Kangals in Australia
What's Been Happening Down Under?
The story of Kangal Dog recognition and the genetic recovery program in Australia
By Anne Nippers
Hakiki Kangal Dogs, Australia
The history of Turkish dogs in Australia is linked to the Turkish dogs originally imported into England and bears little resemblance to the story of Turkish dogs in the U.S.A. That fact established, I suppose the starting point for this story would be back in October 1996, with the International Symposium on Turkish Shepherd Dogs. You may already be aware of the impact this Symposium had on Turkish dog enthusiasts around the world; it was in fact the catalyst for Kangal Dog recognition in Australia.
The Symposium, hosted by the Veterinary Faculty of Selcuk University, Konya, Turkey, was organized to clarify the Turkish position on their native dog breeds. The findings of the Symposium were clear and conclusive: the Kangal Dog is the National dog of Turkey and is held in high esteem by the Turkish people. The views of the Symposium were reiterated in Prof. Tekinsen post-symposium address:
“We categorically reject the theory, foreign in origin, that there is only one Turkish dog breed and that this breed should be known as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog”, he continued, “We recognized the Kangal Dog breed many years ago, long before foreign dog breeders knew about them. They are a unique, regional Turkish dog breed whose purity must be protected. They occupy a special cultural and historical status in Turkish society”. He asked that kennel clubs and private dog clubs accept the finding of the Symposium regarding the native dog breeds of Turkey.
What followed was a renewed worldwide movement to see the Kangal Dog recognized as a separate breed from the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. I use the word “renewed” as this was not the beginning of the struggle to have Turkish dogs recognized by their Turkish names. In America, the Kangal Dog Club of America and its sister club, the Akbash Dog Association of America, maintained a register of Kangal and Akbash dogs and steadfastly protected the purity of their bloodlines by importing only genuine pure-bred Turkish dogs. Likewise in the UK, the British Karabash breeders have been working for the return to their original standard and the reinstating of the breed name Karabash since the early 1980s, when non-Kangal type dogs were included on the Karabash register. The British Karabash breeders have continued to breed exclusively along Kangal lines, and with careful selection criteria, retained the unique features of the breed.
To fully understand the early history of Turkish dogs in Australia it is necessary to have a brief outline of the British Karabash dogs. During the early 1960s Westerners began to show interest in Turkish sheep-guarding breeds. Many dogs were taken out of Turkey; amongst these were Kangal Dogs, Akbash Dogs, and various types of pariah dogs. In 1965 the first Kangal Dogs imported into England were registered as Anatolian (Karabash) Dog. The word "Karabas" is Turkish and means “black head”, this is a descriptive title for the Kangal Dog, but can be misleading as it can refer to any dog with a black head. In the early 1980s, the British Kennel Club changed the title to Anatolian Shepherd Dog (a name that never existed in Turkey), when other types of Turkish shepherd dogs were included on the British Kennel Club register. However, the English Karabash breeders, who were committed to the original standard for their Turkish dogs, continued to breed exclusively along Kangal lines. With some exceptions, the majority of early imports to Australia trace their pedigree to these bloodlines.
(For those readers who would like to know more about the “Karabash” go to the UK page for more detailed information.)
The Kangal Dog Association in Australia was formed in December 1996; incorporation followed on the 9th of January 1997. The express purpose of the association was to seek recognition for the Kangal Dog in Australia; the membership showed that this view was shared by many other Australians. A submission was prepared and presented to the Australian National Kennel Council in May 1997. The submission included documentation from many sources around the world to substantiate the claim that the Kangal Dog should be recognized as a pure breed, as it is in Turkey, its country of origin. It was supported on both sides of the Atlantic, by the Karabash Club, UK, and the Kangal Dog Club of America.
The Australian National Kennel Council examined the Kangal Dog Association submission and after making their own independent investigation, the motion for recognition of the Kangal Dog was tabled at the subsequent Australian National Kennel Council Conference, held in New South Wales, between the 16th to 19th of October 1997. A vote was taken, with the majority decision of the delegates being that “the Kangal Dog be recognized as a pure breed and as from the 1st of July 1998, be eligible for showing and exhibition within Group 6. Further, as of the published date no mismatching be accepted”. The Standard for the Kangal Dog as accepted by the Australia National Kennel Council is developed from the 1984 Turkish description of the breed that was prepared and signed by Turhan Kangal, a prominent historical breeder.
The Kangal Dog register has accepted a strictly limited transfer of dogs from UK “Karabash” bloodlines. This is a genetic recovery program for those dogs that meet the criteria for registration as a Kangal Dog, the transfer is not automatic; all dogs applying for registration must make an application in the same way as any new import from Turkey or any other country. Each dog is assessed individually; it must conform to the Standard for a Kangal Dog, show that it descends from Turkish Kangal Dogs (pedigree and/or other documentation), and pass an inspection by three all-breed Judges. In addition, it is a requirement that all dogs applying for registration be micro-chipped. The Australian Kangal Dog register is based, first and foremost, on the country of origin opinion of the breed. All future imports must show direct descent from Turkish Kangal dogs. They must have bona fide documentation to show that they originate from the Sivas region or from a recognized Kangal Dog breeding establishment within Turkey.
The Kangal Dog Association (Victoria) Inc. is in the process of forming a breed club, to advise and assist Australian owners and future owners of this unique breed. Hopefully, the future of Turkish dogs in Australia will now be safeguarded and the crossbreeding that allowed any dog that walked out of Turkey, be it a shepherd’s dog or not, to be bred together under the title “Anatolian Shepherd Dog”, will become a thing of the past.