In Turkey hunting dogs and dogs guarding cattle flocks are bred. Dogs guarding cattle flocks must be able to act independently, they react instinctly and at the same time they protect the flocks against the predators. Mostly they are very intelligent, watchful and self-confident. Very often their colour is white so that the sheep would admit them easier and the shepherd couldn´t confuse them with the predator. Darker dogs were more useful particularly at night for guarding the property of the shepherd against human intruders. For the same reason they were used in troops.
Turkish breeds often developed in the remote regions, they were selectively adapted to local conditions and situations. Each geographic area developed its own shepherd dog or guardian dog with specific properties. There exist a lot of more or less typally different variants, which marginally blend together. The most well-known types are Kangal, Akbash, Kars sheepdog and Anatolian mastiff, others e.g.: Catalburun (“catal“ fork, „burun“ nose), whose distinctive feature is a split nose, Konya with softer temperament, who can be bred as a pet, Yoruk – a fast robust dog with a pinched muzzle, who is connected with Kangal. Confusion is also caused by the fact that the Turks are used to distinguishing dogs according to their colour and coat: karabash (black head), kirik (short coat), kaba (long coat), brindle (hyena, i.e. with brindle), capar also called karayaka (black body, black dog) etc. In practice then originates the name of the dog, e.g. Kirik Yoruk or Karabash Kangal.
We gained information presented in this article mostly form the sites of Turkish, international and national organizations and researsh institutions. You can find the references to the chosen institutions and galleries with photographs of the dogs at the end of the article.
National breeds recognized in Turkey
Nowadays except for Kangal and Akbash all recognized Turkish breeds are considered to be endangered. Turkish government and breeding stations of academic institutions have been purposefully engaging in their controlled breeding and improvement since the 1990s. Not long ago the specimen of the dogs of the selected Turkish breeds was screened in the genetic study „Important studies into the genetics of the Kangal Dog and other types of Turkish shepherd dog“. The results of the study find here. The objective of this study is to create standards of Turkish national breeds of the dogs (Kangal, Akbaş, Anadolu Mastifi, Kars Köpeği, Türk Kopoyları, Sultan Tazısı and others) on a scientific base and consequently to realize all the steps necessary for international recognition of these breeds. The first and the most important step was admission of Turkey the member of the FCI on 14.10.2010; big credit for it is in the part of the Turkish Cynologic Society Köpek Irkları ve Köpek Bilimleri Federasyonu (KIF).
Kangal – Kangal Köpeği, Sivas Kangal Köpeği, Kangal Turkish Shepherd; the correct, traditional name for the breed in Turkey is Kangal Köpegi or Sivas Kangal Köpegi. At present Kangal is a part of Turkish national heritage and is represented as a Turkish „basis“. The Kangal Dog is a cultural and historic icon of the Turkish people. It is the most respectful, typally uniform and the most atractive breed (for example video on page KANGAL KÖPEKLERİ HAKKINDA BİLGİLER, VİDEOLAR, KÖPEK IRKLARI, KEDİLER, VAHŞİ HAYVANLAR). The standard of the Anatolian Shepherd Dogs originates from this type. Recently a great attention has been paid to it abroad, „kangalomania“ has broken out, however the export from Turkey is subject to a very strict inspection and is forbidden in order to protect the breed.
The Kangal stud is assumed to originate in the Sivas province in the eastern part of Central Anatolia. Relative isolation of the Sivas region contributed to the origin of the natural breed with the uniform appearance and behavior. It is necessary to obtain permission for breeding outside the territory of the province. Their stud is historically proved by the Turkish aristocratic family the Kangals; for a long time Kangal has been connected with the Aga family, landowners and a chieftains from the village of Kangal, which actually means that every Kangal comes from the Kangal family line.
It is a very proud dog, loving, devoted and obedient. He adheres to women and children very much. It is an excellent guarding dog; he knows individual animals in the flock and prevents the others from the admission. While protecting the flock a female distracted the attacker and a male attacked the wolf´s back. He has typically round head, heavier body construction, however he needn´t be exaggeratedly robust. A distinctive feature is a „lion“ walk and a black muzzle with black triangular ears; according to this colouring he may also be called „Boz“ or „Karabash“ (original description of the Sivas Kangal here). At the age of 5 – 6 months their ears are cropped in order to eliminate the infection originated due to wounds suffered during fights with the wolf and also due to frequent rains in the Black Sea area. He sometimes may be called the Kangal Akbash (white head) and the Kangal Karabash (black head) according to the big black spot along the muzzle. Dense coat protects him against summer sunstroke and frostbites in winter, the coat colour varies in different shades – from almost white through sandy to dark, however he never may be white or brindle. At present he is very widespread among Turkish villagers who are deservedly proud of his ability to protect flocks of goats and sheep against the predators such as wolf, jackal or bear, a lot of Kangals are bred in the army.
They were even bred by the Turkish Zoo in Ankara. The explosion of interest in this bred began in 1980, when several Kangals were exported to America and Europe. At that time the Kangal Dog suddenly became a fashionable accessory for wealthy Turkish and the army decided to train the breed for work done by German sheepdogs a Doberman pinschers. Government officers had the authority to confiscate the dogs from the Sivas region for state purposes. However, after many failures it was found out that the bred is not a suitable candidate for training because he has completely different character from „tougher“ breds The stories of whole herds of Kangals brought like cattle from Central Anatolia are well-founded. Finally many dogs were abandoned in the streets and town surroundings. Today Kangal still is a symbol of the rank in the society yet fortunately the initial mania receded. He is protected by the Turkish government as a part of the national heritage; he is featured on the stamps and coins. In the towns of Kangal and Ulas controlled breeding stations have been established. Despite his regional origin he featured on the Turkish coins and postage stamps. Export of the Kangals by someone who is not Turkish citizen is unlawful.
Kangal is separately recognized and bred also by national kennel clubs in South Africa and New Zealand.
Akbaş – Akbaş Çoban Köpeği, Akbash Turkish Shepherd, Akbash; come from the Northern Mediterranean, they came to Turkey apparently 3000 years ago together with the first nomadic shepherds. In the course of time the dogs´colour began to play a large role. Roman writer about farming Columella, who lived in the first century, stated that sheep breeders intentionally chose white types because otherwise it could happen that the shepherd would kill his dogs instead of a wolf. In the 17th century the traveller Evliya Celebi described a white dog guarding Angora goats. The British military consul, Colonel Townshend, who worked in Turkey between 1903 and 1906, talked in his book about a meeting with Akbashes, who managed to draw wain.
He possesses great sight, hearing and smell, outstanding speed and tonicity. He differs from other Tuskish dogs by snow-white colour, he has dark eyes, nose and skin pigmentation, which originally protected him against sunburn. He matures later at the age of three and more years. His distinctive feature is a strongly developed motherly instinct; if he is brought up from the age of a pupply, especially together with other young animals or children, he develops a firm emotional bond with them. The male dog grows up from 45 to 65 kg/60 – 85 cm, the female 35 – 55 kg/50 – 75 cm.
On the basis of the appearance and genetic research the conclusion has been made that his origin was influenced by the dogs of greyhound and mastiff type. The result of such crossbreeding presents different variants varying between two extremes:
- the „ greyhound “ type with a narrower skull, elegant, slim with well tucked up belly; he has longer legs and is generally gentler and typally reminds of Colie with strong densely-coated body;
- the „mastiff“ type with a powerful head; he has more skin flaps, there are types with hanging eyelids; he doesn´t have tucked up belly, he is of a heavier construction and his appearance is very similar to a light Labrador or German Bandog.
Unfortunately this once a very numerous breed in Turkey due to industrialization, decrease in number of wolves and diminishing breeding of sheep noticed very high decrease of specimens. Although several universities and government institutions started to engage in the breeding, in Turkey there are few quality Akbashes. The same colour doesn´t mean that the dogs have the same origin, there exists great difference between the structure of the specimen from Central and Eastern Anatolia and the dogs from Western Anatolia. It is necessary to acquire further white specimen for breeding, unfortunately in his natural environment the breeding rules aren´t defined and for example in the eastern areas, where there were a lot of purely white dogs, white dogs are selected from the coupling of different colours.
Nowadays the popularity of Akbash is growing fast again. The export of Akbash from Turkey unlike Kangal, who is the Turkish naitonal breed, is permitted.
Kars Köpeği - Kars Turkish Shepherd, Kars shepherd, Karský sheepdog, Kars; is bred in the region of Northern Anatolia. The main region of this breed is the province of Kars and the southern mountainous and lowland areas in north-east Turkey. He has a long history of about at least 600 years. In the region of Kars-Ardahan-Erzurum a Iğdır-Agri he is called Killi (shaggy), in Ardahan Saçaklı (fringed) and in Artvin Tüylü (hairy). He is an ideal guarding dog, very strong, brave and devoted; he is cautious even unfriendly towards strange people; because of his robustness and watchfulness he shouldn´t be left alone with small children. The local tradition claims that a group of Kars can kill a large bear.
In appearance Kars resembles Caucasian Shepherd Dog. He has quite long coat suitable for severe winter conditions, however it is also possible to meet with short-coated Kars dogs. The Kars Dog can be found in almost all colours from black, reddish brown, grey, mixtures of black and brown, white, piebald, and white with grey patches. He has long hair on the neck and the backs of the hindquarters; since his neck bears the mane, the head appears larger. Kars tends to bond with one person; he may be unfriendly to others in his surroundings.
Anadolu Mastifi - Malaklı, Aksaray Malaklısı, Anatolian doga, Anatolian mastiff; the most powerful Turkish breed. His home is in the province of Aksaray in Central Anatolia; that is why he is sometimes referred to as Aksaray Malaklısı. He resembles Kangal very much but differs from him by a robust head, wider than shoulders, and distinctively hanging flews, therefore he is locally called Malakli („malak“ – lip, flews). Anatolian Malaklısı is extremely strong and active. His colour is mostly white or custardy, black nose. His weight varies between 65 and 125 kg.
Çatalburun - Çatal Burun Hunting, a clinging and obedient dog; his typical feature is a split nose. He is a hunting dog; he has excellent smell multiplied by the nose capacity, which when combined with his intelligence makes him an ideal bedfellow of the police in searching for narcotics. Catalburun is a clinging and obedient dog. The reason why he is not as popular as other Turkish breeds is the split in his nose, which doesn´t attract many people interested in breeding.
Sultan Tazısı – Anadolu Sultan Tazısı, Turkish Greyhound, Anatolian Sultanic Dog; a fast, skillful and nimble dog used for hunting for rabbites, foxes, partridges etc. The dog has a slim waist, a deep chest, a small narrow head, long limbs and tail. He used to be bred in the courts of Turkish monarchs. The first reference to him is probably in a hunting scene coming from the 16th century, where the prince Sultan Suleyman Majestic is pictured with a dog of the greyhound type.
Türk Kopoyları – small, 30-35 cm tall, a very skillful and fast hunting dog, tracker bred in packs.
Information sources:Köpek Irkları ve Köpek Bilimleri Federasyonu (KIF), http://www.kif.org.tr/index.asp Domestic Animal Diversity Information System hosted by FAO (DAD IS), http://dad.fao.org/ Kangal Köpegi – The Kangal Dog of Turkey, http://www.kangalkopegi.org Anatolian Shepherd Dogs International, Inc. (ASDI), http://www.anatoliandog.org/ ADAA – the Akbash Dog Association of America, http://akbashclub.com/ Akbaş Çoban Köpeğini Koruma ve Araştırma Derneği (AKAD) Akbash Dogs International (ADI) http://www.akbashdogsinternational.com/
Next information sources are listed on “Home”.