The Kangal: A Complete Guide

As far as gentle giants go in the dog world, the likes of Great Danes and St Bernard often spring to mind.

Yet for many dog owners, the faithfulness, strength, and reliability of the Kangal Shepherd Dog make for a much beloved giant dog breed.

The Kangal is a dog that was bred big for a reason. With origins in Turkey, this animal was entrusted with the protection of flocks of sheep and other animals, and to be a shepherd and a farmer’s friend – ever watchful for predators and poachers.

That means that the Kangal is a dog breed that, to this day, is beloved and trusted as a work dog.

However, for the right kind of family, or even the right solitary dog owner, the Kangal can likewise make a distinct, memorable and wonderful pet.

As you might expect, the size and the appetite of the Kangal makes it the kind of dog best owned on its own, without any other pets as distractions.

While the breed is friendly enough, and even low maintenance to some extent, a Kangal dog is sizeable enough to take up plenty of a given dog owner’s time and attention.

These dogs will afford said owner lots of love, protection, and affection all their lives in return, of course – and make no mistake when we say that the Kangal is one of the most distinctive breeds of dog you will ever see.

These are dogs that were bred in ancient times first and foremost as guardians, so you will find that these animals are very territorial.

It’s best to own a Kangal on a large plot of land or to have big enough holdings or property that this dog can become master of his or her domain.

Luckily, Kangal dogs also learn friend from potential foe very rapidly, so their territorial ways are never directed towards members of the family.

However, woe betide anyone who is perceived to endanger the people this pooch holds dearest!

A Kangal will not strike unprovoked, but when all is said and done, it doesn’t have to.

So deep is the voice of this dog, and so large is it compared to most breeds people are used to, that nobody is going to even think of trespassing or trying their luck with you!

However, with proper care and attention, you will see – through this guide – just how much Kangal dogs can be warm-hearted and tender, too.

A light brown Kangal
The Kangal puppies are slow to mature.

Kangal Puppies – Before You Buy…

While nobody ever purchases a puppy without first considering if this is a reasonable decade or more’s worth of commitment, for a Kangal or any other giant dog breed, this line of thinking is especially crucial.

Even as puppies, Kangal dogs are quite large, often quite hungry and always quite driven to assume the role of patrol or guard dog.

In the early phases of life, a Kangal puppy might not know his or her strength and will find it difficult sometimes to stop themselves from getting overexcited and breaking things in the home – unless special care is taken to ensure your pet is kept away from such fragile objects.

Kangal puppies love meeting kids, and will grow up only too happy to nurture and devote themselves to those whom they believe are young comrades in arms.

These dogs are always ready for a hug if your youngsters have had a rough day at school.

And of course, those of you owning ranches or farms will find that your Kangal puppy instinctively takes on the role of its protector – just make sure that the fences surrounding your land are both high and deep, as these dogs are adept at both leaping and digging their way to freedom.

Kangal puppies grow to their full size very slowly and can be clumsy early in life – rest assured, this is a breed that’s full of surprises.

What price are Kangal puppies?

Because of their size, their specialized role as a guard and working dogs, and the importance of only being sold to those homes who understand how best to look after them and are ready for the commitment, Kangal dogs can be more pricey than the average breed.

A baseline figure of $2000 tends to be the norm for Kangal puppies, and this can rise tremendously if they puppies come from a long line of particularly strong or intelligent members of the breed.

How to find reputable Kangal breeders?

By and large, Kangal dogs are distinctive enough that no casual or fly by night dog breeder would be inclined to dabble with them just to make a quick buck.

Because you need to know what you’re doing with Kangal dogs in the first place, it’s not the kind of breed someone can just muddle their way along with and fake being a professional or reputable breeder about.

However, you’re always wise to do your research – online reviews or background checks for certain breeders, that kind of thing.

Similarly, a reputable dog breeder of Kangal puppies, or any other breed, will always let you meet the puppies before finalizing a purchase.

Likewise, you’ll often have the chance to meet the mother too, and between her and the temperament and energy levels of the puppies, you’ll be able to tell pretty easily if these Kangal puppies are well-bred and being well looked after.

Several Kangal's lined up in a row
The Kangal likes to play a little rough with other dogs.

3 Little-Known Facts About Kangal Puppies

Beyond their size and their protective work dog ways, there is much that isn’t as well known about Kangal dogs – very surprising, considering they have been by the side of humankind in some way for many centuries by this point.

Kangal puppies especially are often underestimated or misunderstood, but don’t fret – here are a few fast facts to really get you up to speed with your gentle giants!

  • Kangal puppies have even bigger appetites than fully grown Kangals

Kangal puppies are still growing, albeit much more slowly than most other dogs – including many other giant dog breeds.

While a fully grown Kangal dog nonetheless needs a massive 3000 calories on average per day, a Kangal puppy needs a third again on top of that – 4000 calories total.

It’s best to get to grips with the huge appetites of the Kangal dog breed early on in their lifetime, and your life with this animal. This is one area of Kangal upkeep that needs to be got just right!

  • Kangal puppies are not afraid of anything – even if they should be!

Kangal puppies perhaps seem to have a primal or instinctive knowledge that one day they’ll grow up to become large and in charge!

As such, you might find your Kangal, in his or her rare but notable territorial moments likes to square off or play a little rough with other dogs – even if they happen to be much larger than themselves, at least for the time being.

Most Kangal dogs grow out of their troublemaking phase pretty fast, but certainly keep an eye out for this brave to the point of foolhardy tendency – it can rear its head during adulthood too.

  • Kangal puppies reach physical maturity in about two years

Kangal puppies are slow to mature, to the extent that you might expect after a time that your dog is fully grown from prior experience with other breeds – but you’d be mistaken!

Kangals take two years from birth to reach physical maturity, so definitely make sure that you keep that in mind when letting a Kangal puppy into your life.

Physical Traits of the Kangal

Kangal dogs have tan coats that darken around the nose, and short, neat fur that usually renews in the springtime and the winter.

Although sometimes confused with the Anatolian Shepherd, the Kangal is a distinctive breed all its own – although the common consensus is that the two breeds stem from a common ancestor.

How big is a full-grown Kangal?

These dogs can grow to an astonishing 30 inches in height, making Kangals dogs have a substantial physical presence – and speed and strength to match. This is true of both male and female Kangals.

This, of course, comes from their history as guard dogs, work dogs, and patrol dogs.

This is certainly not a casual or traditional pet breed of dog, but you can rest assured that Kangal dogs are often more adaptive to a more traditional home life than you might realize.

Just make sure your pet has plenty of room to stretch his or her legs and fulfill their role as a protector!

What is the life expectancy of a Kangal?

A Kangal is large and strong, and as such, these dogs tend to have slightly longer lifespans than smaller dogs.

You can expect that these faithful friends will be a beloved family member for quite some time, and will remain active long into their senior years. Kangal dogs, male and female, live between 12 and 15 years.

A Kangal running
Kangal dogs are huge.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Kangal

Kangal dogs are intelligent and are naturally predisposed to pick up new training ideas fast. This is because, for centuries, this dog breed has been bred especially to be a robust and smart companion to humans living off the land.

Kangals are easy to train but tend to be stubborn and set in their ways once they’ve locked their minds into an idea of how things should be. You know that old adage about old dogs and new tricks.

However, a Kangal is unwaveringly loyal to his or her family and flock. You’ll find few dogs more capable as sheepdogs or guard dogs, especially on large plots of land.

In your Kangal’s younger years though, he or she might get a bit ambitious in exploring the boundaries of his or her province – or in other words, when seeing a fence marking the boundary of the land they are guarding, they might try to leap over it and see what lies beyond.

The Kangal Diet

Kangal dogs are very large, and they bring very large appetites to match. This is something you definitely must be ready to make the most of your life with a Kangal dog.

A Kangal of either gender needs 3000 calories per day to enjoy a healthy, happy and active lifestyle. This is best served in kibble or specialized feed for giant or large dog breeds.

It can prove a pricey way to do things, but there’s no denying how important it is to keep these huge dogs happy.

Make sure that your pet is given a good mix of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, and try to keep carbohydrates and complex fats to a minimum.

How much exercise does a Kangal need?

Many dog owners are surprised to learn that Kangals, despite their big appetites, don’t need a huge amount of exercise.

A 40 minute walk per day, or even every other day, is all your Kangal needs to stay on top of their exercise regime.

These dogs are naturally inclined towards the outdoors, so they can otherwise be relied upon to please themselves in staying active and patrolling their domain.

Kangal Health and Conditions

Kangal is much beloved for being extremely resilient and blessed with superb longevity. Similarly, these dogs simply don’t fall unwell too easily, nor do they often succumb to injury.

However, there is one particularly expensive potential issue to be aware of, and it’s a natural affliction that befalls many a giant breed of dog.

That affliction is Canine Hip Dysplasia, and it can affect a good 50% of all Kangals over time. It affects their joints as they age, and can aggravate conditions like arthritis.

This is unfortunately pretty painful for your dog when it comes about, so it’s best to catch it and deal with it as quickly as you can.

My Final Thoughts on the Kangal

While certainly not the kind of dog breed to be owned casually, or even in most mainstream urban families, the Kangal is a distinctive and delightful dog breed that will prove undyingly loyal.

Few dog breeds can compare with the natural instincts for protection and hard work that are baked into the Kangal.

This dog can have an occasionally territorial or boisterous streak, but make no mistake – these dogs are gentle giants through and through.

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