Anatolian Shepherd (Kangal Shepherd Dog)

Anatolian Shepherd (Kangal) is a powerful and large dog breed mostly known for its impressive size and strong body which is covered by a thick hair of different shades of gray. His full name is Kangal Çoban Köpeği but it's also known worldwide by Kurdish Kangal and Turkish Kangal. This breed is considered one of the best guard dogs in the world. They are very brave, fast and agile dogs. They are very loyal to their duties. Although they look intimidating and are very protective they are a gentle giant who has unconditional love for his owner and although they are great watch and guard dogs they have a very peaceful nature. This dog is considered a national dog of Turkey and it can be found on a Turkish postage stamp.

Kangals have an average lifespan of 12-15 years, which is a lot longer than other giant breeds.

Yes, Kangals are legal, but some state laws have specific legislation, so it would be best to check your local laws before getting one.

Kangals can make great pets, but it is important to understand that they are primarily a working breed. They are natural protectors and will be territorial. They require a lot of training and socialization to become good family pets.

Anatolian Shepherd (Kangal Shepherd Dog)


25-31 in (65-78 cm)

Anatolian Shepherd (Kangal Shepherd Dog)


88-132 lb (40-60 kg)

Anatolian Shepherd (Kangal Shepherd Dog)



Anatolian Shepherd (Kangal Shepherd Dog)

Life Expectancy:

12-15 years

Breed History

Farmers from the Kangal District of Sivas Province in Turkey were faces with big problems. The predators such as wolfs and bears constantly were attacking and thus reducing the number of their flock of sheep. They needed someone who will be able to stand up to these predators and protect the sheep and property. At that point, the Kangal made its debut. The name derives from the Kangal town and the Turkish people refer to these dogs as Sivas Kanal or Kangal Coban Kopegi. These dogs protected herds of sheep for centuries in the Sivas region. They could be seen only in the Sivas region until the 80s and now these dogs can be found all over the world but still mostly in Turkey. The word of the fierce protector spread fast prompting other villagers to start breeding their dogs. Because Muslims were not allowed to keep animals in the house, these dogs needed to stay outside. That isolation helped them became a strong and fierce protector.

Kangal vs Anatolian shepherd

Many people talk about these two as a single dog breed but they are two separate breeds that have a lot of similarities but also plenty of differences. Here are a few things about how you can distinguish Kangal from the Anatolian Shepherd.

Coat differences

Kangals will only come in one color with the black mask. Anatolian shepherd can have lighter colors with some spots and don’t have to have a black mask.

Different jobs

Kangals are dogs for guarding and protecting and they attack predators without orders while the Anatolian Shepherds are mostly watchdogs and will more often scout danger rather than attack predators.

Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
Kid Friendly
Dog Friendly
General Health

This dog is very easily recognized by its massive head, dark muzzle, and curled tail which is carried over the back. The strong black mask can be found on all puppies, but that will become less pronounced as they mature.

FUN FACT: Two to three Kangal dogs can perfectly protect 150 – 250 sheep.

FCI standards

This dog belongs to the group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molossoid breeds – Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs) – Section 2.2 (Molossoid breeds, Mountain type) and male dogs can reach 28 - 31 inches (72 – 78 centimeters) heights at the withers while the females can reach 25 - 28 inches (65 – 73 centimeters) with the tolerance of 2cm. Male dogs weigh between 105 - 132 pounds (48 – 60 kilograms) while the females can weigh 88-110 pounds (40 – 50 kilograms).

This dog breed is currently not recognized by the AKC.

Turkish Cynology Association officially set a standard for this dog breed in 2011.

kangal shepherd dog puppy


Turkish Kangal has a short, dense coat and it doesn’t require much grooming except for the shedding season (twice a year). At this time daily brushing is advised using a metal comb. Outside the shedding season, you can brush his coat twice a week to maintain his hair healthy and clean. Coat colors can be light yellow, golden yellow, cream to light brown or sandy to dark gray, with a pronounced dark, black mask and with black ears. White markings can be allowed on the chest, chin, and toes, but the coat can't be brindled and spotted. Because their skin does not have sweat glands, they do not sweat. However, they have plenty of oil glands. They have an oily substance that protects their skin. This oily substance keeps his skin moist and provides them protection and prevents cracking. When the dog is washed, this oily substance will also be washed, as it will damage the skin. Because of that, it is not advised to bath your dog too much.

Kangal Shepherd Dog exercise 

This is an active dog breed that requires daily exercise. Working dogs will exercise themselves as they are patrolling the property and protect the livestock, but if you have a family dog you need to provide him with enough exercise for his health and happiness. If you don’t provide him with enough physical and mental stimulation this dog can become hard to handle. They can become bored, destructive and anxious. He is best suited for families that have an extra-large yard where he can roam. When in public never walk them without a leash, and you should only let them off the leash in private property that is secured. For any livestock protection dog is practically impossible to undergo basic dog obedience so you should avoid obedience and agility training. If you provide them with enough daily exercise he will develop into a healthy and happy dog.

Such a large and powerful breed needs a proper diet. Many Anatolian Shepherd owners decide to feed their dog's raw diet, but if you are not one of them, you should provide them with high-quality industrial food. Food rich in protein like the Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food might work for your dog. You can always ask your vet for advice and they will tell you what the best option for your dog is.

Training and socialization

Kangal is a powerful and strong dog breed who needs a firm owner who will know how to take care of him. They are not best suited for first-time owners. Kangal Shepherd Dog is not like the other dog breeds because he's been breed for years to be a guardian. Whether your dog will need to protect livestock or he will be a family dog you need to train him from the puppy age. Expose your dog to many different people, sights, sounds so he will get familiar with all the different situations. Don’t make a mistake and force your puppy to be unfriendly toward strangers. As they mature they will become more independent and their level of protectiveness will increase. They will start acting by instincts. If they show any sign of aggression during training you should discourage that type of behavior and they should be rewarded when they are calm and even-tempered. Don’t worry that this type of training and socialization for them to be friendly with a stranger will affect their guarding abilities. They will still do their job in the presence of intruders or unfriendly strangers. Their ability to defend a herd is innate to them and doesn’t require special training.


Although there can be exceptions, Turkish Kangals are not aggressive toward people. Unless there is a threat or provocation they will not act aggressively without reason. Especially they are very protective of women and children. If the Kangal is chasing the person, when he catch him he will knock him on the ground and put his front feet on him. These dogs are very brave. They are mostly raised in pairs. They will constantly watch each other during the fight and will never allow their partner to be crushed.

They have a three-phase approach when they face the predator

Phase 1- barking

When they sense the danger he will warn the enemy that he is present. They try to intimidate the attacker.

Phase 2 – roaring

If the enemy is still there and it's not intimidated they will start roaring. Roaring in the animal world means that if the intruder doesn’t move back the fight is on.

Phase 3 – attack

If the predator even after a roaring approach, this dog breed will attack the intruder to protect the flock and the territory.

Dog fights

Like many other shepherd dog breeds, Kangal type dogs are still used for dog fighting in Turkey. They are mostly crossed with the bigger type dogs called Malaki to get stronger, faster and much more aggressive dogs who participate in dogfighting. Because of this crossing, most of the people will not recognize true pureblood Kangal Shepherd Dog.

FUN FACT: This dog has the strongest bite force of any dog breed – 743 pounds per square inch (PSI).

Kangals vs. wolfes

The primary role of Kangal dogs was to protect the flock of sheep from the attacks of wild predators such as bears and wolves. They are the Kangal worst enemy. Kangals are trained from the puppy age to be familiar with the wolves. Many farmers and the shepherds will put a spiked collar on their dogs to protect them from a wolf bite. This collar is much needed because wolf bite force is around 400 PSI and some say that a wolf can bite with a force od 1200 PSI when protecting himself. The Kangal is on the same playing field as a wolf because he's been training his whole life for that role. The Turkish people have a saying that a successful dog is the one who “strangled the wolf”. In the new era, it's not that common to witness Kangal and wolf fight.


Although they are calm breed they are completely forbidden in Denmark (importing, breeding and selling). In Ukraine, they are on the dangerous dog list and in Belarus, they must be kept in the fenced areas with the sign on it. A person who does not have a certificate that they know how to properly handle these dogs cannot walk them as well as the person under the age of 18.

kangal shepherd adult dog


Although they are big and powerful dogs they are very good family dogs also. They require much space so the apartment is not the best suited for this dog breed.

As they are very protective of their pack the same is with the family members especially kids. They will be affectionate and calm around them and will not pose a treat. Because of their size, he won't mind if the kids are playing roughly with him. But also you need to set some boundaries so the kids won't cross them when playing with the dog.

FUN FACT: Don’t be surprised if your dog starts to guard family pets or your children.

This dog breed can get along with other dogs and animals if raised together but won't allow any strange animals to get onto his territory.

Health problems

This dog breed is typically healthy as long as they were breed by responsible breeders. Their average lifespan is 12 to 15 years so you will enjoy his company for a long period. Like all other dog breeds, they are prone to some health problems. Because of their massive size, they are most prone to hip dysplasia but like we said if the dog is from a good breeding program there is less possibility that your dog will end up with hip dysplasia. Other health problems that these dogs are prone to are benign tumors (harmless bumps on the skin that cause discomfort and can disrupt daily activities) and entropion (happens when the eyelid folds inward and cause discomfort and irritation).

If you are considering buying a Kangal dog we advise you to find a good and responsible breeder and ask him for health certificates of his breeding dogs. This still will not mean that your future dog will not develop any health problems but it’s the best you can get.

Kangal breeders

Although these dogs can be very good family dogs they are not for everyone, especially for first-time owners. These dogs require a firm leader who will know how to properly train them so they will not end up with problematic behavior. Take your time and experience this dog breed before you contact Kangal breeders. If it's possible, you need to attend dog show so you can see this grownup dog in person. This dog breed is quite rare and with that be prepared to spend a lot of money. Because they are so rare don’t be tempted to buy a dog from a bad (puppy mill) breeder. If you do so maybe you will pay less for the dog but your dog can end up with some serious health problems. Take your time and be patient. Find a good Kangal Shepherd Dog breeder. If he does not have any puppies at that moment he will surely recommend a few fellow colleagues so you can find your new dog. They are without a doubt a prized dog breed. If you get this dog take your time and focus on his training and socialization and we assure you that all will be worth it because you will end up with the best family dog you can get. If you need a dog that will fearlessly protect your property and the herd then you should choose Kangal dog. This is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world and wolves and other predators don’t stand much chance in the fight with them.


World Dog Finder team


Updated at17.06.2020.