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Kangal Dog Standard presented at Turkish Symposium

The lion-like head of the Best Adult Dog at the Kangal Festival show, July 2005: Mr Ugur Ulusoy’s ‘Bozo’. Working dogs like this often have their ears cropped. Photo: N Atanassov

The 2nd International Symposium on the Kangal Dog was held in central Turkey in July, in conjunction with the 7th Kangal Festival. The impressive setting, near the town of Sivas-Kangal, was the thirteenth-century Alacahan caravanseray, once a stopping place on the trade routes across the vast Anatolian plateau.

This year people again converged on the Alacahan from many parts of the world, but with a different kind of exchange in mind: information about the famous Kangal Dog, Turkey’s national breed.

Delegates from the USA, Canada, southern Africa and many European countries joined a large Turkish audience to hear 14 presentations by researchers and breeders. Academics reported on their studies of health and production aspects of the breed and, especially important for us in the West, there were two genetic studies, including an expanded account of the breed-specific characteristics of Kangals, Akbash and other Turkish dogs.

Dr Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund described the work that shepherd dogs were doing in Namibia to protect livestock; presenting a broader picture, Robin Rigg of the Slovak Wildlife Society reported on the worldwide effort to reintroduce livestock guardians as a means of conserving wild animals such as bears and wolves.

Sue Kocher of the Kangal Dog Club of America spoke forcefully on behalf of rare breed conservationists when she drew comparisons between the endangered status of the Kangal as a purebred animal and rarities of other species, which by contrast are recognized and protected at home and abroad.

Highlight of the day for those of us working to establish the Kangal outside Turkey was the first official presentation of the Turkish breed standard for the Kangal Dog, by Dr Özcan of Istanbul University. This detailed standard had been debated over the past two years by Turkish experts including Dr Özcan, and has now been approved and adopted by the Turkish Kennel Club (TKC).

Representing the TKC, Ümit Özkanal later outlined the functions of this relatively new national kennel club, its organization of multi-breed shows, the registration process and documentation, and its continuing good relationship with the FCI. The TKC operates in association with the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and is currently making great strides in the promotion of pedigree dogs of all breeds in Turkey.

The Kangal Dog is not yet recognized by the Kennel Club in England. If you wish to receive updates on its progress, please write to Margaret Mellor, Showsley Lodge, Towcester, Northants NN12 7RN, e-mail

TKC Breed Standard for the Kangal Dog (key points)

General appearance: Large, well-muscled, balanced dog with impressive stance.

Temperament: Instinctive guardian. Loyal, independent, aloof around strangers without undue aggression.

Head and skull: Mesocephalic, lion-like in males, more refined in females, moderate stop, muzzle blunt, strong jaws, scissor or level bite. Characteristic black mask covering muzzle, nose black. Triangular, pendant ears, often black, carried level with top of skull. Oval eyes, hazel to dark brown, eye rims black.

Body: Strong top line, slight arch over muscular loin. Neck thick with slight dewlap. Chest deep, ribs well sprung. Ratio of height at withers to body length 1:1.2.

Legs and feet: Forelegs straight, elbows close to sides. Hind legs muscular with moderate angulation. Feet large and strong, especially in males. Toes well arched. Dew claws may be present.

Tail: Long, reaching at least to hock, with slight hook when relaxed. When alert carried in open curl over back, forming a circle.

Coat: Double: outer guard hair, thick soft under coat. Short and dense, slightly longer on shoulders and tail. Close-lying, neither wavy nor fluffy, no feathering.

Colour: Solid overall body colour, cream through fawn, beige, pale tan, dun to steel grey. Characteristic black mask. White on chest, under chin, stockings, acceptable.

Movement: Relaxed, even gait, moderate strides; head, neck and body maintain straight line.

Weight and height: When mature: dogs 50–70 kg, 70–85 cm; bitches 40–55 kg, 65–75 cm