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Monday, May 19, 2008

What is a Kangal Dog? And AdorableTakas Anatolian Shepherd Dog Puppies

Anatolian puppy meets Central Asian Ovcharka.

These photos are from when Lilli's recent litter was 3 weeks old. Ah, the epitome of cuteness! :)
You can visit her website here:

Takas Anatolians, Australia

Takas Anatolians, Australia

Takas Anatolians, Australia

Takas Anatolians, Australia

Takas Anatolians, Australia

All so cute!

Lilli has done a wonderful job creating a brief anthology from different sources, showing similarities and differences between some of the various fawn shepherd dogs of Turkey.

Holy Grail, Batman!
There are some dog lovers and fanciers that go on about how the Kangal Dog is pureblood, and emphasizing that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is more generic. In fact there are several books written by laymen who love these Turkish dogs and who have a variable collection of theories. Many actually speak of purity without looking at the source of the 'kangal' dogs they are observing or merely generalizing about -- and then they argue among themselves, "What is a Kangal Dog?", in an effort to make it distinct from the Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

The Truth? Both have had the same rough start with preconceived ideas based on limited numbers of dogs observed; where dominant colors and coats suddenly produced recessives and somehow had to be explained. While one group, the Anatolian Shepherd folks simply accepted the diversity en route to achieving various kennel embraced ideal forms or others adopted an 'anything goes if the dog works' approach (wildlife conservation efforts, protection of livestock from predation), the other group (Kangal lovers) emphasized that their version is 'more pure'.


And they embraced a narrower standard within which they defined the color of their ideal dog.
Color is an important characteristic of the Kangal Dog. In Turkey, non-standard colors or patterns are indicators that the dog is not a purebred Kangal Dog. The true Kangal Dog color is always solid and ranges from a light dun or pale, dull gold to a steel gray, depending on the amount of black or gray in the outer guard hairs and in the soft, cashmere-like undercoat. This basic color is set off by a black mask which may completely cover the muzzle and even extend over the top of the head...

...Disqualifications: Solid black, white, or chocolate colored dogs; dogs with piebald, brindle, or other parti-colored patterns; white markings on the face other than the small white spot on the chin.
Faults: Poorly defined black mask.
A stricter standard is a useful tool in the artificial race to accomplish 'purity', to make it appear as though it has always been there. Compliance ensures removal of healthy genetic diversity via the route of eugenics/culling. A good demonstration of this loss of healthy diversity is that such strains of dogs tend to have more health problems than the more diverse group. Here are some breed stats from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

Kangal Dog Registry Rank Evaluations Percent Abnormal Percent Normal

Anatolian S.D. Registry Rank Evaluations Percent Abnormal Percent Normal

Most anyone will probably not consider it normal for animals to have the ball of their hip located too far outside of its socket. Some affected dogs hold it together by being muscular in their youth, while others lacking in this compensation, may never make it to their first birthday.

It has only been in recent years that some of the new age Turks (not the traditional working shepherds) have begun to embrace this Western concept of "purity". Amusing when one realizes that such a concept of purity is only about 200 years old based on the work of breed specialists and enthusiasts of the Kennel Club. The Turks didn't invent it, but some have adopted the system somehow believing that it is superior and many do not realize that many breeds have developed problems because of narrow breeding.

Certainly, historically, distant villages of the sprawling Ottoman Empire never had meetings to decide what color their dogs should be. They were probably too busy fighting each other? --or surviving somehow, until Mustafa Kemal Ataturk came around and tried to nationalize them all.... But that's another story. However, National Pride is a big thing... the concept of purity in the Kangal has become such an urban legend that national pride is associated with this, and some people no longer question it.

At least the genetics of the dogs themselves speaks volumes, as you will see below. And many old shepherds embrace the truthfulness of variety that they have always known. They did not breed to a standard, they bred what they liked, or more accurately, the dogs that they liked and kept, bred themselves. They did not register dogs and often they kept no pups or just a few in a given litter. What is really changing however, is that the population that has been so dependent on the working dogs is disappearing. It is now easier for the well-to-do, to turn to the dogs as a hobby and to embrace new ideas, and entertain national pride.

The history of the breed as told by the Ministry of Turkey makes it clear that there has been no historical documentation:

When we studied history of Kangal Dog, we could not find any documents about Kangal dogs. There are several rumours about Kangal dogs. According to one rumour, the dog was derived from lion and tiger during Asur and Babil periods and were petted in order to provide protection against wild animals and use in wars and were grown up with great care...

Kangal foundation stock
Above is a Kangal Dog imported by David Nelson as foundation stock.

How does the dog above, compare to these other fawn dogs also called 'Kangal Dogs' below?

What is a Kangal Dog
Young Kangal at a show in Istanbul.

What is a Kangal Dog
Kangal puppies at the Ulas breeding center.

What is a Kangal Dog
A blind, unweaned, 2 week old puppy being shown at a Turkish Kangal Dog Festival.

What is a Kangal Dog
A collection of Kangals headed to the showring at the Festival.

What is a Kangal Dog
Another dog shown as a Kangal at the same Festival.

What is a Kangal Dog?
Well then, what kinds of dogs are these?
--- To find out, see Lilli's pages on these dogs here and here.

The latter link is a special page primarily discussing issues in Australia where what basically happened is truly astounding.

Registered Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were first microchipped and then they were lined up to be judged by persons with no expertise in Turkish dogs. After this day, they were to be here on forward as either Anatolian Shepherd Dogs or as Kangal Dogs. Dogs were split into a new registry that was formed for the Kangal in Australia.

Isn't that amazing? Appointed judges viewed each dog and arbitrarily decided on the breed each dog would be. Some dogs ended up in a different breed categorization than their parents or littermates. (Hey Vern, let's put the blonde children on this side of the bus and the brunettes on the other!) In Australia, as it continues to happen in Turkey, some of these 'pure' Kangal Dogs still produce longer coated dogs or variations that do not satisfy the purists. Rather than concede the dogs are "Anatolians" all along, they simply call these dogs 'mismarks'. The name "Anatolian Shepherd Dog" has been made into a media target of scorn and this evolves from the vendetta of some Brits, who continue to rail against a person who realized the diversity of these dogs, namely Natalka Czartoryska. Whether one embraces her opinions or not, the dogs continue to produce so called "mismarks" nevertheless, and we can safely say that most of them never knew the lady.

But record keeping and pedigrees are only as honest as the people that keep them, and large numbers of these dogs are being bred, particularly in Turkey. The FCI requires a certain quota of registered dogs before a country's application to be FCI recognized can be accepted.

The off colored dogs and the ones with rough coats are apparently initially registered as kangal, to boost the numbers in order to rapidly meet the FCI quota. No DNA testing is necessary. This sort of paper play has occurred in the United Kingdom as well. Individual dogs that are not culled immediately, can be sold with false pedigrees to hide the identity of the supposedly pure parents (and mask the dishonesty of the breeder). While some may feel that these lies do not hurt the humans, in the long run, these will hurt the dogs. We are already seeing that rough coated dogs from Turkey in Kangal enthusiast areas, are getting the rough end of the stick when they are placed.

In the USA, despite that some Kangal Club members have been on genetics lists for a few years, they still insist on this peculiar purity that is only found in Kangal Dogs. They continue to explain away their own mismarks and poor orthopedics with various arguments, avoiding the fact that the same patterns have been recorded for thousands of Anatolians, long before Turks began to document their dogs and discover the same variations.

My high school genetics teacher would probably have flung a chalk board eraser at their blank heads for this stubborn pursuit of some Holy Grail. Alas, while claiming historic purity is a cool thing, it sure isn't honest or even genetically realistic in these dogs.

Boz, Geller Calendar
Boz, another beautiful Kangal Dog. This one from 2005 Geller Turkish calendar.

Dozer in Turkey
Dozer, a nice solid dog for sure!
How do these dogs compare to each other? Same breed, ya think?

Go figure!
Check out Lilli's pages above! :)
She's much more succinct!

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 5/19/2008 01:56:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kids and Turkish Dogs - Turkey!

The handsome young man above with the puppy above is about four years and that awesomely cute puppy is about 2 months old.

I sent a quick hello to Nahit out in Turkey last week. We'd corresponded before a few times and I know some of his dogs also came to the USA. I was having problems connecting to his website during the sporadic attempts I made, so I wrote and got good news. is still there. He has been busy and his kids are growing up. Time flies! He writes that his two sons and his daughter love the dogs! And he sent me fresh pics of the cute duo above.

This is one of the Kangalist males, Dozer.

This female is young Hama.

The handsome duo again. I just love that sweet expression on the puppy's face. I'm so glad they had time to send me the shots!

Here's a nice female named Dombay. She's one of my favorites at the website. :D
I think I'll need a very very big shopping bag to bring her home!

Some of the pages may be down, but you can see some of the girls at Disiler drop down menu, and the boys on Erkekler.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/20/2007 11:04:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fun Turkish Dog Video

Boone, surveying his domain!

I have a heck of a time trying to edit video. I've got a few clips that Dave Koerner took during one of the visits he had here a year ago. I've been trying to edit them in Movie Maker (MS), but I really don't have talent for it and keep doing something that makes the program crash. Whenever I get it done, I'll post it here on the blog.

But the real reason for this post is that there are lots and lots and lots of Turkish dog lovers (especially overseas!) who take lots of footage of these beloved dogs! Americans seem to be a little more camera shy, or are much much pickier about opportune times for doggie videos, therefore the times never come. . . Carol Burnett has a message for us about not saving up for the best time but to enjoy it all now... don't have a link! Some of it is pretty nicely done, considering the resolution and our raw attempts at amateur movies. Some of the video captures cute moments such as these big guys getting tackled by little toy sized dogs. :) Funny! Unfortunately there are also rather unpleasant vids showing people sparring with their dogs - so if you're gonna go looking at videos, do realize that there's a fair bit of that out there. Ugh! I won't dwell on that now. I'm supposed to be de-stressing!

I liked this video and gave it a four for effort and the obvious work that's gone into it. Shows some really nice dogs, some variation in color and type, and pretty much showing just how important it is to realize there is a lot more to the story of Turkish dogs than certain Wikipedia donators are willing to admit. This appears to be compiled from various sources. A few of the human faces and dogs are recognizable from points of contact I've had around the world, but most are not. And the text, I appreciate! The closest thing I can get to captions sometimes. :) :D


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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/14/2007 08:43:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cappadocia, Turkey

Fairy Castles - In Cappadocia, Turkey

A Moonscape Carved by Nature and Man
-an article about Cappadocia in the travel section of New York Times today.
Check it out!

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs in Cappadocia

Here are a few Turkish dogs from Cappadocia. These photos were among several others in an article that appeared in our club newsletter a few years ago.

At left is a beautiful male brindle pictured with his owner who is known for the quality of his dogs.

The article is beautifully written, a fun read.

It helps to illustrate the open honesty and appreciation that is felt for these wonderful dogs.

If we get the article online at the club website, I'll put a link to the story from here. :)

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/09/2007 11:17:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Friday, September 07, 2007

Seven's Story, by Bilkay

This is Seven!

I had exchanged a few emails with Bilkay Tanner a few months ago. She had sent some photos of her beloved Seven.

Seven is a nine year old Anatolian Shepherd Dog originally from Southern Turkey. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his 3 pound Yorkie brother named Moe. I wanted to share these when the dust settled a bit out more here. Coast isn't clear yet, but now's as good a time as any!

I just love the contrast between Seven and little Moe in the album below. Too cute. :D

Here is Seven's Story as told by Bilkay

Seven was born in South/West Turkey in 1998 with 8 other brothers and sisters. His mother passed away 7 days after his litter was born, so we had to take Seven on the 9th day because the owners couldn't take care of the entire litter. Seven was 9 days old when we took him home and bottle fed him until he was at least a month old. He was only 1 lbs and extremely energetic and cute.

Seven and I lived in Bodrum, Turkey for the next 12 months traveling, hanging out on the beach, walking around town, training, and of course chasing cows when ever he had a chance. When it was time for me to return to Seattle after my 1 year vacation, I realized that bringing Seven home was going to be a larger challenge then I thought it would be. We spent 4 months getting his paperwork ready for travel. Since Anatolians aren't allowed to leave turkey, we had to pay government officials off to forge his papers, This isn't something I'd ever done before, but I would do just about anything for my best friend. I couldn't imagine leaving him to an uncertain future with someone that would never take care of him like I would.

We finally did it on Sept 1999 when he got on a British Airways flight from Istanbul to London all by himself with a caretaker from British Airlines. I flew to London the following day because he had to stay in London for 24 hours before leaving the country as a transient dog. We finally got home to Seattle after 3 days of travel and he stepped out of his large kennel as if he had always lived here. It was very touching and a moment I will always remember.

Today Seven lives in Seattle with my boyfriend, 3 lbs male Yorky named Moe, and me. He has a large yard and goes to daycare 2 times per week. He also goes to Magnusson Dog Park all the time. Who ever meets Seven sees how special he is, he is an exceptional dog with extrodinary qualities. We are the luckiest people on earth to have a dog with such quality in our lives.

Let me know if you want to see other pictures of him, we have thousands :)

He does have his own picture website: or

and he is also on Photoworks for dogs site that just launched:

- Bilkay


Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/07/2007 09:35:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Turkish Dog Evolution: Concerning Kangal Dog, Akbash, Kars, Turkish Mastiff, Yoruk, Malak and Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Turkish Dog History is still in the making. :)

The list of classifications and subclassifications of dogs associated with native shepherds of Turkey continues to grow. The Kangal Dog, Akbash Dog, Kars, and Turkish Mastiff, then the Malak, plus the Yoruk and the Anatolian Shepherd Dog are among current classifications of strains and/or (in some cases) breed divisions that have evolved via different sources in the past two decades from widely scattered native landraces of shepherds' dogs or coban kopekleri of Anatolia.

Click to see Malak article
Go to Malak Article

A Turkish-born researcher and traveler, Guvener Isik (website: has published two new articles about the flock guardian dogs in Turkey. One is a recent interview with Turkish Kangal Dog enthusiast and published author, Dogan Kartay, touching on issues of FCI recognition of Turkish breeds. The second article is an exploration of the heavy boned, massive Malak which Kartay mentions during his interview and the possible influences of this dog on other subtypes all across Turkey. Isik has published the Malak article previously (in Turkish) but the article is timely so it has undergone an English translation. Isik has many other articles (much of it is in Turkish) and has used his own collection of photos taken at location in some of his work. It is wonderful that he has taken the time to try to bring more understanding of the dog situation in Turkey to both Turkish and international interests alike.

See the articles linked below. Many thanks to both Isik and to Kartay for helping to bring more light to these subjects!
Taken from his website, Isik writes:
The History or Story Behind This Site

I have been around these dogs and the necessary life style since my childhood. It is obvious that there several views about this subject without any tangible and rational arguments. Most of the information available is time and content wise based on very limited research and is repetitive. Visiting a few villages and flocks for a few days in a limited geographical area and drawing outcomes through the collected or available data would give one a limited portion of the whole picture. This approach in the past gave two basic results: One is considering the whole shepherd dog population of Turkey as one breed "Anatolian Shepherd Dog", the other one is creating new breeds like "Akbas" without looking the meaning of the word and the extent and the content of its usage. The above second international approach affected the Turkish public and consequently manipuated city Turks and Turkish Academicians to accept a new breed. To me this is a breed inflation not a discovery. The Kangal side of the confusion started in Turkey and affected some clubs in other countries. So far there is not any clear remark in Turkey that clarifies the qualities of Kangal Shepherd Dog. Is Kangal a dog from only Kangal region? Is any dog from that region a Kangal? We can say "Yes" to the first question. We should say "No" to the second one, because there is variation of types in that area. Then it must be a type of dog, which can be mostly found in that area in its best form. There is no consensus on the subject, because we are referring to different qualities by using the same word. Recently any fawn colour dog with a black mask goes as a Kangal, and the local strains are being negatively damaged by this attitude.

I am actually concentrating on the Yoruk dogs. They are terribly ignored and even the name "stray" is used in order to elavate the importance of the major two famous strains. I am not intending to create a new breed but bring out whateverelse Anatolia offers. I am here to introduce them to you for them to be recognised.

Others involved in Yoruk dogs

We are a group of people who are trying to locate and preserve the best specimens of these dogs all over Turkey. We definitely deliberate over the traditional methods during the process of our endeavour to perpetuate these dogs. What we feed, how we choose and test are all based on conventional practices.

In Izmir: Aral Altay, Muzaffer Colakoglu
In Denizli: Halil Cokak, Ismail Kara, Ibrahim Kayis, Mehmet Kayan
In Sapanca: Vet. Murat Ilgaz
In Isparta: Mehmed Pir

To me, in order to do a good job of learning about these dogs one needs sensitivity to traditions (both current and past trends); enthusiasm about genetics and actual pedigree research; population & locale studies including formative environment; patiently reading perspectives from different peer and enthusiasts groups -- and the list goes on with other materials. A multidimensional approach!

Examining Turkish Dogs
Isik examining a Turkish dog. Puppies examining Isik.

Check out the puppy up on the dirt bank! An independent LGD in the making? :)

A female with a litter
From Isik collection: a female Kangal with portion of her litter.

For some, it is often 'safer' to just freeze a point in time with one's assumptions and speculations and to go no further toward the truth.

Foundation stock of Turkish breeds to from Kangal Dog, Akbash & Anatolian Shepherds -- and the produce from these dogs, even if acquired from the same areas (often they were not) were not consistent and homogenous, regardless of whether one sings for Akbash, Kangal Dog or ASD.

Foundation stock: Kangal Dog
A Kangal Dog from American Kangal Dog Club founder's foundation stock

Foundation stock: Akbash Dog
Another early foundation stock dog. American Akbash strain

At any rate, many new enthusiasts in these dogs are seeking better understanding. I'm glad that many realize there is so much more to learn! Knowledge, sharing information and being honest will help us all work together to preserve these wonderful dogs. :D B)

Links to the Articles:
Guvener Isik's Interview with Dogan Kartay
Malak and furthermore Greyhound Turca

Related from this blog:
Bozkir Canavari: The Steppe Monster
Previous Turkish dogs blog post with some genetics info

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 9/05/2006 11:11:00 PM | Permanent link | (2) Comments

Blogger Carina sent us a woof // September 08, 2006

I will perhaps be in Turkey for a visit next year...if I do I am definitely going to try getting out to see some dogs! :)
If you recall, I spent five years growing up in Turkey and well remember the guardian dogs. One had to be careful when walking in rural areas, because they could be quite ferocious and vigilant about strangers approaching.
I have long wanted an Anatolian, but city living just doesn't seem fair for a flock-guardian dog of proper temperament.   

Blogger Arlene sent us a woof // January 28, 2007

I would LOVE to have another Kangal puppy. Fates will probably not allow it as I can't afford to get one from a reputable breeder in the States and won't be getting to Turkey any time soon. I dream of the day though...