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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: http://www.takasvolkodav.com/page2.asp


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'.

Somehow?

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
ELBOWN/A650.050.0
HIPSN/A2630.869.2

Anatolian S.D. Registry Rank Evaluations Percent Abnormal Percent Normal
CARDIACN/A20.0100.0
ELBOW492674.195.9
HIPS89140110.388.8
THYROID20596.881.4


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:
History

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.
Purity!?

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, Giller Calendar
Boz, another beautiful Kangal Dog. This one from 2005 Giller 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!

Dec18-2012-Edited to add: see dolforums for more detailed discussion on the Australian situation with the kangal

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

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