Kangal dogs : an Andrew Johnston essay

April 29, 2010 •
Kangal History by Andrew Johnston
Olympic Dogs

About Kangal dogs,

“The most valid question I’ve heard the Anatolian people pose is: ‘why would a shepherd care what color his dog was if it did it’s job?’  And I have to admit I’ve no answer for that. I’ve always found those in dogs that were particularly concerned with a dab of white here or black there, be it Kangal, Boerboel, or a Dogo were not the people truly interested in function.”

Kangals

In a perhaps telling twist, the most ancient of breeds I work with may have the least to choose from by way of written history. A breed that’s purported to have been around for thousands of years, sitting as Turkey does at the geographical cross roads of the world, that history might be quite busy and all but impossible to document anyway. Or perhaps, as a true land race breed, there is really very little that can be said with certainty; except the breed has been around almost as long as animal husbandry.

The Kangal vs Anatolian debate is agenda driven on all sides and frankly not very interesting to me. In a nutshell it seems that almost anything that came from turkey could get papers as an Anatolian, hence the wide range of phenotypes and temperaments available under that flag, I can assure you there are endless kangal-like dogs running the streets and country sides of Turkey…. They are not all kangals.

The most valid point the kangal people have is that “Kangal” is the term the Turks themselves use, and more importantly, the term “Anatolian” is not. So while there may be some window of contention among Turks as to what exactly is or isn’t a “pure Kangal.” There is no such debate regards an “Anatolian”…. because the term has no meaning amongst Turks ! Except perhaps amongst westernized Turks, who sometimes use it as an umbrella term to speak to all Turkish dogs, of which there are several distinct groups and much crossing.

The most valid question I’ve heard the Anatolian people pose is:

” Why would a shepherd care what color his dog was if it did it’s job ?”

And I have to admit I’ve no answer for that. I’ve always found those in dogs that were particularly concerned with a dab of white here or black there, be it Kangal, Boerboel, or Dogo, were not the people truly interested in function.

The reality, as I see it, is that the definition of an “Anatolian” was much looser in many regards, than that which is currently applied to defining Kangals. So, as is obvious to the eye, some dogs called “Anatolians” probably are Kangals, but many are not. And yet since they have been given the same flag they can, have, and continue to be mixed.

Given that we had the audacity to rename the breed I guess it should come as no surprise we didn’t seem too selective in what wore the flag Anatolian, allowing all manner of dogs from Turkey to be mixed with what ever Kangals were imported, under whatever name.

But The Kangal “community” is primarily composed of a most diss-agreable collection of control freaks, hippocrits, and mercenaries. A batch of old ladies who could not be further from the the men in Turkey who historically dealt in these dogs, in any, and every regard. The Kangal in America is largely in the strangle hold of hobby, novelty, show, breeders. Ranchers are not likely to pay the prices they ask, or humor the interrogations and conditions they impose on potential buyers. Which means the breed is very liable to be put on the fast track to selection pressure dementia

So, Let it be known then, I will beat anyone in America’s price on a kangal to a true working home, with real predator issues. Not novelty this or that, on a postage stamp estate that could be guarded by anything that barks. REAL STOCK, REAL PREDATORS, REAL ACREAGE; if you have those things, I want to be the guy that gets you a Kangal. And if you don’t have those things…….. I’ll probably beat anybody’s price anyway, cause the KDCA pissed me off, I’m gonna take a bite out their pie, and I’d personally not mind seeing the price come down to a level that their ilk don’t traffic in, and ranchers might.