Anatolian Shepherd Dogs / Kangal Dogs / Çoban Kopeği
Livestock Guardian Dogs
About the Breed
Anatolian/Kangal Shepherd Dogs, or simply Çoban Köpeği (translates to Shepherd Dogs, as they are known in Turkey), are an ancient land race breed. Their history dates back 6000 years to the Anatolia region, now Turkey. The breed predates the Turkish occupation of Turkey or Anatolia. There has been much conflict around the naming of the breed around the world. and many self proclaimed experts claim to be able to identify a "pure bred" on sight, when in fact are identifying their physical preferences.
We have been involved for many years with KIF (Turkey's recognised Kennel Club - another source of contention for some radicals) including hosting their President Dr Umit Ozkanal here in Australia, where he presented a lecture on the breed/s.
It would be a great misnomer for any keen cynologist, especially one with a reasonable understanding of genetic expression and modes of inheritance to deny there are areas of significant deviation away from a homogeneous phenotype in pockets of the breed around the world. These may attribute to breed development throughout Europe where in the last century influences of other breeds were incorporated to change size, coat and even aggression. Depending on the area, climate, topography and main predators, the dogs are bred to and have adapted to have different characteristics. This is simply the basis for the many varietal types/names used for the dogs by Turks. This sort of type classification is not uncommon in more gentrified breeds, but it is a process in the works currently for our breed.
The ongoing debate around the name and what constitutes the breed standard may be based on name and colour, but it is not questioning one aspect: Livestock Guardian Dog. In most parts of Turkey the role of these dogs is livestock protection. They are and can also used be as property guardians.
Anatolians should have a strong-willed yet stable temperament. They should not be over reactive. They should be able to determine appropriate force to deal with situations at hand.
What is important to note with this breed, as with any other working breed, the dogs should be “FIT FOR FUNCTION”. This includes having the physical characteristics as well as the mental capacity to perform the duties they have successfully done for centuries prior to Western breeding practices.
Here is a link to the Anatolian Shepherd Breed Standard and the Kangal Shepherd Standard as currently standing but being contested.
Our current views are that we need to respect KIF as the Kennel Club of Country of Origin, but be sure to not progress in a fashion that undermines genetic integrity and diversity. Form, function, health, temperament and type are what will constitute a good Çoban Köpeği.
Frequently Asked Q and A
Q. Do they eat a lot?
A. Not much relative to their size. They are not a high energy expending dog. They can also be known to be fussy, and not overeaters. It is important to their long term health that they are never overweight.
Q. Do they need grooming?
A. To an extent. They are a double coated breed, and will shed some hair all year round. Twice a year they will shed heavily, and a good brushing will help remove old coat. However, they will not matt, and could be left without grooming.
Q. Are they good with other dogs?
A. The safest generalisation is to say they are not a ‘dog park dog’ once mature. There are of course exceptions to this, but the breeds function and purpose is not a social one. They tend to be fine with dogs they have been raised with, but will generally be the top dog.
Q. Do they need much exercise?
A. Your breeder should guide you, but it is agreed that exercising a young giant breed dog is not conducive to long term joint health.
Q. Are they easy to train?
A. Yes, they are highly intelligent, perceptive, intuitive and independent. But also aloof, so don’t expect a ‘Border Collie style’ quick to respond to your every menial request. Do not expect an ASD to be a diligent recaller off lead either!
In general, an ASD in a domestic environment needs to a strong, committed and ideally experienced dog owner.