Written by Ella White
Sometimes, two dog breeds look so similar, and are so similar in their personalities, that it sparks debate around whether or not they’re actually two different breeds after all. One such debate has been swirling around two Turkish breeds: the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal.
In this blog, we’ll look at the similarities and differences between these two large working dogs and aim to shine a light on whether or not they’re really the same after all.
Understanding the history of any breed is an important decision maker when picking the best breed to suit your family and lifestyle. One of the reasons so many people think Anatolian Shepherds and Kangals are the same dog is because they share an origin story; both originate from around 2,000 BC in Turkey where carvings were found showing dogs resembling these breeds.
According to the American Kennel Club, both breeds are the same and are known as Anatolian Shepherd. Europe’s Federation Cynologique Internationale considers the two breeds to be so similar that they are classed as the same – the Kangal Shepherd Dog. However, the United Kennel Club recognises the Anatolinan Shepherd and Kangal as two different breeds.
What we do know is that both breeds are named after regions in Turkey, and both were originally bred as sheep dogs to protect farmland and livestock against predators. They were introduced into America before World War II, and were quickly adopted by farmers for their intimidation approach, rather than an innate urge to hunt or fight predators.
In Turkey, it is forbidden to export purebred Kangals as they consider the breed to be a safely guarded secret of their own. Due to the lack of acceptance of the two different breeds elsewhere in the world, purebred Turkish Kangals are considered a prize breed in their home country.
The main difference between the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal is that the Kangal is sometimes larger and weighs more. The Anatolian Shepherd can grow to around 30 inches and weigh anywhere from 80 to 140 lbs, while the Kangal grows up to 33 inches and weighs 90 to 145 lbs.
Otherwise, they are physically very similar. Both breeds have tan or brown coats, and the Kangal has black fur around the face and tail which many Anatolian Shepherds also have – however, Anatolian Shepherds do also come in a variety of colors which set them apart from their Kangal counterparts. Their coats are fairly short but the Kangal usually has a coarse top fur and softer underlayer, while Anatolian Shepherds have slightly longer fur and a thicker layer around their neck.
One of the most telling differences between theAnatolian Shepherd and the Kangal is their temperament: both dogs were bred for herding so are intelligent, loyal, and alert. However, where the Anatolian Shepherd prefers to be independent and sometimes solitary, the Kangal enjoys affection and attention.
For this reason, Kangals are generally considered to make better family pets than Anatolian Shepherds – though if you don’t live in Turkey, the chances of you getting a purebred are slim and expensive. However, Anatolian Shepherds can also be friendly and loving members of the family – just expect them to enjoy alone time and independence in between the cuddles.
Though large dogs often live shorter lifespans than small dogs, both the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal are fit, healthy breeds thanks to their working heritage. So in a happy, healthy home where they are fed well and get plenty of exercise, both can live long lives.
On average, Kangals live slightly longer with an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. The Anatolian Shepherd has an average life expectancy of 10 to 13 years – a very subtle difference that still works to set the two breeds apart.
Thinking of introducing one of these herders to the family? A big, active dog needs a good, healthy diet. Front of the Pack’s air-dried dog food is the best option around for pure, natural nutrition with no added nasties. Made from 100% natural ingredients that you’ll have heard of – and probably eat – yourself, it’s vet-approved and packed with goodness.
The air dying process means the meat protein, fruits, and veggies are cooked low and slow to maintain all their natural vitamins and minerals which will be passed directly to your dog. And since it dries into a jerky-like consistency you can have dinner served in one easy scoop.