Are Kangal Dogs Dangerous?
You may wonder if a Kangal dog is dangerous, and rightfully so, as the dog is an obviously large dog – around 150 pounds when fully grown. Plus, it’s also bigger than a Rottweiler, which is considered a dangerous breed of dog.
In addition, you have to consider the dog bite force of the Kangal breed – about 743 PSI compared to the Rottweiler’s bite force of 328 PSI. However, the Rottweiler locks its jaw when biting as well, making it more, if not just as lethal in this respect.
A well-socialized Kangal is not considered dangerous, as it often is gentle with children. However, it does tend to wander and stray if it is not well contained. Plus, you have to remember that all dogs bite. So, getting bit by a Kangal can lead to some expensive medical bills, even a loss of life.
While a Kangal is not considered dangerous in the same way as a Rottweiler or Doberman Pinscher, it certainly can inflict injury if it feels threatened. The dog, which is used to guard livestock, has been helpful in preventing attacks from wolves, bears, jackals, and cheetahs in different parts of the world – both historically and currently.
Industrialized agriculture has dwindled the number of Kangals (khan-ghals) protecting livestock today. However, the dog’s strapping size and bone-crushing bites still can’t be ignored – especially by wildlife predators.
The dog was originally bred in the City of Sivas in central Turkey to defend, not herd, sheep. The dogs protect flocks from jackals, wolves, and bears. Also, since 1994, about 500 Kangals were introduced in Namibia to protect livestock from attacks by Cheetahs. Doing so has been successful, with the program expanding into Kenya. The cheetah’s bite force is 475 PSI.
Unfortunately, the dog is also used for dog fighting in Turkey. Because the Kangal is naturally defensive, breeders cross-breed the dog to increase the dog’s aggression. Drugs and steroids are also used to inflame the normally giant dog’s protective yet mild-mannered temperament. These tactics have also muddled the Kangal’s image as a natural treasure of Turkey.
Therefore, it’s just not the dog’s size that may lead people to wonder about the dog’s behavior. Nevertheless, size is indeed an important consideration. Not only is the dog large, but it displays a thick coat and an attentive expression – all of which can appear rather formidable.
As a result, the dog’s size and strength may not be the right fit for an inexperienced dog owner. So, it helps to learn more about the breed and its temperament. When in the right hands, Kangals prove to be loving toward their family as well as gentle protectors.
If they have a bad owner, just like any dog, they may prove to be a threat. In these cases, their size also adds to their unpredictability and risk.
Let’s review the breed by first defining the Kangal dog and then taking a look at its origins and physical and personality traits.
What Is a Kangal Dog?
Again, the Kangal dog is a large breed of livestock guardian dog that originated in Turkey. These dogs were bred as overseers of sheep and goats and are known for being independent, territorial, and protective of their flock.
Kangal dogs have a sturdy, muscular build with a thick neck and broad head. They stand over 30 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 150 pounds. Their coat is short and dense, typically tan in color. The dogs display a black mask and ears. Kangals are often described as having a proud and noble expression.
Kangal dogs are loyal and devoted to their families but wary of strangers. They can be aggressive toward other dogs and animals, so early socialization is important. Kangals are intelligent, independent thinkers and require patient, experienced owners. They are natural defenders and will protect their homes and property.
While Kangal dogs can make great companions for the right owner, their size, strength, and territorial nature mean they are not ideal for inexperienced dog parents. They require daily exercise and attention and need to have a job to do, whether guarding livestock or protecting a home. Kangals that are bored or untrained may become destructive or aggressive.
Are Kangal Dogs Considered Dangerous by Nature?
Kangal dogs are not inherently dangerous, but their size, strength, and guarding instinct mean they can be a threat if not properly trained. Some countries have banned Kangals due to concerns over aggression.
Moreover, you cannot take a Kangal out of Turkey. Known, as well as an Anatolian Shepherd, the Kangal is banned in Denmark, Italy, and Belarus.
Therefore, responsible breeding and ownership are essential to promoting this breed’s best qualities as a devoted protector and companion.
The Origins and History of the Kangal Dog Breed
The Kangal dog originates from Sivas Province in central Turkey, where it was bred as a guardian for sheep and livestock. These dogs are one of the oldest molosser breeds, dating back over 3,000 years.
Molosser-type dogs describe dogs that feature a broad chest, a large stature, and muscled legs. They primarily include bully breeds, mastiffs, or dogs derived from the two subgroups over time. The lighter-colored dogs are usually considered guardians of flocks, while darker-colored molossers describe dogs that fall under home protectors – dogs that guard homes at night.
The Kangal is a massive dog, weighing up to 150 pounds, bred to be an independent protector of sheep in Turkey – safeguarding the flock from predators like wolves, bears, and jackals.
Historically, the dogs lived with the sheep full time and had to defend them, even against much larger predators. This required a breed that was large, fearless, and therefore able to easily fight off attackers.
Kangal dogs are still used today to guard sheep and goats in Turkey and are renowned for their protectiveness and territoriality. As a result, many people consider them aggressive or dangerous because of their size and protective instincts.
In truth, Kangal dogs are gentle, loyal, and affectionate towards their owners and families. They only become aggressive when they perceive a threat.
Properly socialized Kangals, therefore, make great family companions. However, early positive exposure to people and other dogs is important. Kangals require patient, experienced owners who can set clear rules and provide strong leadership when communicating with the breed.
Kangal Ownership Tips for Ensuring Good Behavior
According to dog training professionals, owners who adopt Kangal dogs should use the following best practices to reduce any aggressive tendencies:
- Give the dog plenty of exercise and play. A bored dog with pent-up energy can be destructive or tends to bite.
- Be consistent and firm in your training. Don’t let the dog become pushy or stubborn.
- Socialize the dog from an early age. Take them to meet new people and dogs to prevent aggression towards strangers.
- Never encourage aggressive behavior. Don’t play rough with a Kangal, or teach them to be overly protective.
- Make sure to spay or neuter. Intact males, in particular, are more aggressive and difficult to handle.
With the right care and environment, Kangal dogs can make wonderful companions and protectors. But they require an experienced owner who can properly handle this large working breed. They can either be a friend or foe – depending on how they’re socialized or trained.
Kangal Dog Size, Weight, and Physical Characteristics
Kangal Dogs are impressive in size and stature. They are considered a large breed, weighing up to 150 pounds for males and 110 pounds for females. Kangals stand up to 34 inches tall at the shoulder, giving them an intimidating presence. Despite their size, Kangals are generally laid-back, if not loyal and devoted animals.
Kangal Dogs have a distinctive appearance with their massive head, dark muzzle, and curled tail. They have a double coat with dense, short hair. Their coats can come in light blue to gray with black shadings. As mentioned, some Kangals have a black mask and black ears.
Kangals have a sturdy, muscular build, especially the males. Their paws are rounded, and their ears drop down. This breed conveys a noble and alert expression – an expression that is more pronounced given the dog’s dark brown almond-shaped eyes.
Males, in particular, develop a mane as they age. It gives them an especially majestic lion-like appearance. Due to their thick coat and build, Kangal dogs require daily grooming to keep their hair from matting and tangling. Regular bathing and brushing, especially when they are shedding, keeps the coat clean and prevents loose hairs from collecting in the home.
Once more, Kangals are not inherently aggressive or dangerous dogs. With proper socialization and training from an early age, Kangals can become friendly and accepting of new people.
In the right hands, Kangals are calm, patient, and loving companions.
More About Kangal Dog Temperament and Personality Traits
The properly trained Kangal has a demeanor that matches its size—”largely” calm and affectionate but also alert and protective.
Friendly but Distrustful of Strangers
Kangal dogs are very friendly and accepting of people they know and trust, including children and other pets. However, they tend to be aloof or even wary of strangers and unfamiliar dogs or animals.
That is why early socialization is important. It prevents aggression towards strangers and promotes friendliness. Kangals that are well-socialized from an early age tend to be more easygoing and welcoming of new people over time.
Loyal and Devoted
Kangal dogs are extremely loyal to and devoted to their families. They tend to bond very closely with their owners and love spending time with the people they care about. Kangals are committed companions who want to be by their owner’s side as much as possible. This loyalty and devotion is what makes them excellent guard dogs.
Independent and Stubborn
Like many livestock guardian breeds, Kangal dogs are self-sufficient, intelligent, and bull-headed. They like to think for themselves and, therefore, may be difficult to train using traditional obedience methods.
Positive reinforcement training with treats, play, and praise is the most effective approach. Harsher discipline will likely backfire. Therefore, Kangal owners need to be patient, consistent, and firm but fair.
Requires Plenty of Space
Kangal dogs require a large amount of space. They are not suitable for apartment living and do best with a large fenced yard where they can roam and exercise freely.
Kangals that do not get enough space and activity frequently become restless, bored, and often destructive. Daily exercise, play, and interaction with their owners are important for a Kangal’s well-being and happiness.
While Kangal dogs are naturally protective, they are, again, not naturally aggressive or dangerous dogs. However, their bite force and size also mean you don’t want to rough house playfully with the dog. Doing so can lead you to seek emergency medical care.
Are Kangal Dogs Dangerous? Examining the Controversy More In-Depth
Needless to say, Kangal dogs have a controversial reputation. Some people consider them aggressive and dangerous, while others view them as loyal guard dogs. Let’s review and re-examine the facts.
A History of Guarding
Kangals were originally bred as guard dogs to protect sheep and goats from predators in Turkey. They are naturally territorial and distrustful of strangers, sounding an alarm when unknown people or animals approach. Some people mistake this behavior for aggression.
But Kangals are typically not aggressive – at least, they’re not aggressive without undue cause.
Size and Strength
Weighing up to 150 pounds, Kangals are powerful dogs. Their size and strength, combined with their guarding instinct, lead some people to naturally label them as menacing, if not scary. The gentle giants, as noted, are primarily aggressive when they are guarding. Their size, however, works against them – even when they are behaving playfully.
Banning Controversies (in New Jersey)
Breed-specific legislation is controversial, as it targets dogs based solely on their breed rather than individual behavior. Both nature and nurturing shape a dog’s temperament, so nurturing Kangals with positive training and socialization must be done from an early age to ensure they are well-adjusted and trustworthy companions.
New Jersey recognizes that certain types of dogs have fighting characteristics that ban them from import into the state. Most of these dogs are not recognized by the Kennel Club. Dogs that are known to have characteristics for fighting are among the banned canines in the Garden State.
These dogs include Kangals as well as American Staffordshire Terriers, Wolf Hybrids, Mastiffs, and the Cane Corso. While it’s not unlawful to own a Kangal born in New Jersey, you’re not allowed to bring it into the state.
Because of their strong guarding instinct, Kangals require experienced, responsible owners. As with any large breed, Kangals must be obedience trained and learn to respond to commands to control unwanted behavior.
New Jersey follows a strict liability dog bite statute. Therefore, a dog’s owner is responsible for any injuries their dog causes – even if they used reasonable care to protect or warn others or to restrain the dog from attacking another party. The only exception to this rule is when the victim instigates the aggression or provokes the animal to attack.
If you’re bit by a Kangal or any other dog, then the sooner you speak with an attorney, the sooner you can learn about any compensation you may be owed for medical costs, lost earnings, or pain and suffering. You have two years to file a claim in the Garden State. After that time, you won’t be able to submit a case.
Kangal Dogs as Guard Dogs and Their Protective Instincts
To discourage unwanted behavior or aggression, Kangal owners need to keep training positive and ongoing. This should start early–when the Kangal is a pup–to avoid problems with aggression or fearfulness.
Socialization and Training
While Kangal dogs make natural guardians, they require significant socialization and training to become well-adjusted companions. Without early positive experiences with people and other dogs, Kangals may become overly aggressive or feel threatened by other dogs or people outside their family.
Obedience training helps these large dogs become more controllable in a variety of situations. By practicing patience, consistent training, and socialization, a Kangal owner can convert the dog’s willfulness into single-minded devotion.
With their massive size and loud bark, these dogs naturally deter unwanted intruders and protect their territory. However, to become trustworthy family members, Kangal dogs require dedicated socialization and training to avoid behavioral issues that lead to attacks.
Because children and elderly people get attacked more often than other age groups, they are especially vulnerable if they come across an attacking dog – especially one the size of a Kangal.
Training and Socializing A Kangal Dog
It’s important for Kangal dog owners to begin basic training as soon as they bring their Kangal puppy home. Even focusing on simple commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” or “lie down” can make a big difference in how a dog behaves.
Using positive reinforcement training allows owners and dogs to bond. This is done by the giving of treats and praise. Early positive experiences with training will make a Kangal eager to please as it gets older and more acclimated to its environment.
Also, early socialization is key to preventing aggression and fearfulness. Dog owners, therefore, must remain positive with training and regularly walk and exercise their dogs.
As mentioned, Kangals are intelligent but stubborn dogs. Therefore, training does not end when a dog is fully grown. An owner must practice patience, consistency, and firmness.
Owners need to use positive reinforcement but also be consistent with rules and corrections. That means that owners should not yell or physically punish their Kangal, as this can make aggression and behavior problems more likely.
They must also schedule exercise and play times to prevent boredom, which can also lead to unwanted problems down the line.
Training a Kangal, as noted, is a continuous process – a process that involves reinforcing the basic commands and teaching the dog tricks to exercise its mind.
Without this type of intervention, a Kangal, given its contrary nature, may become willful and difficult to handle. Dog owners should enroll their dogs in both intermediate and advanced dog obedience classes, as well as provide ongoing training at home.
Not all Kangal owners have this type of patience or time, so some Kangals may not be adequately trained or socialized. This is important to remember when considering the kind of threat this dog breed may present.
Dealing with a Large and Aggressive Dog: Best Practices for Staying Safe
If you happen to have an unexpected run-in with an aggressive dog, you can reduce your risk of injury by following the tips below.
While you may be startled when dealing with a snarling and aggressive large dog, your chance of injury is greatly reduced if you stay composed. Any feelings of panic translate in a canine’s mind as a threat, which increases the likelihood of an attack. Breathe deeply, remain grounded, and don’t make a sudden movement.
Give the dog space.
When confronted with an aggressive dog, it’s vital to respect their personal space. Back away slowly without turning your back on the animal. This gives the dog an opportunity to retreat while minimizing the risk of provoking it further.
Use non-threatening body language.
Your body language plays a significant role in how a dog interprets your intentions. Keep yourself facing sideways rather than directly toward the dog. That way, you’ll appear less confrontational. Avoid direct eye contact, as this may be seen as a challenge in canine communications.
Staring, especially at an aggressive dog, provokes an adversarial response. Remember, too, that you need to use a soothing and soft tone of voice. Screaming or yelling will only spur the dog on to bite you or attack.
Distract the dog with an object or treat
If you sense that a bite might be imminent, you might try diverting the dog’s attention by tossing an object or a treat a safe distance away. This approach may create enough time for you to escape to a place of safety. The idea is to get the dog’s mind off of the attack.
Use barriers for protection.
Using a physical barrier between yourself and the biting dog can help minimize potential harm as well. If available, place an object, like a trash can lid or even a backpack between you and the animal. This will add a protective layer if it decides to go ahead and attack.
Protect yourself against a possible encounter.
If you encounter aggressive dogs in your daily routine, you may have to carry an ultrasonic dog deterrent device. This electronic device offers a humane way to prevent attack by using a high-pitched sound that only a dog hears (about 20,000 Hz). The noise hurts the dog’s ears and prevents it from going forward. However, if you use this method, you’ll need to make sure it operates. Usually, it will stop an approaching dog from up to 40 feet.
Kangal Dog FAQs: Answering Common Questions About This Unique Breed
Kangal dogs are a unique breed with some interesting characteristics. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the breed. Some of the questions have been addressed above but are worth repeating.
Are Kangals naturally aggressive?
No, Kangals are not inherently aggressive. While they were originally bred as guard dogs to protect livestock from predators, Kangals tend to be quite friendly. However, they are very large, powerful dogs, so they require experienced owners who can properly train and socialize them. Not everyone, unfortunately, has the time to appropriately train and socialize their dogs.
How much exercise do Kangals need?
Kangals are active dogs and require daily exercise. They need at least an hour of activity every day to stay happy and healthy. Kangals enjoy activities like walking, jogging, hiking, and running along while you bike. Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, Kangals can become bored, inactive, and may develop behavioral issues or destructive tendencies over time.
Are Kangals easy to train?
Kangals can be challenging to train due to their independent nature and willful demeanor. However, with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement training, Kangals can become well-trained and obedient dogs.
Experienced Kangal owners know it’s important to establish themselves as the pack leader. They should be firm and fair yet friendly at the same time.
Once Kangals learn to respect their owner as the leader, they will follow commands and become eager to please.
What is the lifespan of a Kangal dog?
On average, Kangals live 10-12 years. Some Kangals live longer, up to 15 years, with proper care, nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care.
What percentage of bites come from unneutered dogs?
Around 70% of unneutered male dogs (including Kangals) are responsible for bites.
Are Kangals among the 10 top dogs that cause fatal attacks?
No, Kangals are not among the top 10 – not even the top 20. The top 10 dogs that cause fatal attacks include the Pitbull, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Bulldog, Mastiff, Husky, Labrador, Boxer, and Doberman – in that order, respectively. In 80% of dog attack cases, the breed could not be determined.
Does the Kangal have the greatest bite force of any dog?
Yes, the Turkish Kangal Shepherd has the greatest bite force worldwide at 743 PSI. Following the Kangal is the British Bandog with a bite force of 730 PSI. Other dogs with astonishing bite forces include the Italian Cane Corso (700 PSI) and the French Dogue de Bordeaux (556 PSI). By comparison, the Pitbull’s bite force is 235 PSI. A human bite force registers at 120 to 140 PSI.
Call a New JerseyDog Bite Lawyer Now
Kangal dogs have a fearsome reputation. While they are not inherently dangerous, you should use caution when dealing with any dog that is showing some aggressiveness. If you’ve suffered a dog bite or attack in New Jersey, contact an attorney now. You may be entitled to compensation. Find out more about your rights today. Call The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer for a consultation immediately.