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A kangal standing on a mountain.

Source: Flickr, Steff Joe

Kangal breed overview

  • Average Weight (Male)* — 123.5 pounds
  • Average Weight (Female)* — 96.8 pounds
  • Breed Size* — XLarge
  • Height — 25-31 inches
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Breed temperament — Protective and loyal, and usually not aggressive unless provoked
  • Coat length & texture — Short, dense double coat
  • Coat color — Fawn or sable with a black mask on the face and ears
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Exercise needs — Moderate
  • Barking — Only to alert
  • Intelligence — High
  • Origin — Turkey
  • Breed group — Guardian Dog Group (United Kennel Club)

*Methodology: Average male weight, female weight and breed size are based on calculations from our database of more than 1,400,000 pets. 

Kangal temperament and characteristics 

Kangals have a generally calm and affectionate temperament, and they make loyal and loving family pets. However, their protective and territorial nature is a part of their breeding, and they’re also known for their courage and independence.

They can be playful and do enjoy spending time with their families, but they’re not typically known for being hyper or overly active. Outdoor activities such as walks or runs satisfy the kangal’s need for bonding and physical exercise.

When socialized from an early age, kangals are generally kid-friendly. It’s important to supervise interaction between children and kangals, especially because of their size, strength, and protective instincts. Kangals can be wary of strangers and may not react well to other pets, especially smaller animals like cats or rodents. Early socialization can help minimize these tendencies.

Due to their size and exercise needs, kangals do best in homes with a large yard where they can roam and play. They’re not typically suited for apartment living.

fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Kangals Elliott and Charlie. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Kangals love Zoey.

Caring for your kangal

Caring for a new kangal puppy can feel overwhelming. You’ll want to schedule your first trip to the vet so your pup can stay current on vaccinations and checkups. You might also want to think about puppy-proofing your home and read up on how to prepare for teething.


Kangals were originally bred for guarding livestock. Even though they have a relaxed temperament, they still need regular exercise and mental stimulation to be at their best.

A typical daily exercise routine for a kangal might include a brisk walk or run, as well as playtime with their owner or other dogs. Kangals also enjoy outdoor activities and may enjoy hiking or swimming with their family.

It’s important to note that kangals are a large breed, so it’s crucial to avoid over-exercising them when they are young, as this could put undue stress on their developing bones and joints. For adult kangals, 1-2 hours of exercise per day should be sufficient.

In addition to getting enough exercise, kangals also benefit from mental stimulation. They enjoy training and problem-solving games, such as hide-and-seek, tracking, running an agility course, or solving puzzle toys. This helps keep their minds active and prevents boredom.

Training your kangal

Training a kangal dog requires patience and consistency. Their intelligent, independent nature makes them perfect for taking care of livestock. But that independence also means they can be quite stubborn.

Positive reinforcement training works best for kangals, as they respond well to rewards such as treats or praise. Harsh or physical methods can lead to mistrust and even aggression, which is why it’s essential to establish a strong bond with them.

Kangals love to learn and, with consistent training, can be taught various tasks, such as basic obedience, agility, and tracking. In addition to basic commands, training should also include socializing them to ensure your kangal puppy grows to be a gentle giant.


Kangals have a short, dense coat that is relatively low-maintenance. There are some basic grooming needs that should be addressed, though.

  • Brushing: Kangals have a thick, double coat that sheds moderately year-round. Weekly brushing can help keep shedding under control and remove any loose hair or dirt.
  • Bathing: Kangals do not require frequent baths. They have natural oils in their skin that help keep their coat healthy and clean. Bathing them no more than once a month should suffice, unless they get particularly dirty or start to smell.
  • Nail trimming: Kangals have strong, sturdy nails that require regular trimming to prevent them from becoming too long and causing discomfort or injury. If you can hear the nails clicking on the floor as the dog walks, it may be time for a trim.
  • Ear cleaning: Kangals have drop ears that can trap dirt and moisture, making them prone to infections. It’s a good idea to check their ears regularly and keep them clean and dry. Use a damp cloth or cotton ball to wipe the inside of the ears gently. Never insert anything into the ear canal.
  • Teeth brushing: Like all dogs, Kangals can develop dental problems. Brushing their teeth regularly (at least once a week) can help prevent tartar and plaque buildup and keep their breath fresh. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste formulated for dogs.
  • Skin inspection: As kangals have a dense coat, it is important to keep an eye on their skin to ensure it stays healthy. If you see redness, bumps, or other skin abnormalities, contact your veterinarian.

Diet and nutrition

Kangals have some special dietary requirements due to their size and activity level. Generally speaking, kangals should be eating up to 2.5 cups of dry food each day, spread out over two meals instead of one larger meal in order to help prevent bloat.

It’s important to adjust the amount of food consumed depending on the dog’s activity level, so exercise should be taken into account when portioning food. Pet parents can refer to their veterinarian for advice on food portioning and a nutritionally balanced diet plan. Overall, a balanced diet with healthy caloric levels is essential for kangals to ensure they remain in good health.

History of the kangal

The kangal dog originated in the Kangal District of Sivas Province, where the Turkish people originally bred them as livestock guardians. These large dogs were specifically developed to protect herds of sheep and goats from fierce predators like wolves and bears.

The kangal is one of several strains of Anatolian shepherd dogs, which are commonly found throughout Turkey. In the past, these dogs were not bred for any specific physical traits, but rather for their working ability and natural guard dog instincts. As a result, kangal dogs can vary in size, color, and coat type, although they tend to have a similar calm temperament and work ethic.

The kangal was recognized as a unique breed by the Turkish government in 1985, and since then has gained popularity as a companion dog around the world. In fact, the kangal dog has been declared the National Dog of Turkey and is considered to be a national treasure.

The American Kennel Club has not yet recognized the kangal as a distinct breed, but did recognize the Anatolian shepherd dog in 1996, classifying them into the Working Group. The AKC considers the kangal and the Anatolian shepherd dog to be the same breed, which is also known as goban kopegi or Anatolian karabash. The primary registration body for the kangal in the United States is the United Kennel Club (UKC), where the breed is currently categorized in the Guardian Dog Group.

The first known American instance of Anatolian shepherds, or kangals, was pre-World War II when the breed was used in the secretive “Sheepdog Project.” At the time, wolves were among the greatest threats to American ranchers’ herds of sheep. So, the Department of Agriculture set out to determine which breed of dog would be best for the job of protecting these valuable flocks.

After the passage of the Endangered Species Act which stated predatory wolves could no longer be killed, these kangal shepherd dogs thrived. This is mostly due to the fact that they prefer to intimidate threats, not fight them.

Today, the kangal remains an important breed in Turkey, where it is used to guard livestock and other animals. The kangal is known for its loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature, as well as its ability to work in harsh environments and protect its flock from predators. The breed is also gaining popularity as a family pet and watchdog around the world, due to its gentle nature and fierce loyalty to its family.

Breeds similar to the kangal

Kangals are a very large breed of dog. We’ve also mentioned their tendency to be very independent and stubborn, which means they may not be the best choice for inexperienced dog owners.  If you’re not quite sure that a kangal is right for you, here are some others that share their more desirable characteristics::

  • Australian shepherd. This medium-sized breed is known for being highly intelligent and loyal with a gentle nature. They are an active breed that thrives on physical exercise, making them a great companion for families who enjoy the outdoors.
  • Basset hound. This low-slung hound dog has a friendly and laid-back personality. Despite their appearance, basset hounds are surprisingly active and require plenty of exercise to stay content.
  • Boxer. The boxer is a large breed with an energetic personality and a deep devotion to their family. They make wonderful companions due to their loyalty and naturally affectionate behavior.

Common kangal health problems 

Kangals are a generally healthy breed, but pet parents should be mindful of certain health conditions that can be triggered by genetics, diet, or environmental factors.

  • Bloat. Bloat is a serious health concern and can often be fatal if not treated in time. It occurs when gas builds up in the stomach or intestines, causing them to become enlarged and possibly twist or rotate.
  • Hip dysplasia. This joint condition can cause pain and lameness due to malformed, dislocated, or deteriorated hip joints in the hind legs. It is usually caused by genetics, but can also be triggered by environmental factors such as being overweight or eating an unbalanced diet.
  • Hypothyroidism . A condition where the thyroid glands don’t produce adequate levels of hormones, hypothyroidism can occur in kangals and cause obesity, skin problems, hair loss, and lethargy.
  • Allergies. Skin allergies are common in kangals due to their thick undercoat which causes moisture to build up and itchiness that could lead to inflammation. Food allergies are also quite prevalent and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and other digestive issues.

Cost of caring for a kangal

Dog owners need to be aware that costs associated with treating any of these conditions can add up. Health insurance is an effective way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses while a pet savings account can help set aside funds for unexpected veterinary bills. Taking the time to prepare financially can ensure your pet is always taken care of in case of any health issues.

Kangal fun facts

  • Kangals are one of the oldest known breeds of livestock guardian dogs. They originated in the Sivas province of Turkey and were used to guard flocks of sheep and goats against predators such as wolves, wild boars, and bears.
  • Kangals have exceptional eyesight and hearing. They can see and hear up to five times better than humans, and can detect movement in near darkness.
  • The kangal breed is fiercely loyal to its family and often exhibits a strong protective instinct. Nevertheless, they are also known for their calm and gentle nature around children and other family members. Kangals are known to form close bonds with children and will often go to great lengths to protect them if they perceive them to be in danger.

Frequently asked questions

Can you own a kangal in the United States?

Yes, it is possible to own a kangal in the US. However, since they are not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club, potential owners will need to research reputable breeders and seek out confirmed certification from organizations such as the United Kennel Club. It’s worth noting that obtaining kangal dogs directly from Turkey is not allowed as exportation of the breed is forbidden.

Are kangal dogs aggressive?

Kangal dogs have a strong instinct for protection, but are usually not considered to be an overly aggressive breed due to their naturally gentle demeanor. They react appropriately when responding to threats, but may be too timid around strangers if not socialized properly.

Is a kangal a good family dog?

With proper training and socialization, kangals can make excellent family pets. They are loyal, protective of their family members, and great with young children when raised correctly.

What is it like to own a Turkish kangal dog?

Owning a Turkish kangal can be a great experience – for the right person. These dogs have been bred for centuries with loyalty and guardian instincts at the heart of their reputation. With patience and consistency from their owners, these dogs thrive in family settings where they enjoy having jobs that challenge them mentally and physically.

Is the kangal the most powerful dog?

The kangal dog is considered by some to be the most powerful breed of dog in terms of bite force, which is often measured at about 743 psi (pounds per square inch). The next closest average bite force measurements are the American Bandogge and the Cane Corso at 730 psi and 700 psi, respectively.