Anatolian Shepherd vs Kangal

Reviewed By Kim •  Updated: 02/07/22 •  11 min read
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Anatolian Shepherd vs Kangal

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Do you know the difference between an Anatolian Shepherd and a Kangal? If not, don’t feel too bad! Many people believe these dogs are the same dog breed, while others believe these are entirely different dog breeds. But what’s the truth?

We’ve done some research and come up with the answer! If you’d like to learn more about these dogs and whether they’re the same breed or not, read on!

The Debate

As we mentioned earlier, there’s some controversy over whether the Kangal and the Anatolian Shepherd are the same dog breed or separate dog breeds. So, we’ll have to take a look at both dogs to make a comparison. We’ll also take a look at what the experts have to say!

Breed History

So, what’s the history of the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal? For one thing, these dogs breeds have a very interwoven history, which can make it more challenging to tell them apart. But let’s take a look at these dog breeds’ history.

Both dogs are descended from Molosser dogs, dating all the way back to 2000 BC. This means the dogs have ancient lines. In the British Museum, you can find Assyrian bas-relief carvings that show large dogs that resemble Turkish Shepherd dogs. For this reason, many people thought the Kangal and the Anatolian Shepherd were the same dog breed.

The American Kennel Association (AKC) does consider the dogs to be the same breed. They categorize both dogs as Anatolian Shepherds. However, the United Kennel Club (UKC) is another dog registry in the US. They separate these dogs into two breeds and recognize both the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal. However, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (a dog registry located in Europe) said that the two dogs were very similar and that they are the same breed. This organization recognizes the dogs as Kangal Shepherd Dogs. How confusing is that?

Similarities Between the Anatolian Shepherd Dog and the Kangal

If that’s not confusing enough, both dog breeds come from Turkey. They were originally developed to protect livestock with little to no human supervision. These dogs can easily take on bears, jackals, and wolves. They’re also capable of finding their own food.

Anatolia was the region of central Turkey that was given to the Anatolian Shepherds. However, the Kangals’ name comes from the Kangal District of Sivas Province in Turkey. This is mainly where the Kangal is bred. In Turkey, the Kangal is considered to be a national treasure and the official dog breed of Turkey.

The history of these two dogs only gets more interesting! The AKC says that a pair of Anatolian Shepherds was brought to the US before WWII. They were to be used in a secret project. The aim of the project was to discover which dog breeds were best suited to be used on farms and ranches in the US. From about the 1950s, farmers and ranchers began importing Anatolian Shepherds directly from Turkey. A soldier named Lieutenant Robert Ballard is usually credited as starting the breeding foundation of the Anatolian Shepherds we have today.

As for Kangals, they are still considered to be a separate breed by many. They’re also thought to be a guarded secret in Turkey. It’s against the law to export purebred Kangals from that country.

So, are these two separate dog breeds or one? No one’s really sure!


Is there any difference between the appearance of these two dogs? Let’s take a look!

Both the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal are giant-sized dogs. They need plenty of room to roam. They both have long legs, a bulky, strong frame, and are strong enough to find off fierce predators. However, the dogs are not fierce-looking. They have rather gentle races, with soft, alert eyes.

However, the UKC says Kangals are slightly larger than Anatolian Shepherds. Kangals weigh about 2lbs more, and Anatolians are shorter by about half an inch. So, there’s not really that much difference between their sizes. And both have curled tails that curl over their backs.

In addition, both dogs have double coats that help keep them warm in harsh winter weather or very hot summers. This is where the dogs differ slightly. For instance, Anatolian Shepherds have a short, semi-long coat that is much more dense around the dog’s neck, shoulders, and thighs. All colors are acceptable with the Anatolian dogs.

Kangals, however, have a shorter coat. The outer layer is a little harsher, and the dogs have a cashmere undercoat that’s soft and dense. These dogs also have longer fur around the neck, shoulders, and tail. Kangals also have a flatter strip of hair that runs along their back.

When it comes to colors, Kangals have different rules than Anatolian Shepherds. A purebred Kangal, in Turkey, should have a solid-colored coat that’s light dun to a dull gold or gray. They should also have a black mask covering their muzzle and sometimes going over their head. The dog’s ears are always black, and the tail is black-tipped. There may also be a black spot in the middle of the tail.

So, when it comes to appearance, there are some slight differences between the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal.

Differences in Temperament

But what about temperament? Is there much difference between the dogs’ temperament? Let’s see!

Both of the dogs are great guard dogs and protect their flocks and families diligently. They will even protect their flocks and family to the death if needed. While these are giant dogs, they will not attack. Instead, the dogs stand their ground, barking, and growling until the predator backs down and leaves. These are truly excellent farm and ranch dogs.

In addition, these dogs can easily become bored if they don’t have work to do. While they love being with their family, the Anatolian Shepherd and Kangal really need to work. They will, however, protect their home and family with very loud barks! Neighbors may be able to hear them several blocks away and be highly annoyed!

Neither of these dogs is really meant to be family companions. While they can be affectionate and loyal, both dogs really are happiest when they have work to do.

So, when it comes to temperament, both dogs are very similar!

Exercise Requirements

The Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal are both very active dog breeds. They will easily patrol your yard and home. They really don’t enjoy walking on the leash too much. Instead, these dogs need a job to do. If you have a lot of secure land, then this is the perfect dog for you!

The dogs also need plenty of mental stimulation. Guarding their home can be enough to keep their minds stimulated. These dogs have been known to be on guard duty for months at a time when guarding their flocks.

If these dogs are not happy with their lifestyle, they can become destructive and be difficult to manage.

Here, again, the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal are very similar.

Training Requirements

Bear in mind that these dogs are highly intelligent and very independent. They have to be in order to work as they do. So, if you’re looking for a dog that loves to entertain by doing tricks, then neither of these dogs is right for you.

The dogs tend to have dominant personalities and believe they are always correct. For this reason, neither dog is best for first-time or inexperienced pet parents. The dogs need someone who understands how to show they’re the leader of the pack in a positive way. They must also understand how to manage the dogs properly. These dogs can be challenging to train.

While these dogs aren’t often good family dogs, they still need to be properly trained and socialized from a young age. They should be around other dogs as much as possible and get used to different people coming to visit your home. This is how the dogs learn who is a stranger and who could pose a potential danger to the dog’s family and home.

In addition, the dogs may not do well with other pets. If you’d like to have either of these dogs around other pets, then the dogs must be socialized from a very young age. From the time they’re puppies, both dogs need to be raised with other animals. Otherwise, they may become aggressive without pets and/or see new pets as a threat.


Is there any difference between the health of the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal? Let’s take a look!

The Kangal does tend to have a longer lifespan than the Anatolian Shepherd. However, both dogs are sensitive to the effects of anesthesia. This can make certain medical treatments challenging. And because these are rare dogs, the vet may not have knowledge of this sensitivity. So, if you have a Kangal or an Anatolian Shepherd, be sure to let the vet know about this if your fur baby needs surgery or another procedure.

What’s more, both dogs are also prone to elbow and hip dysplasia. If these dogs are adopted from reputable breeders, the breeders will have screened the dog for this condition. The parents of these dogs should score as fair or above when it comes to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, PennHip, or other evaluating bodies.


Both dogs eat about the same—they require at least three to four cups of high-quality dog food a day. Both do well on kibble that’s been formulated for active, giant dog breeds. This is especially important when the dogs are puppies. At this time, they require a special diet for their developing skeletons and to avoid hip & elbow dysplasia.


What about grooming? Are there major differences in how the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal should be groomed?

Well, for starters, both dogs need to be brushed at least two to three times a week. This is because both dogs have very thick coats. Without regular brushing, their coats will become matted and snarled.

In addition, the dogs do shed quite a bit during shedding season, which happens about twice a year. During this time, it’s recommended that the dogs be brushed every day. That way, you can control the amount of shed fur that ends up in your home and on your clothes!

Vets usually recommend using a de-shedding tool since these dogs can shed quite a bit. When it comes to bathing, these dogs only need a bath when they become stinky and dirty. Otherwise, they need to be bathed about every two to three months.

How Much Do These Dogs Cost?

If you’re looking to adopt an Anatolian Shepherd or a Kangal, Anatolian Shepherds usually cost a little bit less than the Kangal. Kangals are more rare and are not exported from Turkey very often.

You might expect to pay between $1000 for an Anatolian Shepherd and about $1500 for a Kangal. And you won’t find many of these dogs in shelters because they are both rare dog breeds.

Even so, it’s essential to adopt either dog from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder can help the dog have a great start in life with proper training and socialization from the time the dogs are young puppies.

On the other hand, a puppy mill or backyard breeder may not use good breeding practices. Dogs from these sources may have health and/or behavioral problems.

Summing It Up

So, are the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal the same dog breed or separate breeds? Well, one thing is for sure, and that’s the debate about these dogs. No one has come to a firm consensus about whether or not these are the same or separate dog breeds.

What we discovered in our research is that both of these dogs are similar in most ways. They both need to work; they have similar exercise and care requirements, and more. Plus, they have similar personalities!

The main difference between these two dogs is that the Kangal can be a bit larger, and their coat is a little shorter than the Anatolian’s. These dogs also have a black face mask and must come in certain colors. On the other hand, Anatolian Shepherds can come in a wide variety of colors.

What we are certain of is that these dogs are not meant to be only family dogs. These giant dogs excel at having a job to do, such as working with cattle on the farm or ranch. They both need a lot of room to run and tend to be independent thinkers, too!

So, if you’re an experienced pet parent who understands how to manage these dogs, and you have a large, secure property, then the Kangal or the Anatolian Shepherd may be the right dog for you!

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Kim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.