The Kangal Shepherd Dog is found in the high rolling plains country of central Turkey. The approximate geographic center of the region is Sivas City. The Kangal Dog has historically been associated with the town of Kangal; a district town within Sivas Province. While much of the landscape is rolling plains, the region is cut by the Kulmac Mountains and the Tecer Mountains running approximately NE/SW. The Uzun Yayla southwest of Kangal is a major breed and sheep producing area. The Kizilirmak River runs through the province. A karst topography dominates the northern part of the province.
Although Sivas Province is the center of this breeding, good examples of the breed can also be found in parts of the neighboring provinces of Kayseri, Yozgat, Tokat, Erzincan, and Malatya, where they border on Sivas Province. The precise regional boundaries for this shepherd dog cannot be defined, but the demarcation between true ones and other dogs is usually abrupt.
A name well known to the people of Turkey! Its very name evokes the romance and legendary aura of this land so steeped in history. This ancient breed springs forth like a lion from its epicenter – the Kangal District – a region in east-central Turkey located in what is known as the Anti-Taurus. While Turkey has more than one indigenous dog breed, the Kangal is the most famous of them all. This breed’s status is manifested by its portrait on a national Turkish postage stamp. If any dog breed can be characterized as the national dog of Turkey, that breed is the Kangal Dog.
Standing a minimum of 30 inches (dogs) at the withers and weighing an average 120 pounds, the dog is a strongly-built, magnificent dog distinguished by its black face and ears. The short, soft body coat ranges from the light sunlight to steel gray in color and is usually accented with a white chest blaze and white stockings on the feet and legs. Turkish shepherds frequently crop the ears close to the skull, thereby enhancing its leonine appearance. When equipped with the traditional spiked, iron collar around its neck, the dog, in its native land, projects an intimidating and powerful image.
The correct, traditional name for the breed in Turkey is Kangal Kopegi or Sivas Kangal Kopegi. (The Turkish word kopek means “dog” in English. When used with an adjective in the Turkish Language, the word “kopek” takes the form kopegi.) Thus, the direct translation is Kangal or Sivas Kangal. No other name is acceptable to the Turks, nor to its original sponsor in Europe and the United States – The Kangal Dog Club of America, Inc., a non-profit corporation founded to preserve the breed, protect its name, and maintain the Turkish-American standard for the breed.
To understand this specific breed, one needs to understand the context-historical, cultural, and physical in which it is found. Our objective is to provide all the information needed to understand and appreciate this magnificent breed.
If any dog breed can be characterized as the “national dog” of Turkey, this is the one. Simply stated, the breed is a cultural and historic icon of the Turkish people.
The image of the Kangal Shepherd Dog in Turkey is very positive. This image connotes power, strength, and generates a great sense of pride. There is a feeling of awe for the great Kangals of Turkey!