How to Identify a Kangal Dog
Kangals, also known as Anatolian shepherds, are impressive dogs of mastiff ancestry. Kangals are generally identified by their characteristic black mask and ears, whole-colored body, and curled tail. You can identify Kangal dogs by the length of their body and forelegs relative to their height, as well. Kangal dogs also have a deep chest that extends to their elbows. Even though Kangals are shepherding dogs, they have a calm temperament and are people-oriented in comparison to many livestock guardian dogs.
Observing the Head and Face
1. Observe the skull.
The Kangal dog has a large, but well-proportioned skull. Its skull is broad and slightly rounded with a slight furrow in its forehead. A distinctive dark “mask” covers the Kangal’s face. It generally covers its nose and muzzle, but can extend beyond its eyes.
- The Kangal’s muzzle tapers toward a large black nose with open nostrils.
2. Examine its eyes.
The Kangal has medium-sized eyes that may be almond or oval in shape. The color of its eyes can range from light amber to dark brown in color. The rims of its eyes are well-pigmented and will be either black or brown.
- Eye-rims that sag or have incomplete pigment are a disqualification.
- Having eyes that are of two different colors or blue eyes is a disqualification, as well.
3. Look at the ears.
The Kangal’s ears are dark in color and complement the color of the distinctive, dark mask on its face. It has triangular-shaped ears with rounded tips. Its ears are also medium-sized where the length of its ears is about six inches and the base about four inches in width.
- Its ears are set no higher than the top of the skull, i.e., slightly below the skull. They lay flat against the side of the Kangal’s face. When alert, the ears are slightly higher.
- Kangals do not have erect ears.
Inspecting the Appearance of the Body
1. Examine its size.
Male Kangals can grow to a height of 30 to 40 inches and weigh 110 to 140 pounds. Female Kangals can grow to a height of 28 to 31 inches and weigh 90 to 120 pounds. As long as the balance between weight and height is maintained, a weight exceeding these parameters is not a disqualification.
- In general, Kangals appear large, impressive, and powerful.
2. Observe the color and length of its coat.
The Kangal is a whole-colored dog. The color of its body can range from cream and pale fawn to gray dun. Its coat is never white, pinto, or brindled, however, it may have white markings on its chest or feet. Kangals also have a short, dense double-coat.
- Its hair lies flat and close to its body; it is neither wavy nor fluffy.
- “Dun” refers to the black guard hairs in the coat. The more black guard hairs there are in its coat, the darker it will be.
3. Inspect the neck and back.
The Kangal has a powerful neck that is arched, muscular, and moderate in length. The hair around the neck and shoulders is slightly longer than its coat creating a protective barrier. The Kangal’s back is muscular and powerful. Its back is level with the withers, i.e., the base of the neck, and gradually arches over the loins.
- The length of the Kangal’s back (from prosternum, i.e., top of the sternum, to buttocks) is slightly longer than its height (from withers to the ground).
4. Measure the height of its forelegs.
The Kangal’s forelegs are relatively long. The length of its front legs (from the elbow to the ground) should measure a little more than 50 percent of its height. Additionally, its forelegs are straight and well-boned with its elbows close to its sides.
- For example, if the Kangal’s height is 18 inches, then the length of its forelegs should be a little over 9 inches.
5. Examine the chest and tail.
The Kangal’s chest is deep and extends to its elbows. Its ribs are well sprung with a distinct tuck up near its loins. The Kangal’s tail is long, reaching its hocks. When the Kangal is relaxed, the tail is carried low and has a slight curl at the end. On the other hand, when it is alert, the tail is carried high and curled in an open circle over its back.
- The length of the hair on the end of its tail is slightly longer than the hair on its body.
Looking at its Gait and Temperament
1. Examine its gait.
The Kangal's gait is fluid and relaxed with strides of moderate length. When running, the Kangal has a single track gait. This means that the Kangal's legs converge to a single line as it runs faster. Kangals also have a high endurance and are fast and agile.
- When viewed from the side, the top of the head, neck, and back of the Kangal form a straight line. This gives it an appearance of stalking.
2. Watch how the Kangal interacts with others.
Because Kangals were traditionally used to guard livestock, they possess a temperament that is typical of these types of dogs, i.e., territorial, alert, and defensive. However, although Kangals are guard dogs, they possess a calm and reasonable temperament. They are also very intelligent and independent.
- They are not naturally aggressive dogs, however, they can be bold, dominant and territorial if challenged.
3. Talk to a breeder.
A Kangal breeder should be able to distinguish between a pure bred and a non-pure bred Kangal. Ask your local Kangal breeder for clarifications concerning the Kangal’s physical appearance and temperament.
- Find local breeders through The United Kennel Club’s website, as well as the Kangal Dog Club of America’s website.
4. Get a DNA test.
DNA testing for pets is widely available these days. Look for a home testing kit from a reputable company, and follow the instructions on the kit as closely as possible. Then simply send your dog's DNA in and you will receive a profile of your dog's ancestry a few weeks later.
- For the most accurate results possible, look for a company with the largest possible database.
- There are a few types of DNA test, but most commonly you will simply have to use a provided swab on the inside of your dog's cheek.