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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: http://yorukanatolian.com/) 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 yorukanatolian.com, 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...   

Puppy Boone says: Let's chat!

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