Kangal Dog does not only project a powerful image, but it does reliably guard against predators such as bears, lynxes, cheetah, wolves, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, even birds.
Years ago, without the dogs, some of the Turkish farmers had no other option but to kill wolves and destroy wolves’ nests to protect their livestock. The use of Kangal dogs against animals of prey proved to be way more effective and definitely more nature-friendly.
In their natural environment Kangal Dogs work in groups, and with their shepherds. The older dogs train the younger, and they learn to work in teams communicating with each other, and following directions of the alpha dog. It is not unusual for two or three dogs to accompany flocks of over 200 sheep. A Kangal’s resemblance to the breed of sheep is remarkable, a beige dog with a black mask blending easily with the sheep and treeless environment around it.
An adult working dog is sensitive to changing situations: observes the territory, assesses potential threats, and acts accordingly. It responds to dangers with sufficient warnings and courageous action if necessary. Kangal dog takes its job very seriously; It works around the clock, in extreme temperatures, and at times without sufficient supplies of food and water.
A group of Kangal dogs working with the sheep in their natural environment is one of the most beautiful sights one has ever seen. It is how the nature intended them to be. They move around with pride and purpose, and it’s hard not to notice or appreciate their magnificence. In their natural environment, the dog tends to situate itself so that it has a sufficient view of the flock and surroundings, and watches over the herd from an elevated spot, or a hill. The frequency and intensity of the patrols increases at sundown. In the night, the dog becomes most active, energetic and alert. Because it is common for the dogs to work in groups or pairs (depending on the size of the flock and predators in the area), they are able to take positions around the sheep, and change positions regularly. They watch for things in a distance and bark to communicate with the other dogs, and most of all: intimidate, frighten off and deter predators.
There’s been numerous documented descriptions of dogs standing “tall with tail and ears erect, to give a warning call”; Shepherds describe how “dogs place themselves between the perceived threat and the sheep, and if warning barks are ignored, dogs come face to face with intruders”. Only when necessary the dogs resort to a physical confrontation, and they “are known for their fierce battles even with the largest of predators”. There are numerous stories about how the dogs “throw themselves against a predator, knocking it down, attacking the throat and hind legs, and then killing it”. Here is one of the stories:
“Wolves should keep away from the Kangal in general, and from the province of Sivas in particular. Because the tranquil, goodnatured Kangal is metamorphosed into a creature of formidable ferocity at the sight or smell of a wolf. The powerful dog (50-70 kilograms) and the lighter but more agile bitch (40-60 kilograms) battle together against the wolf. While the bitch distracts the attacker, her mate slinks to its rear and springs on its backbone, which is the wolf’s most vulnerable part. Having broken or at least damaged the backbone, it is time to put to wolf out of its misery. The male does this by biting the wolf in the neck. The large head, broad chest, strong neck and front legs of the Kangal all come into play when getting the better of the wolf. Yet although the Kangal can be such a ruthless warrior when circumstance demands, it has a calm and docile disposition and is never aggressive towards people.” (written by OCAK 1993/Cumhuriyet.edu.tr/sivas/kangaldog)