Kangal puppy has different needs than a senior dog, so it’s important to take this into consideration before making a decision. If used as a working breed, you should also consider using a formula designed for active dogs.

As always, if you are in any way concerned about altering or establishing your Kangal Dog’s diet, then it’s wise to consult with a veterinarian before making any major decisions. While most dog food manufacturers and pet blogs provide useful feeding guidelines, they should still be treated as guidelines and not gospel. All dogs are different after all and only your vet is qualified to determine the specific dietary needs of your personal pooch. So, always rely on the expertise of your vet before making any major decisions regarding your pooch’s diet.

The Kangal Dog is smart and can be trained to guard livestock as well as property.

The Kangal Dog is smart and can be trained to guard livestock as well as property. With firm and consistent training, Kangal Dogs will turn excel as both excellent watchdogs and loving companions.

However, because these dogs can become independent and stubborn, it is important to start training from a young age. In most cases, Kangal Dogs are kept indoors (ideally with constant access to a securely fenced yard). This would mean that you need to housebreak your pet too. It might take some effort, but positive reinforcement methods yield great results (always focus on rewards and encouragement in your training as anything less is closer to abuse than training).

Socialization might even be more important for a Kangal Dog. Even though they are calm and relatively docile by nature, the last thing you want is to have a huge dog that’s not socialized properly. They need to be taught how to behave around children, strangers, and other dogs, to make sure their sweet disposition remains that way when they’re older. It’s important not to waste those early an impressionable days in your puppy’s life, so start training and socialization as early as possible to ensure that you have a long and loving relationship with your Kangal Dog. 

The average weight for a male Kangal Dog is between 110 and 145 pounds while females weigh between 90 and 120 pounds. In other words, he’s a big boy! These dogs can often feel like they are closer to roommates that pets.

kangal-dog-2Despite its size, the Kangal is a fairly calm and controlled breed. However, these dogs do tend to develop an independent streak if proper training and socialization is not achieved from a young age. So, it’s important for anyone who owns these remarkable animals to treat their training and socialization relationship very seriously. Kangal Dogs are generally friendly with visitors and often get along very well with children. These dogs should never be shy or vicious, but they do tend to be very protective of their families. This breed was bred to guard livestock, so you shouldn’t be surprised if you find your dog standing watch over your children or other pets. Because these dogs can be a handful at times, they are generally not recommended for inexperienced dog owners. It takes an experienced dog owner who takes their responsibilities seriously to raise these big and beautiful dogs right.

The Kangal Dog is typically a healthy breed and, as long as they have been bred responsibly, they do not have many congenital conditions. Like all dogs, however, the Kangal Dog breed is prone to certain minor conditions including benign tumors, entropion and hip dysplasia. As always, it’s important to maintain regular checkups (especially as your dog enters their senior years) so that any potential health issues are identified and treated as early as possible.

The average lifespan for the Kangal Dog is between 12 and 15 years, which is quite impressive for a dog of this size.

The Kangal Dog is a large dog and needs plenty of time to stretch its legs and work off its energy during the day. To boot, this breed was originally created to be a working dog, and they will need to occupy themselves with something to be content (ideally they can occupy themselves with watching over their family). So, if you want to get a Kangal Dog, be prepared to provide both mental and physical stimulation they crave. Working dogs of this breed usually get all their needs met through their jobs, but companions and pets will need to be deliberately exercised. While these dogs are not overly active, they will require outdoor space to roam about and guard. They’ll also benefit from circa 60 minutes of daily walks or playtime with the owner.

Despite its size, the Kangal Dog is a fairly calm and controlled breed.

The Kangal Dog is not currently recognized by the AKC and it was only recognized by the UK Kennel Club in 2012 as part of the Pastoral Group. In the U.S., the Kangal Dog is recognized by the United Kennel Club. In Australia in 2012, the Australian National Kennel Club stopped recognizing the Kangal as a separate breed from the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Hopefully one day the AKC will follow suit.

The Kangal Dog has a short, dense coat that does not require a great deal of grooming. The coat is generally fawn or tan in color with a black facial mask and black shading on the ears. Some white markings may be allowed on the chest, chin or toes but the coat should not be spotted, brindled or broken.

It is very important to start socialization and training right away with Kangal Dog puppies. These dogs require firm leadership and consistent training along with adequate socialization. Kangal Dog puppies tend to grow very quickly and they often develop a tendency to chew, so keep an eye on them. It’s important to take your puppy parenting responsibilities seriously so that your Kangal Dog can grow into his best self.

Photo credit: Jarekt/Wikimedia; Kate Kranzler (Izgi)/Flickr; Sarah Murray/Flickr

Comparable Breeds

Go to Mastiff


  • Height: 26-30 inches
  • Weight: 175-200 lb
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Group: AKC Working
  • Best Suited For: Families with older children, active singles and seniors, guard duty, houses with yards
  • Temperament: Calm, well-mannered, good-natured, sweet
  • Comparable Breeds: Bullmastiff, Great Dane
Go to Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

  • Height: 27-29 inches
  • Weight: 80-150 lb
  • Lifespan: 10-13 years
  • Group: AKC Working
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards, farmers, rural/farm areas, guard duty
  • Temperament: Easygoing, protective, loyal, devoted
  • Comparable Breeds: Great Pyrenees, Kuvasz