Complete Guide To The Kangal Shepherd Dog: Health, Grooming, Feeding and More

The Kangal Dog is one of several Turkish-bred livestock guardians. Today, this ancient breed is making waves in America as a placid protector with a gracious, reliable temperament. Growing in popularity, this is a dog that you should consider if you want a larger breed.

How Big Does A Kangal Dog Get?

Male30″ – 32″ at the shoulder110-145 lbs
Female28″ – 30″ at the shoulder90-120 lbs

What Do Kangal Dogs Look Like?

Imposing, they’re a long-legged, heavy-boned breed with a mastiff-like head but a leaner, balanced body. Muzzles are blocky and blunt.

Their short double coats range from tan to sable. White is permissible only on the chest, feet and chin. Black masks and ears are key traits and should be well-defined — lack of masking is a disqualification.

Eye color ranges from amber to deep brown with lids rimmed in solid black. Feathered tails are high-set and curl into a taper. The overall impression is of an inquisitive, hardworking dog without an ounce of fear.

What Is The Personality Of A Kangal Dog?

Kangal Dogs are alert, attentive and brave. Protective of their families, they’re watchful over children and other pets. Calm, they’re reserved but thoughtful with strangers and are rarely aggressive.

Built for the outdoors, Kangal Dogs are most content with room to roam. But they’re also adaptable and can cope with city life as long as they get enough exercise — they’re perfect running partners.

Bred to be decision-makers, they like to take the lead. It takes an experienced owner to control dominant behavior. Early socialization and obedience training are the keys to raising a loyal, well-adjusted companion.

On the negative side, these dogs also have the reputation of being predator dogs. As such, you will need to be mindful of how they act around smaller animals such as cats if that’s a concern.

How Much Grooming Does A Kangal Dog Need?

The Kangal Dog’s coat is short but thick with two distinct layers for protection against the weather. They shed moderately year-round with blowouts seasonally. Regular grooming is a must.

Weekly brushing with a slicker thins the undercoat, removing debris and dead hair. Their coarse top coat resists dirt and moisture, so a bath every 3-4 months is enough to refresh their skin and help control shedding.

Most Kangal Dogs get enough exercise to wear their nails down naturally, but if you hear them click — it’s time to clip. Thick, their nails were made for handling rough outdoor terrain, so pet store clippers will struggle to make a clean cut. A grinding tool shortens them without leaving rough edges.

How Much Exercise Does A Kangal Dog Need?

These dogs were bred to be livestock guardian dogs. As such, they vary between needing to stretch their legs and go for a long hike and being able to lay around for stretches at a time.

Note that these dogs are also incredible athletes capable of jumping 6-ft fences in one go. Simply leaving them in a backyard by themselves is not a good idea with this breed.

They are also highly intelligent. If you don’t stimulate or interact with your Kangal enough so that they feel mentally and physically tired when you leave them at home, they will take our their frustrations on things inside your home.

Activities That I Recommend With This Breed:

  • Walking
  • Hiking (both walking and hiking can be done with your dog also wearing a weighted pack; the weight in the pack will help to tire your dog out faster; don’t do this if your dog has any orthopedic issues)
  • Swimming
  • Agility Training (these guys do great at this!!)
  • Dog Parks

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Kangal Dog?

Personally I believe that most foods are fine for most dogs. Some dogs may not do well on some foods. However, as a rule I don’t blanket-prohibit any dietary ingredient from any breed at this time.

This is a breed that requires a large-breed puppy food to help control growth. Growing too fast can cause growing pains and potentially developmental orthopedic issues. For this reason, I recommend to Kangal owners to switch to adult food at around 6 months of age.

Best Puppy Food For Kangal Dogs:

Best Adult Food For Kangal Dogs:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Does A Kangal Dog Live?

Based on their size, I’d estimate they’d live as long as other dog breeds their size – 9-11 years.

What Health Problems Can Kangal Dogs Have?

Like any large breed of dog, Leonbergers are more prone to certain orthopedic issues such as:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Arthritis as they age from these issues as well as normal wear and tear

Obesity is a concern as well, especially as they age. Make sure you can feel the ribs on your dog. If you’re not sure, then ask your veterinarian for help in how to spot when your dog is overweight.

Where Can I Find a Kangal Dog?

Breeder list from the Kangal Dog Club of America – I highly recommend that you go through this particular organization to get a dog of this breed.

Can’t find one this way? You’ll likely need to import one from overseas. Read through this page from the Kandal Dog Club of America to make sure you’re getting the quality of dog you paid for and wanted.

There is a rescue group that works with the Kangal Dog Club of America called Kangal Dog Rescue.

Where Can I Find Out More About The Kangal Dog?

Kangal Dog Club of America

UKC Breed Profile

Interesting Facts About the Kangal Dog

Rare in the US now, the Kangal Dog is making fans fast. Here’s what you need to know about this distinctive — and controversial — breed.

• They’re Turkish

The peoples of South Asia bred more than one type of herding dog — lines can be difficult to distinguish and written records are lacking. However, it’s clear the Kangal Dog was developed in Turkey. Named for the Kangal District of Sava Province, it’s still a fixture there today.

The Battle of the Kennel Clubs

The two most prominent kennel clubs in the US are the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club. Each has its own rules and maintains separate breed standards. The glaring difference between them is that the AKC recognizes breeds within America — the UKC also registers international breeds.

Currently, the AKC doesn’t recognize the Kangal Dog, treating it as a version of the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. The UKC, however, believes there’s enough “uniformity in appearance, disposition, and behavior” to prove they’re a separate breed, recognizing them in 1998.

In 2018, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the governing body for international kennel clubs, reclassified Anatolian Shepherds as Kangal Shepherd Dogs, so expect the controversy to continue.

• They Bite — Hard!

The Kangal Dog has the most powerful bite in the canine world, generating 743 pounds of force per square inch (PSI). For comparison, that’s 43 PSI more than the Cane Corso, 400 more than the Rottweiler and 600 more than humans.

• They’re Long-lived

The average dog lives 12 years, but it’s not unusual for giant breeds to last just 6-8. The good news for Kangal Dog fans is that despite their largess, they’re exceptionally long-lived at 12 -15 years.

• Occasionally, They Have Cropped Ears

The Kangal Dog Club of America is working to update its breed standard. Currently, only dogs with natural ears are approved for competition, but in some parts of North America, owners still crop their working dog’s ears to protect them from predators. The new standard would relax requirements so that otherwise top specimens could be shown without prejudice.

• They Save Wildlife

Kangal Dogs are used worldwide by conservationists to protect farm animals from predators without killing them. In Namibia, they patrol farms for Cheetahs, a protected species, chasing them away without hurting them. It’s a win-win for both farmers and wild animals.